Matthew 10:28
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.
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(28) Are not able to kill the soul.—Here our Lord uses what we may call the popular dichotomy of man’s nature, and the word “soul” includes all that truly lives and thinks and wills in man, and is therefore equivalent to the “soul and spirit of the more scientific trichotomy of St. Paul’s Epistles (1Thessalonians 5:23).

Fear him which is able . . .—Few words have given rise to interpretations more strangely contrasted than these. Not a few of the most devout and thoughtful commentators, unwilling to admit that our Lord ever presented the Father to men in the character of a destroyer, have urged that the meaning may be thus paraphrased: “Fear not men; but fear the Spirit of Evil, the great Adversary who, if you yield to his temptations, has power to lead you captive at his will, to destroy alike your outward and your inward life, either in the Gehenna of torture or in that of hatred and remorse.” Plausible as it seems, however, this interpretation is not, it is believed, the true one. (1) We are nowhere taught in Scripture to fear the devil, but rather to resist and defy him (Ephesians 6:11; James 4:7); and (2) it is a sufficient answer to the feeling which has prompted the other explanation to say that we are not told to think of God as in any case willing to destroy, but only as having the power to inflict that destruction where all offers of mercy and all calls to righteousness have been rejected. In addition to this, it must be remembered that St. James uses language almost identical (“There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy,” James 4:12) where there cannot be a shadow of doubt as to the meaning.

10:16-42 Our Lord warned his disciples to prepare for persecution. They were to avoid all things which gave advantage to their enemies, all meddling with worldly or political concerns, all appearance of evil or selfishness, and all underhand measures. Christ foretold troubles, not only that the troubles might not be a surprise, but that they might confirm their faith. He tells them what they should suffer, and from whom. Thus Christ has dealt fairly and faithfully with us, in telling us the worst we can meet with in his service; and he would have us deal so with ourselves, in sitting down and counting the cost. Persecutors are worse than beasts, in that they prey upon those of their own kind. The strongest bonds of love and duty, have often been broken through from enmity against Christ. Sufferings from friends and relations are very grievous; nothing cuts more. It appears plainly, that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution; and we must expect to enter into the kingdom of God through many tribulations. With these predictions of trouble, are counsels and comforts for a time of trial. The disciples of Christ are hated and persecuted as serpents, and their ruin is sought, and they need the serpent's wisdom. Be ye harmless as doves. Not only, do nobody any hurt, but bear nobody any ill-will. Prudent care there must be, but not an anxious, perplexing thought; let this care be cast upon God. The disciples of Christ must think more how to do well, than how to speak well. In case of great peril, the disciples of Christ may go out of the way of danger, though they must not go out of the way of duty. No sinful, unlawful means may be used to escape; for then it is not a door of God's opening. The fear of man brings a snare, a perplexing snare, that disturbs our peace; an entangling snare, by which we are drawn into sin; and, therefore, it must be striven and prayed against. Tribulation, distress, and persecution cannot take away God's love to them, or theirs to him. Fear Him, who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. They must deliver their message publicly, for all are deeply concerned in the doctrine of the gospel. The whole counsel of God must be made known, Ac 20:27. Christ shows them why they should be of good cheer. Their sufferings witnessed against those who oppose his gospel. When God calls us to speak for him, we may depend on him to teach us what to say. A believing prospect of the end of our troubles, will be of great use to support us under them. They may be borne to the end, because the sufferers shall be borne up under them. The strength shall be according to the day. And it is great encouragement to those who are doing Christ's work, that it is a work which shall certainly be done. See how the care of Providence extends to all creatures, even to the sparrows. This should silence all the fears of God's people; Ye are of more value than many sparrows. And the very hairs of your head are all numbered. This denotes the account God takes and keeps of his people. It is our duty, not only to believe in Christ, but to profess that faith, in suffering for him, when we are called to it, as well as in serving him. That denial of Christ only is here meant which is persisted in, and that confession only can have the blessed recompence here promised, which is the real and constant language of faith and love. Religion is worth every thing; all who believe the truth of it, will come up to the price, and make every thing else yield to it. Christ will lead us through sufferings, to glory with him. Those are best prepared for the life to come, that sit most loose to this present life. Though the kindness done to Christ's disciples be ever so small, yet if there be occasion for it, and ability to do no more, it shall be accepted. Christ does not say that they deserve a reward; for we cannot merit any thing from the hand of God; but they shall receive a reward from the free gift of God. Let us boldly confess Christ, and show love to him in all things.Them which kill the body - That is, people, who have no power to injure the soul, the immortal part. The body is a small matter in comparison with the soul. Temporal death is a slight thing compared with eternal death. He directs them, therefore, not to be alarmed at the prospect of temporal death, but to fear God, who can destroy both soul and body forever. This passage proves that the bodies of the wicked will be raised up to be punished forever.

In hell - See the notes at Matthew 5:22.

28. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul—In Lu 12:4, "and after that have no more that they can do."

but rather fear him—In Luke (Lu 12:5) this is peculiarly solemn, "I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear," even Him

which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell—A decisive proof this that there is a hell for the body as well as the soul in the eternal world; in other words, that the torment that awaits the lost will have elements of suffering adapted to the material as well as the spiritual part of our nature, both of which, we are assured, will exist for ever. In the corresponding warning contained in Luke (Lu 12:4), Jesus calls His disciples "My friends," as if He had felt that such sufferings constituted a bond of peculiar tenderness between Him and them.

As I told you before, you will in the publication of my gospel meet with opposition from men. Now that it is preached as it were in darkness, and whispered in men’s ears, there is no great noise made in the world; but the case will be otherwise when it cometh to be publicly revealed, and published upon the housetops. But consider, the enemies can only kill the bodies of my disciples: you have souls as well as bodies; they have no power over your souls; but he that hath sent you to preach, and called you to the owning and profession of the gospel, hath a power over your souls as well as over your bodies, and to punish both in hell. We have the same Luke 12:4,5. There is nothing so effectual to drive out of our hearts a slavish fear of man in the doing of our duty, as a right apprehension of the power of God, begetting a fear of him in our souls.

And fear not them which kill the body,.... This is a "periphrasis" of bloody persecutors, who, not content to revile, scourge, and imprison, put the faithful ministers of Christ to death, in the most cruel and torturing manner; and yet are not so to be feared and dreaded by them, as to discourage and divert them from the performance of their important work and office; for, as Luke says, Luke 12:4 "after" that they "have no more than they can do". This is all they are capable of doing, even by divine permission, when they are suffered to run the greatest lengths in violence against the saints; this is the utmost of their efforts, which Satan, and their own wicked hearts, can put them upon, or is in the power of their hands to perform: and the taking away of the lives of good men is of no disadvantage to them; but sends them the sooner out of this troublesome world to their father's house, to partake of those joys that will never end; so that they have nothing to fear from their most implacable enemies; but should boldly and bravely go on in their master's service, openly, freely, faithfully, and fully discharging the work they were called unto: for, the loss of a corporal life is no loss to them, their souls live after death, in eternal happiness; and in a little time God will raise up their bodies, and reunite them to their souls, and be for ever happy together. A noble argument this, which our Lord makes use of, to engage his disciples to a public and diligent ministration of the Gospel, in spite of all opposers; who, when they have vented all their malice, can only take away a poor, frail, mortal life; and which, if they did not, in a little time would cease in course:

but are not able to kill the soul; which is immortal, and cannot be touched by the sword, by fire and faggot, or any instruments of violence: it is immortal, it survives the body, and lives in a separate state, enjoying happiness and bliss, whilst the body is in a state of death:

but rather fear him, which is able to destroy both body and soul in hell. This is a description of God, and of his power, who is able to do that which men are not: all that they can do, by divine permission, is to kill the body; but he is able to "destroy", that is, to torment and punish both body and soul "in hell", in everlasting burnings; for neither soul nor body will be annihilated; though this he is able to do. As the former clause expresses the immortality of the soul, this supposes the resurrection of the body; for how otherwise should it be destroyed, or punished with the soul in hell? Now this awful being which is able to hurl, and will hurl all wicked and slothful, unfaithful and unprofitable, cowardly and temporising servants and ministers, soul and body, into the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, is to be feared and dreaded; yea, indeed, he only is to be feared, and to be obeyed: cruel and persecuting men are not to be feared at all; God alone should be our fear and dread; though the argument seems to be formed from the lesser to the greater; yet this, is the sense of the word "rather", that God is to be feared, not chiefly and principally only, but solely; and in some versions that word is left out, as in the Arabic, and Ethiopic, and in Munster's Hebrew Gospel.

And {n} 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.

(n) Though tyrants rage and are cruel, yet we must not fear them.

Matthew 10:28. Τὸν δυνάμενονγεέννῃ] who is in a position to consign body and soul, at the day of judgment, to everlasting destruction in Gehenna. Comp. Matthew 5:29. It is God that is meant, and not the devil (Olshausen, Stier). Comp. Jam 4:12; Wis 16:13-15.

φοβεῖσθαι ἀπό, as a rendering of יָרֵא מִן, and expressing the idea of turning away from the object of fear, occurs often in the LXX. and Apocrypha; the only other instance in the New Testament is Luke 12:4; not found in classical writers at all, though they use φόβος ἀπό (Xen. Cyr. iii. 3. 53; Polyb. ii. 35. 9, ii. 59. 8).

μᾶλλον] potius. Euth. Zigabenus: φόβον οὖν ἀπώσασθε φόβῳ, τὸν τῶν ἀνθρώπων τῷ τοῦ θεοῦ.

Matthew 10:28-31. New antidote to fear drawn from a greater fear, and from the paternal providence of God. φοβήθητε ἀπὸ like the Hebrew יָרֵא מִן, but also one of several ways in which the Greeks connected this verb with its object.—τὸ σῶμα: that is all the persecutor as such can injure or destroy He not only cannot injure the soul, but the more he assails the physical side the safer the spiritual.—τὸν δυνάμενον καὶ ψ. καὶ σ. Who is that? God, say most commentators. Not so, I believe. Would Christ present God under this aspect in such close connection with the Father who cares even for the sparrows? What is to be greatly feared is not the final condemnation, but that which leads to it—temptation to forsake the cause of God out of regard to self-interest or self-preservation. Shortly the counsel is: fear not the persecutor, but the tempter, not the man who kills you for your fidelity, but the man who wants to buy you off, and the devil whose agent he is.

28. him which is able to destroy] Either (1) God, whose power extends beyond this life. Clemens Rom. (Ep. II. 4) with a probable reference to this passage says, “We ought not to fear man but God.” Or (2) Satan, into whose power the wicked surrender themselves.

in hell] Literally, in Gehenna. See note, ch. Matthew 5:22.

Matthew 10:28. Καὶ μὴ φοβηθῆτε, κ.τ.λ., and be not afraid of etc.) The connection is as follows: He who publicly preaches hidden truth, him the world afflicts: he who fears God, ought to fear nothing except Him: he who does not fear God, fears everything except Him: see 1 Peter 3:14-15.[490]—ἈΠῸ, of) This preposition is not repeated. I fear Him, is a stronger phrase than I am afraid of Him.[491]—ἈΠΟΚΤΕΝΌΝΤΩΝ,[492] who kill) From the root κτέω are derived κτένω, κτείνω, κτέννω. See Eustathius.—τὸν δυνάμενον, Him who is able[493]) and that too with the highest ability and authority (see Luke 12:5), that is, GOD; see Jam 4:12.—καὶ ψυχὴν καὶ σῶμα, both soul and body) the two essential parts of man.—ἀπολέσαι, to destroy, to ruin) It is not said to kill: the soul is immortal.—ἐν Γεέννῃ, in hell) It is not easy to preach the truth; and to none are severer precepts given than to the ministers of the Word, as is evident from the epistles to Timothy and Titus. The most efficacious stimulus is on this account employed. Many witnesses to the truth have been first excited, and afterwards led on, by the most fearful terrors from God.

[490] The world admires the magnanimous spirit of those who fear nothing, and regards such a spirit worthy of heroes and great men. And yet the fear of GOD is the only heroism truly worthy of the name; and in the absence of it, all presence of mind, as it is called, is false, and only indicates reckless rashness.—V. g.

[491] i.e. Bengel would render the passage thus—“Be not afraid of them (μὴ φοβηθῆτε ἀπὸ τῶν) which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear HIM (φοβὴθητε τὸν) which is able,” etc.—(I. B.)

[492] E. M. ἀποκτεινόντων.—(I. B.)

[493] In the original there is a play on the words potest and potestas, which cannot be preserved in the translation. The passage runs thus—“Eum qui potest, et quidem cum summa ἐξουσίᾳ, potestate.”—(I. B.)

Verse 28. - And. Restating ver. 26a from a different point of view. Fear not; be not afraid of (Revised Version); μὴ φοβηθῆτε ἀπό. So Westcott and Herr, with B (sic) and two or three other authorities. The Revised Version (cf. Authorized Version parallel passage, Luke 12:4) expresses the greater difference from vers. 26 and 28b (φοβηθῆτε ἀπό with genitive, a Hebraism expressing avoidance, shrinking, cowardly dreas; φοβηθῆτε with accusative, concert-tration of regard) at the expense of the lesser (φοβηθῆτε, general command, or perhaps "never once fear;" φοβεῖσθε, "ever fear," habit). Them which kill the body. So R. Akiba refused to give up studying and teaching the Law when it was forbidden on pain of death (Talm. Bab., 'Berach.,' 61b). But are not able to kill the soul (Matthew 6:25, note). But rather fear. Always (φοβεῖσθε). Fear; yes, but the right object (φοβεῖσθε δὲ μᾶλλον, not μᾶλλον δὲ φοβεῖσθε), and that intensely (-vide supra). Him which is able (τὸν δυνάμενον). Mere power; but in the parallel passage in Luke, authority. The reference is, of course, to God (cf. James 4:12). To destroy (ἀπολέσαι). The class of words to which this belongs denotes "utter and hopeless ruin; but they convey no idea whether the ruined object ceases to exist or continues a worthless existence" (Professor Agar Beet, in Expositor, IV. 1:28). Professor Marshall, in Expositor, IV. 3:283, thinks Luke's variant, "to cast," indicates that our Lord originally used an Aramaic word that properly meant "to set on fire." Both soul and body in hell (Matthew 5:22, note). Matthew 10:28
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