What does Luke 9:24 mean?
ESV: For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
NIV: For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.
NASB: For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, this is the one who will save it.
CSB: For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will save it.
NLT: If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.
KJV: For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
NKJV: For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
Verse Commentary:
Luke's book presents what some call the "reverse gospel." He shows that everything we think we know about success and preserving our life in this world ultimately leads to failure and eternal death. The disciples want to be great in Jesus' coming kingdom; they don't know the kingdom is thousands of years away and that the least will be the greatest (Luke 9:46–48). They think they need to carefully protect the inner circle, not understanding Jesus' circle is far wider than they could imagine (Luke 9:49–50; Acts 10:34–35). They think they need to assert their authority on behalf of Jesus' honor (Luke 9:51–55); they don't understand that if a non-believer rejects Jesus, all the believer need do is leave, not fight (Luke 9:5).

If the disciples had joined the crowd in rejecting Jesus, they would not have received His life. If they had defended their worldly position in Christ, they wouldn't have been able to build the church and spread Jesus' good news of salvation. They would have lost everything at the crucifixion, as Judas did, and not received the life of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2). Only by laying down their earthly ambitions could they find their place in God's kingdom.

This verse is not saying those who die for claiming loyalty to Jesus will automatically be saved. Martyrdom does not earn someone a ticket to heaven. Salvation is based on God's grace received through faith (Ephesians 2:1–10). It has to do with our relationship with Jesus, not the manner of our death. It is the one who is unashamed of Jesus, His words, and His cross—who believes His words about salvation and follows Him—who will be saved (Luke 9:26).

"Life" has a broad meaning in Greek. Psychē can refer to the potency that animates a body (breath or spirit), the "inner person" in general (soul or heart), or the soul as the part of a person that is not extinguished at death. Jesus is using a play on words: if we deny Him to save our physical life on earth, we will lose the eternal life He promises us. When Christ-followers die and receive their resurrected bodies, we will not be animated by our fragile organs; the Spirit (Romans 8:11) will provide that life.
Verse Context:
Luke 9:23–27 is another call from Jesus to His disciples to follow Him, with more details of what truly following will cost. Jesus has just said that He is going to suffer and die by the hands of the Jewish religious leaders; now He tells His larger group of disciples to give up their lives for Him. This passage has two challenging concepts: What is the "cross" Jesus tells His followers to carry? Why does Jesus say some standing there will see the kingdom of God? This challenge to commit to Jesus is also found in Matthew 16:24–28 and Mark 8:34—9:1.
Chapter Summary:
Luke 9 completes Jesus' Galilean ministry and begins describing His journey towards Jerusalem. Jesus gives His disciples miraculous power and commissions them to preach. The empowerment thrills the disciples but confuses Herod Antipas. A hungry crowd of thousands and hard teachings about following Jesus, however, shows the disciples' faith is short-lived. The transfiguration and the demonized boy precede stories of the disciples' continued confusion. They still struggle to accurately represent Jesus. Luke 9:51–62 begins the "travelogue" (Luke 9:51—19:27) with examples of the patience and sacrifice needed to represent Jesus as His followers.
Chapter Context:
Luke 9 straddles the two major sections biblical scholars call "Jesus' Galilean Ministry" (Luke 4:14—9:50) and "The Travelogue to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:51—19:27). The Galilean ministry alternates calls to discipleship with stories on Jesus' authority and teachings. The travelogue records what Jesus did and taught to prepare the disciples for His crucifixion. After a final group of stories on how to respond to Jesus (Luke 9:51—11:13) and several examples of how the Jewish religious leaders reject Jesus (Luke 11:14–54), Luke presents Jesus' teaching on the kingdom of God (Luke 12:1—19:27).
Book Summary:
Luke was a traveling companion of Paul (Acts 16:10) and a physician (Colossians 4:14). Unlike Matthew, Mark, and John, Luke writes his gospel as an historian, rather than as a first-hand eyewitness. His extensive writings also include the book of Acts (Acts 1:1–3). These are deliberately organized, carefully researched accounts of those events. The gospel of Luke focuses on the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. Luke's Gentile perspective presents Christ as a Savior for all people, offering both forgiveness and direction to those who follow Him.
Accessed 5/21/2024 12:14:28 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.