Who Has the Power to Destroy Soul and Body in Hell?

“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.

I have always understood this verse to be talking about fear of God. Now I am wondering if that is true?

Was reading something online recently about this verse and they suggested the one to fear was Satan, not God in this passage.

“Fear” shows up other times in the same context.

Matthew 10:25-26–do not fear those who chalk up the works of the Master to Beelzebub. A word to encourage disciples of Christ when they fall into persecution and accusation. Don’t fear.

Matthew 10:28–is the verse above about not fearing those who can kill your body, but do fear the one who can destroy body and soul in hell.

Matthew 10:29-31–Your Father will take care of you, so fear not, you are more valuable than sparrows and God cares for them.

Starts with not fearing persecutors.
Follows to do fear one who can destroy body and soul in hell.
Ends with not fearing because your Father will take care of you.

Most translation leave the “him” of “Fear him” in verse 28 uncapitalized, thus playing into the idea that we’re not talking about God, since “Him” for “God” is always capitalized.

Some have suggested that it is weird to tell us to fear and then right after tell us not to. In verse 28 we’re not fearing the one who has power to destroy in hell, whereas verse 31 is not fearing anything because of the Father’s care. Seems weird to be told not to fear because of God so fear Him. Although, don’t know that that’s that weird really!

The parallel passage in Luke 5 says:

But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

Who has power to kill? There has been some debate on this point. Satan is a murderer from the beginning. God did not create with death as part of His system.

This is, in fact, where the debate lies. If you are a Calvinist you have no problem with saying God kills people. If you are not a Calvinist, you may wonder how if God kills people, why do we need Satan?

Hebrews 2:14 says that Jesus “through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” The one with the power of death is the Devil, which is why many think Jesus is talking about fearing the Devil, not fearing God, and why most translation do not capitalize “him” in Matthew 10:28.

Therefore the flow of Matthew 10 would be this:

Don’t fear the followers of the Devil.
It is logical to fear the Devil himself.
But in the end, don’t fear, because God is bigger still.

I’ll probably have to think about this one a bit more, but perhaps this is yet another instance of where our underlying theological assumptions color our understanding of the Scripture and of God.

Be careful out there.

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