Gaining the world but losing your life: The 4 Gospels

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“Those who try to gain their own life will lose it; but those who lose their life for my sake will gain it.” Matthew 10:39

“For if you want to save your own life, you will lose it; but if you lose your life for me and for the gospel, you will save it. Do you gain anything if you win the whole world but lose your life? Of course not! There is nothing you can give to regain your life.” Mark 8:35-37

“Remember Lot’s wife! Those who try to save their own life will lose it; those who lose their life will save it. Luke 17:32-33

“I am telling you the truth: a grain of wheat remains no more than a single grain unless it is dropped into the ground and dies. If it does die, then it produces many grains. Those who love their own life will lose it; those who hate their own life in this world will keep it for life eternal.” John 12:24-25


All of these verses say the same thing: if you follow Jesus and give your earthly life for Him, you will gain eternal life. If you don’t you will not receive eternal life. Each of the gospels, although saying the same thing, phrase it just differently enough that something can be gained from each.

Gaining your life

Both Matthew and Mark talk about gaining ones life as an active choice, as if the person is attempting to save themselves. Mark’s gospel goes a bit further by making it very clear that there is nothing to be gained from this world. The question he asks is rhetorical, portraying the idea that it would be ridiculous to think gaining the world would be worth losing ones soul.

The first two gospels are taken a step further in Luke, when Lot’s wife is mentioned. This gives a clear anecdote for someone who actively tried to gain their life by disobeying God’s direct order, losing their life as a result. John’s gospel also does this, by describing just how it is possible that one can lose their life but gain eternal life. By the wheat dying so it can produce more wheat, followers of Jesus are told to give up their lives for the sake of others. This, He says, is what will save your soul.


These verses are extremely important, especially in the modern day. They talk about gaining anything in this world will never be fulfilling, and will ultimately lead to death. But, if you suffer now by giving up your life to follow Christ, you will gain eternal life. Once a person accepts Jesus as their Lord and Savior, there are things He then commands of them. This is just the beginning, as there are so many more of his teaching that explain just how to serve your fellow man. But it is of utmost importance to recognize that there is nothing outside of Christ, and there is nothing anyone can do to saves themselves apart from following Him.

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