“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:4-7.
Here Christ reminds His disciples that a Christian should not fear those who can only kill the temporal body but nothing more compared to God who can cast a person into Hell, eternal death, and will do so to those who do not repent of their sins and believe in Christ. This is an important message for the Church today which is increasingly failing to preach against sin due to a desire to avoid offending anyone and to a fear of being on the receiving end of the persecution that many times comes from standing for Truth. However, offending someone is immaterial compared to a person spending eternity in Hell. Romans 10:14 reminds us of the obvious – How can one believe who has not heard? We have the responsibility to stand for Truth and inform persons of their sin to afford them, along with the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, an opportunity to repent.
The Greek word for Hell is reference to a deep, narrow glen to the south of Jerusalem, where the idolatrous Jews offered their children in sacrifice to Molech (2 Chr. 28:3; 33:6; Jer. 7:31; 9:2–6). This valley afterwards became the common receptacle for all the refuse of the city. Here the dead bodies of animals and of criminals, and all kinds of filth, were cast and consumed by fire kept always burning. It thus in process of time became the image of the place of everlasting destruction. Hell is described elsewhere in the Bible as a lake of fire. Christ is referencing a terrible place of eternal fire and death and we should do all we can to warn everyone that does not know God. We owe it to them.
God here calls the disciples His friends and this is actually a comforting passage to those who are His. His people will have eternal life and will not face eternal death and this cannot be taken away from them. God forgets not even one of the sparrows he created and he certainly will not forget his Elect. Even the hairs of our head are numbered and we have nothing to fear. That is how much he cares for and protects us. What a comfort! What a blessing! We can revel in His undeserved love for us and carry out the Great Commission of bringing the Gospel to the world no matter the offense, no matter the persecution. That will allow others to escape Hell and spend eternity with God.