The Emptiness of Sacrifice Without Love

sac-1Paul’s first 2 examples of the emptiness of serving without loving are Speech and Spiritual Gifts. His third example is Sacrifice. “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Cor. 13:3, ESV). Paul talks of sacrificing 2 things: stuff and self. “Give away” is from psomizo, “to feed; to give to eat” (Greek-English Lexicon, s. v. ψωμισω); “feed, give food to” (Concise Greek-English Dictionary, s. v. ψωμισω). Paul is saying literally, “If I give away to feed others all my goods” (Young’s Literal Translation).

“To be burned” (Gk. kauthesomai, future, passive, indicative) is the Byzantine Textform 2005 reading. But in the Nestle Aland 27th edition/United Bible Societies 4th edition, it reads, kauchesomai, “boast; take pride in” (Concise Greek-English Dictionary, s. v. καυωμαι) (aorist, middle deponent, subjunctive); or “to express an unusually high degree of confidence in someone or something being exceptionally noteworthy—‘to boast.’” (Greek-English Lexicon, s. v. καυχησωμαι)

I think the Byzantine reading, kauthesomai, “to be burned,” has strong textual basis. It was the dominant text that was transmitted to the Greek-speaking churches in Asia Minor since the 4th century. It also brings out the usual practice in those days. At the time, Jewish martyrs were known to throw “themselves into the fire to avoid being forcibly defiled.” (Keener, IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament PC Study Bible V.5 CD) This way, they find it worthy to die by such a sacrifice. sac-21Paul seems to say, “If I deliver up my body to be burned, but do not possess love continually, then I gain nothing.” “Gain nothing” is from odeis, “no” (AGNT) and opheleo, “profit; achieve (something); benefit; be (useful) to” (Concise Greek-English Dictionary, s. v. ωφελουμαι). It literally means, “no benefit” or “nothing useful.”

Here’s another empty consequence of serving God and others without love—Nothing useful.

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Disclaimer:  I’ve tried to give credit to whom credit is due.  If there is any original thought or reference which I failed to footnote, please call my attention.  Once validated, it will be corrected immediately.


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