How to save your life (Mt 16:25-16:26)

“Whoever wants

To save

Their life

Will lose it.

Whoever loses their life

For my sake

Will find it.

What will it profit them?

If they gain

The whole world,

But forfeit their life.

What will they give

In return

For their life?”

 

ὃς γὰρ ἐὰν θέλῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ σῶσαι, ἀπολέσει αὐτήν· ὃς δ’ ἂν ἀπολέσῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ, εὑρήσει αὐτήν.

τί γὰρ ὠφεληθήσεται ἄνθρωπος ἐὰν τὸν κόσμον ὅλον κερδήσῃ, τὴν δὲ ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ζημιωθῇ; ἢ τί δώσει ἄνθρωπος ἀντάλλαγμα τῆς ψυχῆς αὐτοῦ;

 

Jesus told his disciples how to save their lives.  Something similar can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 8:35-37, Luke, chapter 9:24-25, and here, almost word for word.  Jesus said that whoever wished, desired, or wanted to save their life (ὃς γὰρ ἐὰν θέλῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ σῶσαι), they would lose it (ἀπολέσει αὐτήν).  However, anyone who lost their life for the sake of Jesus (ὃς δ’ ἂν ἀπολέσῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ), they would find their life (εὑρήσει αὐτήν).  What is the profit or benefit for a person (τί γὰρ ὠφεληθήσεται ἄνθρωπος) to gain the whole world (ἐὰν τὸν κόσμον ὅλον κερδήσῃ) if they lose their life or soul (τὴν δὲ ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ζημιωθῇ).  What will a person give in exchange for his life or soul (ἢ τί δώσει ἄνθρωπος ἀντάλλαγμα τῆς ψυχῆς αὐτοῦ)?  Give up your life to Jesus, and you will live.

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The disciples of Jesus (Mt 10:42-10:42)

“Whoever gives

Even a cup of cold water

To one of these little ones,

In the name of a disciple,

Truly,

I say to you,

None of these

Will lose their reward.”

 

καὶ ὃς ἐὰν ποτίσῃ ἕνα τῶν μικρῶν τούτων ποτήριον ψυχροῦ μόνον εἰς ὄνομα μαθητοῦ, ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, οὐ μὴ ἀπολέσῃ τὸν μισθὸν αὐτοῦ.

 

This verse of Matthew is similar to Mark, chapter 9:41.  Jesus said that whoever gave a cup of cold water to drink to these small or little ones (καὶ ὃς ἐὰν ποτίσῃ ἕνα τῶν μικρῶν τούτων ποτήριον ψυχροῦ), if only in the name of his disciples (μόνον εἰς ὄνομα μαθητοῦ,), they would not lose their reward (οὐ μὴ ἀπολέσῃ τὸν μισθὸν αὐτοῦ).  Once again, Jesus spoke with authority (ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν).  They would not lose anything by giving this small gesture of cold water to his disciples or the little ones or the less important in society.  These least important in society might be his disciples themselves.

Lose your life to find it (Mt 10:39-10:39)

“Those who find

Their life

Will lose it.

Those who lose

Their life

For my sake

Will find it.”

 

ὁ εὑρὼν τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἀπολέσει αὐτήν, καὶ ὁ ἀπολέσας τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ εὑρήσει αὐτήν.

 

This verse of Matthew is similar to Luke, chapters 9:24 and 17:33, Mark, chapter 8:35, and John 12:25.  In order to gain your eternal life, you have to lose your life for the sake of Jesus.  Anyone who thinks that he has found his life or soul (ὁ εὑρὼν τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ) will lose it (ἀπολέσει αὐτήν).  On the other hand, anyone who loses their life or soul (καὶ ὁ ἀπολέσας τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ) for the sake of Jesus (ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ) will find their life or soul (εὑρήσει αὐτήν).  Thus, you have to lose your life or soul in Jesus, in order to truly live.

The sinning eye (Mt 5:29-5:29)

“If your right eye

Causes you

To sin,

Tear it out!

Throw it away!

It is better

For you

To lose

One of your members

Than for your whole body

To be thrown into hell.”

 

εἰ δὲ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου ὁ δεξιὸς σκανδαλίζει σε, ἔξελε αὐτὸν καὶ βάλε ἀπὸ σοῦ· συμφέρει γάρ σοι ἵνα ἀπόληται ἓν τῶν μελῶν σου καὶ μὴ ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου βληθῇ εἰς γέενναν.

 

Following up on the preceding saying about looking at women as adultery of the heart, Matthew has Jesus be more demanding, based on Mark, chapter 9:47, and repeated again in Matthew, chapter 18:9.  If your right eye (εἰ δὲ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου ὁ δεξιὸς) caused you to stumble or sin (σκανδαλίζει σε), then pluck it or tear it out (ἔξελε αὐτὸν) and throw it away (καὶ βάλε ἀπὸ σοῦ).  The reasoning behind this self-mutilation was that it was better for you (συμφέρει γάρ σοι) to lose one of your member parts (ἵνα ἀπόληται ἓν τῶν μελῶν σου) than have your whole body be thrown into Gehenna or hell (καὶ μὴ ὅλον τὸ σῶμά σου βληθῇ εἰς γέενναν).  The Greek word for hell “γέενναν” or the English Gehenna was based on the Hebrew word Gehinnom that was the name of the valley south of Jerusalem where burning child sacrifices would take place.  You were better off with one eye and a whole body than being in the fires of hell.

The destruction of the lions’ den of Assyria (Nah 2:11-2:13)

“What became

Of the lions’ den?

What became

Of the cave

Of the young lions?

There the lion goes.

There his cubs were,

With none to disturb them.

The lion has torn enough

For his whelps.

He strangled prey

For his lionesses.

He has filled his caves

With prey.

He has filled his dens

With torn flesh.

‘See!

I am against you!’

Says Yahweh of hosts!

‘I will burn

Your chariots

In smoke.

The sword shall devour

Your young lions.

I will cut off

Your prey

From the earth.

The voice

Of your messengers

Shall be heard no more.’”

Assyria was considered a lion or a destroyer.  Nahum wanted to know what had happened to this proud lion’s den or his cave.  There his young cubs would be undisturbed.  He had gathered enough prey for these lionesses, as well as their cubs.  This lion of Assyria had filled his caves and dens with torn flesh.  All this would be gone.  Yahweh has issued an oracle against Assyria.  Yahweh would burn their chariots as they would go up in smoke.  Their young lions would die by the sword.  They would lose all their prey.  The voice of their messengers would not be heard anymore.  The end of Nineveh and Assyria was near.

The punishment of Israel (Am 2:13-2:16)

“‘So,

I will press you down

In your place.

Just as a cart

Presses down,

When it is full of sheaves.

Flight shall perish

From the swift.

The strong

Shall not

Retain their strength.

The mighty

Shall not

Save their lives.

Those who handle the bow

Shall not stand.

Those who are swift

Of foot

Shall not save themselves.

Those who ride horses

Shall not save their lives.

Those who are stout

Of heart,

Among the mighty,

Shall flee away naked,

In that day.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh, via Amos, issued his punishment. The Israelites were going to be pressed down like a bundle of hay or sheaves. The swift people would lose their quick agility. The strong people would lose their strength. The mighty people would lose their lives. The archers would not be able to stand. The fast people would not be able to save themselves. The horse riders would lose their lives also. The mighty strong people would run away naked. Yahweh said that all this would take place on the appointed day.

The punishment for Samaria (Hos 13:15-13:16)

“Although he may flourish

Among the rushes of reed plants,

The east wind shall come,

A blast from Yahweh.

It will rise

From the wilderness.

His fountain

Shall dry up.

His spring

Shall be parched.

It shall strip

His treasury

Of every precious thing.

Samaria shall bear

Her guilt.

Because she has rebelled

Against her God.

They shall fall

By the sword.

Their little ones

Shall be dashed

In pieces.

Their pregnant women

Shall be ripped open.”

This is very strong criticism of Samaria, the capital city of the northern Israelite kingdom. It might flourish now, but the deadly east wind of Yahweh will come from the wilderness. Its fountains and springs will dry up and be parched. It will lose all the precious things of its treasury. Samaria will have to carry the guilt, because it rebelled against God. It will fall by the sword or die. Its little children will be broken into little pieces. Its pregnant women will have their pregnancies terminated by ripping open their wombs. This will be a bad time for Samaria.