Matthew 10:28 "And be not afraid of those killing the body, and are not able to kill the soul, but fear rather Him who is able both soul and body to destroy in gehenna".(YLT).

What is the meaning of "killing the body, and are not able to kill the soul"?

Isn't the soul the person?

Does it suggest that the soul is immortal?


4 Answers 4


New Testament authors, Matthew included, believed that when a human being dies the soul goes to the underworld called Hades (Gr) / Sheol (Hb), an uncomfortable temporary "place of waiting" of sorts. But at the Day of Judgment, all souls will be resurrected and judged, and they will enter either the Kingdom of God or Hell (Gehenna, or Lake of fire), their final place.

Because of the certain hope of the future bodily resurrection, a believer should not be afraid of persecution even though it could result in physical death (which Jesus Himself experienced at the cross). As long as we are born again (which gives us right standing with God, meaning God will accept us), our soul will be resurrected and will be given a better body and we will enter our own glory in the newly created heaven and earth (note: heaven here means "sky", NOT God's home, Heaven).

Ask yourself what matters more: bodily safety but damnation in Gehenna, or bodily martyrdom but eternal salvation in God's Kingdom, i.e. newly created heaven and earth?

So to answer your question: Yes, the soul is immortal. At the Day of Judgment the soul (righteous or not) will receive back the body and those who don't fear God (i.e. not righteous) will be destroyed (body and soul) in Gehenna. Contemplating this prospect should make us fear God, the only one who could permanently cast us into Gehenna permanently rather then fear people who could kill our body only temporarily.

Modern conceptions of body, soul, heaven, hell, etc. create many confusions, so it's very important to understand what the NT authors meant by those terms. For more readings, see:

  • Are you equating the soul with the spirit or tying them together or not considering the spirit at all? “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” ‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:23‬ ‭ Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 20:12
  • @NihilSineDeo I'm tentatively a bipartite, so yes, for this answer I equate the soul with the spirit. But I am not dead set in that camp yet. I still want to investigate more the claims and historical development of the idea leading to the tripartite view of a human being and what exactly the NT authors have in mind when using the Greek primary words for the 3 parts. Does it make a difference in this question? Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 22:11
  • Doesn’t make a difference if you equate them no, it does if you don’t Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 23:00
  • @GratefulDisciple - after more than 2 years from posting this answer, what is your current position on the bipartite vs. tripartite debate?
    – user38524
    Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 1:12
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator Haven't really investigated the tripartite claim much, so I default to St. Thomas (bipartite). Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 1:44

To answer your question,I think the thing to remember is that the soul and spirit should not be understood as being one.In other words,do not equate soul and spirit,instead,equate "breath and spirit". The spirit is what gives life to the soul by way of breath.Please read here

Genesis 2:7 King James Version (KJV)

7 And 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.

The breath of life belongs to the Lord and the Lord can demand it back at any time which is evident in,

Luke 12:20-21 New International Version (NIV)

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

And again in the following text.

Ecclesiastes 12:7 New International Version

and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

(No mention of the soul returning to the Lord in the above text.)

It would appear that when the breath of life is given to the soul that the life-blood is given instantaneously.The soul then becomes "flesh".

Every living human being on the planet has received the "breath of Life",and sooner or later that spirit is going to be given back to the Lord.Then we will return to the substance we were originally formed from.

What happens after we die? We return to dust. According to scripture it is written,

Daniel 12:2 New International Version (NIV)

2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.

So the answer to your question it is evident in the above text.The soul (good or bad) is again given the breath of life, when we are judged at the day of judgement.If the soul does not please the Lord,then the Lord has the power (unlike man) to destroy both the resurrected soul and body.Notice there is no mention of the spirit being destroyed because the spirit (breath of life) returns to the Lord.

Job 34:14-15

"If He should determine to do so, If He should gather to Himself His spirit and His breath, All flesh would perish together, And man would return to dust.

Revelation 20:13-14 New International Version (NIV)

13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.

After the first death comes the judgement resurrection and it is at this point in time that the Lord has the power to throw the sinful soul and body into the lake of fire.The body and soul will be returned to dust by way of fire,in the same way a body is cremated at a funeral.This is the second death.

One thing to consider is not all souls go to Hades, or so i am led to believe when i study this please read here

Revelation 6:9-11 New International Version (NIV)

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10 They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” 11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.

These souls have (i think), been given the breath of life because they are able to speak and they are also given a white robe,which would imply they are flesh.Probably,this is the reason John can see these souls under the alter.


1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 New International Version (NIV)

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 New International Version (NIV)

51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

  • +1. Can a soul exist without its spirit?
    – user35953
    Commented Aug 21, 2020 at 20:17
  • @TonyChan,That sounds like a good question.I would like to see the response it would achieve.
    – Bagpipes
    Commented Aug 22, 2020 at 17:44

What does it mean to Kill the body and the soul.

The word soul is translated from the Greek word " psy-chēn - ψυχὴν " and refers to the person , it is not something immaterial ,intangible or immortal that leaves the body on death. Besides the above verse, there are other verses which also show that the soul dies. The Bible texts below help us understand Jesus words.

Luke 12:20 (NASB)

20 "But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?"

Luke 12:20 (NET Bible)

20 "But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded back from[b] you, but who will get what you have prepared for yourself?"

Acts 3:23 (NASB)

23 "And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people."

Acts 3:23 (NET Bible)

23 "Every person who does not obey that prophet will be destroyed and thus removed[b] from the people."

Mark 3:4 (NASB)

4 "And He *said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent."


και λεγει αυτοις εξεστιν τοις σαββασιν αγαθοποιησαι η κακοποιησαι ψυχην[soul] σωσαι η αποκτειναι οι δε εσιωπων


Ezekiel 18:4 (NASB)

"Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die."


Leviticus 24:17-18 (YLT)

17 "And when a man smiteth any soul of man, he is certainly put to death.18 `And he who smiteth a beast repayeth it, body for body."

Animals are living souls:" And God said, Let the earth bring forth living souls after their kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth, after their kind. And it was so."(Gen. 1:24 Darby others Living Creatures)


From the verses above we have seen that the word soul refers to - persons or their life and even animals and that it can die, so what does the expression: "fear rather Him who is able both soul and body to destroy in Gehenna".(YLT).

Since it is only God that can destroy both soul and body , thus by Jesus referring to the body and soul separately, stresses the fact that God holds the future prospects of resurrection of that person to life or destroy them - no hope of resurrection .

Gehenna means the second death,( like Revelation 21:8 ) also notice that there is no mention of torment . Jesus said: "28 Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment." (John 5:28-29 NASB)

  • 1
    Psuche is the soul or the life. You are translating it as 'person'. Jesus said 'See that it is I myself' when he offered his hands and feet Luke 24:39 as resurrected. The person, the self, is the whole : spirit (pneuma) soul (psuche) and body (soma).
    – Nigel J
    Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 14:19
  • 1
    @ Nigel: Not me. The Bible texts help us understand what the soul is- [phy-che] at 1 Peter 3:20 KJV reads " eight souls saved", NASB , ESB read, "eight persons saved". At Acts 3:23 (KJV) And it shall come to pass, that "every soul", which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. NET reads " every person", others read "anyone". With Luke 24:39 as you are aware spirits cannot be seen by humans, so Jesus materialized and even ate with his disciples .Jesus assured them that he was no vision ; they could see his body of flesh and could touch him, feeling the bones. Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 20:06

The word soul in Greek and Hebrew are multivalent. Your question indicates that you view it as having only one sense. Sometimes it does mean the entire person as you suggest. Bauer-Danker-Arndt-Gingrich Greek lexicon gives glosses of:

1.life on earth in its animating aspect making bodily function possible 2.seat and center of the inner human life in its many and varied aspects, soul

A related text is Mt 20:28 where the New Revised Standard Version renders it as "life."

Matthew 20:28 just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life=psuche a ransom for many."

However, contra GratefulDisciple it is not immortal. The text here says that both body and soul can be destroyed in Gehenna. Gehenna was a garbage dump outside the gates of Jerusalem where fires were kept burning that consumed garbage and even the bodies of criminals. Fire consumes completely. That is the context for the word Jesus used for Gehenna and destroy at Mt 10:28.

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