At our calling we were excited about having found God and His truth. We may have even thought we were ready to face the lion's den, crucifixion, the fiery furnace, or boiling oil. In retrospect, however, our failure to follow all God's instructions, our weakness in trials, our impotence in tests of faith are mute testimony that our zealous, early faith, though encouraging, was not the kind Christ is looking for in His elect. He seeks mature faith as we see in these Christians of Hebrews 11. They were faithful in little and followed through when everything was on the line. This is the mature, living, unwavering faith required for salvation that allows us to please Him.
Have we reached the point where we do not fear those who can destroy the body, but He who can destroy both body and soul? Do we practice this living faith in our daily walk? The just—those who are righteous—shall live by faith, and in doing so, will inherit the Kingdom of God!
Martin G. Collins
Basic Doctrines: Faith Toward God
It is not unreasonable that we should fear God. Jesus Christ Himself says that we are to fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell. Why? He is the only One who can revoke the judgment of Gehenna fire. The wages of sin is death in Gehenna fire. If we want to escape this punishment, we can see that it is closely connected to whether or not we actually fear God.
Why? What does the fear of God have to do with escaping a judgment that would otherwise take us into the Lake of Fire?
This series of verses in Matthew 10 contains some encouragement, indicating that, if one really fears God, then there is no need to be fearful of others. Proverbs 29:25 plainly tells us, "The fear of man is a snare." This is an attitude in which we do not want to be entrapped. It is obvious, in the context of Matthew 10:27, that He is talking about fear in the sense of "dread." We are not to fear men because the worst that they can do does not even begin to match the worst that God can do! The basis for this is what God is: omnipotent and omniscient, and in Him are the issues of life and death!
The Christian life is our calling; this is our only chance for salvation. We have been personally chosen by God. The elect are an insignificant number, and we are even more insignificant personally. Yet, He has given us this calling. The world population is somewhere in the vicinity of six billion people, and out of this huge number are a miniscule few who are truly converted and have been given the Spirit of God. This is not something that we want to pass up! The fear of God is crucial to our salvation!
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fear of God
Does Jesus Refer to an Immortal Soul in Matthew 10:28?
In this verse we find these instructions: "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" (Matthew 10:28). This verse is not understood by many because the word "soul" has lost its true meaning. Once that is restored, Jesus' statement becomes clear.
The English word "soul" is a translation of the Greek word psuche and from the Hebrew word nephesh. Both words mean "a living, breathing creature," referring to man or animal. "Soul" never means something immortal inside of man or animal. The words "immortal soul" appear nowhere in the Bible. In fact, the Bible shows that a soul can perish. Ezekiel twice writes, "The soul who sins shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4, 20). The word "soul" pertains to the life of any physical being or creature. Soul simply means "life."
The word translated "life" in Leviticus 17:11 comes from the same Hebrew word translated "soul." This verse can just as accurately be rendered, "For the soul of the flesh is in the blood." Jesus gave His "life" (translated from the same Greek word rendered "soul") as a ransom for us (Mark 10:45) by pouring out His soul - His life's blood - in payment for sin (Isaiah 53:12). Again, "soul" refers to the physical life of human beings or animals.
God can destroy the physical body and the soul (life). Matthew 10:28 tells us that no man can do both. Jesus says the same thing at another time: "And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell [the Lake of Fire, the second or final death]; yes, I say to you, fear Him!" (Luke 12:4-5). Man can destroy a physical life, but that results only in the first death (Hebrews 9:27).
God, on the other hand, has the power both to impart life and to take it away, either temporarily or forever. He can resurrect those whom men have killed. He can also kill in a way no man can. If God judges a person to be unworthy of His Kingdom, that person will be thrown into the Lake of Fire to be utterly consumed. This is the second death, from which there can be no resurrection (Revelation 20:14-15; Malachi 4:1). The body and life (soul) of the unrepentant will be destroyed forever.
So, then, what Jesus says is that we should not shape our lives by any threat men may pose against us. We should live our lives in total obedience to God and His laws (see Acts 5:29). If men kill us, it will be only temporary. If God kills us, it will be forever.
Taking It Through the Grave
What Do You Mean . . . Salvation?
Whatever Happened to Gnosticism? Part Three: Satan's Three Heresies
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Matthew 10:28: