The original audience of the book of the Hebrews knew the Hebrew Scriptures well and so our author freely quotes them in order to demonstrate that they speak of Christ. The power of God’s Word convinces our author that his congregation will be convicted by the Scriptures and motivated to obedience. Yesterday we looked at the living power of God’s Word (4:12a), and how it is identical to the living power of God Himself. Today we will see how the author expands on this idea in 4:12b–13.
The Word of God is “sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow …” (Heb. 4:12b). Some believe that this verse teaches a distinction between soul and spirit and that the human being consists of three components: body, soul, and spirit. On the whole, Scripture does not seem to teach this. Other passages imply that when the terms “soul” and “spirit” are used, they are used interchangeably to refer to our spiritual nature (Isa. 26:9). The separation between joints and marrow (Heb. 4:12b) confirms this. Joints and marrow are parts of man’s physical nature — one constituent part of the human being. If joints and marrow indicate separation in one constituent part of the human being, then soul and spirit indicate separation in one constituent part of the human being as well. Soul and spirit indicate separation in our spiritual nature — the second constituent part of the human being.
In any case, it is clear that this verse is not designed primarily to outline the component parts of the human being but rather to demonstrate the power of God’s Word. God’s Word is so powerful that it can divide and examine even the most hidden aspects of human beings. Humans cannot see the soul, nor can they see, at least ordinarily, joints and marrow. God however, is not only able to see these parts, He can divide them with His Word.
Only God’s Word can lay bare the hidden thoughts and intentions of our hearts (4:12b). We can hide from each other, but we cannot hide from God. As verse 13 affirms: “no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” We can try to hide ourselves from God, but His Word will always reveal us for who we really are.
Though written thousands of years ago to a culture very different from our own, Scripture still communicates God’s Word to us today. The power of the Bible to convict us and lead us lies in the fact that it is the Word of the living God. Thank the Lord that He still communicates to us through sacred Scripture.