(a) Reference in the New Testament is made to gladiatorial shows and fights with wild beasts (1 Corinthians 15:32). These were common among the Romans, and sometimes on a large scale.
(b) Allusion is frequently made to the Grecian gymnastic contests (Galatians 2:2; 5:7; Philippians 2:16; 3:14; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 12:1,4,12). These were very numerous. The Olympic, Pythian, Nemean, and Isthmian games were esteemed as of great national importance, and the victors at any of these games of wrestling, racing, etc., were esteemed as the noblest and the happiest of mortals.