Right Division Blogs

The Immortal Mortal Soul?

Introduction:

Matthew 10:28 seems to do service for both the traditional and conditional views of the soul.

KJV  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.
TBT  Matthew 10:28 καὶ μὴ φοβηθῆτε ἀπὸ τῶν ἀποκτεινόντων τὸ σῶμα, τὴν δὲ ψυχὴν μὴ δυναμένων ἀποκτεῖναι· φοβήθητε δὲ μᾶλλον τὸν δυνάμενον καὶ ψυχὴν καὶ σῶμα ἀπολέσαι ἐν γεέννῃ.

The Lord says do not be fearful of those who can kill the body but are not able to kill the soul rather fear him that is able to destroy both soul and body in gehenna (the valley south of Jerusalem where Moloch took live children sacrifices). which is used here of the second death.

So where is the problem? Well there really is no problem BUT the verse does need some interpretation.

  • Apparently, the soul cannot be killed but the body can
  • The body and soul  can both be destroyed in Gehenna

The soul cannot be killed but can be destroyed? Man is Bipartite? The soul does survive the death of the body?

The Soul Can be Killed

The reality is that the soul can be killed -- since the living soul is simply the body with the breath of life. To kill the soul is to remove life, take for example:

KJV  Mark 3:4 And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.
TBT  Mark 3:4 καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς, Ἔξεστι τοῖς σάββασιν ἀγαθοποιῆσαι, ἢ κακοποιῆσαι; ψυχὴν σῶσαι, ἢ ἀποκτεῖναι; οἱ δὲ ἐσιώπων.

Clearly life can be saved from death, that life is the "soul" -- a soul can be killed, the greek text uses two infinitives "to save a soul or to kill". Herod sought to kill the young child Jesus and so the young family fled to Egypt:

KJV  Matthew 2:20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life.
TBT  Matthew 2:20 λέγων, Ἐγερθεὶς παράλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ, καὶ πορεύου εἰς γῆν Ἰσραήλ· τεθνήκασι γὰρ οἱ ζητοῦντες τὴν ψυχὴν τοῦ παιδίου.

Those who sought the young childs life (soul) were dead -- clearly they believed they were capable of killing the soul of the child -- because to kill the soul means to take the child's life.

So what does Matthew 10:28 mean?

Interpretation

KJV  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.
TBT  Matthew 10:28 καὶ μὴ φοβηθῆτε ἀπὸ τῶν ἀποκτεινόντων τὸ σῶμα, τὴν δὲ ψυχὴν μὴ δυναμένων ἀποκτεῖναι· φοβήθητε δὲ μᾶλλον τὸν δυνάμενον καὶ ψυχὴν καὶ σῶμα ἀπολέσαι ἐν γεέννῃ.

Notice the comparisons between the a and b sections of the verse, the b section starts with "but rather ..."

  • "them" then "him"
  • "body" and  "soul" dealt with separately then "both soul and body"
  • "kill" then "destroy"
  • non specific place then "Hell"
  • Do not fear then "fear"

What is going on hear is that killing in a final sense cannot be accomplished by people -- this can only be done by God in the context of a complete destruction (verb: ἀπολέσαι) apollumi == "to destroy", that is permanently -- the body may fall down dead and the soul be killed for a time but the Lord is the resurrection and the life (when Christ who is our life shall appear) so we need not fear those who kill the body for a new body can be fashioned and life return -- no one can kill the soul permanently. BUT fear God who can permanently destroy the body and stop any chance of a resurrection from occurring in the future, this is what is meant by saying  that the soul is destroyed with the body.

Gehenna pictures and delivers a metaphor of the final destruction and execution place of the lost. 

We could argue that people ("them") can permanently kill the body -- since the body that comes will not be the same as argued by Paul in 1 Cor 15., the life that goes into the resurrected body is preserved and kept by God - he remembers us and our spirit revives.