What did Jesus Christ mean, "Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul"?

Who is able to destroy both soul and body? What does Matthew 10:28 teach about our soul?


Matthew:10:28 says, "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."

The word "soul" in this context implies "the capacity to live." That is, another human being may be able to take away our life, but we still have the capacity to live again. God can always bring us back to life in the resurrection. So, though we naturally fear people who can cause our physical death, Jesus was giving us the true, eternal perspective. We should not fear man, but God.

Why? God has the authority to deny bringing us back to life—destroying the capacity to live ever again. "Hell" in this verse refers to the gehenna garbage heap fire burning in the valley outside of Jerusalem. It's symbolic of what the Bible calls "the lake of fire." If we die "the second death" in the lake of fire, there remains no hope of a resurrection (Revelation:21:8).

If we fear—reverence and obey—God, we don't need to fear men.

For more insight, please read our booklet Who Is God?


rwp_47's picture

Matthew:10:28 is a powerful scripture which reveals that there a two deaths. The first death of which we are all familiar with (and the only kind we've ever seen) is the death of our bodies ... as Matthew plainly says. This death is not permanent and is like a sleep. We all (good and bad) shall all be resurrected (awakened) from this death. So God instructs us that this death isn't something that we should fear (though experience clearly reveals we all do to one extent or another). A living being consists of three things - body, soul, and spirit - each of which is an object. To gain a kind of intuitive understanding of these one might find it helpful to think of them as being like a computer. A computer consists of hardware (body), software (soul), and electrical power (spirit). For the computer to function all three are needed. This first death is like destroying the hardware. Obviously without the physical computer (i.e., the hardware) the software and the electrical power can't function. But the software can be installed in another computer and then when plugged in can function just as before. This is basically like what happens in a resurrection. The software/soul (which hasn't been destroyed and is you) is simply loaded into a repaired (or another new) body.
So Matthew is telling us here that we shouldn't fear this physical death because it doesn't destroy the thing that is really us ... which is the soul. We are a soul that has a body (to function in) and a spirit (that gives us the power to be animated). Now without a body we can't function and are comatose (unconscious). In any case God requires that we all experience this death but he tells us not to fear it because it doesn't destroy us ... it just puts us out of commission until he resurrects us.


cjgennaro's picture


Where do you get the thought that a soul is the "real us"? There is no scripture in the Bible that gives us indication that a soul apart from the body, has existence. The best understanding of Mtt 10:28 Is that man can kill your physical life but not perminently, but God can take away perminently the possibility for you to live. When your soul is destroyed, that is your life being destroyed forever. Clearly a soul can die, so it is not something immortal.


rwp_47's picture

Hi cjgennaro ...
You asked: Where do you get the thought that a soul is the "real us"? Well doesn't Gen:2:7 clearly say that's what man became ... a living soul? And anyone familiar with United knows that's what United teaches ... man is a soul that has that has a body and a spirit.

You have me at a disadvantage cj because I don't know what affiliations you might have nor exactly what you might believe. So its hard to know what I can set my mental objects on that you'll accept. So what do you think the "real you" is (though I don't recall using that exact term in that comment) if not the soul? Is the "real you" your body, your spirit, your hair cut, ... what? What do you say?

And I would have to disagree with you assessment of what Matthew:10:28 says. That verse has to be one of the clearest verses in the entire bible. And I think it clearly says a good deal more than that "man can kill you physical life but not permanently". I think it says that almost anything can take one's life (a falling rock for instance) And it also clearly is saying that nothing but God can kill one's soul (and it actually puts it in that vernacular).

And you think that the fact that a soul can die proves that its not immortal ... why would you think that?
After all ... clearly God died.
And forget explanations trying to explain that. Its simply a fact. God died. There's no denying it. And that logically means you're saying that God is therefore not immortal. I think the problem is that you're using the term immortal like an unidentified flying object ... where its not clearly defined. What do you think immortal means? I think that if you could live forever unless literally executed by God (and God alone) ... then I'd say you were immortal. Not even Satan can kill/destroy your soul ... that's clearly discerned from Matt:10:28.


rwp_47's picture

cjgennare ... greetings

Consider what Steve Myers has to say about what the "real us" is:


Steve states the church's position on what is man. Man doesn't have a soul ... but rather as Steve plainly states in the BT Daily toward the end ... man is a soul. So Steve (and the church) say that you are not a body and you are not a spirit. You are a soul.

And just as a side note and something to think about ... would you say the Word of God is not immortal?
But doesn't the bible tells us that Jesus is the word. But Jesus died ... didn't he? So how then is the Word immortal ... based on your criteria for immorality in your last sentence?

And actually ... if one considers what Matthew:10:28 clearly infers ... a man's soul doesn't die in some natural way (that is, it doesn't grow old and die a "natural death"). A soul is "destroyed" by "execution". And only God can perform that execution. If not executed by God ... a soul will not die.

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