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

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Matthew 10:28 Matthew 10:28And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
American King James Version×
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 Revelation 21:8But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
American King James Version×
).

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

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

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    Comments

  • rwp_47
    Matthew 10:28 Matthew 10:28And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
    American King James Version×
    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
    Rwp, 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
    Hi cjgennaro … You asked: Where do you get the thought that a soul is the “real us”? Well doesn’t Genesis 2:7 Genesis 2:7And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
    American King James Version×
    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 Matthew 10:28And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
    American King James Version×
    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 Matthew 10:28 Matthew 10:28And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
    American King James Version×
    .
  • rwp_47
    cjgennare … greetings Consider what Steve Myers has to say about what the “real us” is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d65mzY4z2OI 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 Matthew 10:28And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
    American King James Version×
    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.
  • rwp_47
    Hi cjgennaro … I’ve been thinking about it cj. And while the church does teach that man is a soul - I think you are correct in questioning that. I think the church is wrong about that. God formed man from the dust of the ground - and then it says man became something. I think that clearly says that the thing that was the man was that body - not the soul. And it says that things were added to that lifeless, soul-less, spiritless body that was man (and these added things came directly from, and out of, our creator - from his very person). And the things that were added were soul and spirit. God plainly tells us that we are dust, and we shall return to dust again. So I think you are right in regard to questioning whether man is a soul. But your understanding of Matthew 10:28 Matthew 10:28And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
    American King James Version×
    is off. Because it clearly shows that the soul exists as a separate “thing” in its own right as does one’s body or spirit. Because it plainly says that the body can be killed without killing the soul. And then it informs us that we don’t want to get too cocky about that because God (and he alone) can destroy one’s souls in the lake of fire. Actually, and very interestingly, I’ve found that Ezekiel 18:4 Ezekiel 18:4Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sins, it shall die.
    American King James Version×
    ,20, which states that the soul that sins shall die, and that the church uses as its basis for saying that the soul is not immortal, can actually can be used to prove the exact opposite - that actually soul, in fact, is immortal. The logic goes like this: The soul that sins shall die. That implies that the soul that doesn’t sin won’t die. Which means a sinless soul is an immortal soul. We know that Jesus didn’t sin. His soul therefore is immortal. But suppose you kill Jesus (the man) - as the world actually did. The only thing you would have killed is his body (just as Matthew says). You were not able to do anything to his soul (again, just as Matthew says). The soul that is now scheduled to die is yours (unless you’re forgiven for the murder). But you’re still alive (at least for the time being). So Matthew is correct. The soul is something that exists in its own right just as a body does - or just as spirit exists. What Matthew says is like saying that Davis Robinson is 7’-2” tall. What you said was like saying - “no that’s wrong - all you can say is David Robinson is tall.” Now you’re right - David is tall. But you’re wrong - because he is 7’-2”.
  • GreenBranch
    Everyone here is including some elements of truth from the Bible. However, God keeps things simpler. Let’s use Christ as the example. How does he exist with God? In the word, God uses a lamp to explain his existence, Christ’s existence and our existence. God: The endless life, immortal, invisible and never seen - John 4:24 John 4:24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
    American King James Version×
    , 1 John 1:5 1 John 1:5This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
    American King James Version×
    , 1 Timothy 6:15-16 1 Timothy 6:15-16 15 Which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; 16 Who only has immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach to; whom no man has seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.
    American King James Version×
    Christ: The lamp that holds the invisible life itself so all in the universe can actually see God, he changed his lamp from glorious to human when he became Adam #2 for salvation - Revelation 21:23 Revelation 21:23And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
    American King James Version×
    ; Hebrews 1:3 Hebrews 1:3Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:
    American King James Version×
    ; John 1:1-9 John 1:1-9 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world.
    American King James Version×
    The humans are also referred to as lamps - Proverbs 13:9 Proverbs 13:9The light of the righteous rejoices: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.
    American King James Version×
    ; Proverbs 20:20 Proverbs 20:20Whoever curses his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.
    American King James Version×
    Everyone in the universe borrows from the light/life of the invisible God that lives in Christ to light their lamps; - John 1:9 John 1:9That was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world.
    American King James Version×
    ; Proverbs 20:27 Proverbs 20:27The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.
    American King James Version×
    ; Everything in the universe exists inside the invisible life including Christ who comes from the invisible/immortal life and possesses it as himself. - Acts 17:28 Acts 17:28For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
    American King James Version×
    ; 2 Chronicles 6:18 2 Chronicles 6:18But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain you; how much less this house which I have built!
    American King James Version×
    ; John 14:6-10 John 14:6-10 6 Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me. 7 If you had known me, you should have known my Father also: and from now on you know him, and have seen him. 8 Philip said to him, Lord, show us the Father, and it suffises us. 9 Jesus said to him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known me, Philip? he that has seen me has seen the Father; and how say you then, Show us the Father? 10 Believe you not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak to you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwells in me, he does the works.
    American King James Version×
    ; When humans die, the light they borrow returns to God, But the person themselves no longer exists. All that remains is an empty lamp frame. The lamp frame is what humans can touch and destroy which is the body that returns to dirt at death. - Ecclesiastes 12:6-8 Ecclesiastes 12:6-8 6 Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. 7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return to God who gave it. 8 Vanity of vanities, said the preacher; all is vanity.
    American King James Version×
    Even Angels can be destroyed because every life in the universe borrows from the eternal, invisible and immortal spirit of life/God to live. Thus Satan and the fallen angels now have an expiration date. - Matthew 25:41 Matthew 25:41Then shall he say also to them on the left hand, Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
    American King James Version×
    ; Revelation 12:12 Revelation 12:12Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time.
    American King James Version×
    This is why only Christ could be the payment because in him dwells the immortal and indestructible life. So yes he experienced death but death for him is different from everyone. Meaning the life everyone borrows returns to God; but Christ himself is that life and the possessor of it. Thus, he could only die in his humanity or body - 2 Corinthians 3:17 2 Corinthians 3:17Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
    American King James Version×
    ; John 14:1-9 John 14:1-9 1 Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know. 5 Thomas said to him, Lord, we know not where you go; and how can we know the way? 6 Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me. 7 If you had known me, you should have known my Father also: and from now on you know him, and have seen him. 8 Philip said to him, Lord, show us the Father, and it suffises us. 9 Jesus said to him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known me, Philip? he that has seen me has seen the Father; and how say you then, Show us the Father?
    American King James Version×
    ; 1 Peter 3:18 1 Peter 3:18For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
    American King James Version×
    Some translations get 1 Peter 3:19 1 Peter 3:19By which also he went and preached to the spirits in prison;
    American King James Version×
    wrong saying Christ went to talk to the dead. What it’s actually saying is that it was by the spirit he spoke to those now dead when they were alive in the days of their rebellion. He did it through Noah: 2 Peter 2:5 2 Peter 2:5And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly;
    American King James Version×
    . So don’t fear the one that can break the lamp and put out the flame. God who lends the flame can always restore the lamp and relight it. Fear God because he can put the flame out and destroy the lamp frame permanently. - Psalms 37:10 Psalms 37:10For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yes, you shall diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.
    American King James Version×
    ; Luke 3:17 Luke 3:17Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.
    American King James Version×
    ; Isaiah 33:10-13 Isaiah 33:10-13 10 Now will I rise, said the LORD; now will I be exalted; now will I lift up myself. 11 You shall conceive chaff, you shall bring forth stubble: your breath, as fire, shall devour you. 12 And the people shall be as the burnings of lime: as thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire. 13 Hear, you that are far off, what I have done; and, you that are near, acknowledge my might.
    American King James Version×
  • grace1102
    Well put Green Branch except for one part I have always believed other wise. Some translations get 1 Peter 3:19 1 Peter 3:19By which also he went and preached to the spirits in prison;
    American King James Version×
    wrong saying Christ went to talk to the dead. What it’s actually saying is that it was by the spirit he spoke to those now dead when they were alive in the days of their rebellion. He did it through Noah: 2 Peter 2:5 2 Peter 2:5And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly;
    American King James Version×
    . The Spirits spoken of here are the angels spoken of in Genesis that left there abode. As far as I know we are not referred to as Spirits in scripture. Your thoughts:).
  • GreenBranch
    Hi Grace1102, The key to show that it is humans being referred to here and not fallen angels is the phrase: “1 Peter 3:19 1 Peter 3:19By which also he went and preached to the spirits in prison;
    American King James Version×
    - By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;” Are the fallen angels said to be in prison? The passage says they’re put under chains of “darkness” - 2 Peter 2:4 2 Peter 2:4For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved to judgment;
    American King James Version×
    , Jude 1:6 Jude 1:6And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness to the judgment of the great day.
    American King James Version×
    If it refers to prison or captivity, when did they arrive? It says they arrived when they left their position which was before Moses’s time because he wrote Genesis several hundreds of years after the flood. However, in Job we see that Satan visited Heaven to accuse humans before God. In addition, we see that the disobedient Angels accompanied Satan in Heaven when war broke out: Revelation 12:8-9 Revelation 12:8-9 8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
    American King James Version×
    When did this war break out? After the child (Jesus) was snatched up to the throne. Jesus alludes to this war drawing near when his passion was upon him when he says: “John 12:31-32 John 12:31-32 31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. 32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to me.
    American King James Version×
    King James Version (KJV) 31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” They were cast out into the earth with no more access to Heaven. Even during Jesus’s ministry, these spirits roamed the earth in humans from the Abyss and sought not to go back. Luke 22:3 Luke 22:3Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.
    American King James Version×
    , Luke 8:29-31 Luke 8:29-31 29 (For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he broke the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness.) 30 And Jesus asked him, saying, What is your name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him. 31 And they sought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep.
    American King James Version×
    , Luke 11:23-26 Luke 11:23-26 23 He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathers not with me scatters. 24 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walks through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he said, I will return to my house from where I came out. 25 And when he comes, he finds it swept and garnished. 26 Then goes he, and takes to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.
    American King James Version×
    , 1 John 5:18 1 John 5:18We know that whoever is born of God sins not; but he that is begotten of God keeps himself, and that wicked one touches him not.
    American King James Version×
    , 1 Peter 5:8 1 Peter 5:8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour:
    American King James Version×
    . So, is it that the chains aren’t strong enough? Or is it that the chains of “darkness” referred to is the fallen’s inability to escape disobedience and ignorance of truth? “John 1:5 John 1:5And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
    American King James Version×
    King James Version (KJV) 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” “Ephesians 6:12 Ephesians 6:12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
    American King James Version×
    King James Version (KJV) 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” How is it that the fallen angels are afraid of God and yet remain disobedient except God has bound them to disobedience until he judges them? James 2:19 James 2:19You believe that there is one God; you do well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
    American King James Version×
    ; Hebrews 2:16 Hebrews 2:16For truly he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.
    American King James Version×
    ; Acts 26:18 Acts 26:18To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
    American King James Version×
    ; This darkness is what Jude and Peter are referring to. Now, regarding the term prison, the bible refers to the grave as a prison for humans whether righteous or wicked: Zechariah 9:10-12 Zechariah 9:10-12 10 And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace to the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth. 11 As for you also, by the blood of your covenant I have sent forth your prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water. 12 Turn you to the strong hold, you prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double to you;
    American King James Version×
    , Isaiah 42:6-7 Isaiah 42:6-7 6 I the LORD have called you in righteousness, and will hold your hand, and will keep you, and give you for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; 7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
    American King James Version×
    , Isaiah 24:21-23 Isaiah 24:21-23 21 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth on the earth. 22 And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited. 23 Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the LORD of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.
    American King James Version×
    , Isaiah 10:1-5 Isaiah 10:1-5 1 Woe to them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed; 2 To turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless! 3 And what will you do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will you flee for help? and where will you leave your glory? 4 Without me they shall bow down under the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. 5 O Assyrian, the rod of my anger, and the staff in their hand is my indignation.
    American King James Version×
    ; I hope this clarifies why the prisoners in 1 Peter 3 refer to humans and not the fallen angels.
  • Sabrina Peabody
    Hi Green Branch, Revelation 12:12 Revelation 12:12Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has but a short time.
    American King James Version×
    can be read that Satan’s rule on this earth is coming to an end, no wonder he would be upset. He also is going to be cast into a pit for 1000 years. Death is like sleep until we are resurrected so Christ would not have preached to dead human spirits… Check out this Bible FAQ: Who were the “spirits in prison” that Jesus preached to as mentioned in 1 Peter 3:18-20 1 Peter 3:18-20 18 For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached to the spirits in prison; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
    American King James Version×
    ? ( http://www.ucg.org/bible-faq/who-were-spirits-prison-jesus-preached-ment… ) Concerning the Bible FAQ above, I think if we love God we desire to please Him.

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