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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Profit

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PROFIT

Two Gr. words are so rendered: (1) ὠφελέω, to further, help, profit: Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 ‘profit,’ Matthew 15:5 (= Mark 7:11) 16:26 (= Mark 8:36, Luke 9:25 Authorized Version ‘advantage’), John 6:63; ‘prevail,’ Matthew 27:24, John 12:19; ‘be bettered,’ Mark 5:26; (2) συμφἐρω, to bear or bring together; ‘be profitable,’ Matthew 5:29-30; Matthew 18:6; ‘be expedient,’ Matthew 19:10 (Authorized Version ‘good’), John 11:50; John 18:14; John 16:7.

The address of Jesus is, for the most part, to the highest in human nature; but sometimes a less heroic note is struck, and there is direct appeal to the instinctive impulses of self-regard and self-preservation, and to the instincts of gain and the anxieties of the balance-sheet. The analogy of profitable trading gives force to the parables of the Talents and the Pounds (Matthew 25:14 ff., Luke 19:12 ff.), but in one great saying the appeal to what may be termed the business instincts is direct: ‘What shall a man be profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and forfeit his life? or what shall a man give in exchange for his life?’ Matthew 16:26 (= Mark 8:36, Luke 9:25). Here the terms of commerce are used, and the ‘balance-sheet of the soul’ (Morison) is struck. With this we may compare Plato’s words: ‘What will anyone be profited if under the influence of honour or money or power, aye, or under the excitement of poetry, he neglect justice and virtue?’ (see Jowett’s Plato, iii. 505).

This weighing of advantages and gain finds its full force in Christ’s doctrine of the supreme good of the Kingdom of God, the one secure treasure of unspeakable value, for the possession of which all other treasures may well be given in exchange (Matthew 13:44-46).

W. H. Dyson.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Profit'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdn/p/profit.html. 1906-1918.

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