A Roman writer tells us that he once saw a monument to an honest tax-collector. An honest specimen of this renegade profession was so rare that he received a monument.
He may give his body to be burned. Possibly Paul’s thoughts are going back to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and the burning fiery furnace (Daniel 3). Perhaps more likely, he is thinking of a famous monument in Athens called “The Indian’s Tomb.” There an Indian had burned himself in public on a funeral pyre and had caused to be engraved on the monument the boastful inscription: “Zarmano-chegas, an Indian from Bargosa, according to the traditional customs of the Indians, made himself immortal and lies here.” Just possibly, he may have been thinking of the kind of Christian who actually courted persecution. If the motive which makes a man give his life for Christ is pride and self-display, then even martyrdom becomes valueless. It is not cynical to remember that many a deed which looks sacrificial has been the product of pride and not of devotion.