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21 But he forcefully commanded[a] them not to tell this to anyone,[b] 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer[c] many things and be rejected by the elders,[d] chief priests, and experts in the law,[e] and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”[f]

A Call to Discipleship

23 Then[g] he said to them all,[h] “If anyone wants to become my follower,[i] he must deny[j] himself, take up his cross daily,[k] and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life[l] will lose it,[m] but whoever loses his life because of me[n] will save it. 25 For what does it benefit a person[o] if he gains the whole world but loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed[p] of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person[q] when he comes in his glory and in the glory[r] of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 But I tell you most certainly,[s] there are some standing here who will not[t] experience[u] death before they see the kingdom of God.”[v]

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  1. Luke 9:21 tn The combination of the participle and verb ἐπιτιμήσας and παρήγγειλεν (epitimēsas and parēngeilen, “commanding, he ordered”) is a hendiadys that makes the instruction emphatic.
  2. Luke 9:21 sn No explanation for the command not to tell this to anyone is given, but the central section of Luke, chapters 9-19, appears to reveal a reason. The disciples needed to understand who the Messiah really was and exactly what he would do before they were ready to proclaim Jesus as such. But they and the people had an expectation that needed some instruction to be correct.
  3. Luke 9:22 sn The necessity that the Son of Man suffer is the particular point that needed emphasis, since for many 1st century Jews the Messiah was a glorious and powerful figure, not a suffering one.
  4. Luke 9:22 sn Rejection in Luke is especially by the Jewish leadership (here elders, chief priests, and experts in the law), though in Luke 23 almost all will join in.
  5. Luke 9:22 tn Or “and scribes.” See the note on the phrase “experts in the law” in 5:21.
  6. Luke 9:22 sn The description of the Son of Man being rejected…killed, and…raised is the first of six passion summaries in Luke: 9:44; 17:25; 18:31-33; 24:7; 24:46-47.
  7. Luke 9:23 tn Here δέ (de) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.
  8. Luke 9:23 sn Here them all could be limited to the disciples, since Jesus was alone with them in v. 18. It could also be that by this time the crowd had followed and found him, and he addressed them, or this could be construed as a separate occasion from the discussion with the disciples in 9:18-22. The cost of discipleship is something Jesus was willing to tell both insiders and outsiders about. The rejection he felt would also fall on his followers.
  9. Luke 9:23 tn Grk “to come after me.”
  10. Luke 9:23 tn This translation better expresses the force of the Greek third person imperative than the traditional “let him deny,” which could be understood as merely permissive.
  11. Luke 9:23 sn Only Luke mentions taking up one’s cross daily. To bear the cross means to accept the rejection of the world for turning to Jesus and following him. Discipleship involves a death that is like a crucifixion; see Gal 6:14.
  12. Luke 9:24 tn Grk “his soul.” The Greek ψυχή (psuchē) has many different meanings depending on the context. The two primary meanings here are the earthly life (animate life, sometimes called “physical life”) and the inner life (the life that transcends the earthly life, sometimes called “the soul”). The fact that the Greek term can have both meanings creates in this verse both a paradox and a wordplay. The desire to preserve both aspects of ψυχή (psuchē) for oneself creates the tension here (cf. BDAG 1099 s.v. 1.a; 2.d,e). Translation of the Greek term ψυχή (psuchē) presents a particularly difficult problem in this verse. Most English versions since the KJV have translated the term “life.” This preserves the paradox of finding one’s “life” (in the sense of earthly life) while at the same time really losing it (in the sense of “soul” or transcendent inner life) and vice versa, but at the same time it obscures the wordplay that results from the same Greek word having multiple meanings. To translate as “soul,” however, gives the modern English reader the impression of the immortal soul at the expense of the earthly life. On the whole it is probably best to use the translation “life” and retain the paradox at the expense of the wordplay.
  13. Luke 9:24 sn The point of the saying whoever wants to save his life will lose it is that if one comes to Jesus then rejection by many will certainly follow. If self-protection is a key motivation, then one will not respond to Jesus and will not be saved. One who is willing to risk rejection will respond and find true life.
  14. Luke 9:24 tn Or “for my sake.” The traditional rendering “for my sake” can be understood in the sense of “for my benefit,” but the Greek term ἕνεκα (heneka) indicates the cause or reason for something (BDAG 334 s.v. 1).
  15. Luke 9:25 tn Grk “a man,” but ἄνθρωπος (anthrōpos) is used in a generic sense here to refer to both men and women.
  16. Luke 9:26 sn How one responds now to Jesus and his teaching is a reflection of how Jesus, as the Son of Man who judges, will respond then in the final judgment.
  17. Luke 9:26 tn This pronoun (τοῦτον, touton) is in emphatic position in its own clause in the Greek text: “of that person the Son of Man will be ashamed…”
  18. Luke 9:26 tn Grk “in the glory of him and of the Father and of the holy angels.” “Glory” is repeated here in the translation for clarity and smoothness because the literal phrase is unacceptably awkward in contemporary English.
  19. Luke 9:27 tn Grk “I tell you truly” (λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν ἀληθῶς, legō de humin alēthōs).
  20. Luke 9:27 tn The Greek negative here (οὐ μή, ou mē) is the strongest possible.
  21. Luke 9:27 tn Grk “will not taste.” Here the Greek verb does not mean “sample a small amount” (as a typical English reader might infer from the word “taste”), but “experience something cognitively or emotionally; come to know something” (cf. BDAG 195 s.v. γεύομαι 2).
  22. Luke 9:27 sn The meaning of the statement that some will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God is clear at one level, harder at another. Jesus predicts some will experience the kingdom before they die. When does this happen? (1) An initial fulfillment is the next event, the transfiguration. (2) It is also possible in Luke’s understanding that all but Judas experience the initial fulfillment of the coming of God’s presence and rule in the work of Acts 2. In either case, the “kingdom of God” referred to here would be the initial rather than the final phase.