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Jesus' words here contain an apparent contradiction:

You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life.

Luke 21:16-19

How can someone be "put to death" and yet "not a hair of their head will perish"?

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An ultra-literal answer would be dying in ways that don't mess with the hair, such as crucifixion. – pterandon Aug 15 '13 at 12:01
up vote 12 down vote accepted

Jesus is talking here about the resurrection of the dead. Because of what Christ did all will live again. So yes you could die for the gospel but you would gain eternal life in Christ.

Just adding some scripture to back this up:

(KJV) 1 Corinthians 15:42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:

Just supporting that we will be raised from this mortal state which is corruptible (hence why we die) to an immortal state that is incorruptible.

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That was my first thought, but hair on your head seems literal. But, yeah, I guess you are right, if you take "perish" as Jesus did earlier in that same Gospel‌​. – Wikis Apr 12 '12 at 13:19

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