Philipians 1:21 wrote:Ἐμοὶ γὰρ τὸ ζῇν, Χριστός· καὶ τὸ ἀποθανεῖν, κέρδος.
It doesn't seem to be a big thing, but I want to explore the sense of κέρδος, looking at what it means and what nuance it carries. Also, I want to explore what senses other (related) words have, which are not what κέρδος/κερδῆσαι express.
Starting with κερδῆσαι, which seems to mean "to work and strive to get" and (sometimes) even with the sense "to obtain after the striving and working for something". The final attainment is an optional part of the meaning I think.
Now for κτᾶσθαι... Let's begin with a discussion of a verse;
From reading in English, the main point in Acts 8:20
"you thought that the gift of God is acquired by money". seems to be the money.τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ θεοῦ ἐνόμισας διὰ χρημάτων κτᾶσθαι.
That is to say that money is the problem that is primarily being rebuked. But I think that in the Greek what is striking is the choice of verb. it seems that the usual verbs to be collocated with δωρεά would be δοῦναι and λαβεῖν. The use of other verbs (or those two verbs in a different aspect) would be noted as significant. In this case having the verb κτᾶσθαι with δωρεάν would sound strange on the ears - giving rise to perhaps a feel of "this guy really didn't know how things work with God" or perhaps even humour - for people to laugh at.
κτήτωρ btw is owner.
χρῆμα is not only "money", but "money - the thing with which you (can) have that is useful for getting something else". cf. νόμισμα "coin" which is the physical money
Seems to refer to getting more by organic increase rather than by addition or acquisition.
If κέρδος is the gain / acquisition that one aims to get after working hard to get it. How does that fit in here if it doesn't mean that after death there is a reward for works?