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Matthew 10:28 – Not Able to Kill the Soul

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Matthew 10:28 – “Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul. Rather, fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.” — World English

Contrary to the way this scripture is often presented, Jesus was not here speaking of the Bible hell, that is, hades. Those translators who use some form of the word “hell” in this verse hide this, and thus confuse the Bible hell with the symbolism of “Gehenna”.

Nor is Jesus here saying that the soul cannot die, as many assume, for he goes on to say: “but fear him who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna,” using the fiery valley outside the walls of Jerusalem as a symbol of destruction. To have this mean eternal torture while one’s body is dead, one has to change “destroy” to “torture”, and also change body to “spirit” or something else.

Jesus is certainly not contradicting the entire body of scripture in this regard, which over and over states that the soul dies, can be destroyed, speaks of dead souls, etc. The body is not the soul, but it is a component of the soul. The soul is made up the body and the spirit (or breath) of life from God. (Genesis 2:7) When one dies the soul dies [ceases to be a living sentiency] and the original life process is reversed. (Ecclesiastes 12:7) With the life-giving source departed from the body, the soul [sentiency] ceases to exist as a living soul. It becomes a “dead soul.”

For those who are not familiar with the Biblical teaching that the human soul dies and is not immortal, we give the following: Using the King James Version with marginal references: The soul dies: Job 36:14 (margin); Psalm 56:13; 78:50; 116:8; Ezekiel 18:4, 20; James 5:20. The dead soul is not alive: Psalm 22:29; 30:3; 33:18, 19; Isaiah 55:3; Ezekiel 13:19; 18:27. The dead soul ceases: Psalm 49:8. The wicked soul is destroyed: Psalm 35:17; 40:14; Proverbs 6:32; Ezekiel 22:27; Matthew 10:28; Acts 3:23; James 4:12. The wicked soul is consumed: Isaiah 10:18. The wicked soul is devoured: Ezekiel 22:25. The wicked soul perishes: Matthew 16:25, 26 (the Greek word for soul is here translated life). The wicked soul is cut off: Leviticus 22:3; Numbers 15:30.

There are many more scriptures in the Hebrew that show that the soul is not immortal; this cannot be seen in most translations, however, since the word for soul is often substituted by “creature”, “body”, etc. On the other hand, there is not one scripture in the entire Bible that says anything about the inherit immortality of the soul, or that the soul continues to live after the body dies.

However, getting back to Jesus’ statement: The above scripture does not apply to everyone, but only to the believers. Those who put faith in Jesus are counted as alive in God’s sight in view of the resurrection [not immortal soul] promises. This is shown in Luke 20:34-38, where in speaking of the resurrection, Jesus says: “For he is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to him.” — See also: Romans 4:5,22-25; 5:1,18; 6:11.

Further, and again speaking of the day when the righteous will be raised, Jesus said (John 6:54): “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” If a believer, after having this life reckoned to him through faith in the blood of Jesus, and partaking of the holy spirit — powers of the age to come, turns away from this faith, he will lose the life he had obtained through that faith, for there is no longer any more sacrifice for sins left. (Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26) Such a person would go into the second death, for which there is no ransom sacrifice provided. Thus Jesus, in speaking to his disciples, said the above statement as a warning. No human can take away our life — soul — that has been made alive in God’s sight. Only God himself can do this by destroying our soul as new creatures.

Something else we might note here: Gehenna is not a symbol of the eternal roasting theory, for Jesus speaks not only of the soul being thrown into this valley, but also of fleshly bodies. In a different setting Jesus speaks similarly of the fleshly body being thrown into the fires of Gehenna. — Matthew 5:29,30.

Some try to say that the destruction of the body is physical death, but the destruction of the soul is spiritual death. It should be apparent, however, that if “kill” in respects to the body means actual destruction — ceasing to exist, then also “kill” and “destroy” used in respects to the soul being spoken of also means actual destruction — ceasing to exist. We have yet to see an explanation of exactly how the concept of “spiritual death” as held by dualists would fit the death of the soul in Gehenna, since it is often claimed that mankind fell under the sentence of spiritual death in Adam.

It has also been claimed that the death of the body is the first death (physical death), and that the death of the soul is the second death (spiritual death). This raises the question as to whether mankind has received the condemnation of the second death from Adam. Was mankind already under a condemnation of physical death (the alleged first death) before Adam sinned, so that, when Adam sinned a second death was attached to the condemnation already upon man? There is nothing in the scriptures about such.

Scripturally, the first death is the death in Adam, for which reason Bible Students usually refer to this death as “Adamic death,” which death Jesus provided a ransom for. (Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22; 1 Timothy 2:5,6) The second death actually belongs to the age to come, when those who, after receiving the full knowledge of truth, willfully desire sin will be thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15) There is no more ransom, so this death will mean eternal destruction, just as it means eternal destruction for the Adamic death and hades, which are also thrown into the lake of fire. However, in this age, there are those who become sons of God who are reckoned alive and who also partake the powers of the age to come. (Hebrews 6:4,5) If these, after having been sanctified by the blood of the covenant, willfully practice sin, they have have no more sacrifice for sins. (Hebrews 10:26-29) They had already used up, so to speak, the merit of Jesus’ sacrifice on their behalf. They cannot return to the condemnation in Adam, thus they come under a new condemnation, a more severe punishment, the condemnation of the age to come, that is, the second death.


5 Comments

  1. Let’s think about this. Why can’t Jesus be saying that only the Christian soul is immortal? The Christian soul does not sleep; on the contrary, only the body sleeps until the Second Coming when the soul returns from heaven and unites with the body (2 Corinthians 5:6-8). The Non-Christian does not sleep either. It goes to hades, a place similar to Death Row for criminals on earth. At the resurrection of the unsaved, their souls, still living, are reunited to their bodies and after the judgment are cast into hell and both body and soul are destroyed. Can you prove that that is not what happens?

    • There is nothing in 2 Corinthians 5:6,8 that supports the idea presented above.

      Regarding 2 Corinthians 5:6,8, see the studies:

      Hope of Life After Death – Part 12
      Outward and Inner Man

      The condition of those in hades/sheol is described in Ecclesiastes 9:10. For studies related to hades/sheol, see:
      http://life-rlbible.com/?cat=11

      Regarding the day of judgment, see:
      Mankind’s Course to the Day of Judgment

      Gehenna and the Lake of Fire in the Bible usually represent the second death.

      For studies related to the Second Death, see:
      Second Death – Life Now and Hereafter
      Second Death – The Restoration of All Things

      It is not for me disprove what is imagined upon scriptures. Rather, I simple endeavor to show what the scriptures do say and what they do not say, and present conclusions based on this.

      • I do not agree with you concerning 2 Corinthians 5:6-8. The Apostle Paul clearly teaches here that we are absent from the body and with the Lord. My question is: where is the Lord Jesus now? The answer according to this question is this: Jesus is in heaven. Therefore, I must conclude that the soul is in heaven with Jesus until the day of the resurrection of the body from the grave. I understand what you are saying in reference to the Hebrew Bible and the word nephesh. I am well aware that when the KJV says Adam became a living soul that it meant a living human being with a body; however, soul in Matthew 10:28 and Revelation 6:9 both take on the concept of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas that the human intellectual soul survives the death of the body. Why is there then a resurrection to occur at the Last Day? The resurrection of the body happens because we were created to be ensouled bodies. We were never meant to be disembodied. What did the Apostle Peter mean when he said that he will soon leave his earthly tent in his Epistle. A separate soul is not normal; however, a person who has accepted Christ has eternal life. This can be seen in John Chapter 11. Jesus said: Whosoever believeth in me shall never die. No, the New Testament does not teach what Plato taught; however, it most definitely teaches that some part of the Christian survives death between our passing and our resurrection. There are too many scriptures that support this view. That is why Jesus said: “Do not fear those who can kill the body but are unable to kill the soul 10:28a.” Only God can destroy the soul Matthew 10:28b. You must be a Seventh Day Adventist, since you seem to believe in soul sleep. I do not see your concept in the New Testament. The body sleeps but not the soul. This is not the most important topic in Holy Scripture. Accepting Christ is what is important. What we do not definitely know will be reviewed by God in due time. Let’s just agree on that. May God bless you and give you peace. Oh, I am a Moderate-Conservative Baptist. I will not reply again. I know you have your opinions on theology and I have mine. I respect that.

        • Charles Wynns stated:

          I do not agree with you concerning 2 Corinthians 5:6-8. The Apostle Paul clearly teaches here that we are absent from the body and with the Lord.

          I highly disagree with this statement; it would mean that all the most vile of humanity when they absent from the body they are with the Lord.
          Charles Wynns stated:

          My question is: where is the Lord Jesus now? The answer according to this question is this: Jesus is in heaven. Therefore, I must conclude that the soul is in heaven with Jesus until the day of the resurrection of the body from the grave.

          Yes, since Jesus’ soul was not left in the oblivious condition of sheol/hades because the God and Father of Jesus raised Jesus from the dead, Jesus did finally ascend into the heavens. This has nothing at all to do with the idea that a human’s soul is immortal and cannot die, an idea that is no where to be found in the Bible.

          See my studies:
          Jesus Died a Human Being – Raised a Spirit Being
          Jesus’ Soul in Sheol

          In Matthew 10:28, Jesus speaks of the soul being destroyed in Gehenna. If it is destroyed, it is not immortal. If God can destroy the soul, it is not immortal, but mortal.
          Regarding Matthew 10:28, see my studies:
          Not Able to Kill the Soul
          The Soul Destroyed in Gehenna

          Jesus did not support the heathen concepts of Aristotle.

          Revelation 6:9 says nothing at all about souls that are immortal, but it speaks of dead souls as figuratively crying out for vengeance. In Revelation 6:9,10 the Lamb opens the fifth symbolic seal and John sees the slain souls of those who had borne witness while alive. The fact that these souls (not bodies) are slain indicates that they as souls are dead, not living. However, the souls cry out for vengeance. Now if they are dead they cannot literally cry out. But they can symbolically cry out as did the blood of Abel. — Genesis 4:10.

          I am not 7th Day Adventist; I am a Bible Student. The Bible no where says that body sleeps but a dead soul does not sleep.

          I agree that accepting Christ is important, but Paul spoke of those who receive another Jesus. What is at stake is the ransom sacrifice of Jesus. If man has an immortal soul that cannot die, then the sacrifice of Jesus of his humanity was in vain. Nevertheless, due to the apostasy that had already begun in the days of the apostles, most of God’s people have been highly influenced by heathen philosophy which has been blended into the Bible. See my study on The Parable of the Four Servants.

    • Some other relevant studies pertaining to immortality and the resurrection bodies:

      Immortality and the Believer
      With What Body Will We Be Raised?

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