Or is this meant to be allegorical? If taken literally, where does that leave modern Christians?

Luke 14:33 - In the same way, any one of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be My disciple.

  • 2
    What do you mean by 'modern' Christians ? I think that expression needs to be defined in the context of your question. Also 'Lord Yeshua' is confusing. There is 'Lord Jehovah'. There is Joshua, the son of Nun. And there is the Lord Jesus Christ. I don't know to whom you are referring.
    – Nigel J
    Commented May 19, 2022 at 12:09
  • Modern Christians being believers and followers of Christ in this current age. The LORD Yeshua is the name of Jesus in His original language of Hebrew. Sorry for any confusion. Commented May 21, 2022 at 2:55
  • As I see it, it's not a physical giving up but a mental and emotional letting go. We are called to tear down the way we relate to everything and everyone around us and rebuild those relationships in Christ and on his Gospel. It is a seismic shift from a self-centric to a Christ-centric model of relating to the world. Nothing in our lives is exempt, and this is the full price of discipleship.
    – Nhi
    Commented May 22, 2022 at 15:41

7 Answers 7


The parallel teaching in Matthew 10 is instructive:

37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

If there is something we love more than Jesus, or if there is something we are not willing to give up to follow Him, we will not be worthy of what He offers.

See also Jesus' teaching in the Sermon on the Mount:

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)

We have to be willing to put God first, which would mean literally giving up anything that gets in the way of putting God first. If we do not put God first, then whatever we do put first will be the very thing blocking our progression.

  • Am I to understand that the LORD Yeshua is saying seek him first but not only? Commented May 19, 2022 at 4:53
  • Good answer. +1.
    – Dottard
    Commented May 19, 2022 at 6:45
  • 1
    @JeremySt.Germain I see in these passages a discussion of priorities. He's not saying do nothing in your life but preach the Gospel, but emphasizing that nothing should come before God in our lives. We are to avoid/give up those things which prevent us from putting God first. Commented May 19, 2022 at 15:56

Notice the context. Starting in verse 25, we see that large crowds were starting to follow him.

Unlike modern churches that want to grow as large as possible by appealing to the demographics and desires of the “religious market” of the coverage area that they want to tap into effectively, Jesus wanted to reduce the number of marginally committed religious and curious onlookers.

Here are the teachings of Jesus:

• Hate your own father and mother.

• Hate your wife and children.

• Hate your own life.

• To become my disciple, pick up wood beams and follow me to the place of execution.

• To become my disciple, renounce everything you own.

But that’s not all he taught.

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. – John 6:53-55 ESV

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” – John 6:66,67 ESV

Jesus spoke to them in hyperbole, and with symbolism and parables. What does this tell us? Jesus wanted a strong church, not a large church.

So, was Jesus lying or was he delivering a strong message of priority and commitment? So, “Do we have to literally give up everything to follow the LORD Yeshua?”

I’ve known some people who did this voluntarily. It was something between them and the Lord. Others, recognize that when they give their lives to Christ, everything they treasure more than Christ has to go.

Contrast the commitment that Jesus is asking for with that of many people who view their Christianity as an accessory or decoration to their lives. They do their “service” to God by attending a “Jesus box” every Sunday for an hour and give some money. Their lives are otherwise indistinguishable from those who are non-Christians.

I think that Jesus asks more from those who say they follow him. Jesus is not asking people to hate their parents, their wife and children, and renounce all their possession, but rather this is in comparison. Jesus wants his disciples to love him more than their parents, their wife and children, and their possessions.

He's not trying to make it sound easy, in fact he's grossing out his casual listeners who missed him saying that he's the bread of life.

In our culture, we sometimes say things like to become truly great at something, one has to eat, drink, and sleep that discipline, whether it's music, chess, mathematics, machining, or whatever.


Compare it with soldiers who:

  • accept death as a possible consequence of doing their duty.
  • "die for their country".

It is the soldiers' willingness to put their duty ahead of the possibility of their death that is important, not the death itself.

Their death is neither required nor useful; dying for one's country is a silly idea.

There are very few instances where someone's death produces a direct benefit to anyone else.
(Readers of this site should have no trouble thinking of one notable example.)

Christians aren't expected to give up everything they have (rich Christians can do more good than poor Christians). They are expected to give up what they have, without regret, but only when needed to.

Putting the physical ahead of the spiritual is a form of idolatry.


This query is best answered by stepping back a bit from this one verse to see what had happened, and what happened next. Luke chapter 14 has a parable of Jesus about invitations going out to enjoy a great feast, once everything had been made ready. But people began excusing themselves from attending; one had a newly bought field that he felt impelled to check out; another had just bought five yoke of oxen and needed to try them out; yet another had just married a wife and apparently felt the pleasure of her company was better than that at the feast. So, Jesus said the poor, maimed, lame and blind should be invited in their stead. They would taste of the supper in the kingdom of God. That parable significantly links in to verse 33.

Also, remember the rich young ruler who approached him, who went away troubled, because he did not want to part with his great riches, even though he wanted everlasting life? Recall also how Jesus said Mary had chosen the best part, sitting at his feet to be taught by him, whereas Martha's anxieties about practical hospitality matters prevented her benefiting from that spiritual feast. This is about choosing between material 'things' and the spiritual feast Jesus offers.

Jesus knew that his time on Earth would soon end. In Luke chapter 14 he was deliberately startling people, alerting them to a "Make-your-mind-up time". "Crunch time" was approaching. He knew that in around three decades ruination would come to that city and all the people left in it. He warned his disciples to flee before then, not stopping to take anything with them. The people had already benefited from his miracles and teaching. They had been given time to take in and consider who Jesus was, and what the spiritual realities of the Kingdom of God amounted to - as Jesus was its King.

He taught them further, with more parables. He called Zaccheus down from a tree. The former cheat repented by giving half his goods to the poor, and promised to restore four-fold anyone he had wrongfully taxed. Jesus was well pleased with this son of Abraham, saying salvation had come to his house that very day (Luke 19:1-10). Now, if Jesus had literally meant his disciples had to give up all their material possessions, he could not have been delighted with Zaccheus. He would have had to say (something like), 'Well done, Zaccheus. You've made a good start. Once you've disposed of the rest of your wealth and possessions, come back to me and then start following.' But no. Zaccheus had perfectly exemplified what Jesus had said in Luke 10:33.

Nothing on Earth should be as important to us than faithfully following Jesus. He should be the reason why we live, and do what we do. Our faith in him should be such that if we lost everything except our physical life, we would still know the joy of the Lord, and never renounce him - not for money, possessions, or our very life. No easy-believism here! No health-and-wealth-preachng from Jesus! He tells us to count the cost before committing to him; to be prepared to pick up our cross daily, to follow him. That's the sense of "giving up" in Luke 14:33.


Luke 14:25-33 (The Cost of Discipleship) is a particularly difficult passage. Luke 14:26 is dealt with at Jesus' command to hate your father and mother in Luke 14:26. However, the most difficult verse in this passage is v33. Studying this verse, I felt like the lawyer asking Jesus “Who is my neighbor

The predominant meaning of ἀποτάσσω in the New Testament is to say goodbye/farewell; to abandon.

Figure 1. Senses of ἀποτάσσω in the New Testament. enter image description here

While has the meaning:

ὑπάρχω … ① to really be there, exist, be present, be at one’s disposal … ② to be in a state or circumstance, be … --- Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). In A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 1029). University of Chicago Press.

Figure 2. Senses ὑπάρχω of in the New Testament. enter image description here

This a much stronger statement than possessions as we use the term today. This means anything available to us, not just what we own. It means everything we can use or offer for someone else to use. I don’t know of any Christian who follows this completely. Leo Tolstoy gave up his possessions, but only to his wife, so that he still lived in the same house and eat the same food. Roman Catholic priests aren’t alloyed to own anything, but still have church property at their disposal.

While I admit that I haven’t given up all my possession, nor do I tell someone else to do so, I don’t want to lesson what Jesus said. Christians have fallen short of many of Jesus’ teaching, and I don’t what to lessen them to make them achievable.

I also admit that this is something that no government can implement. It must be a matter of personal choice. These passages, though easier to explain away, make Luke 14:33 more difficult to ignore:

Matthew 19:21

Mark 10:21

Acts 2:46-47

The answer NO because we don't truly own anything. Everything belongs to God, and it's a matter of recognizing that. We are stewards (οἰκονόμος) of what God has made available to us and responsible to God for how we use it.

“For every beast of the forest is Mine,
  The cattle on a thousand hills.
“I know every bird of the mountains,
  And everything that moves in the field is Mine.
“If I were hungry, I would not tell you;
  For the world is Mine, and all it contains.
                  (Psalm 50:10–12, NASB)

And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? 43 “Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. 44 “Truly I say to you, that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 “But if that slave says in his heart, ‘My master will be a long time in coming,’ and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk; 46 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him, and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers. 47 “And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, shall receive many lashes, 48 but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. And from everyone who has been given much shall much be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more. (Luke 12:42–48, NASB)


I would approach this question by instead asking two other questions:

  • What do I invest?
  • For whom do I invest?

These questions are intended to shift the focus in two ways:

  • From one of cost (aka expense) to one of investment.
  • From a me-oriented solution to a non-me-oriented one.

I think the assumptions inherent in those foci are critical for understanding this text.

The OP question is a popular one, in that it’s pretty much the question that pops into one’s mind when this passage (Luke 14:25-35) is read. It’s usually followed immediately by the thought that it pretty much sounds exactly like I have to give up everything. Followed immediately by, “That’s painful.” But, with no resources of any kind, nothing productive could be done. In fact, I wouldn’t even be able to “make heavenly friends” (Luke 16:1-13). Wealth in the Luke 16 passage is considered a “little thing”, even “unrighteous”, but the point of the passage is to manage the wealth well; it’s to do so for a particular purpose. My point is: if I have no money, I can’t even manage it well, or “make friends”. So, something is immediately wrong with the literal interpretation of Luke 14:33 that says, “give it all away.”

Macro Structure

Verses 27 and 33 form an Inclusio (think: bread slices around the meat of the text). Verses 25-26 form an introduction and verses 34-35 form a summary. So, verses 27 and 33 are saying pretty much the same thing, with 28-32 forming the meat of the sandwich, and with 34-35 bringing the topic to a close.


Verse 27 talks about “picking up your cross”. There’s various interpretations of what that means, but one result is sure--you’re going to die. And, your picking up the cross is your humiliating acceptance of that fact.1 So, this passage actually does say, “Commit to give up everything.”


Jesus goes on to illustrate with a reference to a builder that “counts the cost” of building. One can’t build without having resources. You’d get laughed at. Even the king who assesses a military situation and realizes he’s going to lose, seeks to negotiate. One can’t negotiate unless one has something to negotiate with. Though the act of surrendering clearly presents the weaker position. So, what we appear to have presented to us is two conflicting points:
  1. The assumption that resources are available to use
  2. Giving up everything in order to be a disciple.

Therefore, what does being a disciple (μαθητής) mean?

Cultural Stumbling

A principle of hermeneutics that we (well, everyone) tends to trip over is we tend to bring our context to the interpretation. That is, we see the text through our context. This is particularly true of cultural context. Our culture (the Western culture) is very highly guilt-innocence oriented. In such a culture people view themselves as very independent. American culture is very far to the individualistic side of the graph2 of ‘individualistic’ and ‘collective’. So, we interpret this passage through the lens of “how can I assuage my guilt, and earn points for me the individual?” The independence drives us toward interpreting in a me-oriented way. And I’m not suggesting we’re all narcissists; but, we Westerners do tend to focus on “number one.” So, we tend to define ‘disciple’ in terms of “here’s how I live in order to be a good person.” That’s not what disciple means.

An honor-shame culture, like the New Testament presents, is group-oriented, with the collective held together by how honor is exchanged between people. To make a long story short, a disciple (μαθητής) honors his/her master by “following” (ἔρχεται ὀπίσω). He or she adopts the same pathway as the Rabbi (ῥαββί) has chosen. And so, the Rabbi is honored, and his honor is reflected back on you as honor because you’re living his truth, and that can be seen by others. You’ve given up ‘you’ and you’re following him.

It’s all about the Rabbi

In other words, you become like the Rabbi. In order to do so you must adopt his priorities, his value system, his view of truth. He is “the way, the truth, and the life.”

However, in order to do that, is everything about you to be tossed? While nothing is sacred, you have God given resources to use to follow the Rabbi. That is, you have resources useful to build, you have resources to negotiate terms of surrender. There’s something about who you are that is metaphorically described as “flavorful”. Those things should be used, not tossed.

Concluding with salt

The salt metaphor is interesting in that we modern people don’t use salt like they did. We put it on our food (they probably did, too). But, we don’t put it in our soil, nor do we put it on our manure piles (quick, hands up, who has a manure pile?). Salt was a fertilizer for them. But, their salt was not pure sodium-chloride, either. The salt harvested from the dead sea was (and still is) quite valuable. It is highly water soluble. That’s how it was deposited. And so, it readily released minerals into the soil for healthy plant growth. But, some salt had more insoluble material in it. It was poor quality. How to tell the difference? You tasted it. The saliva dissolved the water soluble components and released the flavor. More flavor, more water soluble; more soluble, better salt.

So, the salt itself had resources that could be used, and it had stuff that was not usable. The point being that the resources were to be used for a purpose--growth. Not individual growth, but other-oriented growth, just like the path the Rabbi was walking. And so, a disciple was to pattern their lives after their Rabbi so as to be useful for growth. And, given the collective nature of their culture, there’s an inherent element of community inferable from the metaphor. If something gets in the way of that, get rid of it; if something is useful to that end, invest those resources for that purpose. Just like you don’t throw good salt away, you don’t throw away what you yourself bring. Just like Christ, you invest it so that others will have true life that starts today and lives on permanently.


The bottom line is that Luke 14:25-35 is not about you (ie. the generic ‘you’). It’s about Christ Jesus. And the answer to the OP’s question is: Invest any and all resources for the honor of Christ Jesus. That is what is meant to be His disciple. It's more about disconnecting or de-attaching from the resources, and investing them in a higher purpose--Christ Jesus.

1 The crucifixion details were intended to be completely dehumanizing to the victim. One ceased to be human.

2 I don’t have the reference to this fact, but I have seen it in a honor-shame, guilt-innocence paper.


The standard that Jesus expected his immediate disciples to live up to during his lifetime is not the same as what is expected of Christians after the resurrection and the progress of Christian civilization. Moreover, even during Jesus' brief ministry we find disciples who lived settled lives with their families as well as those who left everything to follow Jesus. Examples:

  • Jesus told the rich young man to sell everything he owned and give it to the poor (Mt 19:16-30), but he declared that salvation had come to Zacchaeus' household even though the tax-collector did not leave his unsavory profession or his family, and promised to give only half of what he owned to the poor. (Luke 16)

  • Likewise, in Mt. 19 Jesus speaks of the near-impossibility of a rich man to enter the kingdom, yet three wealthy women (Magdalene, Joana and Susanna) are considered saints because they provided for the apostles out of their resources over a period of time, rather than giving away all that they owned. (Luke 8:1-3)

  • Finally, as Jesus' ministry progressed, his standard changed with the times. In Luke 22 he said to his disciples:

“When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything?” “No, nothing,” they replied. 36 (He said to them), “But now one who has a money bag should take it with him, and likewise a sack, and one who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one.

Conclusion: Most of us do not face the life-and-death tests of faith that Jesus' early disciples did. Some do feel a calling to give everything away and even leave their families in order to follow God's will, but those cases are relatively rare and depend on the circumstances.

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