John, I was reading John 12:25 and having a hard time figuring out what it means. Could you briefly explain what you think it means?
Thanks for your question on a great passage! The verse in the context will help us. Let’s consider John 12:24-25:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn [grain] of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth [remains and lives] alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.”
The word love is from phileo, meaning “fondness” or “affection.” The word life is from psyche, meaning “soul” or “soul life.” When we have affection for and thus hang onto our will (our self-life), we lose it because such self-dependence does not access the divine life. It will amount to wood, hay, and stubble at the Judgment Seat and be incinerated.
To understand the word hate in verse 25, we must recognize that it is defined by the concept of dying in the illustration of the previous verse. The grain of wheat must not remain and live alone; it must fall into the ground and die to bring forth fruit. Death brings forth life. When we “hate” our self-life by dying to self-will and self-dependence “in this world,” we “keep it unto eternal life.” I’m assuming this phrase is germane to your question.
The word unto is from eis, which also can be translated into or for among other possibilities, and in 1 John 1:2; Jesus is called “that eternal life” (cf. 1 John 5:20). The idea is that when we die to self-will and self-dependence, we do so by yielding to God’s will in God-dependence. Faith accesses grace (Rom. 5:2), and the Spirit imparts to us the eternal life of Jesus in us as the abundant life. We access the eternal life of Jesus who animates our personalities (souls) with His divine life. This is the gold, silver, and precious stones that will pass the Judgment Seat fires. By “hating” our self-life, we keep our souls energized by (unto or into) the eternal life. Death to self-will and self-dependence through yielding to God’s will in God-dependence brings forth life as the life of Christ in us brings forth fruit.
These verses, as well as their Synoptic Gospel counterparts, explain the heart of the Christ life (the Spirit-filled life). Also, if you care to perform an internet search, the late Major Ian Thomas has an incredibly helpful message, A Grain of Wheat, that covers the truth explained in this passage.
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