Today I read this in The One Year Bible at Luke 21:19 (NIV): "Stand firm, and you will win life." My curiosity was flagged. I've learned to listen to this curious prompt. Something wonderful is usually on the other side. Today it was not a strong urge, but I wondered what kind of life I would win. Zoe perhaps?
I went to my favorite app, Blue Letter Bible, and looked it up. It has an interlinear feature so I can see what original words were translated into our English language. At first, I thought I entered the wrong text. I double-checked. Nope! It was correct. I scrolled for context. Yep. Still correct: "In your patience possess ye your souls" (Luke 21:19 KJV).
Psyche (G5590) is the word translated souls. That wasn't surprising, but I was looking for the word life. Interesting. And truly it does mean the "breath of life." But that's a bigger study than what I have time for this morning. It is part of a large curiosity that I have yet to unravel: the difference between soul and spirit (because the original words are not just translated for one or the other, they seem to interchange with our translation of them).
I decided to look up patience first. Hypomonē (G5281) comes from hypomenō (G5278), which is a compound of two words: hypo (G5259) "under" and menō (G3306) "remain." So the first level, hypomonē, I saw Strong's definitions present it immediately as "a cheerful (or hopeful) endurance." I like that! Not just endurance, but cheerful or hopeful! It went on to add: "constancy:—enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting)." The word this came from (hypomenō, just a swap of two letters -monē vs. -menō) means basically to remain, or as Strong's more fully says: "to stay under (behind), i.e. remain; figuratively, to undergo, i.e. bear (trials), have fortitude, persevere:—abide, endure, (take) patient(-ly), suffer, tarry behind." No mention of cheerful or hopeful here! I wonder how that difference of the end of the word brings out those characteristics?
So what does it mean to possess or win? Here's to Strong's again: κτάομαι ktáomai, ktah'-om-ahee; a primary verb; to get, i.e. acquire (by any means; own):—obtain, possess, provide, purchase. It's a primary verb, so there's not a lot of vertical digging. But I did discover a couple of interesting lateral finds! Thayer's Greek Lexicon included these two: to acquire, get or procure a thing for oneself; and to acquire a wife versus a harlot! What does this mean to me? Commitment. Exclusivity. I've heard people mention that they would marry themselves. LOL. Maybe this is they key? Possess your soul—exclusively for you—commit to it!
NIV: "Stand firm, and you will win life."
KJV: "In your patience possess ye your souls."
AMPC: "By your steadfastness and patient endurance you shall win the true life of your souls."
ESV: "By your endurance you will gain your lives."
TLB: "For if you stand firm, you will win your souls."
For other word nerds like me, you might enjoy seeing how the same word for endurance shows up in other New Testament verses. There are a lot of benefits connected! These are from ESV and the links take you to Blue Letter Bible if you want to study any of them. You're welcome!