Translation commentary on Luke 9:24


Again it may suffice to refer to Mark 8.35, and to notice the differences between Mark and Luke: (1) Since Luke uses psuchē only in this verse and not in v. 25 = Mk. 8.36, and Mk. 8.37 has no counterpart in Luke, the interplay between psuchē as natural life and as spiritual life is less prominent in Luke. V. 24 is rather dominated by the interplay between sōsai ‘to preserve,’ ‘to keep from danger and death,’ and sōsei ‘he will save,’ in the theological sense. (2) Luke omits kai tou euaggeliou ‘and of the gospel’ and in the next clause inserts houtos, which takes up emphatically the relative pronoun hos. (3) Luke has apolesē (aorist subjunctive) instead of apolesei (future indicative). This is more correct from the point of view of Greek grammar but does not change the meaning.


The stylistic pattern is as follows: the first sentence has two contrasting clauses, the second one has the same pair in reversed order, with a qualifying phrase inserted; the first verb of either pair is used in its literal, the second in a figurative meaning.

Whoever …, or, ‘everyone who…,’ ‘all those who…,’ may better be rendered by an ‘if-’ or ‘when-’ clause, ‘if anyone (or, a person)…, he…,’ similarly in vv. 26, 48; 14.27, 33; 17.33; 18.17, etc., and in 10.16 for “he who…”.

For save see also on 1.47.

Life. In some languages the use of the word for ‘life,’ or such equivalents as ‘soul,’ ‘breath,’ would restrict the meaning to life as a function of the body only; hence shifts to ‘himself,’ ‘his own person’ (cf. also v. 25, where heauton ‘himself’ is virtually interchangeable with ‘his life’). This may result in such renderings of the verse as, “whoever wants to take care of himself will lose himself, but whoever … loses himself is saving himself”.

For my sake, or, ‘for the benefit of me,’ ‘in my behalf,’ ‘to help me.’

Quoted with permission from Reiling, J. and Swellengrebel, J.L. A Handbook on the Gospel of Luke. (UBS Handbook Series). New York: UBS, 1971. For this and other handbooks for translators see here . Make sure to also consult the Handbook on the Gospel of Mark for parallel or similar verses.

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