The Word of God Discovering
Hebrews 4:12-16
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword…

This completes the argument in this section (Hebrews 3. and 4.) on the sin of apostasy. Having brought his readers face to face with the awful peril of departure from the Son of God, we might suppose the writer had reached the limit of the subject. But not so; he goes on to say that this sin and doom may be true of some whose defection is hidden in the heart. But he cannot relinquish the subject there. This searching admonition closes with the revelation of the great High Priest, who will deliver those who come to him from the guilt of apostasy. Subject - The Word of God discovering, the great High -Priest delivering from, the apostate's sin.

I. THE WORD OF GOD DETECTS AND JUDGES THE SIN OF APOSTASY. "The Word of God" here probably alludes to that particular word in the ninety-fifth psalm, on which, in both these chapters, the writer has built his argument.

1. This Word is permanent. "Quick," i.e. not dead. The Word of threatening to Israel lives still. It has not to do only with a former generation. Time makes no difference to what God has said. His Word never dies; it is as true now as when it was uttered. The principles which underlie the Divine sayings are everlasting.

2. This Word is efficient. "Powerful," or active. Its utterances are always followed by corresponding results. Laws in an earthly statute-book may not be executed; he who made them may not have intended to enforce them, or has changed his mind about them, or has lost the power to carry them into effect. It can never be so with the Divine laws. God "is not man, that he should lie, nor the son," etc "hath he spoken, and shall he not do it?" He is always in one mind, and nothing can change him. Men forget that because of his long-suffering; but it is true.

3. This Word is destructive. "Sharper than," etc. To divide the soul from the spirit is equal to the parting of the body from the spirit; it is another expression for "to produce death." And this is said to be in the most painful way. Nothing could produce intenser pain or more certain death than the "dividing asunder of the joints and marrow." The figure declares that the threatenings of God will be executed with an awful intensity of suffering and completeness of destruction.

4. This Word is penetrating. "Quick to discern," etc. (the sudden transition from the penetrating power of the Word to that of God is natural. The habitual thought of Scripture in this Epistle is that of a direct Divine utterance; God and his Word are one). "Naked, and laid open," paraphrased by "turned inside out." Its demands have as much to do with heart as life, with principles as doings. There may be no outward departure, but inner backsliding; and if so, the Word discovers and judges it.

II. FROM THE SIN OF APOSTASY OUR HIGH PRIEST IS ABLE TO DELIVER US. How delightful to be able to turn from the preceding to this: "Having a great, etc."! From the fears excited we are bidden to look up to our Priest-King in the heavens.

1. The guilt of apostasy needs atonement. That need is met in the vision of Jesus as High Priest passed within the veil, to present on our behalf the blood of sprinkling, which cries for and secures mercy. "The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanseth," etc.

2. The temptation to apostasy needs help. That need, also, is met in the vision of Jesus as High Priest, Intercessor. He bears no jeweled names on his breast, but his people's names are graven on those hands ever stretched toward the throne in prayer. "Simon, Simon, Satan hath," etc. Therefore "let us hold fast."

3. The resistance of apostasy needs sympathy. To refuse to be unfaithful often brings suffering. To cleave to Christ meant to these Hebrews the spoiling of their goods, etc. The need that brings solace and help is also met in the vision of Christ as High Priest. The "yet without sin" draws him nearer; for, to maintain a sinless heart and character, he must have experienced the keenest pains of self-crucifixion and temptation, and therefore knows this suffering at its greatest, and "is able to succor those," etc.


1. He who has apostatized is invited, for Christ is the sinner's High Priest. "We have a High Priest." Who? "Jesus belongs to the sinner." He is given to save; then he belongs to the man who needs saving. Have we part in his sacrifice? is answered by another question - Do you need it? Let such draw near.

2. He who has suffered in resisting apostasy is invited, for we may come "saying all. Let us draw near with boldness;" literally, "saying all." We cannot tell our fears, sufferings, temptations, victories, to any creature, and our hearts get full for want of one to understand our deepest experience. Then we may go to Christ, and at his feet make a clean breast of everything, "saying all." "Pour out your hearts before him," etc. Let such draw near.

3. He who is tempted to apostasy is invited, for here "mercy and grace are given. Mercy and grace are free - free to the undo-serving. Mercy for the past, grace for the future. Let those whose sin and infirmity and circumstances need these draw near, for such are welcome. - C.N.

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

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