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Matthew 10:28:

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]

28 And 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. [KJV]

28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. [ESV]

If killing the body doesn't kill the soul, does that mean that the soul remains alive (i.e. conscious) after bodily/physical death? To what extent is this conclusion warranted by the text?

BONUS QUESTION (optional): What about the 'spirit' of a person? Why didn't Jesus say anything about the 'spirit'?


Related: What does it mean to Kill the body and the soul

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    Precisely : if the soul is not killed, then it is alive. The question remains : what is soul 'sleep' but the answer cannot be either 'annihilation' nor can it be total loss of the entire living consciousness. Astute question, up-voted +1. My answer to the 'Bonus Question' is on SE-Christianity.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 21 at 0:28
  • Not exactly. The Greek word translated soul, ψυχή, doesn't solely refer to your inner consciousness/mind. It also refers to the breath, i.e. vital life spirit. That's actually its first definition of ψυχή(see Thayer's Greek Lexicon and Strong's Concordance). This is due to the root word, ψύχω, which means to breathe or blow with cool air. It's fully possible that the point Jesus was making is that we shouldn't fear humans, as they are unable to abolish the breath of life/spirit, but rather God who IS able to abolish the breath of life in Gehinnom, thereby rendering one obliterated.
    – Rajesh
    Jan 21 at 4:26
  • @Rajesh - so I take it that you don't agree with this answer, correct? Jan 21 at 5:13
  • It does not follow that if the soul is not killed it is alive. That comment is based on the assumption that the soul is alive and conscious. If that is untrue, then what the Lord kills in hell is the life of the person. Most times, psyche is translated "life" of a person. See BDAG.
    – Dottard
    Jan 21 at 11:10

3 Answers 3

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Not exactly. Let's examine each of the keywords in the passage.

Matthew 10:28 "And fear not them which kill[ἀποκτείνω] the body, but are not able to kill the soul[ψυχή]: but rather fear him which is able to destroy[ἀπόλλυμι] both soul and body in hell."

(1) ἀποκτείνω(kill):

Strong's Concordance -

From apo and kteino (to slay); to kill outright; figuratively, to destroy -- put to death, kill, slay;

Thayer's Greek Lexicon -

ἀποκτείνω, and Aeolic, ἀποκτέννω (Matthew 10:28 L T Tr; Mark 12:5 G L T Tr; Luke 12:4 L T Tr; 2 Corinthians 3:6 T Tr; cf. Fritzsche on Mark, p. 507f; (Tdf. Proleg., p. 79); Winers Grammar, 83 (79); (Buttmann, 61 (54))), ἀποκτενῶ (Griesbach in Matthew 10:28; Luke 12:4), ἀποκταίνω (Lachmann in 2 Corinthians 3:6; Revelation 13:10), ἀποκτεννυντες (Mark 12:5 WH); future ἀποκτενῶ; 1 aorist ἀπέκτεινα; passive, present infinitive ἀποκτέννεσθαι (Revelation 6:11 G L T Tr WH); 1 aorist ἀπεκτάνθην (Alexander Buttmann (1873) Ausf. Spr. ii. 227; Winers Grammar, the passage cited; (Buttmann, 41 (35f))); (from Homer down);

  1. properly, to kill in any way whatever (ἀπό i.e. so as to put out of the way; cf. (English to kill off), German abschlachten): Matthew 16:21; Matthew 22:6; Mark 6:19; Mark 9:31; John 5:18; John 8:22; Acts 3:15; Revelation 2:13, and very often; (ἀποκτενῶ ἐν θανάτῳ, Revelation 2:23; Revelation 6:8, cf. Buttmann, 184 (159); Winers Grammar, 339 (319)). to destroy (allow to perish): Mark 3:4 (yet others take it here absolutely, to kill).
  2. metaphorically, to extinguish, abolish: τήν ἐχτραν, Ephesians 2:16; to inflict moral death, Romans 7:11 (see ἀποθνῄσκω, II. 2); to deprive of spiritual life and procure eternal misery, 2 Corinthians 3:6 (Lachmann ἀποκταινει; see above).

So, the word ἀποκτείνω does not solely mean, "to put to death", i.e. to slay. It can likewise mean "to destroy or let perish", i.e. bring to ruin. It can also, at times, be used interchangeably with ἀπόλλυμι(the word translated as destroyed in Matthew 10:28). For example;

Mark 3:4 "And he said to them, "Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill[ἀποκτείνω]?" But they were silent."

Luke 6:9 "And Jesus said to them, "I ask you is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy[ἀπόλλυμι] it?"

Both Mark 3:4 and Luke 6:9 were referring to the exact same situations, yet different words are used. Thus, ἀπόλλυμι and ἀποκτείνω can, at times, be used in an interchangeable manner; however, they are not identical. ἀπόλλυμι is more intense than ἀποκτείνω.

(2) ἀπόλλυμι(destroy):

Strong's Concordance -

From apo and the base of olethros; to destroy fully (reflexively, to perish, or lose), literally or figuratively -- destroy, die, lose, mar, perish.

Thayer's Greek Lexicon -

ἀπόλλυμι and ἀπολλύω ((ἀπολλύει John 12:25 T Tr WH), imperative ἀπόλλυε Romans 14:15 (cf. Buttmann, 45 (39); WH's Appendix, p. 168f)); future ἀπολέσω and (1 Corinthians 1:19 ἀπολῶ from a passage in the O. T., where often) ἀπολῶ (cf. Winers Grammar, 83 (80); (Buttmann, 64 (56))); 1 aorist ἀπώλεσα; to destroy; middle, present ἀπόλλυμαι; (imperfect 3 person plural ἀπώλλυντο 1 Corinthians 10:9 T Tr WH); future ἀπολοῦμαι; 2 aorist ἀπωλόμην; (2 perfect active participle ἀπολωλώς); (from Homer down); to perish.

  1. to destroy i.e. to put out of the way entirely, abolish, put an end to, ruin: Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34; Luke 17:27, 29; Jude 1:5; τήν σοφίαν render useless, cause its emptiness to be perceived, 1 Corinthians 1:19 (from the Sept. of Isaiah 29:14); to kill: Matthew 2:13; Matthew 12:14; Mark 9:22; Mark 11:18; John 10:10, etc.; contextually, to declare that one must be put to death: Matthew 27:20; metaphorically, to devote or give over to eternal misery: Matthew 10:28; James 4:12; contextually, by one's conduct to cause another to lose eternal salvation: Romans 14:15. Middle to perish, to be lost, ruined, destroyed; a. of persons; (a). properly: Matthew 8:25; Luke 13:3, 5, 33; John 11:50; 2 Peter 3:6; Jude 1:11, etc.; ἀπόλλυμαι λιμῷ, Luke 15:17; ἐν μαχαρια, Matthew 26:52; καταβαλλόμενοι, ἀλλ' οὐκ ἀπολλύμενοι, 2 Corinthians 4:9. (b). tropically, to incur the loss of true or eternal life; to be delivered up to eternal misery: John 3:15 (R Lbr.), ; (it must be borne in mind, that according to John's conception eternal life begins on earth, just as soon as one becomes united to Christ by faith); Romans 2:12; 1 Corinthians 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15:18; 2 Peter 3:9. Hence, οἱ σῳζόμενοι they to whom it belongs to partake of salvation, and οἱ ἀπολλύμενοι those to whom it belongs to perish or to be consigned to eternal misery, are contrasted by Paul: 1 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Corinthians 2:15; 2 Corinthians 4:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:10 (on these present participles, cf. Winers Grammar, 342 (321); Buttmann, 206 (178)). b. of things; to be blotted out, to vanish away: ἡ εὐπρέπεια, James 1:11; the heavens, Hebrews 1:11 (from Psalm 101:27 (); to perish — "of things which on being thrown away are decomposed, as μέλος τοῦ σώματος, Matthew 5:29f; remnants of bread, John 6:12; — or which perish in some other way, as βρῶσις, John 6:27; χρυσίον, 1 Peter 1:7; — or which are mined so that they can no longer subserve the use for which they were designed, as οἱ ἀσκοί: Matthew 9:17; Mark 2:22; Luke 5:37.
  2. to destroy i.e. to lose; a. properly: Matthew 10:42; Mark 9:41 (τόν μισθόν αὐτοῦ); Luke 15:4, 8, 9; Luke 9:25; Luke 17:33; John 12:25; 2 John 1:8, etc. b. metaphorically, Christ is said to lose anyone of his followers (whom the Father has drawn to discipleship) if such a one becomes wicked and fails of salvation: John 6:39, cf. John 18:9. Middle to be lost: θρίξ ἐκ τῆς κεφαλῆς, Luke 21:18; θρίξ ἀπό τῆς κεφαλῆς, Acts 27:34 (Rec. πεσεῖται); τά λαμπρά ἀπώλετο ἀπό σου, Revelation 18:14 (Rec. ἀπῆλθε). Used of sheep, straying from the flock: properly, Luke 15:4 (τό ἀπολωλός, in Matthew 18:12 τό πλανώμενον). Metaphorically, in accordance with the O. T. comparison of the people of Israel to a flock (Jeremiah 27:6 (); Ezekiel 34:4, 16), the Jews, neglected by their religious teachers, left to themselves and thereby in danger of losing eternal salvation, wandering about as it were without guidance, are called τά πρόβατα τά ἀπολωλότα τοῦ οἴκου Ἰσραήλ: Matthew 10:6; Matthew 15:24 (Isaiah 53:6; 1 Peter 2:25); and Christ, reclaiming them from wickedness, is likened to a shepherd and is said ζητεῖν καί σῴζειν τό ἀπολωλός: Luke 19:10; Matthew 18:11 Rec. (Compare: συναπόλλυμι.)

ἀπόλλυμι unequivocally has a more intense connotation to it than ἀποκτείνω.

(3) ψυχή(soul):

Strong's Concordance -

From psucho; breath, i.e. (by implication) spirit, abstractly or concretely (the animal sentient principle only; thus distinguished on the one hand from pneuma, which is the rational and immortal soul; and on the other from zoe, which is mere vitality, even of plants: these terms thus exactly correspond respectively to the Hebrew nephesh, ruwach and chay) -- heart (+ -ily), life, mind, soul, + us, + you.

Thayer's Greek Lexicon -

ψυχή, ψυχῆς, ἡ (ψύχω, to breathe, blow), from Homer down, the Sept. times too many to count for נֶפֶשׁ, occasionally also for לֵב and לֵבָב;

  1. breath (Latinanima), i.e. a. the breath of life; the vital force which animates the body and shows itself in breathing: Acts 20:10; of animals, Revelation 8:9 (Genesis 9:4; Genesis 35:18; ἐπιστραφήτω ψυχή τοῦ παιδαρίου, 1 Kings 17:21); so also in those passages where, in accordance with the trichotomy or threefold division of human nature by the Greeks, ἡ ψυχή; is distinguished from τό πνεῦμα (see πνευαμ, 2, p. 520a (and references under the word πνεῦμα 5)), 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 4:12. b. life: μέριμναν τῇ ψυχή, Matthew 6:25; Luke 12:22; τήν ψυχήν ἀγαπᾶν, Revelation 12:11; (μισεῖν, Luke 14:26); τιθέναι, John 10:11, 15, 17; John 13:37; John 15:13; 1 John 3:16; παραδιδόναι, Acts 15:26; διδόναι (λύτρον, which see), Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; ζητεῖν τήν ψυχήν τίνος (see ζητέω, 1 a.), Matthew 2:20; Romans 11:3; add, Matthew 6:25; Mark 3:4; Luke 6:9; Luke 12:20, 23; Acts 20:24; Acts 27:10, 22; Romans 16:4; 2 Corinthians 1:23; Philippians 2:30; 1 Thessalonians 2:8; in the pointed aphorisms of Christ, intended to fix themselves in the minds of his hearers, the phrases εὑρίσκειν, σῴζειν, ἀπολλύναι τήν ψυχήν αὐτοῦ, etc., designate as ψυχή in one of the antithetic members the life which is lived on earth, in the other, the (blessed) life in the eternal kingdom of God: Matthew 10:39; Matthew 16:25; Mark 8:35-37; Luke 9:24, 56 Rec.; ; John 12:25; the life destined to enjoy the Messianic salvation is meant also in the following phrases ((where R. V. soul)): περιποίησις ψυχῆς, Hebrews 10:39; κτᾶσθαι τάς ψυχάς, Luke 21:19; ὑπέρ τῶν ψυχῶν (here A. V. (not R. V.) for you; cf. c. below), 2 Corinthians 12:15. c. that in which there is life; a living being: ψυχή ζῶσα, a living soul, 1 Corinthians 15:45; (Revelation 16:3 R Tr marginal reading) (Genesis 2:7; plural ); πᾶσα ψυχή ζωῆς, Revelation 16:3 (G L T Tr text WH) (Leviticus 11:10); πᾶσα ψυχή, every soul, i.e. everyone, Acts 2:43; Acts 3:23; Romans 13:1 (so כָּל־נֶפֶשׁ, Leviticus 7:17 (27); ); with ἀνθρώπου added, every soul of man (אָדָם נֶפֶשׁ, Numbers 31:40, 46 (cf. 1 Macc. 2:38)), Romans 2:9. ψυχαί, souls (like the Latincapita) i.e. persons (in enumerations; cf. German Seelenzahl): Acts 2:41; Acts 7:14; Acts 27:37; 1 Peter 3:20 (Genesis 46:15, 18, 22, 26, 27; Exodus 1:5; Exodus 12:4; Leviticus 2:1; Numbers 19:11, 13, 18; (Deuteronomy 10:22); the examples from Greek authors (cf. Passow, under the word, 2, vol. ii, p. 2590b) are of a different sort (yet cf. Liddell and Scott, under the word, II. 2)); ψυχαί ἀνθρώπων of slaves (A. V. souls of men (R. V. with marginal reading 'Or lives')), Revelation 18:13 (so (Numbers 31:35); Ezekiel 27:13; see σῶμα, 1 c. (cf. Winer's Grammar, § 22, 7 N. 3)).
  2. the soul (Latinanimus), a. the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions (our soul, heart, etc. (R. V. almost uniformly soul); for examples from Greek writings see Passow, under the word, 2, vol. ii., p. 2589b; (Liddell and Scott, under the word, II. 3); Hebrew נֶפֶשׁ, cf. Gesenius, Thesaurus ii, p. 901 in 3): Luke 1:46; Luke 2:35; John 10:24 (cf. αἴρω, 1 b.); Acts 14:2, 22; Acts 15:24; Hebrews 6:19; 2 Peter 2:8, 14; ἡ ἐπιθυμία τῆς ψυχῆς, Revelation 18:14; ἀνάπαυσιν ταῖς ψυχαῖς εὑρίσκειν, Matthew 11:29; ψυχή, ... ἀναπαύου, φάγε, πίε (WH brackets these three imperatives), εὐφραίνου (personification and direct address), Luke 12:19, cf. Luke 12:18 (ἡ ψυχή ἀναπαύσεται, Xenophon, Cyril 6, 2, 28; ἐυφραίνειν τήν ψυχήν, Aelian v. h. 1, 32); εὐδοκεῖ ἡ ψυχή μου (anthropopathically, of God), Matthew 12:18; Hebrews 10:38; περίλυπος ἐστιν ἡ ψυχή μου, Matthew 26:38; Mark 14:34; ἡ ψυχή μου τετάρακται, John 12:27; ταῖς ψυχαῖς ὑμῶν ἀκλυόμενοι (fainting in your souls (cf. ἐκλύω, 2 b.)), Hebrews 12:3; ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ ψυχή σου, with all thy soul, Matthew 22:37; (Luke 10:27 L text T Tr WH); ἐξ ὅλης τῆς ψυχῆς σου (Latinex toto animo), with (literally, from (cf. ἐκ, II. 12 b.)) all thy soul, Mark 12:30, 33 (here T WH omit; L Tr marginal reading brackets the phrase); Luke 10:27 (R G) (Deuteronomy 6:5; (Epictetus diss. 3, 22, 18 (cf. Xenophon, anab. 7, 7, 43)); Antoninus 3, 4; (especially 4, 31; 12, 29); ὅλῃ τῇ ψυχή φροντίζειν τίνος (rather, with κεχαρισθαι), Xenophon, mem. 3, 11, 10); μία ψυχή, with one soul (cf. πνεῦμα, 2, p. 520a bottom), Philippians 1:27; τοῦ πλήθους ... ἦν ἡ καρδία καί ἡ ψυχή μία, Acts 4:32 (ἐρωτηθεις τί ἐστι φίλος, ἔφη. μία ψυχή δύο σώμασιν ἐνοικουσα, (Diogenes Laërtius 5, 20 (cf. Aristotle, eth. Nic. 9, 8, 2, p. 1168b, 7; on the elliptical ἀπό μιᾶς (namely, ψυχῆς?), see ἀπό, III.)); ἐκ ψυχῆς, from the heart, heartily (Ephesians 6:6 (Tr WH with Ephesians 6:7)); Colossians 3:23 (ἐκ τῆς ψυχῆς often in Xenophon; τό ἐκ ψυχῆς πένθος, Josephus, Antiquities 17, 6, 5). b. "the (human) soul in so far as it is so constituted that by the right use of the aids offered it by God it can attain its highest end and secure eternal blessedness, the soul regarded as a moral being designed for everlasting life": 3 John 1:2; ἀγρύπνειν ὑπέρ τῶν ψυχῶν, Hebrews 13:17; ἐπιθυμίαι, αἵτινες στρατεύονται κατά τῆς ψυχῆς, 1 Peter 2:11; ἐπίσκοπος τῶν ψυχῶν, 1 Peter 2:25; σῴζειν τάς ψυχάς, James 1:21; ψυχήν ἐκ θανάτου, from eternal death, James 5:20; σωτηρία ψυχῶν, 1 Peter 1:9; ἁγνίζειν τάς ψυχάς ἑαυτῶν, 1 Peter 1:22; (τάς ψυχάς πιστῷ κτίστῃ παρατίθεσθαι, 1 Peter 4:19). c. the soul as an essence which differs from the body and is not dissolved by death (distinguished from τό σῶμα, as the other part of human nature (so in Greek writings from Isocrates and Xenophon down; cf. examples in Passow, under the word, p. 2589{a} bottom; Liddell and Scott, under the word, II. 2)): Matthew 10:28, cf. 4 Macc. 13:14 (it is called ἀθάνατος, Herodotus 2, 123; Plato Phaedr., p. 245 c., 246 a., others; ἄφθαρτος, Josephus, b. j. 2, 8, 14; διαλυθῆναι τήν ψυχήν ἀπό τοῦ σώματος, Epictetus diss. 3, 10, 14); the soul freed from the body, a disembodied soul, Acts 2:27, 31 Rec.; Revelation 6:9; Revelation 20:4 (Wis. 3:1; (on the Homeric use of the word, see Ebeling, Lex. Homer, under the word, 3, and references at the end, also Proudfit in Bib. Sacr. for 1858, pp. 753-805)).

As you can see, the word ψυχή does not solely refer to one's inner consciousness or mind(soul). It also refers to the life force, the breath of life, or vital spirit that sustains life(and consequently leads to sentience, i.e. the ability to feel or perceive things, belonging to both humans and animals), according to Strong's and Thayer's. This is due to the fact that the root word of ψυχή is ψύχω, which means to breathe or blow cool air.

ψύχω(breathe):

ψύχω: 2 future passive, ψυγήσομαι (cf. Lob. ad Phryn., p. 318; Moeris, Piers. edition, p. 421, under the word); from Homer down; to breathe, blow, cool by blowing; passive, to be made or to grow cool or cold: tropically, of waning love, Matthew 24:12. (Thayer's Greek Lexicon)

Thus, Matthew 10:28 can be validly interpreted in this manner;

Matthew 10:28 "And do not fear those who bring to ruin the body but cannot bring to ruin the vital breath[as it is possible for God to resurrect you]. Rather fear him who can utterly destroy both the vital breath and the body in Gehinnom[thus rendering your entirety obliterated, with no way back, not even in a resurrection]."

The passage makes so much more sense now. How so? Well, because of Genesis 2:7;

Genesis 2:7 "...then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living soul."

Human beings consist of the physical(dust of the ground) and the spiritual(breath of life), which work together in harmony to construct a living soul(cf. 1 Corinthians 15:45). When we die, only the physical part of us is destroyed; the spiritual is not destroyed but returns from whence it came, i.e. God(cf. Ecclesiastes 12:7, Psalm 146:4). Thus, there is hope. God can resurrect us(bring us back from the dead) by incorporating our spirit/breath of life into a functional body to contain it, thus regenerating the harmony between the physical and the spiritual.

But how are you supposed to do that if the spirit/breath of life doesn't even exist? You can't put a nonexistent spirit into a body! If the spirit becomes nonexistent(via the only process that results in the spirit becoming nonexistent, i.e. destruction by God), then there is absolutely no way back; God can never resurrect you because He has chosen to permanently destroy the spiritual part of you. When God chooses to destroy, it is total destruction from which there is no return(that is why the more intense word, ἀπόλλυμι, is used to describe what God does to the body and spirit, as opposed to the less intense word, ἀποκτείνω). And this is why we must fear God; the ability to destroy the breath of life of a person belongs solely to God. No one else has it, thus we should not fear anyone else as though they are capable of destroying the spiritual part of us. Humans are capable of destroying only the physical part of us, our body; not the spiritual part of us, our spirit/breath of life. Only God has the ability to breathe the breath of life into us(Genesis 2:7), and in the same way, only He has the ability to destroy it.

Thus, the inner consciousness or mind(soul) is not in view in Matthew 10:28. Jesus is not implying that our conscious soul lives on after death; he is implying that our spirit/breath of life lives on after death. But that is someone we already knew from long ago!

Ecclesiastes 12:7 "And the dust returneth to the earth as it was, And the spirit returneth to God who gave it."

The point Jesus was trying to make at Matthew 10:28 is that we should not fear those who have no capacity to destroy our breath of life, but rather the One who alone has the capacity to do so, namely, God. That our inner consciousness(soul) remains after death is not something implied by the text whatsoever.

Hope this helps! Have a wonderful day. :)

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  • Thanks for this answer. Plenty, "food for thought". People will digest it, in their own way. +1
    – Bagpipes
    Jan 21 at 19:44
  • 1
    @Bagpipes Thanks. :)
    – Rajesh
    Jan 21 at 19:46
2

We can break this down into little steps which eliminate drawing poor conclusions.

  • Adam became a living soul.
  • God gives the breath of life and He can take it away.
  • He can take it away in two ways - temporarily and permanently.
  • When someone dies, the bible speaks of sleep, they can still be raised by God (and Jesus) to new life - either new physical life (2nd res.) or spirit life (1st res.) (This is a simplistic summation as we don't need any more details here.)

Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going so that I may awaken him from sleep.” The disciples then said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will come out of it.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he was speaking about actual sleep. John 11:11-

  • Jesus, as the firstborn from the dead (Col 1) was the FIRST to be raised to spirit life. Rom 6:9, 1Pet 3:18, He cannot die again.
  • He is the firstborn of many brothers, Rom 8:29 - all of humanity are potentially his brothers

28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matt 10:28

  • Anyone can kill the body. It happens everyday - thousands lose their life in traffic, at work, in war, disease, old age.... They are now 'asleep', awaiting the next life via a resurrection.
  • we need not fear losing our physical life in this age. Frankly, life is very fickle and tenuous and Christians needn't worry about dying as much as they seem to.
  • Jesus seems to be saying something similar - "do not fear those who kill the body". Persecution and wars and famine cause death - that's the cycle of life, for many it's a harsh reality and 3 score and 10 is simply not going to happen. Jesus said, don't worry about it!

And which of you by worrying can add a single day to his life’s span? Matt 6:27

Now we come to the 'killing the soul' bit.

  • WHEN we get to the resurrection and stand before God's judgement seat, we will hear what our next moment will include.
  • The 'good and faithful servant', will be rewarded with true life.
  • The sinner who is about to learn of the true God and His son will be given their time to choose life in Christ, during the millennium for example.
  • IF, after they have this opportunity to learn, repent and receive the forgiveness and grace offered, they will go on to true life like those from the 1st res.
  • IF they don't choose a life in grace they will be headed for the second death

This is the second death, the lake of fire. Rev 20:14

From this there is no sleep, no recovery, no further resurrection - that's it!

Their 'soul' and their life will be eternally no more. No person can kill the soul - the life potential of a person eternally - only God can do this. Obviously He will, or there would be no 'second death'. The second death includes the soul, a complete and permanent elimination that a temporary 'sleep' is not. God had not just put the person to sleep - He has destroyed the body and soul - the person will cease to exist.

Summary.

  • When we die in this age we will 'sleep' - totally oblivious to what ever happens until we are raised - no conscious thought, no activity, dead to the world.
  • God can raise anyone unless they are headed for the second death, in which case there will be no more life or existence in any form - ever. We should respectfully 'fear' this permanent death and pay attention to the words of life that would help us draw near to God, that He might save us through His son.

The example of Lazarus shows how he could be raised from this 'sleep', even though totally dead, but after the second death, this will not be possible.

Nothing in this passage speaks of 'immortal souls'. Many might read that in from a conditioned belief system, but that is not what Jesus is speaking about. That the souls can be killed, should be ample evidence for such a claim.

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In the debate between those who believe in a mortal soul vs immortal soul, Matt 10:28 is problematic for both sides. Both claim too much and both ignore too much in this text.

For example, Barnes says, "Them which kill the body - That is, people, who have no power to injure the soul, the immortal part." Thus Barnes ignores the part of the verse that says the soul is killed in hell!!.

So what does this text say and what does it not say?

  • it says nothing about whether the soul is conscious after death or not.
  • it does say that the soul can be destroyed in hell
  • it does say that the body can be killed without killing the soul. But what here is meant by "soul"?

In reading this passage, we should recall other passages like:

  • Eph 2:6 - And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus [This is not literally true, but will be true one day.]
  • Luke 20:38 - He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to Him all are alive.”
  • James 2:26 - As the body without the spirit is dead ...

Back to Matt 10:28. Let us place the parallel verse in Luke 12:4, 5 beside Matt 10:28 -

  • Matt 10:28 - (a) Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, (b) fear the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
  • Luke 12:5, 6 - (a) I tell you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: (b) Fear the One who, after you have been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him!

Let us observe what we can learn from this instruction of Jesus:

Hell (Gehenna) is the place where souls are killed and destroyed. This is the opposite of eternal life in hell and eternal torment.

The context determines that the one who can kill the body (only) are human persecutors. The One who can kill the soul in hell is the God alone.

This is as far as we can go on this passage alone. It is from other Scripture that we learn more about the details. Notice Luke's version: "Fear the One who, after you have been killed, has authority to throw you into hell". The timing of the "after that" (Greek, meta) is not specified.

If people die and "fall asleep" (1 Cor 15:18, 20, John 11:11, Matt 27:52, 1 Thess 4:15, 1 Cor 7:39, etc) and then resurrected at the second coming, God has no body to resurrect - it would have rotted away; God "remembers" us when He comes again in His kingdom (Luke 23:42) - we are resurrected back to life.

If God judges the person wicked, the person is resurrected to the "resurrection of damnation" (John 5:24-28) and they are destroyed in Hell, both body and soul (2 Thess 1:8, Matt 10:28, Eze 18:4, 20, 24, Mal 4:1, 3.)

Thus, in Matt 10:28 we have two situations:

  • either the body is only destroyed by persecuting humans. However, God would remember the righteous.
  • or, the body and soul (of the wicked) are destroyed by God at the great final judgement. That is, body and soul are destroyed together.

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