Why Did Jesus Say To Hate Our Life?

by Joshua Tilghman on October 19, 2013

Gaining Eternal LifeIn the Gospel of John, Jesus seems to teach us to hate our life. I quote that teaching below:

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

It seems a little counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Why would you need to hate your life in order to gain eternal life? After all, we are all here, experiencing physical existence. Do we really have to hate it?

I use to wonder if “hate” was a mistranslation, but the actual Greek word used is miseo, meaning “to detest.” So it’s safe to say there’s no mistranslations. Jesus obviously wants us to “detest” something.

You really don’t have to go to esoteric literature to get a glimpse of what Jesus was teaching. Strong’s Concordance with Greek Lexicon will do just fine. Let’s look at some different Greek words that are translated life in the King James. Then Jesus’ statement will become clear.

First, let’s focus on three words for a moment: pneuma, zoe, and psuche. Strong’s tells us that pneuma carries the connotation of the rational soul and mental disposition. Zoe carries the connotation of vitality, whether in humans, plants, or animals. Finally, psuche means the animal sentient principle only.

You would never know it by reading the King James, but Jesus uses two different Greek words for life in his statement. When Jesus tells us to hate our life, psuche is used. Therefore Jesus is instructing us about the animal sentient principle in man. In other words, when he tells us to hate our life, he is referring to the lower nature.

But we must not make the mistake of believing Jesus wants us to hate a part of ourselves. What he is really saying is this:

He who identifies with the lower nature, especially in the trials and tribulations experienced by the ego, forfeits life eternal. In other words, Jesus was teaching us to detest identifying with the lower nature, which in turn imprisons us to believing we are our “life situations.”

We must understand that the lower / animal nature isn’t just the desires that sometimes lead us into negativity; it is the limitation itself, and it is subject to death.

This all brings us back to the second part of Jesus’ statement: “…he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” The Greek word for life in that second part of Jesus’ statement is zoe, or the vitality that drives existence.

It is this vitality that is consciousness. Consciousness is immortal and eternal. R. J. Campbell once stated,

“I build my belief in immortality on the conviction that the fundamental reality of the universe is consciousness, and that no consciousness can ever be extinguished for it belongs to the whole, and must be fulfilled in the whole.”

He that identifies with the higher nature experiences God. He who identifies through the lower nature is separated from God.

Jesus’ statement on losing and gaining eternal life is an esoteric teaching that the modern Church misinterprets through its doctrine of salvation. But one day I believe this teaching will become more prevalent, especially through readers like you who can share the messageJ

A little bit about Love

In the bible, LOVE is a symbol for that which attracts us to what’s within. And remember, God is love, and God is within you. Also remember that the lower nature attracts us to which is without. Know that your “life situation” is really nothing more than the temporary, limited potential of the greater self. Take the joys and the pains as they come, and learn to draw strength from the inner man.

Jesus’ next statement directly following the one about losing and gaining eternal life further establishes these great esoteric principles:

If any man serve me, let him follow me; and whereso I am, there shall my servent be…” (John 12:26).

This statement transcends being with Jesus for eternity in an afterlife. It reveals that the Christ is accessible for anyone who awakens to the higher self now.

To identify with love is part of the awakening process. It is living life from within, from the heart. Its living free of the constraints and conditions we are led to believe make us who we are. This is not always easy to do. In fact for most of us it a long journey, but then that’s part of the beauty and mystery we call life!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

David October 21, 2013 at 10:58 am


Every time I read your site I am overcome with just how enslaving and hurtful a literal interpretation of the Bible is to the personal belief system of the individual seeking the Face of the Father. Though I understand the purpose the metaphorical shroud has served as the protectorate of the divine ideas of the Bible thru the centuries, it still saddens me when I hear the present day ministers frighten and admonish those who dare investigate their soul’s yearning beyond the veil of the literal.

Continued strength and blessing,



Anthony October 21, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Well said David, I couldn’t agree more. Hopefully one day the Church will wake up to the magnificent jewel it has always had in it’s hands, instead of using it as a weapon of control. A diamond can be used as an arrow tip right?

Many blessings



Brian October 25, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Life can transcend death in at least two ways.

The ideas and discoveries that we share during our earthly life can outlast us within the memories, recorded or otherwise, of others. Thus Shakespeare and Newton live on.

Secondly, our genetic makeup gives us membership of an on-going evolutionary journey. Assuming we have reproduced, our genes will live on in our offspring. And according to some philosophers, the speculative God of our forefathers may in the future may well be found in the biochemistry of life as well as in the consciousness that atoms, just like us humans, appear to have of their surroundings.

The energy relationships implicit in molecular reactions, such as the formation of harmless salt from sodium and chloride ( both toxic substances) in a one way process which can only be reversed by the addition of catalytic electrical energy, points to a set of universal laws far more profound than any Christian interpretation of the Bible.

Sodium and Chlorine atoms may have some consciousness or energetic relationship which makes the evolution of a radically different salt product inevitable. Is it not marvelous to contemplate where else in the Universe might this genre of energetic transaction be found?

The fact that these physical laws of the Universe are capable of empirical investigation is a bonus.

Skepticism may well be a worthy replacement for that good old time religion.


Joshua Tilghman October 29, 2013 at 5:48 pm


Awesome comment! I have always believed that rudimentary consciousness exists in all matter. I believe this explains huge gaps in the evolutionary process that scientists want to gloss over.

I also find it interesting that the most basic element of the universe, hydrogen, is comprised of one electron and one proton, but if you put that element in the midst of a supernova all the other known elements are created.


Brian October 30, 2013 at 6:02 am

Glad it struck a chord. When I try to express myself in this area, I always feel like the German academic whose public speaking was compromised by his poor English. At the conclusion of his lecture, instead of saying, “I hope I have made myself understood,” he instead said, “I hope I have undestood myself.”

Anyway, you may be interested in my favourite source of these ideas; an Australian geneticist and theologian, Dr Charles Birch who was a disciple of Alfred North Whitehead.

Here is an interesting example of his thinking:

Thanks for a stimulating website.


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