In the Fulness of Time/Part 109

By: Dr. Thomas O. Figart; ©2008
What does it mean to “take up your cross” and follow Jesus? How does that practically work out in the believers life?

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Denying Self for Discipleship. Matthew 16:24-27

Mt. 16:24 “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

This verse is similar to 10:38 except that it adds the important clause: “Let him deny himself” which serves to explain verses 25-26. In discussing verse 10:38 it was mentioned that the words “take up thy cross” has at least three different emphases; first, severing family ties in 10:38, denying selfish desires in 16:24 and breaking the hold of material possessions in Mark 10:21. In each case the context determines the specific meaning.

Mt. 16:25-26 “For whosoever will save his life (psuche) shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life (psuche) for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul (psuche)? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul (psuche)?”

Four times the word psuche is used in these verses. The AV translates it as life in verse 25 and as soul in verse 26. This identical sequence is used in the AV translation of Mark 8:35-36. Luke 9:23-25 is the same in the first usage (9:24) but in 9:25 it reads differently: “For what is a man profited if he gain the whole world and lose himself (heauton), or be cast away?”

The fact of the matter is that the word psuche carries a number of meanings. The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Volume 6, pages 608-660, in 52 pages describes these various usages, including life, soul, heart, mind and self. Obviously each context must be consulted for a proper interpretation. Matthew 16:24-27 appears to have two emphases, one temporal and the other eternal. In 16:24-25 the emphasis is on present discipleship with the necessity of denying oneself for the sake of Christ. In 16:26-27 the future is in view, and includes their rewards consistent with their background of faith or lack of faith.

Mt. 16:27 “For the son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he shall reward every man according to his works.”

This verse definitely refers to His coming back to earth with His angels to judge the unbelievers and reward the believers. Both Mark 8:38 and Luke 9:26 add the thought that those who are ashamed of Christ will be judged at that time. Thus, Jesus was not attempting to expound the difference between the Rapture of the Church to meet Christ in the air and His return to earth, but merely to give a general explanation of the contrast between the loss of life and the saving of life in the eternal sense. How a person relates to Christ in the present will determine whether he saves or loses his life in the future. Jesus will expound these lessons in the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24-25.

There will be rewards to “every man according to his works.” True disciples will be tested as to whether their works were good or bad (Matthew 5:16; 1 Corinthians 3:11-15). False disciples will be tested to prove that they were those “that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:23).

This makes it clear that these things will all be settled “in the fulness of time.

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