Monthly Archives: June 2024

The Third Dratted Verse

There are several verses in the Bible that I wish weren’t there, because they have (of course!) been severely weaponised and abused, by vicious Christians, to beat broken people over the head. People who are damaged and sensitive, people who are hurting. People of whom that same Bible says in Isaiah 42:3,

A bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice”.

In short, verses which have caused much suffering among ‘bruised reed’ people, and ‘smouldering wick’ people, when wielded by the ignorant; those ignorant of the goodness of God and also ignorant of how their words affect and damage others. Two other verses I have written about which fall into this category are here and here.

I call these verses the ‘dratted verses’.

So, today, I present the third such ‘dratted verse’, found at Matthew 10:28, “Fear Him who has the power to destroy both body and soul in Hell!”

Hmph. Ok, then.

For some years now, a young man named Jacob M. Wright has been posting a daily ‘thought’ on Facebook, and I highly recommend his work. I have quoted it before.

And today’s blog post on Flying in the Spirit is such a piece. A lot of infernalists[1] hold up the verse at Matt 10:28 as evidence of the existence of this blasphemous place, and, additionally, that we should fear God who, apparently on the merest whim, could cast us into such a place.

And they also use the verse to terrify others about what God is like.

Well, as is my custom on this gentle blog here (the only people I am even remotely harsh with are the religionists who are, of themselves, also just as harsh[2]) I offer here Jacob’s piece on why this passage of Scripture should not be used for fear purposes; indeed, the only way to do so is to rip it out of its context and present it in a contextually inaccurate light.

Here we go:

“Fear him who has the power to destroy both body and soul in hell!” (Matthew 10:28)

Ever hear someone quote this verse as the one time Jesus explicitly promotes being terrified of his Father? It’s not what it looks like. Well, only if it’s excluded from its context. Quoting this verse by itself would be like quoting what the friends of Job said about God and then excluding the fact that later on God says that they were wrong in what they said about him.

If you read the whole chapter, you will see the point Jesus is making. Let’s do a brief overview of the context leading up to Jesus’ words here. First he tells his disciples to go and proclaim the kingdom of God, the coming of which has the effects of restoring people, not destroying them:
“As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand!’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” (Matthew 10:7-8) That’s what the kingdom coming looks like, restoring the broken world.

Since this kingdom is a kingdom of restoration and peace, it doesn’t come by violent means, so Jesus tells them he is sending them out as sheep among wolves. Wolves tear sheep to pieces. The powers of this world are established on violence. But the kingdom of God is established on martyrdom, because it is come to plant the seed of forgiveness and peace which will eventually be like leaven that works all through the dough. Jesus doesn’t tell them to fight. He tells them they will be flogged and persecuted in both the political and religious centers, and that they will stand before the powers of the world and declare in the power of the Spirit the true kingdom of God. Jesus tells them they will be put to death, but it’s okay, this is how the world treated him.

Then he tells them “Do not fear.” Do not fear these people that can kill you. Then comes the dreadful verse.

“Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, fear the One who has power to destroy both soul and body in gehenna. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So fear not; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:28-31)

Wait a second, the verse didn’t end at fear? Nope. Notice how Jesus goes from one extreme to the other. First, if you’re gonna fear anyone, fear the One who has power to destroy you in gehenna (the valley of hinnom), but guess what, you don’t even have to fear him because he is a Father who loves and protects every hair on your head. So don’t fear. In other words, all these other guys may be able to kill your body, but there is only one who has power to destroy your actual person, and he would never dream of doing such a thing because he is your Father who cares for even the birds.

Jesus concludes with “Fear not” and affirming our immeasurable worth beyond that of birds. The words “Fear not” are the most repeated words of Jesus.

Brilliant, eh?

I must add something else here. In my search using Google Images for a suitable header picture to use on this post, I simply typed in ‘Matt 10:28’. Try it yourself and see what comes up. There is a some nondescript stuff, and some fairly bland. But there are two other result types that particularly stood out to me. One is where they have made the emphasis on Hell, and made it a fear thing. Essays on how you should be terrified of God. And the other is where they have kept the terror of the verse, but dressed it up to look all jolly, ho-ho-ho and ‘nice’, sometimes even involving cartoons, kids and rainbows???. To be honest, the whole thing makes me feel sick.

Christianity has come so far from Jesus in these times.

Grace and Peace to you


1 In short, people who believe in Hell; an everlasting place of fiery punishment for those who die without conforming to their particular belief structure
2 This is what Jesus did. He was gentle with the needy, the damaged and brokenhearted, but he came down hard on the religious