The Arguments, 2:10-12:29
1. Christ is a faithful and merciful high priest, 2:10-5:10
v] The Word of GodArgument
In 4:1-13 our author pens a homily on faithfulness, with reference to Christ as the faithful High Priest. The conclusion, v12-13, serves as a warning, reminding us to give heed to God's powerful and penetrating Word. The people of Israel, during their wilderness wanderings, had failed to heed the word of God. They had rebelled against God and therefore did not enter the rest of the Lord. They failed to enter the land flowing with milk and honey, the land of Canaan. So, the writer warns us that we must take heed how we hear and respond to the word of God.
i] Context: See 2:10-18.
ii] Background: A general introduction; See 1:1-4.
iii] Structure: This passage, The Word of God, presents as follows:
The nature of God's word to rebels, v12-13:
These two verses pick up on a quotation from Psalm 95:7-11 recorded in 3:7-11. Our author expounds Psalm from 3:12 through to 4:11, with the two verses before us serving as a concluding warning. The exposition of the Psalm comes in two parts: First, negative - the faithless will never enter the rest that God provides, 3:12-19; Second, positive - the faithful will enter the rest that God supplies, 4:1-11. In the concluding warning in v12-13 we see the word of God personified as a divine warrior acting on behalf of the all-seeing judge of the universe. "It serves as an unsettling reminder about the power of the divine word and about human accountability before God", Koester.
v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.
Text - 4:12
God's powerful word is not to be toyed with, v12-13. The writer to the Hebrews describes the word of God for us. This word was proclaimed to the rebels in the wilderness and is the same word that is proclaimed to us today. This "word of God" is the communicated will of God for his people. Its nature is as follows:.
a) It is living, Act.7:38, 1Pet.1:23. It is a personified word from God, a personal communication possessing the substance of the Divine. So, the word of God is unlike human communication which contains mere words without substance.
b) It is active, Isa.55:11. The word of God is a communication which fulfills the purpose for which it is uttered.
c) It is incisive, penetrating. The word of God is not just sharp, but sharper than the sharpest doubled edged sword. In that sense the word of God can cut either way - in judgement or blessing. So, the Word of God can probe the innermost motives of the real self and bring them out into the open, and then, with the self exposed to the light, prompt repentance and forgiveness. "He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motive of men's hearts", 1Cor.4:5.
gar "for" - Possibly expressing cause/reason, as NIV, etc., yet better taken as a connective and left untranslated.
tou qeou (oV) gen. "[the word] of God" - The genitive is probably verbal, objective, "the message concerning God", or better, subjective, "the message declared by God", but possibly ablative, source / origin, "the message from God." The gospel may be intended, although a wider sense is more likely, eg. the communicated will of God for his people. Some commentators suggest a personal sense, Christ, the Word of God, although this is unlikely.
zwn (zaw) pres. part. "is living" - living. Emphatic. The participle is adjectival, predicate (asserting a truth) of the subject, "the word", so "the word is living". Possibly in the sense of "relevant", or "life-giving", or probably in a personified sense, "alive", Barclay.
energhV adj. "active" - As for the participle. In the sense of "effective, powerful", Ellingworth.
tomwteroV (tomoV) comp. adj. "sharper" - sharp, cutting. Hapax legomenon, once only use in the NT. This and the following descriptives, serve to illustrate the "penetrating" nature of the word. Penetrating for what purpose? The context implies that the word penetrates to expose sin and condemn it, but given the wider context, this judgment primarily serves a positive end, namely, to drive repentance and forgiveness.
uJper + acc. "than [any double-edged sword]" - Here as a comparative, as NIV.
diiknoumenoV (diikneomai) pres. part. "it penetrates" - penetrating, passing through, going through. Hapax legomenon. Again adjectival, predicate of "the word", "the word of God is penetrating". "It strikes through", Phillips.
acri + gen. "even to" - up to / until. Here spacial.
merismou (oV) "dividing" - Not the act of dividing, but rather the results of the word's penetration. "His word can cut through our spirits and souls", CEV. With "soul and spirit, joints and marrow", it is unlikely that the writer is describing distinctive divisions of the human nature. So, "God's word penetrates our whole being."
kardiaV (a) "heart" - "the center and source of the whole inner life, with its thinking, feeling and willing", Bauer.
d) Exposing, v13: The writer concludes by pointing out that we might be able to conceal our rebellion from our neighbors, even from ourselves, but not from God. Before the living God, all creatures are exposed in his sight. So, before the living God our rebellion is exposed and made powerless ("laid bare", as a wrestler grabs an opponent by the neck and renders them powerless). In this exposed state we need to remember that our final reckoning must be made before God, the one "to whom our account must finally be rendered", and that being the case, we definitely need a merciful High Priest to see us safely through to our Sabbath-rest.
ktisiV (iV ewV) "creation" - a creature, creation. Here "creature"; "no creature has any cover from the sight of God", Phillips.
afanhV adj. "hidden" - hidden, unseen, invisible. "Is out of sight", Barclay.
enwpion + gen. "from" - from before. Spacial.
autou pro. "God's sight" - him. The antecedent is probably "God", but it may be "the word of God."
de "-" - but, and. Slightly adversative / contrastive; "but all things are naked and exposed ....", ESV.
gumna adj. "uncovered" - naked. In the sense of "exposed" to critical examination.
tetrachlismena (trachlizw) perf. pas. part. "laid bare" - (the neck) having been exposed, laid bare. The participle is adjectival, predicate of the substantival adjective "all things"; "all things are uncovered / naked.", as NIV; "all things lie open and exposed before the eyes of him", Moffatt. The imagery is possibly of a wrestler who, having been taken by the neck, is now pinned and unable to move. "Everything is stripped and exposed to the eyes of the one to whom we have to render account", Barclay.
toiV ofqalmoiV (oV) dat. "before the eyes [of him]" - to the eyes [of him]. The dative is probably locative, of place; "laid open in God's eyes."
proV oJn hJmin oJ logoV "to whom we must give account" - to whom the word to us. Most modern commentators render this relative clause: "to whom we must give account"; "with whom we must reckon", Ellingworth; "to whom our account must finally be rendered", Attridge. Ancient commentators regarded it as a formula statement, "this account is about whom we speak", but probably much more is intended. The preposition proV, "to, toward", expresses approach to autou, "him", namely God, whose oJ logoV, "word", namely that word which is alive, active, sharp, penetrating, judging, is hJmin "for us" (dative of interest, advantage), so take care.