Matthew 16:24-26

Matthew 16:24-26
Narrative Lectionary


24 Then JesusA told his disciples,B “If any wishC to comeD after me,

Notes on verse 24a

A “Jesus” = Iesous. From Hebrew Yehoshua (Joshua, the Lord is salvation); {from YHVH (proper name of the God of Israel; the self-existent and eternal one); {from havah (to become) or from hayah (to come to pass, become, be)} + yasha (to deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue; properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe. So, in a causative sense, this is to free someone)}. This is Jesus or Joshua in Greek – the Lord saves or the Lord is salvation.
B “disciples” = mathetes. From matheteuo (to make a disciple of); from manthano (to learn key facts, gain knowledge from experience; generally implies reflection as part of the learning process); from math– (thinking things through). This is a disciple, learner, or student. It is where we get “mathematics” from.
C “wish” = thelo. This is to wish, desire, will, or intend. It is to choose or prefer in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean inclined toward or take delight in. It can have a sense of being ready to act on the impulse in question.
D “come” = erchomai. This is to come or go.

let them denyE themselves and take upF their crossG and followH me. 

Notes on verse 24b

E “deny” = aparneomai. 11x in NT– 8x of Peter’s denial of Jesus, 2x “let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mt 16:24 & Mk 8:34), 1x “whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God” (Lk 12:9). From apo (from, away from) + arneomai (to deny, disown, refuse, repudiate someone or a previously held belief, to contradict); {from a (not) + rheo (say, speak of)}. This is a strong denial or rejection – utter denial, disowning, or repudiation.
F “take up” = airo. This is to lift up in a literal or figurative sense. So, it could mean to lift, carry, or raise. It could also imply lifting something in order to take it away or remove it. Figuratively, this can be used for raising the voice or level of suspense. It can mean sailing off as raising the anchor. It can also correspond to a Hebrew expression for atonement of sin (lift/remove sin).
G “cross” = stauros. From the same as histemi (to stand, cause to stand). This is an upright stake, cross. Literally refers to the horizontal beam of a Roman cross, generally carried by the one convicted to die.
H “follow” = akoloutheo. From a (with, fellowship, union) + keleuthos (road, way). This is to accompany or follow someone, especially the way a disciple does.

25 For those who wantI to saveJ their lifeK will loseL it, and those who lose their life for my sake will findM it. 

Notes on verse 25

I “want” = thelo. Same as “wish” in v24. See note C above.
J “save” = sozo. From sos (safe, rescued, well). This is to save, heal, preserve, or rescue. Properly, this is taking someone from danger to safety. It can be delivering or protecting literally or figuratively. This is the root that “savior” and “salvation” come from in Greek.
K “life” = psuche. From psucho (to breathe, blow). This is breath, the breath of life, the self, individual, soul. This is the word for that which makes a person unique – their identity, will, personality, affections. This isn’t the soul as the immortal part of us, but as our individuality. It is also not life as a general concept, but specific to people. This is where the words psyche and psychology come from.
L “lose” = apollumi. From apo (from, away from) + ollumi (to destroy or ruin; the loss that comes from a major ruination). This is to destroy, cut off, to perish – perhaps violently. It can also mean to cancel or remove.
M “find” = heurisko. This is to find, learn, or obtain. It is to discover something, which generally implies a period of searching for it. This is to find in a literal or figurative sense. This is where the word “heuristic” comes from.

26 For what will it profitN themO if they gainP the wholeQ worldR

Notes on verse 26a

N “profit” = opheleo. 15x in NT. From ophelos (help, gain, profit); from ophello (to heap up or increase). This is to help, benefit, do good, or be useful.
O “them” = anthropos. Probably from aner (man, male, husband) + ops (eye, face); {from optanomai (to appear, be seen); perhaps from horao (become, seem, appear)}. This is human, humankind. Used for all genders.
P “gain” = kerdaino. 17x in NT. From kerdos (profit, gain, advantage). This is to gain, win, or acquire. It is a word from the sphere of bartering and trading. Figuratively, it can mean trading up.
Q “whole” = holos. This is whole, complete, or entire. It is a state where every member is present and functioning in concert. This is the root of the word “whole.”
R “world” = kosmos. Perhaps from the base of komizo (to carry, convey, recover); from komeo (to take care of). This is order, the world, the universe, including its inhabitants. Literally, this is something that is ordered so it can refer to all creation. It can also refer to decoration in the sense that something is better ordered and, thus, made more beautiful. This is where “cosmos” and “cosmetics” come from.

but forfeitS their life? Or what will theyT giveU in return forV their life?

Notes on verse 26b

S “forfeit” = zemioo. 6x in NT. From zemia (damage, loss, failed deal; business matter ending in fine or penalty or loss); probably related to damazo (to tame or subdue). This is to damage, cause a loss, punish, forfeit, be damaged or cast away.
T “they” = anthropos. Same as “them” in v26. See note O above.
U “give” = didomi. To give, offer, place, bestow, deliver. This is give in a literal or figurative sense.
V “in return for” = antallagma. 2x in NT. From anti (opposite, instead of, against) + allasso (to change, transform) {from allos (other, another; another of a similar kind or type)}. This is to exchange, an equivalent, a ransom.

Image credit: “Via Crucis V – Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus” from the Franciscan Monastery in Washington, D.C. Photo by Lawrence OP, 2017.

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