John 12:25 Meaning of Those Who Love Their Life

John 12:25
“Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

Explanation and Commentary of John 12:25

This verse has the great potential to be misunderstood, misapplied, or dismissed out of hand as nonsensical. Those errors come from a failure to interpret the verse by the rest of Scripture. Some say that it means that we should not enjoy the life that God has given us. In that sense, “hating” their life in this world means seeking as much misery as possible, avoiding anything fun or that makes one happy in order to win a spot in heaven—the more misery now, the more reward later. This is understandable because of the language used by Christ. Aren’t the poor, persecuted, and hungry “blessed” in the kingdom of God, since it is they who will inherit it?

But this ignores that Jesus said the reason he incarnated to die was that we, his followers would have life, and life abundantly. Is one to hate life, if he or she is also seeking to accept life abundantly? Is it supposed to be miserable to live a life that exudes the fruit of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control? It seems that cannot be the case. A life of bearing spiritual fruit should be a peaceful and happy life, regardless of circumstances.

Then there must be a way to understand “life” as both a thing to lose—the current life of the flesh, exhibiting the works of the flesh (Gal 5:19), anxious, depressed, enslaved to lusts, and enslaved to the opinions of man—and a thing to find—abundant life. This is similar to the concept that in dying to oneself, one finds oneself. This is tricky and easily misunderstood even by Christians, who, in their flesh may not be duped by satan to outwardly sin, but may be easily tricked into inward misery.

Breaking Down the Key Parts of John 12:25

#1 “Anyone…”
This is a universal, biblical principle that applies to anyone, but one must be born again to begin to both understand, and then begin to apply it. Jesus calls all to follow him on the narrow path, but not many will choose it.

#2 “…who loves their life…”
This “life” refers to any current version that Jesus may be calling one to trade for his “abundant life” or eternal life, or kingdom life. Loving our current life will cause us to refuse Jesus’s invitation to come and follow him (Lk 18:23).

#3 “…will lose it,”
The “life” that will be lost, is the abundant life that Jesus came and died to give us.

#4 “while anyone who hates their life in this world…”
The phrase, “this world” applies less to this present age, as it does to this “dominion of darkness” where satan rules by his own elementary principles (Gal 4:3). It takes grace to see that the life Jesus offers is better, especially for the rich man, or the man or woman of high status in satan’s realm.

#5 “…will keep it for eternal life.”
If the “life” Jesus came to give, for which we must trade our “life in this world,” is one we can “keep” into the next world, then it stands that this is a “life” we can have now. This is a major reason why it cannot mean, necessarily, misery now, reward later. But rather, it is life now, and life abundant which, at first, requires faith to embark upon.

Bible Study on John 12:25

Expert Overview of John Ch. 1-12

Biblical Translations of John 12:25

NIV
“Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

NLT
“Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.”

ESV
“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

KJV
“He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.”

NKJV
“He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

John 12:25 Meaning and Commentary

Author Bio
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Masters Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.