25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.

The Greek in which the New Testament was originally written does not include capital letters. Translators are left to guess when they should, or should not, use capitals in English. Most translators appear fairly comfortable introducing capital letters when they feel it is appropriate. So, for example, the English translators have just had Jesus say, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” (John 12:23) In the Greek “Son of Man” is not capitalized.

It is helpful in reading much of the New Testament to think carefully about capital letters, especially when the text speaks about “life.” The Gospels speak of “life” at times as small “l” life and at other times in a way that a capital “L” might be more appropriate. Here we are dealing with small “l” “life”.

Raphael The Agony in the Garden 1505

Small “l” “life” is that part of my existence that is committed to surfaces and appearances. Small “l” “life” is concerned to make a good impression; it is self-protective, small-minded and petty. Small “l” “life” is grasping and acquisitive. It always demands its own way. We are not supposed to live comfortably with small “l” “life”.

Small “l” “life” cannot serve the good, the true, and the beautiful realities embodied in Jesus. Small “l” “life” is a poor shabby facsimile of the capital “L” “Life” we are designed to live. When I live in tune with capital “L” “Life”, I bring honour to that source of life by Whom I am created.


How do I observe in myself the distinction between “life” and “Life”? What happens when “life” is dominant?