FEAR NOT THEM THAT KILL THE BODY… Is the Soul Immortal?

The name of the Messiah is Yeshua, short for Yehoshua (יהושע),
which means ‘Yah is salvation’ [Matthew 1:21]
Yeshua Teaching in the Temple                                                                                    James Tissot – (1836-1902)

We are going to look at a saying of Yeshua the Messiah which has been misunderstood by many and we are going to compare the traditional translation with the ancient Hebrew Matthew of Even Bohan

Matthew 10:28 [KJV]
28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul {Greek: psuche; Hebrew: nephesh} but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
[Yeshua's words in purple]

When we read the traditional rendering of this verse, we seem to be in front of a Platonic text, in other words, a text that is influenced by Platonic philosophy.

PLATO AND THE IMMORTAL SOUL
Plato (ca. 428 to 348 before Yeshua) was a Greek philosopher whose teachings spanned a period  8 to 9 centuries. His school of thought had acceptance in both the Jewish and the Christian world, and was in existence during Yeshua’s time.
Plato believed and taught that the soul is eternal, that is, it always existed but additionally, it is immortal and can not be destroyed. According to this philosophy, man is basically composed of body and soul. At the moment of death the body decomposes but the soul lives on eternally.
When the Scriptures were translated to the western languages (English, Spanish, French…), some verses were translated with a platonic leaning.

IMMORTAL SOUL: NON-EXISTENT  IN THE SCRIPTURES
There is a fine line between Greek thought as taught by Plato and Hebrew thought as it is written in the Torah. When the Torah was first translated into Greek, the concept of soul was expressed in the Greek term «psuche» which is translated as ‘soul’ 99% of the time. In English the term ‘soul’ does not always imply the same meaning of Plato’s philosophy. For example, when we go to a place and nobody is there we say “not a soul was there”, here the word ‘soul’ refers to people. Another example would be, when we hear bad news we say “it hurt my soul when I heard the news”, this does not refer to that section that is disconnected with our body rather it implies deep pain.
In essence, the Platonic meaning of «psuche» translated as ‘soul’ refers to a part of the human being that is eternal and immortal, and continues living when our body dies.
In the Septuagint (first translation from Hebrew  to Greek), the Hebrew term «nephesh» was translated as «psuche» (Greek). So in Genesis, we see the following

Genesis 2:7
And יהוה Elohim formed the man out of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils breath of life {neshamah}. And the man became a living being {nephesh}.

That term <living soul> {nephesh chay} was translated to the Greek as «psuche». So, from the translators of the Septuagint viewpoint, «psuche» does not necessarily imply the Platonic immortal soul. This Greek word means air, breath, wind, which is, in essence, the same as the Hebrew «nephesh».
In the Hebrew writings we will see that it is the person itself is composed of its spiritual capacity, of its thoughts.

Leviticus 4:27
27 ‘And if any being {nephesh} of the people of the land sins by mistake by doing against any of the commands of יהוה which are not to be done, and shall be guilty, 

The word translated here as <being {nephesh}> clearly does not imply the immortal soul and refers to people

Leviticus 23:30
29 “For any being {nephesh} who is not afflicted on that same day, he shall be cut off from his people. 

Again, here «nephesh» refers to persons.
The following verses show us that «nephesh» can die and is translated, at times, as <life>

Numbers 31:19
Whoever has slain any being {nephesh}, and whoever has touched any slain, cleanse yourselves
2 Samuel 14:7
...Give him who smote his brother, so that we put him to death for the life {nephesh} of his brother whom he killed

The following verse talks about a dead «nephesh»

Numbers 6:6
6 All the days of his separation to יהוה he does not go near a dead body {nephesh muth}.

In Genesis we see that animals also have the breath of life {neshamah}

Genesis 7:15, 22
15 And they went into the ark to Noaḥ, two by two, of all flesh in which is the breath {ruach} of life {living beings} 
22 All in whose nostrils was the breath {neshamah} of the spirit {ruach} of life, all that was on the dry land, died.

Animal life depends on the action of breathing. Animals have «neshamah» as well because it is not the soul rather, it is the breath of life.
When the children of Yisrael was at war with the hittites, amorites and the cannaanites, the Eternal instructs them

Deuteronomy 20:16
16 “Only, of the cities of these peoples which יהוה your Elohim gives you as an inheritance, you do not keep alive any that breathe {neshamah},

Clearly, this verse is talking about human life.
«Neshamah» and «nephesh» express a form of life that inhales and exhales.

A verse that is used to support the Greek Platonic ideology

Ecclesiastes 12:7
 and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit {ruach} returns to Elohim who gave it. 

At first glance it seems that this verse is talking about the duality of the human being as presented by Platonic ideology. When the person dies the body goes to the ground but the spirit returns to the Eternal. This is one of the verses that is most used to highlight the idea that the immortal soul (here it is «ruach») goes on living because it returns to its source, Elohim. In this way, they claim that human beings are spirit. The body dies but the identity, the spirit continues to live.
Where do the Scriptures inform us that the identity of the human being is «nephesh» or «neshamah» or «ruach»? Human beings are dust plus the breath of life.
All of this seems in contradiction to Yeshua’s words in Matthew. The above text, clearly shows us a Hebrew idea and not a Greek one. At the moment of death each element goes back to its source.

nephesh (Hebrew) - breathing creature, breath
neshamah (Hebrew) - wind, breath, inspiration
ruach (Hebrew) - wind, breath, (fig.) life
psuche (Greek) - air, breath, wind

WE ARE DUST

Genesis 3:9
For dust you are, and to dust you return

According to this verse our identity is <dust> and not the soul.
The concept of an immortal soul does not exist in the Scriptures

Psalm 103:14 
For He knows how we are made; He remembers that we are dust. 
Psalm 104:29 
You hide Your face, they are alarmed; You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust
Psalm 146:4 
His spirit goes out, he returns to his earth; In that day his plans perish. 

When our body dies, we die, our emotions die, our thoughts die, nothing transcends death.
The immortal soul is non-existent.

THE CONTEXT OF MATTHEW 10:28 IS MATTHEW 10 :39

Going back to Matthew 10 :28, to understand it better, we should carry on reading  and in verse 39 we find the following

Matthew 10:39
 “He who has found his life {psuche} shall lose it, and he that has lost his life {psuche} for My sake shall find it. 

In Matthew 10:28 «psuche» is translated as ‘soul’
in Matthew 10:39 «psuche» is translated as ‘life’.
Is «psuche» life or immortal soul? Matthew 10:28 has to be read together with Matthew 10:39.
The teachings of Yeshua have nothing to do with the Platonic concept of the immortal soul. The Tanach teaches, as Yeshua does, that «nephesh» (Hebrew) or «psuche» (Greek) can die and can be lost.
Those who kill the body cannot kill the life after the resurrection. If you lose your life for the sake of Yeshua, you will find life in the resurrection. If we are an immortal soul then the resurrection makes no sense.
Life after the resurrection is in the hands of the Eternal. That life after the resurrection is what is being discussed here. That which lives after death not as the Platonic immortal soul but the life that we can have if we establish a relationship with the Eternal. If we are loyal and obedient to the Eternal, He is loyal and will grant us the gift of life.
The ancient Hebrew Matthew reads

Matthew 10 28, 39
28 Do not fear those who kill bodies who have no power to kill lives;
but fear the one who has power to destroy the life and the body in
Gehenna.
39 He who loves his life will lose it, he who loses (it) for my sake will
find it.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture was taken from The Scriptures
Copyright by Institute for Scripture Research.
Used by permission.