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Mark 10:26

ESV And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?”
NIV The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, 'Who then can be saved?'
NASB And they were even more astonished, and said to Him, 'Then who can be saved?'
CSB They were even more astonished, saying to one another, "Then who can be saved? "
NLT The disciples were astounded. 'Then who in the world can be saved?' they asked.
KJV And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?

What does Mark 10:26 mean?

Under the Mosaic law, God promised Israel blessing if they obeyed Him (Deuteronomy 28:1–6). By Jesus' day, that national-level promise had been twisted into a cultural judgment about wealth and spirituality. Popular views held that anyone who suffered must do so because they were disobedient, and anyone blessed must be so because they followed God's law. Although the disciples expect positions of power in Jesus' kingdom, they apparently have no illusions about their personal holiness. If being rich isn't a sign someone deserves to inherit eternal life, then a group of itinerant disciples have no chance.

The question of who can be saved is as important today as it was to the disciples. Jesus' answer to the rich young man, and His remark to the disciples, are such a famous part of His teachings that we often forget how shocking they were at the time He spoke. The disciples initially see this as a horrific, disastrous truth. If a man kept the law and was—supposedly—rewarded for holiness with material blessings, but could not earn eternal life, then no one can! The disciples, worried about who will be the greatest in the kingdom of God (Mark 10:35–44), can't fathom that they don't deserve to be there at all.

Echoing the first part of this crucial truth, James, Jesus' half-brother and the pastor of the church in Jerusalem, will say, "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it" (James 2:10). And Paul will explain that everyone has sinned (Romans 3:23).

The second half of this teaching, however, is that no one can be saved on their own. We are not only incapable of earning salvation, we can't even choose it on our own. Thankfully, God chooses who will be saved (Romans 8:29–30; Ephesians 1:5, 11). And there is no mystery as to whom is chosen: if you follow Jesus and rely on Him for your salvation, you are chosen. Jesus will point this out in the next verse: salvation is, in fact, possible, but only with, through, and by God.
What is the Gospel?
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