Matthew 10:28 – “And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Unable to kill the soul. No one is able to defeat the soul except God. Remember that. Let’s dig into this a little…
The apostles have been given direct warning from Jesus about the persecution and hatred they will face. That hatred will come as they proclaim the truth about Christ. Those who represent Him will receive persecution from Jewish religious leaders and Gentile authorities, as well (Matthew 10:22–27).
Again, now, He urges His disciples not to respond to this persecution with misplaced fear. More specifically, he tells them to respond with proper fear. He tells them not to waste their concern on those in authority who can only kill their bodies but cannot kill their souls. Instead, they should reserve their fear for the one can kill both body and soul in hell.
Jesus is describing what the Old Testament often calls the “fear of the Lord.” This is not intended to be abject terror, or panic. Rather, this is the healthy kind of “fear” for which a solider has for his weapon, or a cook has for the fire on a stove. Godly fear involves great and profound respect—and, at the same time, it does demand we acknowledge that God can utterly destroy those who are against Him. This is a right and proper fear.
Here, Jesus insists that death should not be avoided at all costs. The death of the body is not the ultimate loss. The death of body and soul together in hell is the ultimate loss. The message His apostles preach of salvation through faith in Jesus will bring the promise of eternal life in body and soul to many people, as well as to themselves.
A healthy fear. A fear of the Lord. A right and proper fear.
Preach salvation. The eternal life of the soul.