“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell.” Matthew 10:28. We are not to fear persons who can only kill our temporal body but Christ who has the power over both eternal life and eternal death. The Greek word for Hell here is Gehenna, an eternal place of torment where the fires are not quenched (Mark 9:43, II These 1:9).
Even the power some persons may have to persecute us in this life is only given to them within the sovereignty of God. We can trust God to protect us and, even if handing us over to death, to walk with us and give us grace to go through it. (Psalm 23:4). Physical death is not a tragedy for Christians as they will go on to be with Christ – much to be preferred to this life. Spiritual death is the great tragedy that needs to be avoided and the reason Christians need to spread the gospel message.
Matthew 10:38-39 states “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” Christians need to take up the cross God gives them and follow him without fear and, by dying to their old life, find their true, eternal life in Christ. Bonhoeffer puts it this way – “Those who are true to the word and confession on earth will find Jesus Christ standing by their side in the hour of judgement. He will acknowledge them and come to their aid when the accuser demands his rights. All the world will be called to witness as Jesus pronounces our name before his Heavenly Father. If we have been true to Jesus in this life, he will be true to us in eternity. But if we have been ashamed of our Lord and of his name, he will likewise be ashamed of us and deny us.”
Christians should not fear man but seek God’s plan for their life and follow Him until the end of their life. To take up our cross and follow Christ is to live so devoted to Him that even death itself is not too high a price to pay for the eternal life that we have received. Let us not fear death of our temporal life but Him who can destroy a soul in Hell.