Killing The Soul

by A.E. Knoch

"AND be not afraid of those who are killing the body, yet are not able to kill the soul. Yet be fearing Him rather Who is able to destroy the soul and the body in Gehenna"

The Lord's disciples would have little difficulty in understanding this scripture from their viewpoint: our inability arises from the attempt to adjust it to our standpoint.

Strictly speaking, the soul cannot be "killed." It is only in figurative expressions in which the person is denoted by the "soul" that it is said to "die." It is notable that even in this passage God does not say that He is able to kill the soul, but to destroy it. At death the soul returns to the unseen. In fact, it has no separate existence. It is the effect of the union of body and spirit. When that union is dissolved the soul is no more. Sending it to the "imperceptible" is but another way of saying that it has passed out of existence so far as our senses are concerned.

But the Lord's disciples would look at this statement from a practical angle. Should they be killed what would be their experience? Though they should die yet their next conscious moment, when the soul returns in resurrection, would be the bliss of the kingdom. All that men can do to them is to cut them off from further suffering and usher them into their reward.

Not so with God. In the kingdom (and we lose much if we do not keep the kingdom constantly in view in reading the "gospels") death will mean much to those who deserve it. Not only will their bodies be destroyed in the fires of Gehenna, which will be the place of punishment in that age, but they will lose all the joys which the kingdom offers by the destruction of their souls.

Those killed by men escape suffering and awake to bliss: those destroyed by God forfeit bliss and awake to suffering at the bar of the great white throne.

Those who strive to enter that kingdom will have much need of this exhortation, for many, indeed, will enter the kingdom by way of the death of the body and the resurrection.

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