This same thought of continuance of being, or individuality, through death and change of nature expressed above is illustrated in the person of our Lord Jesus. He said:--
"I lay down my life [psuche] that I might take [literally, receive] it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power [privilege, authority] to lay it down, and I have power [privilege] to take [receive] it again. This commandment [word, precept] have I received of my Father." --`John 10:17,18`.
Here Jesus declares that he laid down his "psuche," or being, for the sheep, and received it back again in his resurrection. When he laid down his being, "poured out his soul [being] unto death," (`Isa. 53:12`) made "his soul [being] an offering for sin" (`Isa. 53:10`), it was a human soul, or human being; he having changed from a spirit being to a human being, for the purpose of thus laying down his being (psuche) in death for our sins, as our ransom price.* But when, after his being had been fully laid down in death for three days, he was made alive from the dead, being or existence returned, it was no longer human being; he was made a life-giving spirit --a being psuche of a higher order, of the divine nature.
*When our Lord was changed from spirit being to human being, when he was "made flesh," that change was truly a laying aside of glory, power, etc., but it was not at all a laying aside of being or existence; for his existence or being did not cease for a moment, but merely changed in kind. Instead of a spirit being, he became human being --"flesh." But at Calvary, being or existence was laid down completely; he died, or ceased to exist, --gave his being, his existence, his psuche "a ransom."--`Mark 10:45`.
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To use the words nephesh and psuche otherwise, to suppose that they merely refer to present earthly existence, would be not only to prove that God is an earthly or animal being, but that Jesus, after his resurrection, was of the earth earthy, whereas the statement is clear that "God is a spirit," and that the "second Adam was made a quickening spirit."
The Greek word for life is not psuche, but zoe; and so it is uniformly translated throughout the New Testament; and it was a serious mistake on the part of the translators of the Bible to ever render psuche life, as in the text above. In consequence of the translation, some have supposed that our Lord Jesus took back the price he paid as our ransom. This could never be; for if the price paid were taken back, we are not redeemed, and have no ground for hope of coming blessings.
But when the real significance of psuche is noticed, how clear it all becomes. The man Christ Jesus laid down his psuche--being, existence, as a ransom for ours--for all. That existence he can never take again--he can never again be a human being. He surrendered all those earthly and human rights as a ransom for mankind, and thereby secures to mankind all those blessings and rights lost by their first representative's failure. Then being, existence, [psuche] was bestowed upon Jesus as a gift of God's favor, a reward of obedience; and while it could not be the same order of being, it could be a higher one. And so it was; and thus it is written, "Wherefore [as a reward, because of obedience even unto death--`verse 8`.] God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name," --next to the Father; of the divine nature; "that all men should honor the Son even as they honor the Father also."-- `Phil. 2:9,10`.
The Lord applies this principle to us, as well as to himself. Of those who covenant to be dead with him that they may also live with him and share his divine nature and glory, he declares, "He that loveth [supremely] his life [psuche --being] in this world shall keep it unto life [zoe] eternal."--`John 12:25,26`.
Those who would be the followers of, and sharers with, Jesus, must during this world willingly lay down existence, in his service. Thus only can these preserve their [psuche] existence unto eternal [zoe] life. But with them as with him, it will not be the same kind of existence, for whereas they lay down being or existence as human beings, they, like their head, shall receive it [psuche, existence] again as new creatures; "partakers of the divine nature." It is of these that Paul said, "It [the being] is sown a natural body, in weakness and corruption and dishonor; it is raised a spiritual body in power, glory, and incorruption. `1 Cor. 15:42-44`.
If you could change the nature of a grain of wheat to that of barley, it would come up barley. So these having become (through obedience to the special high calling of this Gospel Age) changed from the human to the divine nature (`2 Pet. 1:4`) will, in the resurrection, come forth like Jesus, "the express image of the Father's person"--psuche of the divine form and nature.
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"How many people there are who would like to be good without taking trouble about it!"