"I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body ..." (Luke 12:4-5)

"I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him." (Luke 12:4-5)

Who are 'my friends'?

This statement by Jesus clearly indicates Jesus taught that we are not the physical body. After all, who is the "you" (Greek word σύ (sy)) that can be thrown into hell after the body has been killed?

With regard to the audience, we know that Jesus is speaking directly to his students, evidenced by this earlier verse:
Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." (Luke 12:1)
We also know from this that Jesus is referring to the teachings of the Pharisees - which Jesus characterizes as "yeast" - a metaphor describing the ability of the teachings of the Pharisees to greatly influence others.

Why does Jesus say to not be afraid?

Jesus says, "do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more"

With Jesus' reference to killing the body, Jesus is separating the person - the living being within - from the physical body. He is clearly stating there is no need to be afraid of the body being killed.

This means that we are not these physical bodies. Otherwise, why would Jesus teach his students not to be afraid of the body being killed?

The reality is that the physical body is a machine driven by the person within. These bodies are temporary. They get sick and die within a few decades. Or they can be killed at any time.

But each of us - the person within the body - lives on after the body dies. This is evidenced by the millions of clinical death cases over the past few decades - since modern medicine has been able to revive the body. After being revived, the person describes leaving the body, looking down upon it, and then observing things that could not be seen while the body laid dead with eyes closed on the hospital bed.

We can also see that we are not these physical bodies even in this lifetime. We can watch how our physical body changes over the years while we remain the same person. We can look at a picture of our body when it was a child and while we know we were there, that body is now gone - we wear a new body now. Scientists tell us that every molecule within the body is recycled within at least five years - and the molecules with the brain cells will recycle even faster.

This means that within five years we are wearing a completely different physical body. The entire body is made up of different molecules.

Yet each of us still remains "me." Who is the "me"? This is the person within - the entity who is operating this temporary physical body.

This might be compared to driving a car. Once the car breaks down, the driver gets out and walks away.

Who should we fear according to Jesus?

He said, "But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him."

Jesus is speaking of following those who were teaching falsehoods - namely the Pharisees and chief priests. 

Jesus is referring to life after death - "after your body has been killed." Jesus is clarifying the continued existence of the living being within after the physical body dies. Who is that living being within? Who are we?

We are spiritual in essence. The living being within is of a spiritual nature - with a spiritual form from the dimension of the spiritual realm - a different dimension than the physical realm. This is why we cannot see the spirit-person with these physical eyes, nor can we otherwise sense or pick up the spirit-person with our physical instruments.

But the spirit-person is trapped within the confines of the physical world - trapped within a physical body. Why?

Because each of us was created by the Supreme Being as one of His loving servants and friends. But because love requires freedom, God also gave us the freedom to love Him or not.

Those who decide to love God remain in the spiritual realm - engaged within their unique loving relationships with Him.

But those who decide not to love God become self-centered and thus seek to avoid the Supreme Being. This is symbolized by Adam and Eve eating the fruit and then hiding from God.

So the Supreme Being sent each of those who chose not to love Him - and became self-centered - to the physical world to play out our self-centered desires and avoid His existence. This is why God designed these physical bodies in such a way that they cannot see into the spiritual realm. Our bodies' eyes or physical minds cannot see God. This gives us the opportunity to ignore Him and even forget Him altogether.

And within the physical world, there are many different species of life - each a physical body that houses a spirit-person in one form or another.

Such is the nature of this physical world - a form of hell - with the degree of hell relating to the species and consciousness.

Within the human form of life, we each have the option of deciding to return to our relationship with God. We have the intelligence to remember Him and seek Him. Such a consciousness allows one to rise out of hell.

However, this consciousness must also be nurtured and given guidance. Because we have forgotten our relationship with God, we need the guidance of God and His representative - who comes to the physical world to guide us back to our relationship with God.

But Jesus is explaining that one can also be led astray if one is not careful. If a person begins the path towards renewing their relationship with God but becomes influenced by those who are not teaching the Truth, one can be easily taken off course - leading to a continued existence in the physical world (hell) away from the Supreme Being and our home in the spiritual realm.

This is what Jesus is warning his students against. He is warning them against accepting the teachings of the Pharisees - which can lead them astray.

Weren't the Pharisees also teaching about Moses and the Prophets?

Certainly, we know that Jesus quoted Moses and the Prophets consistently, and his teachings did not contradict the Prophets' teachings. Even the "greatest commandment" to love God was a quote from Moses' teachings.

But the Pharisees were poisoning the well so to speak, because they were misinterpreting the teachings of the Prophets - and thus leading their followers astray. This is why Jesus told his students to avoid the "yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."

We find some of the same hypocrisy existing today among some institutions claiming to follow Jesus.

How is this different from Jesus' teachings?

Jesus taught that our real relationship with the Supreme Being is that we are His servant. He is the center of the universe. God is not our servant or supplier.

Because this is our natural position, we become fulfilled when we serve Him and seek to please Him.

Jesus lived this teaching. This is why he taught:
"By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." (John 5:30)
We can see from this statement that Jesus maintained his own loving service relationship with the Supreme Being - and sought to please God with his life.

And it is this relationship between Jesus and the Supreme Being that empowered Jesus to guide his followers back to their own relationships with the Supreme Being.

Meanwhile, some teach that Jesus is the only teacher. If Jesus is the only teacher, then why do they teach? Why do they give the big sermons and the Bible classes? Why do we need to listen to them if Jesus is the only teacher? They are merely cheating: hypocrisy.

Jesus himself sent his disciples out to teach. So not even Jesus accepted that he was the only teacher. The purpose of the spiritual teacher is to introduce their followers to the Supreme Being. If the teacher does not have a relationship with God how can they introduce them to God?

But if they are deceiving their followers - and simply pretending to represent God when they don't have a relationship with Him - then they will simply lead their followers astray - harming the follower's spiritual path back to the Supreme Being.

This is the warning of Jesus with his statement above. Not only is he clarifying our identity as spiritual not physical, but he is warning us against those who can lead us astray. Jesus also described this with regard to those who can lead us astray whilst claiming to teach and do 'works' in Jesus' name:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Matt. 7:21-23)