The Greater Destroyer

Who can destroy both soul and body in hell?

My assumption: God.
My friend’s assumption: Satan.

When someone suggests a possible explanation different than the one I’ve assumed all my life, I . . .

  1. Kick myself for assuming so much
  2. Freak out a little {because it is evident once again that my mind is too small to handle the bigness of God}
  3. Take it as a challenge {not to prove my position, but to search for the answer}


And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.
Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Matt 10:28

Who can destroy both soul and body in hell?

While it would seem to me that Satan is a reasonable conclusion, my personal study leads me to believe that Matthew is referring to God in this instance. For these three reasons:

Hell can be under God’s rule without him residing there. Perhaps it’s easy to get caught up on the thought that God might be in hell destroying people. Actually, we can save that discussion for another day, because, regardless of where God exists, we can be sure he destroys sinners in hell. And he can do that without actually going there.

God is the Greater Destroyer. No doubt Satan can destroy a person’s soul and body in hell. It is Satan’s realm, and he does have power there. While our bodies can be destroyed at the hands of earthly enemies, both our bodies and our souls can be destroyed by sin, death, hell, and the Great Destroyer, Satan. However, the punishment for sin is death and hell, not because Satan says so, but because God, the Greater Destroyer, says so. The destiny of our souls belongs to him. He is able to save and to destroy, as James points out. This one can’t be said of Satan.

There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. Jam 4:12

Fear God, not Satan. Think about all the Bible passages regarding fear. Not one commands us to fear Satan, as far as I can see. Yet, many passages instruct us to fear God. Also consider Matthew’s point here. He’s consoling Christians who are facing persecution, reminding them that those who would attempt to kill them on this earth are mere people with no real power. God is the ultimate Judge who can and will destroy our enemies.

Matthew’s statement may seemingly refer to either God or Satan, but his aim is evident: We have nothing to fear but God himself.

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