Matthew 16:26 For what is a man profited,

KJV Verse: 

Mat 16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Since, what is going to be helped a person if the social order, all of it, he gains, however, that awareness of his might damage itself. Or what is a person going to hand over in a trade for that awareness of his?

Hidden Meaning: 

In the previous verse, when we were talking saving and losing, the word translated here as "soul" was translated as "life." In doing this, the connection between the two verses is lost because the word translated as "life" there is translated as "soul" here. More about the meaning of these words in this article. 

The word translated as "what" can also be translated as "who," or "how." However, it usually acts as a question word in short phrases, not long sentences.

The word translated as "profited" is in the future tense, not the past as it appears in the KJV. It means "being helped or aided."

The word translated as "gain" means, interestingly enough, to gain in the sense of gain an advantage and, interestingly enough, "to derive a profit." But in a phrase like this, we would normally say "win over."

The word translated as "world" doesn't mean the planet, but the idea, especially as Christ uses it, is more like we use the word "society," that is, the world of men, its power structures, and its values. More about this word and related words in this article.

The Greek word translated as "but" joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.

The word translated as "lose" doesn't means "lose" except in the sense of a financial loss. Its primary meaning is "to damage". It is passive, describing something that might happen. In English, we don't say "he might suffer a financial loss of a soul", but we would say, "it might cost."

In the original Greek, the word translated as "soul" means t the spirit, the soul, and the consciousness of a person. In the alternative, the phrase could be "his soul" or "his spirit" but to emphasize the concept of "self", that is conscious awareness. More about this word and related words in this article. 

The word translated as "give" means "to give", "to grant", "to hand over", "appoint", "establish," and "to describe." It is in the future tense.

The word translated as "exchange" is a noun that means that which is traded in an exchange.

Vocabulary: 

τί ( irreg sg neut nom) "What " is from tis ( tis) which can mean "someone", "any one", "everyone", "many a one", "whoever," and so on. In a question, it can mean "who", "why," or "what."

γὰρ (partic)  "For" comes from gar (gar) which is the introduction of a clause explaining a reason or explanation: "for", "since," and "as." In an abrupt question it means "why" and "what."

ὠφεληθήσεται (3rd sg fut ind pass) "Is profited" is from opheleo, which means "to help", "to aid", "to succor", "to be of use or service," and "to benefit."

ἄνθρωπος (noun sg masc nom) "A man" is from anthropos, which is "man," and, in plural, "mankind." It also means "humanity" and that which is human and opposed to that which is animal or inanimate.

ἐὰν (conj) "If" is from ean, which is a conditional particle (derived from ei (if)and an (might)) which makes reference to a time and experience in the future that introduces but does not determine an event.

τὸν κόσμον (noun sg masc acc) "The world" is from kosmos, which mean "order", "good order", "ruler", "world order", "universe," and "the world of men."

ὅλον (adj sg masc acc) "The whole" is from holos (holos), which means "the whole", "entire", "the universe," and "safe and sound."

κερδήσῃ (3rd sg aor subj act) "Gain" is from kerdainô, which means "to gain", "to derive profit", "to spare or save oneself," and to "gain an advantage." In a negative sense, it means "to reap a disadvantage from a thing."

δὲ (partic) "But" is from de (de), which means "but" and "on the other hand." It is the particle that joins sentences in an adversarial way but can also be a weak connective ("and") and explanation of cause ("so") and a condition ("if").

τὴν ψυχὴν (noun sg fem acc) "Soul" is from 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 (adj sg masc gen) "His" is from 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 one's own accord."

ζημιωθῇ; (3rd sg aor subj pass) "Lose" is from zêmioô, which means "to damage", "to cause loss", "to fine," and "to penalize." In the passive form it means "to be fined," and "to suffer a financial loss."

 (conj) "Or" is from e which is a particle meaning "either", "or," or "than."

τί ( irreg sg neut nom) "What" is from tis (tis) which can mean "someone", "any one", "everyone", "many a one", "whoever," and so on. In a question, it can mean "who", "why," or "what."

δώσει (3rd sg fut ind act) "Shall give" is from didomi, which means "to give", "to grant", "to hand over", "appoint", "establish," and "to describe."

ἄνθρωπος (noun sg masc nom) "Is a man" is from anthropos, which is "man," and, in plural, "mankind." It also means "humanity" and that which is human and opposed to that which is animal or inanimate.

ἀντάλλαγμα (noun sg neut acc) "In exchange" is from antallagma, which means "that which is given taken in exchange."

τῆς ψυχῆς (noun sg fem gen) "Soul" is from 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;  (adj sg masc gen)  "His" is from 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 one's own accord."

Related Verses: