The Word of Hebrews 4:12

I’ve been teaching through Hebrews in Wednesday night Bible study for several weeks.  Not sure if I’ve heard this before, but the question occurred to me as I studied Hebrews 4:12, “Is this “word” referring to the Scriptures or to Christ? 

There is precedence for the “logos” (word) being used to name Christ (John 1).  The context (Hebrews 1-4) is all about Christ, so it would fit contextually.  Also, v. 13 refers to “his sight” and  “him with whom we have to do.”  It would seem that the masculine singular pronouns used are referring to a person rather than a thing which would require “it.”

I’ve always heard this verse applied to Scripture, but what do you think?  Is it either, or, both, and what difference would it make to the exposition of the passage? 

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8 thoughts on “The Word of Hebrews 4:12

  1. Cameron,
    First, I want to congratulate you for your graduation. You have put many years and much time into this life achievement. God bless you as you continue your daily studies of God’s Word.
    To answer your question on the above article. Can the name of Jesus and His Word be separated. NO! I don’t mean the Bible as what we carry in our hands, ie., a piece of leather with paper pages, which can be burned or torn and ripped apart. The Word when it is made alive in our hearts, by the Spirit of Christ Jesus. This verse is usually applied to Scripture, and I don’t necessarily believe that to be wrong, but that alone is not enough.
    God Bless you Cameron as you dig deeper in the Word of God, and learn to know Him better.
    T.A.

  2. As I reread that verse the word that I thought of was revelation.. Jesus was (and is) the revelation of the Father.. the scriptures as well are His revelation. When the Holy Spirit reveals a Word to us it is a sharp and active word.. it is able to seperate my thoughts from His.. if we try to discern the scripture with our mind (i.e. flesh) it will seem dull and inactive. Does this make sense to you Cameron?

    Blessings, Bob

    PS: Congrats on the Biblical Studies MA!

  3. Some good points have been made for the “word” being Christ. If that is the case, however, what would be the interpretation of this text as far as the action of the “word” is described?

  4. I can’t see any way in which it could be referring to scripture. Nothing in the context has anything to do with scripture. You perfectly articulated the exact arguments I have used in other settings for “the word of God” referring to Jesus.

    What difference does it make? Well, I’m not entirely sure I have an answer for that. Except it would mean that we were actually considering context in our interpretation, contra the traditional use of this verse.

  5. Pastor Tim, thanks for your encouragement. I agree that the integrity of the Word (Scripture) is inseparable from the Word (Savior).

    KB, that makes sense to me. There is certainly a necessity for Holy Spirit enlightenment to revelation. This follows my response to your recent post on “Institutionalized Education.” While we must use our mind, there must certainly be the spiritual aspect to learning, ministry, Bible study, etc. Like Paul said to Timothy, “Consider what I say, (mental) and the Lord give you understanding in all things (spiritual).”

    Scott, I too have always taken this (and heard it) to mena scripture. The more I look at context, however, the more that view is changing.

    Gordon, that’s really the point of my question. “How do we expound and apply this interpretation?” I think that just as we must allow the context to determine the interpretation, we must allow it to determine the exposition and application as well.

    If the entire first section of Hebrews (chs. 1-4) is a contrast between the revelation of Christ and the revelation of the Old Testament (and I believe it is), then vv. 12-13 are the Christological contrast to the word (logos) of 4:2 which was preached to the OT nation of Israel. The same point of contrast is made in 1:1-2 “God spoke in the past . . . has in these last days spoken by His Son.”

    From that point, I am interested in the impact this has on the interpretation of the preceding context (vv. 1-11 especially v. 11).

    Steve, isn’t it amazing how easy it is to ignore context? It’s interesting that the more recent commentaries I read all relate this to Scripture. The only one I have found (thus far) that supports this is John Owen (there are likely more, since my search has been limited).

    As I commented to Gordon, I am still trying to connect the dots on the impact this has on understanding the whole local context.

  6. I am still trying to connect the dots on the impact this has on understanding the whole local context.

    Me, too. I think it’s only been a few months since I first saw the context of that reference. So I haven’t been able to piece it together.

    I’m honestly a little concerned to hear you say that “the more recent commentaries [you’ve] read all relate this to Scripture.” This has been a growing concern for me because I’m realizing more and more how “proof-texty” evangelical Christianity has become on so many things. And commentary authors seem incapable of getting out of that box.

    Not only that, but people will vehemently defend the traditional interpretations, regardless of any attempts to show them the error. In recent weeks, I have, on several occasions, been challenging the proof-texting being used on a certain group blog (and these are not “laymen” doing this, either). I have been amazed at the way in which I have been marginalized for daring to question their misuse of scripture. But it’s all this same type of thing that you’re looking at here. Defining a word one way when the context shows it to be something else is just not acceptable in my opinion. (And I’m accused by some of having a low view of scripture?? ha!)

    Now in this particular case, the difference may not be hugely dramatic (the jury is still out on that, in my opinion), but your reference to Hebrews 1:1-2 is exactly where my thoughts have been. There seems to be a difference in the mind of the author of Hebrews between God speaking through intermediaries (such as the OT prophets) and God speaking through Jesus. And that difference seemed significant enough to warrant writing a lengthy letter to the Hebrews about it.

    And with that, this comment itself is quite lengthy, so I will quit.

  7. (and no, Gordon, that “certain group blog” is not the matchstick boys that got me in so much trouble a couple of years back. I don’t pay any attention to them anymore! hehe Although the responses I’ve been getting are the very same types of responses.)

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