John 12:25 He that loveth his life shall lose it;

KJV Verse: 

Jhn 12:25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

The one loving his spirit/self destroys/frees it. And the one hating his spirit/self in this society, into the perpetual life will guard/cherish it.

Hidden Meaning: 

There are many things in this verse that are obscured by the English translation. First, let us remember this is said in the context of the metaphorical meaning of the previous verse about the kernel of a seed decaying so that the seed can sprout (Jhn 12:24).

There are a number of things in the KJV translation that are extremely misleading. The Greek does not say what the KJV says it does, which is a simple idea, but something much more interesting.

First, the Greek word translated as "life" in the loving and hating phrases is a different Greek word than the one translated as "life" in "perpetual life." The first word, psyche, means "breath" as in "the breath of life." It is often translated as the "soul" or "spirit" in the Gospels. The later word is the one that is more consistently translated as "life."

Second, the KJV shows the verbs in both parts of this verse in the future tense "shall lose it" and "shall keep it." this is not the case. The first verb, "shall keep" in the KJV is in the present tense, referring to now. Only the second verb, "shall keep" is in the future tense, referring to the future. this is critical in understanding what it being said here.

Thirdly, the word translated as "shall lose" is actually Greek homonym, two different words that are spelt the same. This seems to be an intentional double meaning. The first Greek word it could be, appolumi, primarily means "to destroy. The second word it could be, appolou, primarily means "to set loose" and "set free." Note than in an similar verse in Matthew, Mat 16:25, the future tense is used, which eliminates the confusion between these two verbs because they have different forms in the future tense. However, in the present tense used here, they are exactly the same word. It seems an intentional play on words.

In the final part of this verse, there is a clear contrast between the two phrases "in the world" and "in perpetual life." The two phrases are side by side, separating the two parts of this sentence. This creates a clear contrast between hating the spirit of this world and preserving the spirit in perpetual life.

This verse emphasized the choice between this world and our spirit from Mat 16:26, which interestingly enough, it the verse after the Mat 16:25, cited above as a seeming parallel that is actually very different. I updated the old posting on this verse so that they are closer to the current standard and readers have access to the Greek version.

Going back to the context of the previous verse, the real truth in what is being said here about seeds and spirits. Christ says that we have two different forms of life's breath: the self in the society (the world) and the spirit in perpetual life. The self in the world is like that protective shell, the kernel of the seed. It protects us but it also traps us inside. We want to destroy the self in the world to free the self into perpetual life.

The spirit goes into perpetual life just as the seed good into the earth. For both the same Greek preposition is used (eis). A different preposition is used for being "in" the world (en). We can love on aspect of ourselves while hating another. This strongly suggests that the fruit our spirit bears is in perpetual life, not in the society.

Wordplay: 

 Double meanings for the words translated as "lose" and "keep" and "life." 

Vocabulary: 

φιλῶν (part sg pres act masc nom) "He that loves" is from phileo, which means "to love", "to regard with affection", "to kiss," and "to approve of." Compared to agape, the more common verb Christ uses that is translated as "love," phileo is stronger and more passionate, more like our use of love in English.

τὴν ψυχὴν "Life" is from psuchê (psyche), which means "breath", "life", "self", "spirit," and "soul." It has the clear sense of the conscious self and is often translated as "life" in the Gospels. It is also used to describe "the spirit" of things. It is often translated as "soul."

αὐτοῦ , "His" is from autos (autos), which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of ones own accord."

ἀπολλύει (3rd sg pres ind act) "Shall lose" might be from apollumi (apollymi), which means "to demolish", "to lay waste", "to lose", "to perish", "to die", "to cease to exist," and "to be undone."

OR
ἀπολλύει (3rd sg pres ind act) "Shall lose" might be from apoluo (apolyo) which means "to loose from" "to set free", "to release", "to acquit", "to divorce [a wife]", "to do away with," and "to begin to count." In the passive, it means "to be released", "to be separated [combatants]," "to be brought forth [a child]," and "to be delivered [of a mother]," and "to be undone."

αὐτήν "It" is from autos (autos), which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of ones own accord."

καὶ "And" is from kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even", "also," and "just."

μισῶν (part sg pres act masc nom) "He that hateth" is from miseô (miseo), which means "to hate" and in passive, "to be hated."

τὴν ψυχὴν "Life" is from psuchê (psyche), which means "breath", "life", "self", "spirit," and "soul." It has the clear sense of the conscious self and is often translated as "life" in the Gospels. It is also used to describe "the spirit" of things. It is often translated as "soul."

αὐτοῦ "His" is from autos (autos), which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of ones own accord."

ἐν "In" is from en, which means "in", "on", "at", "by", "among", "within", "surrounded by", "in one's hands", "in one's power," and "with".

τῷ κόσμῳ "The world" is from kosmos, which mean "order", "good order", "ruler", "world order", "universe," and "the world of men."

τούτῳ "This" is from toutô (touto), which means "from here", "from there", "this [thing]," or "that [thing]."

εἰς "Unto" is from eis (eis), which means "into (of place)," "up to (of time)", "until (of time)", "as much as (of measure or limit)", "as far as (of measure or limit)", "towards (to express relation)", "in regard to (to express relation)", "of an end or limit," and "for (of purpose or object)."

ζωὴν "Life" is from zôê (zoe), which means "living", "substance", "property", "existence," and, incidentally, "the scum on milk." It has the sense of how we say "make a living" to mean property. Homer used it more to mean the opposite of death.

αἰώνιον "Eternal" is from aiônios (aionios), which means "lasting for an age", "perpetual," and "eternal." From "aion" which is used in the bible to mean an "age."

φυλάξει 3rd sg fut ind act "Shall keep" might be from phylasso, which means "to keep watch", "to guard", "to defend", "to keep watch and ward", "to wait in ambush for," and "to observe" [at an appointed time]. It is a metaphor for "preserve", "maintain,"and "cherish."

αὐτήν (3rd sg fut ind act) "Shall keep" could also be from phylazo, which means "to form a tribe."

Related Verses: