Author Topic: The difference between "life" and "life"  (Read 4103 times)

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Offline MrsSmith

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The difference between "life" and "life"
« on: March 14, 2010, 06:56:05 PM »
I have recently run across the fact that the word "life" in the New Testament is actually 3 different Greek words. 



Matthew 7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.  >zoe

Matthew 18:9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.  >zoe

Matthew 19:16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.  >zoe

Matthew 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.  >psuche


Mark 3:4 And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?
>psuche

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.  >psuche

Luke 1:73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.  >zoe



Luke 6:9 Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?  >psuche

Luke 10:25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?  >zoe

Luke 12:22 And he said unto his disciples, Therefore * I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.
23 The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.  >psuche


John 6:53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.  >zoe


John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life >(zoe), and that they might have it more abundantly.
11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.  >psuche

John 12:25 He that loveth his life >(psuche)shall lose it; and he that hateth his life >(psuche) in this world shall keep it unto life >(zoe) eternal.

These are just a few examples...but it is obvious that we miss some of the deeper meaning by using only the word "life" for all 3 concepts. 


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Offline Chris_

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Re: The difference between "life" and "life"
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2010, 08:32:15 PM »
This couldn't possibly be the reason that I suggested in the past that we would be wise to view the literal interpretation of scripture with a touch of skepticism......could it?    Nah, never happen......

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Offline MrsSmith

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Re: The difference between "life" and "life"
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2010, 04:39:50 AM »
This couldn't possibly be the reason that I suggested in the past that we would be wise to view the literal interpretation of scripture with a touch of skepticism......could it?    Nah, never happen......

doc
Actually, I would think that looking at this very literally would be appropriate.  It's obvious that those writing the original scripts were discussing more than one type of life...and that Christ Himself made clear that there were different types of life.  Perhaps the main intent was to differentiate between physical livelihood, the internal life of a person's own mind, and the real eternal life as offered by Christ.  The literal interpretation most certainly points to a very significant distinction between these concepts...and possibly makes it far clearer why those that have not accepted Christ, and therefore have no zoe life as yet,  have such great difficulty absorbing some of the basic facts of Christianity.
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Offline Chris_

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Re: The difference between "life" and "life"
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2010, 02:06:48 PM »
Perhaps it might become clearer to the members if you spell out in non-scriptural terms, the difference between the two Greek terms.......Zoe, and Psuche.....

doc
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Offline USA4ME

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Re: The difference between "life" and "life"
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2010, 07:23:16 PM »
Perhaps it might become clearer to the members if you spell out in non-scriptural terms, the difference between the two Greek terms.......Zoe, and Psuche.....

doc

According to Strong's Exhaustive Concondance, "zoe" is in reference to the "vitality" of life, whereas "psuche" is the "breath(e)" of life.

The context of each of the passages quoted dictate exactly to what is being referenced.

Otherwise, I don't understand the "view the literal interpretation of scripture with a touch of skepticism" comment.  Please explain.  If I didn't view the scriptures as being the literal Word of God, I wouldn't believe any of it.  That doesn't mean there isn't figurative launguage contained therein, or that parables were events that actually happened rather than illustrations to demonstrate a point.  But I do believe "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Tim 3: 16-17)

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Offline Chris_

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Re: The difference between "life" and "life"
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2010, 08:30:45 PM »
According to Strong's Exhaustive Concondance, "zoe" is in reference to the "vitality" of life, whereas "psuche" is the "breath(e)" of life.

The context of each of the passages quoted dictate exactly to what is being referenced.

Otherwise, I don't understand the "view the literal interpretation of scripture with a touch of skepticism" comment.  Please explain.  If I didn't view the scriptures as being the literal Word of God, I wouldn't believe any of it.  That doesn't mean there isn't figurative launguage contained therein, or that parables were events that actually happened rather than illustrations to demonstrate a point.  But I do believe "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Tim 3: 16-17)

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I too, believe that the Scripture is the inspired word of God......however the scientist and historian in me also accepts the fact that the scriptures were written by man, and are presented to us today through the transmutation of at least three (sometimes more) translations from the original texts, which were the formalization of oral histories, the earliest being written half a century after Christ's death.  Of the translations, all spring from dead languages that are not totally understood to this day.....hence my comment on the Greek translation of "life"......now if we were to go back further to the Aramaic texts, from which the Greek ones emerged, we would likely see more such interpretive discussions develop.

Therefore I must interpret their content in the broad context of their origions and history........I would be a poor student to accept them literally, word for word, in English.......you likely will not agree, but be that as it may.......

doc
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Offline USA4ME

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Re: The difference between "life" and "life"
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2010, 07:37:42 AM »
I too, believe that the Scripture is the inspired word of God......however the scientist and historian in me also accepts the fact that the scriptures were written by man, and are presented to us today through the transmutation of at least three (sometimes more) translations from the original texts, which were the formalization of oral histories, the earliest being written half a century after Christ's death.  Of the translations, all spring from dead languages that are not totally understood to this day.....hence my comment on the Greek translation of "life"......now if we were to go back further to the Aramaic texts, from which the Greek ones emerged, we would likely see more such interpretive discussions develop.

Therefore I must interpret their content in the broad context of their origions and history........I would be a poor student to accept them literally, word for word, in English.......you likely will not agree, but be that as it may.......

doc

OK, I understand.  Thanks for futher clarifying.

I do accept the scriptures as being what God inspired men to write down and that they have been perserved accurately.  There's a number of reasons for that, but I suppose the overriding one for me is that an all-powerful God would certainly ensure that His Word was passed along accurately from generation to generation.  What would be the point of having the scriptures if we weren't 100% sure it's what God really said?  I mean, what kind of God is so weak they couldn't even do that?

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« Last Edit: March 17, 2010, 01:13:10 PM by USA4ME »
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Offline MrsSmith

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Re: The difference between "life" and "life"
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2010, 07:42:50 PM »
Not to get too far off topic...my interest is in the usage of the 3 words, the shades of meaning behind the word "Life."  Especially in statements like, He that loveth his life >(psuche)shall lose it; and he that hateth his life >(psuche) in this world shall keep it unto life >(zoe) eternal.  The choice of word adds a great depth to something that may seem a rather strange statement otherwise.
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Offline Eupher

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Re: The difference between "life" and "life"
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2010, 09:01:40 AM »
I've followed this thread with interest and while I won't get into the "Scripture = the inspired word of God" argument, let me point out a couple things I've learned of late.

While it is important, indeed crucial, to understand the context of Scripture, when it was written, to whom it was written, i.e., the intended audience, and the passages immediately before and after the passage of interest; and to know the historical "picture" of the author (if known) and the historical backdrop of the political and theological situation of the day, the whole purpose of reading and understanding Scripture is to have the text speak to us today.

This is the bridge that must be crossed. It does us little good to know history and concept and intended audience if we cannot take the passage of interest and have God speak to us and apply it toward our daily lives.

Faith is rekindled in that fashion, I believe, and indeed, Scripture allows us to eat and drink the word of God and to sustain us for yet another day.
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