Andy at “aBowden Blog” is translating through the Book of Hebrews – an admirable task. He recently published “Translation: Hebrews 4:1-14.” In a comment, I asked if he had determined what the referent was for the phrase “Word of God” in Hebrews 4:12. (Often, teachers use this phrase to refer to Scripture, which they say is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.”)
This was Andy’s reply:
Glad you asked! I think that the Word refers to Christ. Several contextual clues lead me to that conclusion:
-Heb 1:2, the bookâ€™s introduction, informs us â€œIn these last days God has spoken to us by one who is by very nature son.â€
-Heb 2:1 continues the tought, expaining that since Christ is far superior to the angels, we should pay much closer attention to what weâ€™ve heard. In other words, Christ is the content of what weâ€™ve heard.
-The current verse under consideration (Heb 4:12) is part of a broad discourse which can be traced all the way back to ch. 3. In 3:6 the author exhorts that since Christ is our head, â€œLet us hold firmly with boldness onto our hope.â€ Then begins the references to Ps 95.
-In 4:12, the â€œalivenessâ€ of the Word is emphasized. Elsewhere in Hebrews, the same emphasis is made regarding God. So in 3:12 we read, â€œSee to it that there is not in any of you a wicked heart which turns from the living God,â€™ and in 10:31, â€œIt is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.â€
-The descriptions of the Word, particularly in 4:13, seem to fit the descriptions of Christ in Scripture. 4:12-13 tells us that nothing is hidden before the Word, everything becomes exposed, the Word has eyes, we give a final word before the Word; in Scripture we are told that it is God who knows the secrets of menâ€™s hearts and we stand before him in judgment.
-4:14 provides an important indication for me. After speaking about the revealing, penetrating nature of the Word, the author immediatly states, â€œHaving a great high priest who has gone into the heavens, Jesus the son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.â€ I hope Iâ€™m not pressing the point to far in concluding that the penetrating Word which reveals our sinful hearts is the very same one who intercedes for us as High Priest. Jesus: the revealing Word and the interceding priest.
I agree. The “Word of God” in Hebrews 4:12 refers to Jesus Christ (not Scripture) who is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.”