Matthew 16:26 MEANING

Matthew 16:26
(26) what is a man profited . . .?--It is not without a purpose that what may be called the argument of expediency is here brought in. Even the self-denial of Matthew 16:24 does not exclude the thought, for those who are still within the range of its influence, of what, in the long-run, will profit us most. There is a self-love which, in spite of the strained language of an exaggerated and unreal philanthropy, is ennobling and not debasing.

In exchange for his soul.--The English introduces an apparent antithesis of language (as has just been noticed) in place of the identity of the original. It would be better to keep "life" in both verses. If there is no profit in bartering even the lower life for the whole world, how much less in bartering the higher,

'Et propter vitam vivendi perdere causas!

And when that forfeiture has been incurred, what price can he then pay to buy it back again? No. "It costs more to redeem their souls, so that he must let that alone for ever" (Psalm 49:8, Prayer Book version).

Verse 26. - For what is a man (shall a man be) profited? This verse explains the paradox concerning loss and gain in the previous verse. It is probably intended as a reminiscence of Psalm 49:7, 8. Wordsworth notes that it is quoted by Ignatius, 'Ep. ad Romans,' 6; but it is probably an early interpolation there. The whole world. It is but a trifle of the whole world, with its riches, honours, pleasures, which the most successful man can obtain; but granted it all lay at his feet, how would it repay him for the loss of everlasting life? Lose his own soul (life) (τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ ζημιωθῇ). The phrase means "suffer loss in respect of," equivalent to "forfeit," as in Luke 9:25. "Life" here is the higher life, the life in God. The Vulgate renders, Animae vero suae detrimentum patiatur. In exchange; ἀνταλλαγμα: Vulgate, commutationem; as an equivalent for his life. Or, it may be, to purchase back his life. "Again, he dwells upon the same point. 'What? hast thou another soul to give for this soul?' saith he. 'Why, shouldst thou lose money, thou wilt be able to give other money;or be it house, or slaves, or any other kinds of possession; but for thy soul, if thou lose it, thou wilt have no other soul to give: yea, though thou hadst the world, though thou wast king of the whole earth, thou wouldst not be able, by paying down all earthly goods, together wits the earth itself, to redeem even one soul" (Chrys.,' Hom.,' 55). The value of the soul is often expressed in classical adages.

Ψυχῆς γὰρ οὐδέν ἐστι τιμιώρερον.
"Naught is of higher value than the soul."

Οὑ γὰρ τι ψυχῆς πέλει ἄνδρασι φίλτερον ἄλλο
"Naught unto men is dearer than the life." So Homer, 'Iliad,' 9:401-

"For not the stores which Troy, they say, contained
In peaceful times, ere came the sons of Greece,
Nor all the treasures which Apollo's shrine,
The archer-god, in rock built Pythos holds,
May weigh with life...
But when the breath of man hath passed his lips,
Nor strength nor foray can the loss repair."

(Lord Derby.)

16:24-28 A true disciple of Christ is one that does follow him in duty, and shall follow him to glory. He is one that walks in the same way Christ walked in, is led by his Spirit, and treads in his steps, whithersoever he goes. Let him deny himself. If self-denial be a hard lesson, it is no more than what our Master learned and practised, to redeem us, and to teach us. Let him take up his cross. The cross is here put for every trouble that befalls us. We are apt to think we could bear another's cross better than our own; but that is best which is appointed us, and we ought to make the best of it. We must not by our rashness and folly pull crosses down upon our own heads, but must take them up when they are in our way. If any man will have the name and credit of a disciple, let him follow Christ in the work and duty of a disciple. If all worldly things are worthless when compared with the life of the body, how forcible the same argument with respect to the soul and its state of never-ending happiness or misery! Thousands lose their souls for the most trifling gain, or the most worthless indulgence, nay, often from mere sloth and negligence. Whatever is the object for which men forsake Christ, that is the price at which Satan buys their souls. Yet one soul is worth more than all the world. This is Christ's judgment upon the matter; he knew the price of souls, for he redeemed them; nor would he underrate the world, for he made it. The dying transgressor cannot purchase one hour's respite to seek mercy for his perishing soul. Let us then learn rightly to value our souls, and Christ as the only Saviour of them.For what is a man profited,.... Such persons, though they are only seeking their own profit, will find themselves most sadly mistaken; for of what advantage will it be to such a man,

if he shall gain the whole world; all that is precious and valuable in it; all the power, pleasures, and riches of it; if with Alexander, he had the government of the whole world, and with Solomon, all the delights of it; and was possessed with the wealth of Croesus, and Crassus,

and lose his own soul? If that should be consigned to everlasting torment and misery, be banished the divine presence, and continually feel the gnawings of the worm of conscience that never dies, and the fierceness of the fire of God's wrath, that shall never be quenched, he will have a miserable bargain of it.

Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Or, "for the redemption" of it, as the Ethiopic version renders it: see Psalm 49:8. If he had the whole world to give, and would give it, it would not be a sufficient ransom for it; the redemption of an immortal soul requires a greater price than gold and silver, or any corruptible thing; nothing short of the blood and life of Christ, is a proper exchange, or ransom price for it. But in the other world there will be no redemption; the loss of a soul is irrecoverable: a soul once lost and damned, can never be retrieved. This passage is thought to be proverbial; what comes nearest to it, is the following (x).

"If a scholar dies, we never find an exchange for him; there are four things which are the ministry or service of the world, , if they are lost, they may be changed; and they are these, gold, silver, iron, and brass, Job 28:1 but if a scholar dies, , who will bring us his exchange? or an exchange for him: we lost R. Simon, "who will bring us his exchange?".''

(x) Midrash Kohelet, fol. 72. 3, 4. T. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 5. 3.

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