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Mark 8:37

ESV For what can a man give in return for his soul?
NIV Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?
NASB For what could a person give in exchange for his soul?
CSB What can anyone give in exchange for his life?
NLT Is anything worth more than your soul?
KJV Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

What does Mark 8:37 mean?

Jesus continues His Socratic teaching. Where a straight statement would express the truth, a question allows the disciples and the crowd to contemplate the possible answers. The inferred answer also reveals the heart of God toward us. The entirety of creation will be destroyed (Matthew 24:35), but our souls are immortal, whether for good or bad (Matthew 25:46). All of human achievement will burn, but our souls will remain. Our identities, whether as Christ-followers or as those who rejected God, will exist for eternity.

This must have been comforting for Mark's audience. It's believed his Gospel is one of the first books of the New Testament written, probably in AD 55—59. In AD 64, Rome burned and Nero blamed the Christians. But even before that, Paul and others, authorized by Jewish leadership, hunted Christians and imprisoned them so they could be tried and sentenced to death (Acts 26:9–11).

Life under Roman rule was peaceful for the most part. The professional soldiers took care of the wars, the slaves took care of the roads, and trade between the different regions flourished. To be a Christian was to risk that peace and prosperity for possible martyrdom. At the time, with the expectation of following Jesus to His earthly kingdom, the disciples may have celebrated the idea of having to forfeit the advantages of being a territory of Rome. Later, however, Mark's audience must have felt comfort that their circumstances were nothing compared to the peace their souls would experience in God's presence.
What is the Gospel?
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