25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
This verse applies the seed illustration of the previous verse to Jesus’ followers. Verse 25 offers a wheat analogy to illustrate a paradoxical principle—death is the way to life. Jesus’ death led to His glory. Not only is this true for Jesus but it is also true for those who believe in Him.
After His parable of the necessity of the seed falling into the ground, Jesus gave instruction for His followers on how to produce a harvest to the maxim.
25 He who loves his life will lose it,
If we care more about our physical life than eternal life, we will lose the true purpose for our lives. Any idol we hold that involves our interests in this life will allow for no eternal value.
“Love” and “hate” in this verse are Semitic ideas that point to the thought of preferences toward life rather than actual love or hate. These words when used in a Semitic sense are hyperbole.
Losing one’s life is to accept the principle of God’s sovereign control over our lives. God has a right to direct our values.
and he who hates his life [earthly life] in this world
Hating life in this context means being willing to forfeit personal purposes for God’s eternal plan for us. Hating life in this world means that we must go through spiritual death to temporal values. One hating “his life” cares more for Christ than personal values.
It is important to realize that the idea of hate here is a semantic hyperbole, an overly emphatic statement to make a strong point. The point is that we are to live with priorities that are not our own; we put priority on God’s primacies. This is to live life beyond self.
will keep it for eternal life.
Those who believe in Christ will not pander to temporal things but to eternal. By living a life devoted to the Lord, come what may, we enjoy rich harvest in eternity. Only by spending our lives do we retain it. By service to the Lord comes greatness. The only possessions we take into eternity is what we did for the Lord. Everything else evaporates into the past. Those who live for others will harvest eternal blessings. We share Christ’s glory in serving others.
“Keep it for eternal life” means the sacrificial life during time will manifest itself in eternity. If our primary concern is to amass temporal things, this value will not carry over into eternity. The extent of our harvest is a single seed, not an abundant harvest.
Renunciation of living for self instead of God is at the heart of discipleship.
A seed unsown does not produce fruit. From an eternal perspective, death is the means of life. It is a paradox. Jesus’ death led to the eternal life of many. That same overarching principle is true for the believer. The Christian who lives with eternal values in view will have a productive life. It is a matter of setting our priorities right.
Only as we understand that the death and resurrection of Christ are linked together can we comprehend what appears to be a waste of life. If we place things of this physical life in highest value, it will result in devaluing eternal things.
Hey does this verse mean we will be able to enjoy the same things we like to enjoy on earth in heaven as well?
Chandler, no, the point John makes here is that we need to put our value on eternal things.
Eyes haven’t seen ears haven’t heard the things God has prepared for us,the things of this of this world cannot match what God has for us!!! Glory to God!!!
Thank you to the author of this explanation. It appears to be blessed and worthy of God’s Word.
“He who loves his life will >lose itkeep it< for eternal life"
If a person "loses their life", is that not the same as a loss of life? In other words, they will no longer be living.
And by the same token, if one "keeps their life", doesn't that mean that they will keep on living?
James, this passage is not speaking of literal life and death, but it is metaphorical. When Jesus said “I am the door” He did not mean that He was a piece of wood hanging on hinges.
I don’t understand the answer that you gave for this verse.
“He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
Surely keeping one’s life for eternal life is not metaphorical. A believer will literally live forever.
And in English, if we say that a person “loses their life”, it means that they will literally be dead.
I was comparing John 12:25 with Luke 17:33.
Whoever tries to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it.
I understand that to lose one’s life means to give up one’s own desire. But what about the second part where it says that they will “preserve” their life?
So I checked the Greek word for “preserve” which is similar to “keep” one’s life.
Here is what the concordance says for the Greek word for preserve.
From the same as zoon and a derivative of ginomai; to engender alive, i.e. (by analogy) to rescue (passively, be saved) from death.
So it looks like keeping one’s life or “preserving” one’s life means that you will not die.
James, The word in Lu 17:33 is not ginomai, but ζῳογονήσει (zphogonesei) to keep alive, bring forth alive, which can mean preserve. It is in the future, active, indicative. Future=logical sequence; active=the subject produces the action; indicative=it is a reality that this will happen.
The word “keep” in John 12:25 is not ginomai but φυλάξει (phylasso), to guard, watch. It is in the present, active, indicative; present=continuing aktionsart; active=subject produces the action; indicative= it is real.
I would suggest that you be careful when you attempt to understand Greek because you are not using it improperly.
James, The word in Lu 17:33 is not ginomai, but ζῳογονήσει (zwogonesei) to keep alive, bring forth alive, which can mean preserve.
According to what you wrote for the definition of this Greek word, I don’t see anything different from the concordance definition that I found. — It means “to keep alive.”
And I didn’t copy the full concordance.
ζωογονήσει – 1 Occurrence to keep alive = to engender alive
It is in the future, active, indicative. Future = logical sequence; active = the subject produces the action; indicative = it is a reality that this will happen.
“It is a reality that this will happen.” – – – So the believer will “keep on living.” But unbelievers will not keep on living. So they will die. At least, that is how it looks to me.
James, I believe your problem is that you are reading more in the text than what the text says. That is called the error of interpolation in interpretation (hermeneutics). This passage is simply saying that if Jesus dies (please see my commentary in John leading up to this verse), He will produce much grain (benefits of eternal life for others, etc.). Note my previous study on 12:23f. This passage is not referencing unbelievers, but Jesus Himself. The point is if Jesus dies, those who believe His death will receive eternal life.
Before you wrote. >
James, I believe your problem is that you are reading more in the text than what the text says. That is called the error of interpolation in interpretation (hermeneutics). This passage is simply saying that if Jesus dies (please see my commentary in John leading up to this verse), He will produce much grain (benefits of eternal life for others, etc.). Note my previous study on 12:23f. This passage is not referencing unbelievers, but Jesus Himself. – – – The point is if Jesus dies, those who believe His death will receive eternal life.
The last sentence in your comment is still saying the same thing that I wrote before. I said that believers will be able to keep or preserve (or guard) their life for eternity. That is exactly what you wrote. But unbelievers (who love their life) will “lose their lives.” So I don’t see how I am reading anything into this verse.
And then, Luke 17:33 is saying the same thing. >
Whoever tries to save his life will “lose it”, but whoever loses his life will “preserve” it.
And in John 10:10, Jesus said, “I came that they may “have life”, and have it abundantly.
Jesus came that people—may—have life. So if an unbeliever does not come to Jesus, then obviously he cannot “have life.” That only leaves one other alternative for them as far as I can see. They will die.
Jesus stated that he came so that people may have life. (And have it abundantly / for an eternity.)
So it certainly looks like the only other thing left is to NOT have life.
James, if you interested in the doctrine of eternal security, go here: https://versebyversecommentary.com/articles/doctrine/eternal-security-2/
I don’t know why you gave this link. As for me, I was born again, and I will never forget that mind-blowing experience.
But I just wanted to know if you think that the unsaved will actually be without life after they receive their just punishment. To me, that seems to be the inescapable conclusion according to John 10:10 and Luke 17:33. I know that many Christians believe in conditional immortality. They have shown that “forever” does not always mean forever. They have many biblical examples of that.
If you don’t believe that, could you please explain John 10:10 and John 17:33?
The reason I asked you to read my study 12:23ff is to show the analogy that Jesus set up. His argument was to show that His death would lead to life. The time for His crucifixion had come. That is why He gave the harvest illustration in verse 24. The grain that goes into the ground dies, but if it dies, it will again produce much grain. The dying in that case was figurative for His dying. He lived His life for the purpose of the Father. The seed metaphor was an illustration of Jesus’ death on the cross. The point is the death of Jesus will allow for eternal life for those who believe on Him. He was explaining a paradox: death brings life. Then in verse 25 the subject turns to His followers. If people care more for their physical lives than living for eternal purposes, then metaphorically they will lose the purpose God put them on earth. They must choose between living for God or for themselves (love/hate). The thought is Christians must die to their own purposes—this is spiritual death, not physical death. Those who live for eternal things will reap reward in eternity. The argument is death to self is the means of living for eternal values. The next verse (v. 26) continues the argument about serving the Lord in time. That is the kind of person the Lord honors. The overarching principle is that Jesus is showing His value system to His followers (v.27); He will die so that those who believe on Him will have eternal life. Then He prays that the Father will take Him because His hour had come (v. 28). Φυλάσσω, the word in John 12:25 means to guard, that is, the person who lives for the Lord will guard his reward, or protect his reward in eternity. In other words, you are reading a literal idea into a figurative passage, an illustrative passage. This passage is not referring to physical death. Read the context and note the figurative use of Scripture.
As I have said over and over “life” in this context is not physical life, but loss of purpose for one’s of living for the Lord. Your attempt to make this passage wooden literal is to miss the point that Jesus gave a farm illustration. So no, losing one’s life does not mean that person will be literally dead.
The argument from Luke 11:33 is an entirely different context. All Greek words must be interpreted in context. To impose the Luke passage on the John passage is a violation of hermeneutics. There is nothing in this passage about unbelievers; the argument is about believers wasting their lives in time or living for eternity. In other words, you are continuing to interpolate Scripture, that is, reading an idea not found in the passage. What I have said in no way supports what you have said. The same can be said for John 10:10, where the argument is for the believer living an abundant spiritual life as over against a worthless life. See my study of that passage. You are making the same error in both passages.
He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep “it” for eternal life.
Before you wrote, “metaphorically they will lose the purpose God put them on earth.” And you also wrote, “the word in John 12:25 means to guard, that is, the person who lives for the Lord will guard his reward, or protect his reward in eternity.”
Strangely you added the words… guard “HIS REWARD” However, this verse doesn’t say anything about rewards. It just says guard “it” meaning the person’s LIFE. And he is guarding it FOR > eternal LIFE, not guarding it FROM losing the purpose God put them on earth. So by adding the words ”his reward,” it looks like you are reading more into the text than what it actually says. So please address this part. > will keep “it” for eternal life. Because I don’t see how you can say that the “it” in this verse could possibly mean “rewards,” or “the purpose for their life.”
And then you wrote this. > “The same can be said for John 10:10, where the argument is for the believer living an abundant spiritual life as over against a worthless life.”
Well, if Jesus said, “I came that they may have a more abundant life,” then I would agree with you. That would be a valid interpretation. But this verse is divided into two parts. It says, > I came that they may “have life”, and have it more abundantly. “I came that they may have a more abundant life. But that is not what this verse says.
P.S. For the last part of my questions, I made a mistake. It should say this. >>
But this verse is divided into two parts. It says, > I came that they may “have life,” and have it more abundantly.
However, you explained this verse as if it said: “I came that they may have a more abundant life.”
But that is not what this verse says. So please explain the first part of this verse.
James, Note that the concept of “reward” is in the syntactical argument and does not rest in the word per se. If the argument that Jesus makes is to put priority on the things of greatest value while on earth while in the ψυχὴν, i.e., in the soul, then there will be some benefit for doing so in eternity future. It is a dangerous interpretation that rests solely on the etymological meaning, root meaning, etc, if stripped from the context.
The word αὐτοῦ or “it” is from the root αυτος, (pronoun, personal, third person, genitive, singular, masculine) and is contained in the participial clause with the syntactic force of a personal pronoun functioning as a possessive genitive. αὐτοῦ modifies ψυχὴν. αὐτός is a reference to a definite person or persons spoken or written about (with an added feature of emphasis in the nominative forms)—‘he, him, she, her, it, they, them.’ Having said that, what pray tell is your point? The “it” has no meaning without the contextual argument.
“Hate/love” reflects a semitic idiom that articulates fundamental preference. This person does not pander to self-interest. That is, death is the necessary condition for the generation of life. 12:25 moves from the parallel to Jesus to His disciples. The person who lives for himself will lose it, that is, a life lived for the Lord. Genuine Christian living is a denial of one’s sovereignty.
A second contrast emerges where the person who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life, not only this [present] world as opposed to eternal life, but this present evil world, characterized by rebellion, death, and judgment (3:19–21, 36), as opposed to the blessings of eternal life (cf. notes on 1:4; 3:15).
It still looks like you are reading your own idea into John 12:25.
Anyway, what about John 10:10? You didn’t address that. This verse is more straightforward than John 12:25. There is nothing about hating or loving one’s own life in this verse to cloud the issue.
The end of this verse is divided into two very simple parts.
I came that they may “HAVE life,” … and have it more abundantly.
Before, you explained this part of the verse as if it said: “I came that they may have a more abundant life.” But that is not what it says.
So how would you explain the… may “HAVE” life part?
Because as far as I can tell, there are only two options: “HAVE” LIFE or “NOT HAVE” LIFE.
James, if you wish to address John 10:10, go there to make your point.
James, the question here is one of the antecedent, to whom is Jesus speaking, the Greeks (unbelievers), or Philip, Andrew, and Philip. Rather than engage Greeks (who now disappear from the story), Jesus offers an extended discourse (12:24–36) that gives insight into the meaning of this hour. The presence of the Greeks was directly responsible for Jesus’ words that follow, but He moves beyond their immediate question in light of the general task the Father placed before Him (His pending death). Verses 25-26 are an “intermezzo,” that is, something that elucidates the relevance of 12:24 for the disciples (whoever loves his life…). Jesus speaks of the distinction in honor given to His followers is different from the honor given by those in the world. Because it is honor bestowed by the Father, it lasts eternally, rather than the fleeting honor of this life. This argument takes the form of a māšāl with two antithetical lines. It is the honor that the Father gives to a disciple. The imperative “let him follow me” carries with it the double implication of peril and reward for the disciple predicated on the prospect of Jesus’ imminent death. The truth enunciated extends beyond the disciple’s earthly life to eternal destiny. It is in eternity when the Father will honor the disciple. It is important to look for honor from God rather than men. Thus, there is a contrast between life in this world and eternal life; life in this world is characterized by sin, rebellion, judgment, and death as opposed to the blessings of eternal life.
Note Leon Morris’ statement:
There is a change from ψυχήν of loving or hating the life, that is, this present, earthly life, to ζωήν of the life proper to the age to come. It may be entered on here and now, but its characteristics concern eternity. McClymont says that ψυχήν here denotes “the natural life of man, with all its appetites, desires, and affections, which seek their gratification irrespective of the will of God. The loving of this life is another name for the spirit of selfishness which is unwilling to spend or be spent for any higher object than self-enjoyment and self-aggrandisement, while the hating of it denotes that spirit of self-sacrifice which counts nothing in this world too dear to be given up in obedience to the Divine will.”
“But the person without the Spirit does not receive what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually.”
1 Corinthians 2:14 CSB
Carlos, what is your point? See my exposition on 1 Cor 2:14 here: https://versebyversecommentary.com/2002/07/09/1-corinthians-214/