The Greek term that is translated as a form of “save” in English is translated in Shipibo-Conibo with a phrase that means literally “make to live,” which combines the meaning of “to rescue” and “to deliver from danger,” but also the concept of “to heal” or “restore to health.”

In San Blas Kuna it is rendered as “help the heart,” in Laka, it is “take by the hand” in the meaning of “rescue” or “deliver,” in Huautla Mazatec the back-translation of the employed term is “lift out on behalf of,” in Anuak, it is “have life because of,” in Central Mazahua “be healed in the heart,” in Baoulé “save one’s head” (meaning to rescue a person in the fullest sense), in Guerrero Amuzgo “come out well,” in Northwestern Dinka “be helped as to his breath” (or “life”) (source: Bratcher / Nida), and in Nyongar barrang-ngandabat or “hold life” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang).

In South Bolivian Quechua it is “make to escape” and in Highland Puebla Nahuatl, it is “cause people to come out with the aid of the hand.” (Source: Nida 1947, p. 222.)

See also salvation.

complete verse (Luke 9:24)

Following are a number of back-translations of Luke 9:24:

  • Nyongar: “If a person wants to keep his life, he will lose his life, but a person who loses his life because of me, he will save his life.” (Source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uma: “Whoever clings-to his own desires/will, he will not receive good life. But whoever lets-go/frees his own desires/will because of his following Me, even if it kills him, he is the one who will receive good life until forever/eternal life.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “For,’ Isa said, ‘if a person cherishes/loves his life, he has not life forever, but if a person does not love his life and submits yet to die because he perseveres following me, he will certainly have everlasting life.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “And if there is a person who sets his heart on his own life, he will die just the same. But if there is a person who follows me and it causes his death, God will give him back his life and he will no longer die forever.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “For the one who esteems/considers-important himself, he will die just the same, but the one who dies on account of his faith in me, there is life that has no limit that God will give him.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “For that one who really values his life, it will indeed be lost to him. But that one who holds-fast-to me even though it causes his breath/life to be severed, life which is far from ordinary will really be his.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)

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.