"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. Matt. 10:28. "But I will forewarn you whom you shall fear: Fear him which, after he hath killed, hath power to cast into Hell; yea, I say unto you, fear him." Luke 12:5.
The reader of these verses and the accompanying language, will observe that Jeus is exhorting his disciples to have entire faith in God. The most that men can do is to destroy the body, but God "is able," "hath power" to destroy both body and soul in Gehenna. It is not said that God has any disposition or purpose of doing so. He is able to do it, as it is said (Matt. 3:9) he is "able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." He never did, and never will raise up children to Abraham of the stones of the street, but he is able to, just as he is able to destroy soul and body in Gehenna, while men could only destroy the body there. Fear the mighty power of God, who could, if he chose, annihilate man, while the worst that men could do would be to destroy mere animal life. It is a forcible exhortation to trust in God, and has no reference to torment after death. fear not those who can only torture you—man—but fear God who can annihilate, (apokteino).
1 This language was addressed by Christ to his disciples, and not to sinners.
2 It proves God's ablility to annihilate (destroy) and not his purpose to torment. Donnegan defines appollumi, "to destroy utterly."
As though Jesus had said: "Fear not those who can only kill the body, but rather him, who, if he chose could annihilate the whole being. Fear not man but God."
"So much may suffice to show the admitted fact, that the destruction of soul and body was a proverbial phrase, indicating utter extinction or complete destruction." Paige
Dr. W. E. Manley observes that the condition threatened "is one wherein the body can be killed. And no one has imagined any such place, outside the present state of being. Nor can there be the least doubt about the nature of this killing of the body; for the passage is so constructed as to settle this question beyond all controversy. It is taking away the natural life, as was done by the persecutors of the apostles. The Jews were in a condition of depravity properly represented by Gehenna. the apostles had been in that condition, but had been delivered from it. By supposing the word Hell to denote a condition now and in the present life, there is no abusurdity involved. Sinful men may here suffer both natural death and moral death; but in the future life, natural death cannot be suffered; whatever may be said of moral death. Fear not men, your persecutors, who can inflict on you only bodily suffering. But rather fear him who is able to inflict both bodily suffering, and what is worse, mental and moral suffering, in that condition of depravity represented by the foulest and most revolting locality known to the Jewish people."
"Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of Hell than yourselves." Matt. 23:15.
Looking upon the smoking valley, and thinking of its corruptions and abominations, to call a man a "child of Gehenna" was to say that his heart was corrupt and his chartacter vile, but it no more indicated a place of woe after death, than a resident of New York would imply such a place by calling a bad man a child of Five Points.
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