The Meaning of Mark 8:35 Explained

Mark 8:35

KJV: For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.

YLT: for whoever may will to save his life shall lose it; and whoever may lose his life for my sake and for the good news' sake, he shall save it;

Darby: For whosoever shall desire to save his life shall lose it, but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's shall save it.

ASV: For whosoever would save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's shall save it.

What does Mark 8:35 Mean?

Verse Meaning

Jesus used the word "life" (Gr. psyche) in two ways in this verse. The translation of this Greek word as "soul" here has caused some people to conclude that Jesus was only warning about the loss of salvation. He was not. In its first occurrence in each clause, "life" refers to one"s physical life. In the second part of each clause "it" means the essential person that continues to exist beyond the grave. Likewise "lose" has two meanings. In the first clause it means the loss of reward for believers or the loss of salvation for unbelievers. In the second clause it means loss of physical life.
Jesus meant that if a person wants to retain control of his or her life now, he or she will suffer the loss of something more valuable in the future. Conversely if a person will relinquish control of his or her life to follow God"s will faithfully, he or she will gain something of greater ultimate worth. [1]
"The calm assertion, "for my sake," reflects Christ"s consciousness of His unique supremacy which justly claims the absolute allegiance of His disciples. And the gospel"s, added only in Mark (cf. Mark 10:29), points to the message which he accepts and propagates at the cost of himself. The two form two sides of one great reality. Christ is known to us only through the gospel, and our adherence to the gospel means our loyalty to Him." [2]
"In the second half of Mark "the gospel" always denotes the message announced by the Church, of which Jesus is the content (Chs. Mark 8:35; Mark 10:29; Mark 13:10; Mark 14:9), precisely as in Ch. Mark 1:1." [3]

Context Summary

Mark 8:22-38 - The Cost Of Following Jesus
Our attention has been drawn to the Master's sighs; here, however, was another characteristic act. He spat on the eyes of the blind man, perhaps to excite his expectation and faith. Repulsive as ophthalmia is in the East, it did not repel Him nor staunch the flow of His pity.
We do not at once see everything clearly, but step by step we come unto perfect vision. Here we see through a glass darkly, there face to face. There was a great price to be paid; it was only through suffering and death that Jesus could do His greatest work, in redeeming and cleansing the children of men. He might have been the miracle-worker apart from Calvary; but to be the Savior, He must not spare Himself but be willing to pour out His soul even unto death. It was hard for the Apostles to learn this lesson; they wanted the Master to spare Himself. Peter, especially, sought to dissuade Him; but the Lord knew better the desperate need of men and how it must be met. There are three conditions to be fulfilled by those who have resolved to follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. 1. We must deny self; 2. Each must take up his cross; 3. We must think more of others than of ourselves. If these are realized, the soul is following Christ and making progress, even though it deems itself stagnant or drifting back. [source]

Chapter Summary: Mark 8

1  Jesus feeds the people miraculously;
10  refuses to give a sign to the Pharisees;
14  admonishes his disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod;
22  gives a blind man his sight;
27  acknowledges that he is the Jesus who should suffer and rise again;
34  and exhorts to patience in persecution for the profession of the gospel

Greek Commentary for Mark 8:35

And the gospel‘s sake [και του ευαγγελιου]
In Mark alone. See note on Matthew 16:25. for this paradox. Two senses of “life” and “save.” For the last “save” See note on Matthew 16:26 for “gain,” “profit,” and “exchange.” [source]
And the gospel's []
Peculiar to Mark. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Mark 8:35

Matthew 10:39 Shall lose it [απολεσει αυτην]
This paradox appears in four forms according to Allen (1) Matthew 10:39 (2) Mark 8:35; Matthew 16:25; Luke 9:24 (3) Luke 17:33 (4) John 12:25. The Wisdom of Sirach (Hebrew text) in 51:26 has: “He that giveth his life findeth her (wisdom).” It is one of the profound sayings of Christ that he repeated many times. Plato (Gorgias 512) has language somewhat similar though not so sharply put. The article and aorist participles here (ο ευρων ο απολεσας — ho heurōn ο δεχομενος — ho apolesas) are timeless in themselves just like ho dechomenos in Matthew 10:40 and Matthew 10:41. [source]
John 12:25 Loseth it [απολλυει αυτην]
The second paradox. Present active indicative of απολλυω — apolluō This great saying was spoken at various times as in Mark 8:35 (Matthew 16:25; Luke 9:24) and Mark 10:39 (Luke 17:33). See those passages for discussion of πσυχη — psuchē (life or soul). For “he that hateth his life” (ο μισων την πσυχην αυτου — ho misōn tēn psuchēn autou) see the sharp contrasts in Luke 14:26-35 where μισεω — miseō is used of father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, as well as one‘s own life. Clearly μισεω — miseō means “hate” when the issue is between Christ and the dearest things of life as happens when the choice is between martyrdom and apostasy. In that case one keeps his soul for eternal life by losing his life (πσυχη — psuchē each time) here. That is the way to “guard” (πυλαχει — phulaxei) life by being true to Christ. This is the second paradox to show Christ‘s philosophy of life. [source]

What do the individual words in Mark 8:35 mean?

Whoever for if might desire - life his to save will lose it now - the of him on account of Me and of the gospel he will save
ὃς γὰρ ἐὰν θέλῃ τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ σῶσαι ἀπολέσει αὐτήν δ’ ἂν τὴν αὐτοῦ ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ καὶ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου σώσει

ὃς  Whoever 
Parse: Personal / Relative Pronoun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: ὅς 
Sense: who, which, what, that.
θέλῃ  might  desire 
Parse: Verb, Present Subjunctive Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: θέλω  
Sense: to will, have in mind, intend.
τὴν  - 
Parse: Article, Accusative Feminine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
ψυχὴν  life 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Feminine Singular
Root: ψυχή  
Sense: breath.
αὐτοῦ  his 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Genitive Masculine 3rd Person Singular
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.
σῶσαι  to  save 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Infinitive Active
Root: ἐκσῴζω 
Sense: to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction.
ἀπολέσει  will  lose 
Parse: Verb, Future Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: ἀπόλλυμι  
Sense: to destroy.
δ’  now 
Parse: Conjunction
Root: δέ  
Sense: but, moreover, and, etc.
ἂν  - 
Parse: Particle
Root: ἄν  
Sense: has no exact English equivalent, see definitions under AV.
αὐτοῦ  of  him 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Genitive Masculine 3rd Person Singular
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.
ἕνεκεν  on  account  of 
Parse: Preposition
Root: εἵνεκεν 
Sense: on account of, for the sake of, for.
ἐμοῦ  Me 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Genitive 1st Person Singular
Root: ἐγώ  
Sense: I, me, my.
τοῦ  of  the 
Parse: Article, Genitive Neuter Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
εὐαγγελίου  gospel 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Neuter Singular
Root: εὐαγγέλιον  
Sense: a reward for good tidings.
σώσει  he  will  save 
Parse: Verb, Future Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: ἐκσῴζω 
Sense: to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction.