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.

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