Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
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(12) As in Hebrews 3:12 the warning against the “evil heart of unbelief” is solemnly enforced by the mention of the “Living God,” so here, in pointing to the peril of disobedience, it is to the living power of the word of God that the writer makes appeal. But in what sense? Does he bring before us again the word of Scripture, or the divine Word Himself? Outside the writings of St. John there is no passage in the New Testament in which the word of God is as clearly invested with personal attributes as here. The word is “quick” (that is, living), “powerful” (or, activemighty in operation, as most of our versions render the word), “able to discern the thoughts of the heart.” Philo, whose writings are pervaded by the doctrine of the divine Word (see the Note appended to St. John’s Gospel in Vol. I. of this Commentary, p. 553), in certain passages makes use of expressions so remarkably resembling some that are before us in this verse that we cannot suppose the coincidence accidental. Thus, in an allegorical explanation of Genesis 15:10, he speaks of the sacred and divine Word as cutting through all things, dividing all perceptible objects, and penetrating even to those called indivisible, separating the different parts of the soul. But though these and the many other resemblances that are adduced may prove the writer’s familiarity with the Alexandrian philosophy, they are wholly insufficient to show an adoption of Philo’s doctrinal system (if system it could be called) in regard to the divine Word, or to rule the interpretation of the single passage in this Epistle in which an allusion to that system could be traced. Nor is the first-mentioned argument conclusive. There certainly is personification here, and in part the language used would, if it stood alone, even suggest the presence of a divine Person; but it is not easy to believe that in the New Testament the words “sharper than a two-edged sword” would be directly applied to the Son of God. In this Epistle, moreover (and even in this context, Hebrews 4:2), reference is repeatedly made to the word of God in revelation, without a trace of any other meaning. The key to the language of this verse, so far as it is exceptional, is found in that characteristic of the Epistle to which reference has been already made—the habitual thought of Scripture as a direct divine utterance. The transition from such a conception to those of this verse was very easy; and we need not feel surprise if with expressions which are naturally applied to the utterance are joined others which lead the thought to God as Speaker. It is, therefore, the whole word of God that is brought before us—mainly the word of threatening and judgment, but also (comp. Hebrews 4:2 and the last member of this verse) the word of promise.

Piercing even to the dividing asunder . . .—Rather, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, both joints and marrow. For the comparison of God’s word to a sword see Isaiah 49:2; Ephesians 6:17; (Revelation 1:16); comp. also Wisdom Of Solomon 18:15-16, “Thine Almighty word leapt down from heaven out of Thy royal throne . . . and brought Thine unfeigned commandment as a sharp sword, and standing up filled all things with death.” The keen two-edged sword penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit (not soul from spirit), with unfailing stroke severing bone from bone and piercing the very marrow. The latter words, by a very natural metaphor, are transferred from the material frame to the soul and spirit.

And is a discerner . . .—Is quick to discern, able to judge, the thoughts (reflections, conceptions, intents) of the heart. Man’s word may be lifeless, without power to discriminate, to adapt itself to a changed state or varying circumstances, to enforce itself: the Spirit of God is never absent from His word.

Hebrews 4:12. For the word of God — As if he had said, Take heed of unbelief, for the word of God will try and condemn you if you be guilty of it. It is greatly debated among commentators whether this is to be understood of Christ, the eternal Word, or of the gospel. “None of the properties,” says Calmet, “mentioned here can be denied to the Son of God, the eternal Word. He sees all things, knows all things, penetrates all things, and can do all things. He is the Ruler of the heart, and can turn it where he pleases. He enlightens the soul, and calls it gently and efficaciously, when and how he wills. Finally, he punishes in the most exemplary manner the insults offered to his Father and to himself by infidels, unbelievers, and the wicked in general. But it does not appear that the divine Logos is here intended: 1st, Because St. Paul does not use that term to express the Son of God. 2d, Because the conjunction, γαρ, for, shows that this verse is an inference drawn from the preceding, where the subject in question is concerning the eternal rest, and the means by which it is obtained. It is therefore more natural to explain the term of the word, order, and will of God; for the Hebrews represent the revelation of God as an active being, living, all- powerful, illumined, executing vengeance, discernibly and penetrating all things.” Of this he produces divers examples. Macknight considers the passage in the same light, observing, “The apostle having said, (Hebrews 4:2,) that λογος της ακοης, the word which they heard did not profit them; the word of God in this verse, I think, signifies the preached gospel; understanding thereby its doctrines, precepts, promises, and threatenings, together with those examples of the divine judgments which are recorded in the Scriptures; by all which the gospel operates powerfully on the minds of believers. In our common version of 1 Peter 1:23, the word of God is said to be living. So also Christ, John 6:63, The words that I speak to you they are spirit and they are life; and in the last clause of this verse, actions are ascribed to the word of God which imply life, namely, it is a discerner of the devices and purposes of the heart.” And as the word is here said to be, ενεργης, efficacious, “this efficacy is described by Paul, 2 Corinthians 10:4, The weapons of our warfare are powerful, for the overturning of strong holds, &c. Also 1 Thessalonians 2:13, the word of God is said to work effectually in them who believe: Ephesians 6:17, the sword of the Spirit denotes the doctrine of the gospel, called a sword, because it is of great use to repel the attacks of our spiritual enemies; and a sword of the Spirit, because it was dictated by the Spirit of God: Revelation 1:16, the word of God is represented as a sharp, two-edged sword, which went out of the mouth of Christ: Isaiah 11:4, it is said of Christ, He shall smite the earth with the rod, or (as the LXX. render it) τω λογω, the word of his mouth.” Bengelius and Wesley understand the passage in the same sense, the note of the latter being as follows: “The word of God preached, (Hebrews 4:2,) and armed with threatenings, (Hebrews 4:3,) is living and powerful, attended with the power of the living God, and conveying either life or death to the hearers; sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating the heart more than this does the body; piercing quite through, and laying open the soul and spirit, joints and marrow, the inmost recesses of the mind, which the apostle beautifully and strongly expresses by this heap of figurative words: and is a discerner not only of the thoughts, but also of the intentions.”

In the clause, piercing to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, the writer proceeds on the supposition that man consists of three parts, a body, a sensitive soul, which he hath in common with the brutes, and a rational spirit, of which see the note on 1 Thessalonians 5:23. In representing the word, or gospel, as a person who shall judge the world at the last day the apostle hath imitated Christ, who said to the Jews, (John 12:48,) He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: ο λογος, the word that I have spoken shall judge him in the last day. But to raise the figure, the apostle ascribes to the word life, strength, discernment, and action; qualities highly necessary in a judge.

4:11-16 Observe the end proposed: rest spiritual and eternal; the rest of grace here, and glory hereafter; in Christ on earth, with Christ in heaven. After due and diligent labour, sweet and satisfying rest shall follow; and labour now, will make that rest more pleasant when it comes. Let us labour, and quicken each other to be diligent in duty. The Holy Scriptures are the word of God. When God sets it home by his Spirit, it convinces powerfully, converts powerfully, and comforts powerfully. It makes a soul that has long been proud, to be humble; and a perverse spirit, to be meek and obedient. Sinful habits, that are become as it were natural to the soul, and rooted deeply in it, are separated and cut off by this sword. It will discover to men their thoughts and purposes, the vileness of many, the bad principles they are moved by, the sinful ends they act to. The word will show the sinner all that is in his heart. Let us hold fast the doctrines of Christian faith in our heads, its enlivening principles in our hearts, the open profession of it in our lips, and be subject to it in our lives. Christ executed one part of his priesthood on earth, in dying for us; the other he executes in heaven, pleading the cause, and presenting the offerings of his people. In the sight of Infinite Wisdom, it was needful that the Saviour of men should be one who has the fellow-feeling which no being but a fellow-creature could possibly have; and therefore it was necessary he should actual experience of all the effects of sin that could be separated from its actual guilt. God sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, Ro 8:3; but the more holy and pure he was, the more he must have been unwilling in his nature to sin, and must have had deeper impression of its evil; consequently the more must he be concerned to deliver his people from its guilt and power. We should encourage ourselves by the excellence of our High Priest, to come boldly to the throne of grace. Mercy and grace are the things we want; mercy to pardon all our sins, and grace to purify our souls. Besides our daily dependence upon God for present supplies, there are seasons for which we should provide in our prayers; times of temptation, either by adversity or prosperity, and especially our dying time. We are to come with reverence and godly fear, yet not as if dragged to the seat of justice, but as kindly invited to the mercy-seat, where grace reigns. We have boldness to enter into the holiest only by the blood of Jesus; he is our Advocate, and has purchased all our souls want or can desire.For the word of God - The design of this and the following verse is obvious. It is to show that we cannot escape the notice of God; that all insincerity, unbelief, hypocrisy, will be detected by him; and that since our hearts are perfectly open before him, we should be sincere and should not attempt to deceive him. The sense is, that the truth of God is all-penetrating and searching, and that the real thoughts and intents of the heart will be brought to light, and that if there is insincerity and self-deception there can be no hope of escape. There has been a great variety of opinion here about the meaning of the phrase "the Word of God." Some have supposed that it means the Lord Jesus; others, the whole of the divine revelation; others the gospel; others the particular threatening referred to here. The "Word of God" is "what God speaks" - whether it be a promise or a threatening; whether it be Law or gospel; whether it be a simple declaration or a statement of a doctrine. The idea here is, that what "God had said" is suited to detect hypocrisy and to lay open the true nature of the feelings of the soul, so that there can be no escape for the guilty. His "truth" is adapted to bring out the real feelings, and to show man exactly what he is. Truth always has this power - whether preached, or read, or communicated by conversation, or impressed upon the memory and conscience by the Holy Spirit. There can be no escape from the penetrating, searching application of the Word of God. That truth has power to show what man is, and is like a penetrating sword that lays open the whole man; compare Isaiah 49:2. The phrase "the Word of God" here may be applied, therefore, to the "truth" of God, however made known to the mind. In some way it will bring out the real feelings, and show what man is.

Is quick - Greek ζῶν zōn - "living." It is not dead, inert, and powerless. It has a "living" power, and is energetic and active. It is "adapted" to produce this effect.

And powerful - Mighty. Its power is seen in awakening the conscience; alarming the fears; laying bare the secret feelings of the heart, and causing the sinner to tremble with the apprehension of the coming judgment. All the great changes in the moral world for the better, have been caused by the power of truth. They are such as the truth in its own nature is suited to effect, and if we may judge of its power by the greatness of the revolutions produced, no words can over-estimate the might of the truth which God has revealed.

Sharper than any two-edged sword - Literally, "two-mouthed" sword - δίστομον distomon. The word "mouth" was given to the sword because it seemed to "devour" all before it. It consumed or destroyed as a wild beast does. The comparison of the Word of God to a sword or to an arrow, is designed to show its power of penetrating the heart; Ecclesiastes 12:11, "The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies;" compare Isaiah 49:2. "And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword;" Revelation 1:16, "And out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword;" Revelation 2:12, Revelation 2:16; Revelation 19:15. The comparison is common in the classics, and in Arabic poetry; see Gesenius, on Isaiah 49:2. The idea is that of piercing, or penetrating; and the meaning here is, that the Word of God reaches the "heart" - the very center of action, and lays open the motives and feelings of the man. It was common among the ancients to have a sword with two edges. The Roman sword was commonly made in this manner. The fact that it had two edges made it more easy to penetrate, as well as to cut with every way.

Piercing even to the dividing asunder - Penetrating so as to divide.

Soul and spirit - The animal life from the immortal soul. The former word here - ψυχή psuchē - "soul" - is evidently used to denote the "animal life," as distinguished from the mind or soul. The latter word - πνεῦμα pneuma - "spirit" - means the soul; the immaterial and immortal part; what lives when the animal life is extinct. This distinction occurs in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, "your whole spirit, and soul, and body;" and it is a distinction which we are constantly in the habit of making. There is the body in man - the animal life - and the immortal part that leaves the body when life is extinct. Mysteriously united, they constitute one man. When the animal life is separated from the soul, or when the soul leaves the animated body, the body dies, and life is extinct. To separate the one from the other is, therefore, the same as to take life - and this is the idea here, that the Word of God is like a sharp sword that inflicts deadly wounds. The sinner "dies;" that is, he becomes dead to his former hopes, or is "slain" by the Law; Romans 7:9, "I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died." This is the power referred to here - the power of destroying the hopes of the sinner; cutting him down under conviction; and prostrating him as if a sword had pierced his heart.

And of the joints and marrow - The figure is still continued of the sword that takes life. Such a sword would seem to penetrate even the joints and marrow of the body. It would separate the joints, and pierce through the very bones to the marrow. A similar effect, Paul says, is produced by truth. It seems to penetrate the very essence of the soul, and lay it all open to the view.

And is a discerner of the thoughts - It shows what the thoughts and intentions are. Prof. Stuart, Bloomfield, and some others, suppose that the reference here is to "God" speaking by his word. But the more natural construction certainly is, to refer it to the Word or truth of God. It is true that God searches the heart, and knows the thoughts, but that is not the truth which is prominent here. It is, that the thoughts and intents of the heart are brought out to view by the Word of God. And can anyone doubt this? see Romans 7:7. Is it not true that people are made to see their real character under the exhibition of the truth of God? That in the light of the Law they see their past lives to be sinful? That the exhibition of truth calls to their recollection many long-forgotten sins? And that their real feelings are brought out when the truth of God is proclaimed? Men then are made to look upon their motives as they had never done before, and to see in their hearts feelings whose existence they would not have suspected if it had not been for the exhibition of the truth. The exhibition of the truth is like pouring down the beams of the sun at midnight on a dark world; and the truth lays open the real feelings of the sinner as that sun would disclose the clouds of wickedness that are now performed under cover of the night. Many a man has a deep and fixed hostility to God and to his gospel who might never be sensible of it if the truth was not faithfully proclaimed. The particular idea here is, that the truth of God will detect the feelings of the hypocrite and self-deceiver. They cannot always conceal their emotions, and the time will come when truth, like light poured into the soul, will reveal their unbelief and their secret sins. They who are cherishing a hope of salvation, therefore, should be on their guard lest they mistake the name for the reality. Let us learn from this verse:

(1) The power of truth. It is "suited" to lay open the secret feelings of the soul. There is not an effect produced in awakening a sinner; or in his conviction, conversion, and sanctification, which the truth is not "adapted" to produce. The truth of God is not dead; nor suited to make people "worse;" nor designed merely to show its own "weakness," and to be a mere occasion on which the Holy Spirit acts on the mind; it is in its own nature Fitted to produce just the effects which are produced when it awakens, convicts, converts, and sanctifies the soul.

(2) the truth should be preached with the feeling that it is adapted to this end. Men who preach should endeavor to understand the nature of the mind and of the moral feelings, as really as he who would inflict a deadly wound should endeavor to understand enough about anatomy to know where the heart is, or he who administers medicine should endeavor to know what is adapted to remove certain diseases. And he who has no belief in the efficacy of truth to produce any effect, resembles one who should suppose that all knowledge of the human system was needless to him who wished to perform a surgical operation, and who should cut at random - piously leaving it with God to direct the knife; or he who should go into a hospital of patients and administer medicines indiscriminately - devoutly saying that all healing must come from God, and that the use of medicine was only to show its own weakness! Thus, many men seem to preach. Yet for aught that appears, truth is just as wisely adapted to save the soul as medicine is to heal the sick; and why then should not a preacher be as careful to study the nature of truth and its adaptedness to a particular end, as a student of the healing art is to understand the adaptedness of medicine to cure disease? The true way of preaching is, to feel that truth is adapted to the end in view; to select what is best suited for that end; to preach as if the whole result depended on getting that truth before the mind and into the heart - and then to leave the whole result with God - as a physician with right feelings will exert all his skill to save his patient, and then commit the whole question of life and health to God. He will be more likely to praise God intelligently who believes that he has wisely adapted a plan to the end in view, than he who believes that God works only at random.

12. For—Such diligent striving (Heb 4:11) is incumbent on us FOR we have to do with a God whose "word" whereby we shall be judged, is heart-searching, and whose eyes are all-seeing (Heb 4:13). The qualities here attributed to the word of God, and the whole context, show that it is regarded in its JUDICIAL power, whereby it doomed the disobedient Israelites to exclusion from Canaan, and shall exclude unbelieving so-called Christians from the heavenly rest. The written Word of God is not the prominent thought here, though the passage is often quoted as if it were. Still the word of God (the same as that preached, Heb 4:2), used here in the broadest sense, but with special reference to its judicial power, INCLUDES the Word of God, the sword of the Spirit with double edge, one edge for convicting and converting some (Heb 4:2), and the other for condemning and destroying the unbelieving (Heb 4:14). Re 19:15 similarly represents the Word's judicial power as a sharp sword going out of Christ's mouth to smite the nations. The same word which is saving to the faithful (Heb 4:2) is destroying to the disobedient (2Co 2:15, 16). The personal Word, to whom some refer the passage, is not here meant: for He is not the sword, but has the sword. Thus reference to Joshua appropriately follows in Heb 4:8.

quick—Greek, "living"; having living power, as "the rod of the mouth and the breath of the lips" of "the living God."

powerful—Greek, "energetic"; not only living, but energetically efficacious.

sharper—"more cutting."

two-edged—sharpened at both edge and back. Compare "sword of the Spirit … word of God" (Eph 6:17). Its double power seems to be implied by its being "two-edged." "It judges all that is in the heart, for there it passes through, at once punishing [unbelievers] and searching [both believers and unbelievers]" [Chrysostom]. Philo similarly speaks of "God passing between the parts of Abraham's sacrifices (Ge 15:17, where, however, it is a 'burning lamp' that passed between the pieces) with His word, which is the cutter of all things: which sword, being sharpened to the utmost keenness, never ceases to divide all sensible things, and even things not perceptible to sense or physically divisible, but perceptible and divisible by the word." Paul's early training, both in the Greek schools of Tarsus and the Hebrew schools at Jerusalem, accounts fully for his acquaintance with Philo's modes of thought, which were sure to be current among learned Jews everywhere, though Philo himself belonged to Alexandria, not Jerusalem. Addressing Jews, he by the Spirit sanctions what was true in their current literature, as he similarly did in addressing Gentiles (Ac 17:28).

piercing—Greek, "coming through."

even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit—that is, reaching through even to the separation of the animal soul, the lower part of man's incorporeal nature, the seat of animal desires, which he has in common with the brutes; compare the same Greek, 1Co 2:14, "the natural [animal-souled] man" (Jude 19), from the spirit (the higher part of man, receptive of the Spirit of God, and allying him to heavenly beings).

and of the joints and marrow—rather, "(reaching even TO) both the joints (so as to divide them) and marrow." Christ "knows what is in man" (Joh 2:25): so His word reaches as far as to the most intimate and accurate knowledge of man's most hidden parts, feelings, and thoughts, dividing, that is, distinguishing what is spiritual from what is carnal and animal in him, the spirit from the soul: so Pr 20:27. As the knife of the Levitical priest reached to dividing parts, closely united as the joints of the limbs, and penetrated to the innermost parts, as the marrows (the Greek is plural); so the word of God divides the closely joined parts of man's immaterial being, soul and spirit, and penetrates to the innermost parts of the spirit. The clause (reaching even to) "both the joints and marrow" is subordinate to the clause, "even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit." (In the oldest manuscripts as in English Version, there is no "both," as there is in the clause "both the joints and … which marks the latter to be subordinate). An image (appropriate in addressing Jews) from the literal dividing of joints, and penetrating to, so as to open out, the marrow, by the priest's knife, illustrating the previously mentioned spiritual "dividing of soul from spirit," whereby each (soul as well as spirit) is laid bare and "naked" before God; this view accords with Heb 4:13. Evidently "the dividing of the soul from the spirit" answers to the "joints" which the sword, when it reaches unto, divides asunder, as the "spirit" answers to the innermost "marrow." "Moses forms the soul, Christ the spirit. The soul draws with it the body; the spirit draws with it both soul and body." Alford's interpretation is clumsy, by which he makes the soul itself, and the spirit itself, to be divided, instead of the soul from the spirit: so also he makes not only the joints to be divided asunder, but the marrow also to be divided (?). The Word's dividing and far penetrating power has both a punitive and a healing effect.

discerner of the thoughts—Greek, "capable of judging the purposes."

intents—rather, "conceptions" [Crellius]; "ideas" [Alford]. AS the Greek for "thoughts" refers to the mind and feelings, so that for "intents," or rather "mental conceptions," refers to the intellect.

For the word of God: the efficacy of the word of God is a further enforcement of their studious labour to enter into God’s rest, for that calleth us thereunto; even the law and doctrine of the gospel brought by the incarnate Word from heaven, preached by him to the world, dictated and inspired into the holy penmen both of the Old and New Testament by the Holy Ghost, and written by them at his call and order, 2 Peter 1:19-21; representing all those precepts and prohibitions, promises and threatenings, by which God will judge to whom this gospel hath been preached in that man whom he hath appointed: compare Hebrews 2:1,2, and Hebrews 4:1,2 of this. And this word was written by David, Psalm 95:1-11, even a word of exhortation, promise, and threatening, as opened before, and shows the perfection of this gospel law in its administration by Christ.

Is quick; this word, like the incarnate Word, is zwn, not only a living word, but a quickening word, making dead sinners living Christians; souls dead in sins and trespasses, alive to God. This word, the breath of God, conveyeth spirit and life to them, 2 Timothy 3:16 1 Peter 1:23: so David experienced it, preserving the life it breathed into him, Psalm 119:50; and the members of the church, 1 Corinthians 4:15; compare 2 Corinthians 3:6,17,18; and as a rule it guideth and directeth them through Christ unto eternal life, John 6:68.

And powerful; energhv it is an active word, powerful in its effects, the very ministration of the Spirit, 2 Corinthians 3:8, most efficacious and energetical for convincing, converting, comforting; and for condemning, killing: it acts like the power of God; so Romans 1:16,18.

And sharper than any two-edged sword; tomwterov signifieth a cutting sharpness, as becometh several uses, as searching, letting out corruption, or for killing; all which agree to this Divine word; sharper than any sword with two mouths. The Hebrews style the edge the mouth, that which bites, teareth, or woundeth; as Revelation 1:16, and Revelation 2:12. The word for spiritual execution upon souls is more sharp, and above every other sword; there is none so piercing for cutting the heart, or killing sin in it. So is it used, Ephesians 6:17; compare Acts 2:37 7:54. It is Christ’s weapon of offence and defence for his people, and it cuts without resistance; with it he is defending his truth, and smiting his enemies, Isaiah 11:4; compare Revelation 19:13,15,21.

Piercing even to the dividing asunder; diiknoumenv, piercing, or going through what is smitten with it; which way soever it is turned it forceth its way through all opposition, to a dividing into parts, and separating the most nearly united and closely joined things, laying open the very entrails, the most inward in a man; where the metaphors taken from the closest parts of the person are applied to the soul.

Of soul: quch may denote not so much the natural life and the faculties of that, but that which is styled the rational soul as unregenerate: see 1 Corinthians 2:14. Such an animal, carnal soul as is purely human, 1 Corinthians 3:3, which wants both a principle, light, and faculty to discern the things of God, as no natural eye can see a spirit, Romans 8:5-8.

And spirit; pneumatov, the soul of man regenerate and spiritualized, called spirit, 1 Thessalonians 5:23. The soul enlightened, renewed, and governed by the Holy Ghost; not altered as to its substance, but as to its qualities; whose understanding, will, and affections are spiritualized, manifested in its actions, agreeable to the spiritual will of God, 1 Corinthians 2:10,12,14,15. These are both of them under the piercing power of the word, and the Spirit can reach them by it as he pleaseth.

And of the joints and marrow: armwn are not the members, but the nerves, membranes, muscles, whereby the members or limbs are joined one to another, so as not without incision to be discovered; and the marrow within the bones, there must be a breaking or perforating them to reach it. By which metaphors are set out the hardest, compactest, and most intimate parts of a sinner, the most secret hidden ones, which no natural reason can reach; yet the word of God pierceth them, to discover either the evil or good of them, and to inflict wrath, or communicate comfort, according to their conditions.

And is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart: the word of God is a most nice, exact, and critical judge, discerning the gravity and rectitude of them; it discovers and distinguisheth them as they are, or not, agreeable to itself, the fundamental truth; and is capable, as a judge, to charge or discharge, as its author will, by it, Romans 2:12,15,16; compare 1 Corinthians 14:24,25. It discovers the most inward, close, secret, and constant motions, both speculative and practical, of the soul of man inseparably united to the heart; and one with another, whether they are opinions, conceptions, resolutions, or decrees, so subtile and so secret, as who can know them, but he who made the heart? Genesis 6:5 Jeremiah 17:9.

For the word of God is quick and powerful,.... This is to be understood of Christ, the essential Word of God; for the Word of God was a known name of the Messiah among the Jews; See Gill on John 1:1 and therefore the apostle makes use of it when writing to them: and the words are introduced as a reason why care should be taken, that men fall not off from the Gospel, because Christ, the author, sum, and substance of it, is the living God, omnipotent and omniscient; for not a thing, but a person is spoken of, who is a Judge, and a critical discerner of the secrets of men's hearts: and certain it is, that this Word is spoken of as a person, and is said to be a priest in the following verses; to which may be added, that the several things said of the Word exactly agree with Christ: he is "the Word of God"; as the word is the birth of the mind, he is the only begotten of the Father; he is the Word that spoke for the elect in the council and covenant of grace, and that spoke all things out of nothing in creation; he is the Word that has been promised, and spoken of by the prophets from the beginning of the world; and is the interpreter of his Father's mind, and our Advocate with the Father: he is

quick, or, as it may be better rendered, "living"; he has life in himself as God, he is the living God; he is the living Redeemer and Mediator, and he lives for ever as man; he is the author and giver of life, natural, spiritual, and eternal: and he is powerful, as he appears to be in the creation and sustaining of all things; in his miracles and ministrations; in the work of man's redemption; in the preservation of his people, and in his advocacy and intercession:

and sharper than any twoedged sword; or "more cutting than one", by the words of his mouth, by the power of his Spirit, and the efficacy of his grace; for his mouth itself is as a sharp sword, and out of it comes forth one, Isaiah 49:2 by which he pierces the hearts of men, cuts them to the quick, and lays them open. Jehovah is called a twoedged sword with the Jews (m); and Philo the Jew speaks of the flaming sword of the Logos (n).

Piercing even to the dividing asunder soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow; the like property Philo the Jew ascribes to the "Logos", or Word; he calls him "a cutter", and says he cuts and divides all things, even all sensible things, yea, atoms, and things indivisible (o); the apostle seems here to have respect to the several names with which the soul of man is called by the Jews, , "soul, spirit, and breath" (p); the latter of these, they say, dwells between the other two. Some by the soul understand the natural and unregenerate part in man, and by the spirit the renewed and regenerate part, which though sometimes are not so easily distinguished by men, yet they are by Christ; others think the soul designs the inferior faculties, the affections; and the spirit the superior ones, the mind and understanding; but the apostle's meaning seems to be this, that whereas the soul and spirit are invisible, and the joints and marrow are covered and hid; so sharp and quick sighted, and so penetrating is the divine Word, that it reaches the most secret and hidden things of men: and this sense is confirmed by what follows,

and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart; Christ knows what is in man; he is the searcher of the hearts, and the trier of the reins of the children of men; and this will be more apparent at the last day, when he will make manifest the counsels of the heart, and will critically inquire, and accurately judge of them.

(m) Zohar in Cab. Lex. p. 364. (n) De Cherubim, p. 112. (o) Onis rerum divin. Haeres, p. 499, 500, 510, 511, 513. (p) Zohar in Gen. fol. 55. 2. & 113. 1, 2. & is Exod. fol. 58. 3, 4. & in Lev. fol. 29. 2. T. Hieros. Celaim, fol. 31. 3. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 2. 1.

{4} For the {e} word of God is {f} quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of {g} soul and {h} spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

(4) An amplification taken from the nature of the word of God, so powerful that it enters even to the deepest and most inward and secret parts of the heart, fatally wounding the stubborn, and openly reviving the believers.

(e) The doctrine of God which is preached both in the law and in the gospel.

(f) He calls the word of God living, because of the effect it has on those to whom it is preached.

(g) He calls the seat of emotions soul.

(h) By spirit he means the mind.

Hebrews 4:12-13. Warning demonstration of the necessity for compliance with the exhortation uttered Hebrews 4:11.[67]

Ὁ ΛΌΓΟς ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ] the word of God. By these words we have not, with many Fathers, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Thomas Aquinas, Lyra, Cajetan, Clarius, Justinian, Cornelius a Lapide, Jac. Cappellus, Gomar, Owen, Heinsius, Alting, Clericus, Cramer, Ewald, al., the hypostatic word of God, or Christ, as the second person of the Godhead. For although this mode of designating Christ in the case of the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, according to Hebrews 1:1-3, and on account of the points of contact he displays with Philo, can present nothing strange in itself, yet the expression was too unusual for it to be employed and understood without further indication, in this special sense, where the connection did not even lead up to it. Moreover, the predicates ἐνεργής, τομώτερος κ.τ.λ., and ΚΡΙΤΙΚΌς (instead of ΚΡΙΤΉς), seem better suited to an impersonal than a personal subject. The majority understand Ὁ ΛΌΓΟς ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ of the word of God, as proclaimed and as preserved in Scripture. They refer it then either to the gospel (Cameron, Grotius, Wittich, Akersloot, Ebrard, al.), or to the threatenings of God (Schlichting, Michaelis, Abresch, Böhme, Heinrichs, al.), or, finally, to the threatenings and promises of God taken together (Beza, Schulz, Bisping, al.). ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ is to be understood quite generally: “that which God speaks,” as, indeed, the whole proposition, Hebrews 4:12-13, contains a general sentence. But that “that which God speaks” was then, in its application to the case here specially coming under notice, the call to receptivity of heart repeatedly made by God through the psalmist, and the exclusion from His ΚΑΤΆΠΑΥΣΙς threatened in the event of obstinate disobedience and unbelief, was for the reader self-evident from the connection.

The word of God is characterized in progressive enhancement. It is called ΖῶΝ, living, on account of its inner vital power (not on account of its everlasting, intransitory continuance, Schlichting, Abresch; nor as “cibus ac nutrimentum, quod hominum animis vitam conservat,” Carpzov; nor, in opposition to the rigid lifeless law, Ebrard); ἐνεργής, effective, on account of its asserting itself, manifesting itself vigorously in the outer world. The latter is the consequence of the former, and both in this connection refer to the power of punishing its contemners, which is inherent in the word of God.

The penetrating sharpness of this power of punishment is described in ascending gradation in the sequel.

καὶ τομώτερος ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν μάχαιραν δίστομον] and more trenchant than every (any) two-edged sword. ὑπέρ after a comparative (Luke 16:8; Jdg 11:25, LXX. Cod. Vaticanus), like ΠΑΡΆ, Hebrews 1:4. ΜΆΧΑΙΡΑ ΔΊΣΤΟΜΟς, a sword with twofold mouth, i.e. with an edge on both sides (ἀμφοτέρωθεν ὀξεῖα). The same expression in the LXX. Jdg 3:16; Proverbs 5:4. Comp. ῬΟΜΦΑΊΑ ΔΊΣΤΟΜΟς, Revelation 1:16; Revelation 2:12; LXX. Psalm 149:6; Sir 21:3. Similarly, Eurip. Helen. 989: ἐμὸν πρὸς ἧπαρ ὦσαι δίστομον ξίφος τόδε; Orest. 1309: δίπτυχα, δίστομα φάσγανα.

The proof for the statement: ΤΟΜΏΤΕΡΟς ὙΠῈΡ ΠᾶΣΑΝ ΜΆΧΑΙΡΑΝ ΔΊΣΤΟΜΟΝ, is contained in the words: ΚΑῚ ΔΙΪΚΝΟΎΜΕΝΟς ἌΧΡΙ ΜΕΡΙΣΜΟῦ ΨΥΧῆς ΚΑῚ ΠΝΕΎΜΑΤΟς, ἉΡΜῶΝ ΤΕ ΚΑῚ ΜΥΕΛῶΝ] and piercing to the separating of soul and spirit, joints as well as marrow. μερισμός denotes the action of separating, and the separating subject is the word of God. Wrongly does Schlichting (comp. also Böhme) take it locally, or as reflexive: to the secret spot where soul and spirit separate. Such construction is to be rejected, as otherwise the clause following would have also to be explained in like manner: where joints and marrow separate. Joints and marrow, however, not being, in the human organization, things coming into direct contact, the thought would be inappropriate, whether we understand ἁρμῶν τε καὶ μυελῶν in the literal or non-literal sense. Schlichting, to be sure, will make ἉΡΜῶΝ ΤΕ ΚΑῚ ΜΥΕΛῶΝ no longer dependent upon ΜΕΡΙΣΜΟῦ, but take it as co-ordinate with ΜΕΡΙΣΜΟῦ (“… ut gladius iste penetrare dicatur ad loca in homine abditissima, etiam illuc, ubi anima cum spiritu connectitur et ab eo dividitur, itemque ubi sunt membrorum compages et medullae”). But for this distinction the repetition of ἌΧΡΙ before ἉΡΜῶΝ would have been necessary. An entire failure, finally, is also the method proposed by Hofmann (Schriftbew. I. 2 Aufl. p. 297, and likewise still in his Comm. p. 192), in order to preserve the local acceptation, in making ψυχῆς καὶ πνεύματος dependent on ἉΡΜῶΝ ΤΕ ΚΑῚ ΜΥΕΛῶΝ: “to the point at which it dissects and dissolves both joints and marrow of the inner life, the secret ligaments of its connection and the innermost marrow of its existence.” For then the readers would be required to understand an arrangement of the words which has not, as Hofmann thinks, perhaps “its parallel” in Hebrews 6:1-2, but which is, on the contrary, altogether impossible, on account of the addition of ΜΕΡΙΣΜΟῦ already to ΨΥΧῆς ΚΑῚ ΠΝΕΎΜΑΤΟς, and therefore nowhere finds its analogon in the N. T., not to say in the Epistle to the Hebrews. All four words: ΨΥΧῆς, ΠΝΕΎΜΑΤΟς, ἉΡΜῶΝ, and ΜΥΕΛῶΝ, depend upon ΜΕΡΙΣΜΟῦ, and not a dividing of the soul from the spirit, of joinings or joints from, the marrow, is intended, nor yet a dividing of the soul and spirit from joints and marrow (Böhme), but a dividing of the soul, the spirit, etc., each in itself is meant. The two last substantives, however, are not co-ordinate to the two first (Calvin, Beza, Cameron, Storr, Delitzsch, al.), but subordinate. For ψυχή and ΠΝΕῦΜΑ, which are distinguished from each other as characterizing respectively the lower sensuous life and the higher life of the spirit, here set forth without any more special limitation the inner side of human life generally, in opposition to the ΣῶΜΑ or body, which latter alone an earthly sword is able to pierce, and ἉΡΜΟΊ ΤΕ ΚΑῚ ΜΥΕΛΟΊ is not to be understood of the joints and marrow of the body,[68] but of the ligaments and marrow of the ψυχή and πνεῦμα, is thus a figurative expression to denote the innermost, most hidden depth of the rational life of man. In such transferred signification μυελός is used also with the classics. Comp. Themist. Orat. 32, p. 357: (ὀδύνη) εἰσδεδυκυῖα εἰς αὐτόν που τὸν μυελὸν τῆς ψυχῆς; Eurip. Hippol. 255 f.: χρῆν γὰρ μετρίας εἰς ἀλλήλους φιλίας θνητοὺς ἀνακίρνασθαι καὶ μὴ πρὸς ἄκρον μυελὸν ψυχῆς. ἁρμός, however, a fastening together, uniting, joint, could likewise he employed metaphorically, inasmuch as it receives its signification as joint of the human body only from the addition of τοῦ σώματος or from the connection, but elsewhere occurs in the most varied combinations and relations. Comp. e.g. ἁρμὸς θύρας, Dionys. Hal. Hebrews 5:7; ἁρμοὶ λιθῶν, Sir 27:2, al.

It is, moreover, worthy of notice that Philo also ascribes to his divine Logos a like cutting and severing power. He calls the same τομεὺς τῶν συμπάντων, which God has whetted to the most piercing sharpness, which on that account not only separates all sensuous things and penetrates to the atoms, but even divides the supra-sensuous, separating the soul into the rational and irrational, the reason into the true and false, the perception into the clear and the obscure. Comp. especially, Quis rerum divinarum haeres. p. 499 (with Mangey, I. p. 491): Εἶτʼ ἐπιλέγει· Διεῖλεν αὐτὰ μέσα [Genesis 15:10] τὸ τίς οὐ προσθείς, ἵνα τὸν ἀδίδακτον ἐννοῇς θεὸν τέμνοντα τάς τε τῶν σωμάτων καὶ πραγμάτων ἑξῆς ἁπάσας ἡρμόσθαι καὶ ἡνῶσθαι δοκούσας φύσεις τῷ τομεῖ τῶν συμπάντων αὐτοῦ λόγῳ· ὄς, εἰς τὴν ὀξυτάτην ἀκονηθεὶς ἀκμήν, διαιρῶν οὐδέποτε λήγει τὰ αἰσθητὰ πάντα· ἐπειδὰν δὲ μέχρι τῶν ἀτόμων καὶ λεγομένων ἀμερῶν διεξέλθῃ, πάλιν ἀπὸ τούτων τὰ λόγῳ θεωρητὰ εἰς ἀμυθήτους καὶ ἀπεριγράφους μοίρας ἄρχεται διαιρεῖν οὗτος ὁ τομεύςἝκαστον οὖν τῶν τριῶν διεῖλε μέσον, τὴν μὲν ψυχὴν εἰς λογικὸν καὶ ἄλογον, τὸν δὲ λόγον εἰς ἀληθές τε καὶ ψεῦδος, τὴν δὲ αἴσθησιν εἰς καταληπτικὴν φαντασίαν καὶ ἀκατάληπτον.

Ibid. p. 500 (I. p. 492): Οὕτως ὁ θεὸς ἀκονησάμενος τὸν τομέα τῶν συμπάντων αὐτοῦ λόγον διαιρεῖ τήν τε ἄμορφον καὶ ἄποιον τῶν ὅλων οὐσίαν, καὶ τὰ ἐξ αὐτῆς ἀποκριθέντα τέσσαρα τοῦ κόσμου στοιχεῖα, etc.

Comp. also de Cherubim, p. 112 f. (with Mangey, I. p. 144), where Philo finds in the φλογίνη ῥομφαία, Genesis 3:24, a symbol of the Logos, and then observes with regard to Abraham: Οὐχ ὁρᾷς, ὅτι καὶ Ἀβραὰμ ὁ σοφός, ἡνίκα ἤρξατο κατὰ θεὸν μετρεῖν πάντα καὶ μηδὲν ἀπολείπειν τῷ γεννητῷ, λαμβάνει τῆς φλογίνης ῥομφαίας (i.e. of the divine Logos) μίμημα, πῦρ καὶ μάχαιραν [Genesis 22:6] διελεῖν καὶ καταφλέξαι τὸ θνητὸν ἀφʼ ἑαυτοῦ γλιχόμενος, ἴνα γυμνῇ τῇ διανοίᾳ μετάρσιος πρὸς τὸν θεὸν ἀναπτῇ.

καὶ κριτικὸς ἐνθυμήσεων καὶ ἐννοιῶν καρδίας] and qualified to take cognizance of, or to judge (wrongly Heinrichs, Kuinoel, al.: to condemn), the dispositions and thoughts of the heart.

ἐνθυμήσεων] Matthew 9:4; Matthew 12:25; Acts 17:29.

ἐννοιῶν] 1 Peter 4:1.

[67] Ebrard’s commentary here too abounds in quixotic caprice, such as disowns all linguistic basis. According to Ebrard, the preceding warning of ver. 11 is yet further enforced, ver. 12, by the reminder that in our case (!) that excuse (!) is removed, which, according to ver. 2 (!), still existed in the case of the contemporaries of Moses. For us nothing is wanting (!) on the part of the word of God; for (!) the word of God is living, powerful, penetrating into the soul; if we (!) should fall victims to unbelief, the guilt would rest upon ourselves alone (!). According to Ebrard, the genitive τοῦ θεοῦ forms an opposition to the first person plural σπουδάσωμεν (!), and ver. 12 a supplementary material opposition to ver. 2 (!). That “this profound and delicate connection has hitherto been overlooked by all expositors” is natural enough. Even after Ebrard has discovered it, it will still remain unnoticed.

[68] So Delitzsch still explains, who represents the author as giving expression to the grossly sensuous conception, regardless whether such conception is in harmony with the author’s refined mode of thought,—that the word of God points out “to man the antitheistic forces of his bodily nature, which has become wholly, and to all the joints and marrow (cerebral marrow, spinal marrow, etc.), a seat of sin and death!” The expression is supposed to adapt itself, without itself becoming figurative, to the figure of the μάχαιρα. It is presupposed that the word of God has already accomplished its work of dissection (!) to the skeleton, with its bones and sinews (!), or at least presupposed that all, so far as this, is manifestly to be performed with ease. A stop, however, is not made here, but it further separates the joints of the bones, with the sinews or tendons serving to their movement, and cuts through the bones themselves, so that the marrow they contain is laid bare. Thus, then, the word renders the whole man transparent to God and to himself, and unveils in sharpest and most rigid analysis his most psychico-spiritual and innermost physical (!) condition; whereby it is then seen that, in so far as the man has not yet given scope to the work of grace, and in so far as the latter has not yet been able to accomplish itself, the marrow of the body is as corrupt as the spirit, which is as it were the marrow of the soul, and the joints of the body as corrupt as the soul, which is as it were the joint of the spirit (!).

12. For the word of God is quick] “Quick” is an old English expression for “living;” hence St Stephen speaks of Scripture as “the living oracles” (Acts 7:38). The “word of God” is not here the personal Logos; a phrase not distinctly and demonstrably adopted by any of the sacred writers except St John, who in the prologue to his Gospel calls Christ “the Word,” and in the Apocalypse “the Word of God.” The reference is to the written and spoken word of God, of the force and almost personality of which the writer shews so strong a sense. To him it is no dead utterance of the past, but a living power for ever. At the same time the expressions of this verse could hardly have been used by any one who was not familiar with the personification of the Logos, and St Clemens of Rome applies the words “a searcher of the thoughts and desires” to God. The passage closely resembles several which are found in Philo, though it applies the expressions in a different manner (see Introduction).

powerful] Lit., effective, energetic. The vital power shews itself in acts.

sharper than any twoedged sword] The same comparison is used by Isaiah (Isaiah 49:2) and St Paul (Ephesians 6:17) and St john (Revelation 2:16; Revelation 19:15). See too Wis 18:15-16, “Thine Almighty Word leaped down from heaven … and brought thine unfeigned commandment as a sharp sword.” Philo compares the Logos to the flaming sword of Eden (Genesis 3:24) and “the fire and knife” (μἁχαιραν) of Genesis 22:6.

piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow] The meaning is not that the word of God divides the soul (the “natural” soul) by which we live from the spirit by which we reason and apprehend; but that it pierces not only the natural soul, but even to the Divine Spirit of man, and even to the joints and marrow (i.e. to the inmost depths) of these. Thus Euripides (Hippol. 527) speaks of the “marrow of the soul.” It is obvious that the writer does not mean anything very specific by each term of the enumeration, which produces its effect by the rhetorical fulness of the expressions. The ψυχὴ or animal soul is the sphere of that life which makes a man ψυχικὸς, i.e. carnal, unspiritual; he possesses this element of life (anima) in common with the beasts. It is only by virtue of his spirit (πνεῦμα) that he has affinity with God.

a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart] These words are a practical explanation of those which have preceded. The phraseology is an evident reminiscence of Philo. Philo compares the Word to the flaming sword of Paradise; and calls the Word “the cutter of all things,” and says that “when whetted to the utmost sharpness it is incessantly dividing all sensuous things” (see Quis Rer. Div. Haeres & § 27; Opp. ed. Mangey i. 491, 503, 506). By enthumçseis is meant (strictly) our moral imaginations and desires; by ennoiai our intellectual thoughts: but the distinction of meaning is hardly kept (Matthew 9:4, &c).

Hebrews 4:12. Ζῶν γὰρ, for quick, lively) The efficacy of the word of GOD and the omniscience of GOD Himself is described as saving to those in the case of whom the word of GOD is mixed with faith on their part [Hebrews 4:2], but as terrible to those who are obstinate: comp. 2 Corinthians 2:15.—ὁ λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ) the word of God that is preached, Hebrews 4:2, and which is the Gospel-word, ib., and is joined with threatening, Hebrews 4:3. For Christ, the hypostatic Word, is not said to be a sword, hut to have a sword (comp. Joshua 5:13, to which passage this passage, relating to Joshua, Hebrews 4:8, seems also to refer); nor is He called κριτικὸς, judicial, but κριτὴς, the Judge. The appellation of Sword, given to God, Deuteronomy 33:29, is suitable to the song, not to the ordinary style of epistolary writing.—τομώτερος) more cutting, sharper.—διικνούμενος ἄχρι μερισμοῦ, piercing even to the dividing) Its parallel presently, κριτικὸς, judicial, judging, discerning.—ψυχῆς τε καὶ πνεύματος, of soul and spirit) Hence it is evident that soul and spirit are not synonymous, but the spirit is in the soul. Man, contemplated according to his nature, consists of soul and body, Matthew 10:28 : but when he has in him the working of GOD’S word, he consists of spirit, soul, and body. The inmost parts, and the recesses in the spirit, soul, and body of man, are called by Synecdoche[27] ἁρμοὶ καὶ μυελοὶ, joints and marrow (marrows). Moses forms the soul, Christ the spirit, 2 Corinthians 3:6. The soul attracts (draws with it) the body, the spirit both, 1 Thessalonians 5:23. The spirit is divided from the soul by the efficacy of the word of GOD, when the former is claimed for GOD; the latter is left to itself, in so far as it either does not attain to, or does not follow the spirit. And as the joints are not only divided from the marrow, but the joints and marrow respectively are divided into their own parts: nor are the intentions only distinguished from the thoughts, but the intentions themselves, as well as the thoughts themselves, are discerned [decided upon]: so, not only is the soul divided from the spirit, but as it were a part of the spirit is divided from part of the spirit, a part of the soul from part of the soul: Luke 2:35. Flesh and spirit are also separated: 1 Peter 4:6, note.—ἐνθυμήσεων καὶ ἐννοιῶν, of the intentions and thoughts) He comes from the greater parts as soul and spirit, and from the less as joints and marrow, to the faculties of the mind. Ἐνθύμησις, intention, involves feeling; there follows by gradation ἔννοια, thought, which expresses something simpler, previously existing and internal. Both nourish and foster either good or evil. Θυμὸς, from θύω, ὁρμῶ· νόος from νέω, κινοῦμαι.

[27] A part for the whole. Append.—ED.

Hebrews 4:12The exhortation is enforced by reference to the character of the revelation which sets forth the rest of God. The message of God which promises the rest and urges to seek it, is no dead, formal precept, but is instinct with living energy.

The word of God (ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ)

That which God speaks through any medium. The primary reference is to God's declarations concerning his rest. The fathers explained it of the personal Word as in the Fourth Gospel. But in the Epistle there is no approach to any definite use of λόγος with reference to Christ, not even in the description of his relation to God in Hebrews 1:1-14, where, if anywhere, it might have been expected. In Hebrews 6:5 and Hebrews 11:3 we find ῥῆμα. Everywhere in the Epistle Christ appears as the Son, not as the Word. In this passage, the following predicates, ἐνεργὴς, τομώτερος, κριτικὸς, would hardly be applied to the Logos, and in Hebrews 4:14 he is styled Jesus the Son of God.

Quick and powerful (ζῶν καὶ ἐνεργὴς)

Note the emphatic position of ζῶν living. Living is the word of God, since it is the word of "the living God" (Hebrews 3:12). Living in its essence. For ἐνεργὴς active, energizing, and kindred words, see on John 1:12; see on Philippians 3:21; see on Colossians 1:29; see on Plm 1:6. Manifesting itself actively in the world and in men's hearts. Comp. 1 Peter 1:23.

Sharper than any two-edged sword (τομώτερος ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν μάχαιραν δίστομον)

Τομώτερος sharper from τέμνειν to cut, N.T.o. olxx. The word of God has an incisive and penetrating quality. It lays bare self-delusions and moral sophisms. For the comparison of the word of God or of men to a sword, see Psalm 57:4; Psalm 59:7; Psalm 64:3; Ephesians 6:17. Philo calls his Logos ὁ τομεύς the cutter, as cutting chaos into distinct things, and so creating a kosmos. Ὑπὲρ than, is literally, above. Πᾶσαν any, is every. Δίσμοτον only here and Revelation 1:16; Revelation 2:12, lit. two-mouthed. In lxx always of a sword. See Judges 3:16; Psalm 149:6; Proverbs 5:4; Sir. 21:3. In Class. of a cave with a twofold mouth (Soph. Philoct. 16); of double-branching roads (Soph. Oed. Col. 900); of rivers with two mouths (Polyb. xxxiv. 10, 5). Στόμα mouth, of the edge of a sword, Luke 21:24; Hebrews 11:34. Often in lxx, as Genesis 34:26; Joshua 10:28, Joshua 10:33, Joshua 10:35, Joshua 10:37, Joshua 10:39; Judges 1:8. So occasionally in Class., as Homer, Il. xv. 389. Κατεσθίειν or κατέσθειν to devour is used of the sword, Deuteronomy 32:42; 2 Samuel 2:26; Isaiah 31:8; Jeremiah 2:30, etc. Μάχαιρα sword, in Class. a dirk or dagger: rarely, a carving knife; later, a bent sword or sabre as contrasted with a straight, thrusting sword, ξίφος (not in N.T. but occasionally in lxx). Ῥομφαία, Luke 2:35 (see note), elsewhere only in Revelation, very often in lxx, is a large broadsword. In lxx of Goliath's sword, 1 Samuel 17:51

Piercing (διΐκνούμενος)

Lit. coming through. N.T.o.

Even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and of the joints and marrow (ἄρχι μερισμοῦ ψυχῆς καὶ πνεύματος ἁρμῶν τε καὶ μυελῶν)

Μερισμὸς dividing, only here and Hebrews 2:4, is not to be understood of dividing soul from spirit or joints from marrow. Soul and spirit cannot be said to be separated in any such sense as this, and joints and marrow are not in contact with each other. Μερισμὸς is the act of division; not the point or line of division. Joints and marrow are not to be taken in a literal and material sense. In rendering, construe soul, spirit, joints, marrow, as all dependent on dividing. Joints and marrow (ἁρμῶν, μυελῶν, N.T.o ) are to be taken figuratively as joints and marrow of soul and spirit. This figurative sense is exemplified in classical usage, as Eurip. Hippol. 255, "to form moderate friendships, and not πρὸς ἄρκον μυελὸν ψυχῆς to the deep marrow of the soul." The conception of depth applied to the soul is on the same figurative line. See Aesch. Agam. 778; Eurip. Bacch. 203. Attempts to explain on any psychological basis are futile. The form of expression is poetical, and signifies that the word penetrates to the inmost recesses of our spiritual being as a sword cuts through the joints and marrow of the body. The separation is not of one part from another, but operates in each department of the spiritual nature. The expression is expanded and defined by the next clause.

A discerner (κριτικὸς)

N.T.o. olxx. The word carries on the thought of dividing. From κρίνειν to divide or separate, which runs into the sense of judge, the usual meaning in N.T., judgment involving the sifting out and analysis of evidence. In κριτικὸς the ideas of discrimination and judgment are blended. Vulg. discretor.

Of the thoughts and intents of the heart (ἐνθυμήσεων καὶ ἐννοιῶν καρδίας)


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Hebrews 4:11
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