Charity or Love?
July 31, 2011
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." (1 Corinthians 13:1)
It is well known that this word "charity" (Greek agape) is translated as "love" in most modern translations of the Bible. In fact, even in the King James Version, it is translated "love" more than three times as often as it is rendered by "charity." One wonders why these scholarly translators of the seventeenth century did not translate agape by the word "love" here in this very familiar "love chapter," as it has been called. They certainly knew the word did not mean giving to the poor, for they translated verse 3 thus: "And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, . . . and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." How could anyone exhibit greater charity than to give everything he owns to the poor?
They evidently knew well that agape did not mean "charity" as we think of charity today. But neither does agape mean "love" as we think of it today. People today usually are thinking of romantic love, or erotic love, or brotherly love, or perhaps even a sort of happy feeling (e.g., "I love a parade!") when they speak of love.
Actually, the original English concept of "charity," meaning a genuine and unselfish concern for others because of their own intrinsic worth in the sight of their Creator, is the true meaning of agape in its biblical usage. "Charity" may not be the best word to express this attribute today, but "love" is so common and so misused that it seems even less appropriate.
In fact, no single English word today really seems to fit, perhaps because we have almost lost the very virtue which the word "charity" used to express. Well, no matter how we say it, our lives desperately need to show agape, for God Himself is "agape" (1 John 4:8). HMM
h/t: HENRY M MORRIS, INSTITUTE FOR CREATION RESEARCH