For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
There is no bargaining or bartering mechanism which gives credibility to the exchange. The value of the soul is determined by God the creator who through redemption determined the infinite value of the soul through his unfailing love.
These are weighty questions by Christ, the creator of all who alone knows the real answer to these questions. They are not asked in order to receive response. But rather they are asked to raise the level of thoughtfulness about the seriousness of life and one’s commitment to Christ. This is derived from the previous statement of Christ setting forth the standard for true commitment and followship of Him.
One need only look at the comparison between the rich young ruler and Zacchaeus. Both were rich with this world’s goods but their response to Christ was completely different. The rule’s decision resulted in him walking away from Christ at that moment choosing riches over the consideration of his soul for whatever one treasures the heart pursues. Zacchaeus chose Christ in true repentance considering the significance of his soul as more valuable than anything he possessed.
Further exportation of this text makes a valid point in that we possess or hold ownership we would attempt to barter with. Both the soul and all the world’s goods belong to God. Psalm 24 reminds us that the earth is the Lord’s, the world and those who dwell in it. Even the soul shall return to God when death has accomplished it’s mission.
For broader consideration look at the open-ended suggestion in the word what. It leaves the door open for deep exploration which will ultimately become an exercise in futility. What are you advantaged if you gain the whole world at the expense of losing your soul? What kind of deal can you make with God that would cause Him to even consider the exchange?
Let’s just suppose you gained all the world had to offer but looming in the near future is your demise the question your are now faced with is, was it worth it? Don’t miss the point. God is not opposed to us possessing wealth and material. That’s not really the question. The question involves the world or better yet stated this perverse and corrupt system of evil under the control of God’s enemy Satan. Which ever you choose will also determine your pursuit. Choosing Christ means living obediently to Him while in this perverse and corrupt system. Choosing otherwise requires the exchanging of one’s soul for something that is both corrupt and temporary. What happens when your world ends but the soul still exist? The answer to that question lies with those who have lived through the experience but have not returned to give us an answer.