34 Then Jesus called the crowd, along with his disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me and because of the gospel will save it. 36 For what benefit is it for a person to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his life? 37 What can a person give in exchange for his life? 38 For if anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
Tamid 32aBabylonian Talmud
He said to them: What must a man do and thereby ensure that he will live? They said to him: Such a man must figuratively kill himself, by living moderately. Alexander further inquired: What must a man do and ensure that he will die? They said to him: Such a man must keep himself alive, i.e., lead an extravagant and indulgent life. He said to them: What must a man do and ensure that he will be accepted by people? They said to Alexander: He must hate the king and the authorities and avoid becoming too close to those in power. Alexander rejected their answer and said to them: My advice for gaining people’s favor is better than yours. One who wants to be accepted must love the king and the authorities, but he must use his connections to perform beneficial acts for people.
Notes and References
"... Interestingly, the paradox that (real) life is gained by being “dead” also occurs in several sources of different provenance. A tradition preserved in the Babylonian Talmud: “What should one do to live? ... Mortify himself ... What should one do to die? ... Keep himself alive.” Another tradition, in Avot de-Rabbi Nathan Version B states: “If you wish not to die, die before you die. If you wish to live, do not live before you live (i.e., are resurrected)”; a similar paradox is discernible in Philo’s assertion (based on Greek and Hellenistic thought) that “in order to live, they die.” Jews made use of both paradoxes of death: (a) spiritual death, before becoming a believer and (b) death to the world as describing the real life of the believer, are not unknown to Jewish sages. The two distinctive, and somewhat conflicting, figures of death occur elsewhere in Pauline (and deutero-Pauline) writings. Looking at the Pauline passage through this lens, one may conclude that in this case Paul merged two well-known metaphors concerning paradoxical conceptions of death and life that had existed in the Judaism of his time to function in a new context: for Paul, salvation is not merely the coming from death to life, nor is it merely dying to the world, but rather dying with Christ and participating in His resurrection. The tension in Paul’s phraseology is intelligible when considered not in isolation but as a result of weaving together two distinct paradoxical figures ..."