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Mark 8:36

ESV For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?
NIV What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?
NASB For what does it benefit a person to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?
CSB For what does it benefit someone to gain the whole world and yet lose his life?
NLT And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?
KJV For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
NKJV For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?

What does Mark 8:36 mean?

In the prior verse, the English word "save" was translated from the Greek root word sozo. It means to be kept safe from harm or evil. In a parallel statement, Jesus now refers to those who would try to "gain" the world using the Greek root word kerdainō. This term refers to "winning or gaining," but it also carries the idea of being spared or rescued.

"Soul" is the same as "life" in Mark 8:35. It can mean literal breathing life or the core soul of a person. "World" is from the Greek root word kosmos. It can mean the earth, all the people of the earth, or the ungodly elements of creation, but it can also mean order or government.

Jesus condemns people's desire for "the world." Despite the expectations of almost everybody, He did not come to bring political order to Israel. He criticizes hypocrites such as the Pharisees for twisting the God-worshiping activities of giving (Matthew 6:1) and praying (Matthew 6:5) into attempts to earn the world's approval. And He says that earthly riches create a strong barrier between would-be Christ followers and the kingdom of God (Mark 10:17–25).

We often see this world as having everything we need for a happy and fulfilled life—and in the beginning, that was so (Genesis 1:29–31). But even then, there was nothing in the world more precious than our life—our immortal soul's potential to live for eternity in paradise with God. Jesus knew this when Satan offered Him the world (Matthew 4:8–10). Not only would Jesus not sacrifice His own integrity for the world, He would not sacrifice our souls for our comfort.

The Gospel of Mark was written shortly after "John Mark," whom most scholars believe is the author of this Gospel, abandoned Paul and Barnabas in the middle of a missions trip (Acts 13:5,13). Mark has just recorded that Jesus equated Peter's influence with that of Satan (Mark 8:33). In a few short chapters, Peter will deny that he ever knew Jesus (Mark 14:66–72). This must have been a convicting passage for Peter and Mark to write.
What is the Gospel?
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