Hebrews 4:12-16

Hebrews 4:12-16
Ordinary B46


12 Indeed, the wordA of GodB is livingC and active,D

Notes on verse 12a

A “word” = logos. From lego (to speak, tell, mention). This is word, statement, speech, analogy. It is a word that carries an idea or expresses a thought, a saying. It could refer to a person with a message or reasoning laid out in words. By implication, this could be a topic, line of reasoning, or a motive. It can be used for a divine utterance or as Word – Christ.
B “God” = Theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.
C “is living” = zao. This is to live literally or figuratively. It is used for life including the vitality of humans, plants, and animals – it is life physical and spiritual and life everlasting.
D “active” = energes. 3x in NT. From en (in, at, by, with, among) + ergon (word, task, action, employment); {from ergo (to work, accomplish) or from erdo (to do)}}. This is active, effective, operative, energized, powerful.

sharperE than any two-edgedF sword,G

Notes on verse 12b

E “sharper” = tomos. 1x in NT. Perhaps from temno (to cut). This is sharp or keener.
F “two-edged” = distomos. Related to “sharper” in v12. 3x in NT – here and twice in Revelation. From dis (twice, utterly, again); {from duo (two, both)} + stoma (mouth, speech, language, the tip of a sword, an opening in the ground); {perhaps from tomoteros (sharp, keener); from temno (see note E above)}. This is double mouthed or having double edges.
G “sword” = machaira. Perhaps from mache (fight, battle, conflict; figuratively, controversy); from machomai (to fight, strive, dispute, quarrel; to war). This is a short sword, slaughter knife, or dagger. It is a stabbing weapon. Figuratively, associated with retribution, war, or legal punishment.

piercingH until it dividesI soulJ from spirit,K jointsL from marrow;

Notes on verse 12c

H “piercing” = diikneomai. 1x in NT. This is to go through, pierce, penetrate.
I “divides” = merismos. 2x in NT. From merizo (to divide, part, share, distribute, assign; figuratively, to differ); from meros (part, share, portion figurative or literal); from meiromai (to get your share, receive one’s allotment). This is a parting, division, distribution, or gift.
J “soul” = psuche. From psucho (to breathe, blow). This is breath, the breath of life, the self, individual, soul. This is the word for that which makes a person unique – their identity, will, personality, affections. This isn’t the soul as the immortal part of us, but as our individuality. It is also not life as a general concept, but specific to people. This is where the words psyche and psychology come from.
K “spirit” = pneuma. From pneo (to blow, breath, breathe hard). This is wind, breath, or ghost. A breeze or a blast or air, a breath. Figuratively used for a spirit, the human soul or part of us that is rational. It is also used supernaturally for angels, demons, God, and the Holy Spirit. This is where pneumonia comes from.
L “joints” = harmos. 1x in NT. From ararisko (to join) OR from harma (chariot); {probably from airo (raise, take up, lift, remove)}. This is a joint or joining – particularly in the body.

it is able to judgeM the thoughtsN and intentionsO of the heart.P 

Notes on verse 12d

M “able to judge” = kritikos. 1x in NT. From krino (to judge, decide, think good, condemn, determine, pass judgment, stand trial, sue; judging whether in court or in a private setting; properly, mentally separating or distinguishing an issue – to come to a choice or decision, to judge positively or negatively in seeking what is right or wrong, who is innocent or guilty; can imply trying, condemning, punishing, or avenging). This is critical  one who can make a judgment or discern.
N “thoughts” = enthumesis. 4x in NT. From enthumeomai (to think, reflect on, ponder, meditate on; also, passionate mindset, inspirited, moved by a strong impulse); {from en (in, on, at, by, with) + thumos (passion, wrath; actions emerging from passion or impulse) {from thuo (to rush along, breathe violently, offer sacrifice)}}. This is pondering, thoughts, reflection, or deliberation. It focuses on a passionate impulse that impels the thought process.
O “intentions” = ennoia. 2x in NT. From en (in, on, at, by, with) + nous (mind, understanding, reasoning faculty, intellect, capacity to reflect); {from noos (mind); probably from the base as ginosko (to know, recognize, realize, perceive, learn; gaining knowledge through personal experience)}. This is something a person thinks about, consideration, intention, purpose, a settled opinion or attitude, or moral understanding.
P “heart” = kardia. Literally the heart, but figuratively mind, character, inner self, will, intention, thoughts, feelings. Also, the center of something. The word heart is only used figuratively in the Old and New Testaments. This is where “cardiac” comes from.

13 And beforeQ him no creatureR is hidden,S

Notes on verse 13a

Q “before” = enopios. From en (in, on, at, by, with) + ops (eye, face); {from optanomai (to appear, be seen); from horao (become, seem, appear)}. This is literally “in sight of.” It means before in a literal or figurative sense.
R “creature” = ktisis. 19x in NT. From ktizo (to build, create, form, shape; God’s acts of creation); probably akin to ktaomai (to get, purchase, possess). This is creation, creature, or ordinance. It is also used for when a city is founded and creation as origin.
S “hidden” = aphanes. 1x in NT. From a (not, without) + phaino (to bring light, cause to appear, shine, become visible or clear). This is invisible, hidden, not apparent.

but all are nakedT and laid bareU to the eyesV of the one to whom we must render an account.W

Notes on verse 13b

T “naked” = gumnos. 15x in NT. This is naked. Generally, it refers to someone who is not completely clothed i.e. only wearing the undergarment and not the complete attire for going out. Rarely, it can mean completely naked. It can be naked in a literal or figurative sense – open, bare, ill-clad. This is where “gymnasium” comes from.
U “laid bare” = trachelizo. 1x in NT. From trachelos (neck, throat, embrace); probably from trachus (rough, uneven); {perhaps from rhegnumi (to break, burst, wreak, crack, break apart) or from trecho (to run, make progress, rush; running like an athlete in a race; figuratively, to work quickly towards a goal in a focused way)}. This is to grab someone’s throat. More broadly, it can mean to overthrow or lay bare.
V “eyes” = ophthalmos. Related to “before” in v13. From optanomai (see note Q above). This is eye or sight. It is used figuratively for the mind’s eye, a vision, or for envy.
W “account” = logos. Same as “word” in v12. See note A above.

14 Since, then, we have a greatX high priestY who has passed throughZ the heavens,AA

Notes on verse 14a

X “great” = megas. This is big in a literal or figurative sense – great, large, exceeding, abundant, high, mighty, perfect, strong, etc.
Y “high priest” = archiereus. From archo (to rule, begin, have first rank or have political power) + hiereus (a priest literal or figurative – of any faith); {from hieros (sacred, something sacred, temple, holy, set apart; something consecrated to God or a god)} This is a high or chief priest.
Z “passed through” = dierchomai. From dia (through, across to the other side, thoroughly) + erchomai (to come, go). This is to go through, come, depart, pierce, travel, traverse.
AA “heavens” = ouranos. May be related to oros (mountain, hill) with the notion of height. This is the air, the sky, the atmosphere, and heaven. It is the sky that is visible and the spiritual heaven where God dwells. Heaven implies happiness, power, and eternity.

Jesus,BB the SonCC of God, let us hold fastDD to our confession.EE 

Notes on verse 14b

BB “Jesus” = Iesous. From Hebrew Yehoshua (Joshua, the Lord is salvation); {from YHVH (proper name of the God of Israel; the self-existent and eternal one); {from havah (to become) or from hayah (to come to pass, become, be)} + yasha (to deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue; properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe. So, in a causative sense, this is to free someone)}. This is Jesus or Joshua in Greek – the Lord saves or the Lord is salvation.
CC “Son” = huios. This is son, descendant – a son whether natural born or adopted. It can be used figuratively for other forms of kinship.
DD “hold fast” = krateo. From kratos (strength, power, dominion; vigor in a literal or figurative sense; power that is exercised). This is being strong or mighty so, by extension, to prevail or rule. It can also mean to seize, grasp hold of and thereby control. In this sense, it means arrest.
EE “confession” = homologia. Related to “word” in v12. 6x in NT. From homologeo (to agree, speak the same, declare, promise, praise, celebrate; to align with, express the same conclusion, endorse); {from homologos (of one mind); {from homos (the same) + lego (see note A above)}}. This is agreement, confession, acknowledgment. It is professing or affirming a conclusion.

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unableFF to sympathizeGG with our weaknesses,HH but we have one who in every respect has been testedII as we are, yet without sin.JJ 

Notes on verse 15

FF “is unable” = me + dunamai. Dunamai is to be able, or something that is possible. It can also be empowered or being powerful. The Greek word for “miracle” (dunamis) comes from this root.
GG “sympathize” = sumpatheo. 2x in NT. From sumpathes (sympathetic, compassionate); from sumpascho (to suffer with, experience pain together or the same kind of pain); {from sun (with, together with) + pascho (to suffer, feel heavy feelings, to endure)}. This is to sympathize with, commiserate, or have compassion. Literally, to suffer together. This is where “sympathy” comes from.
HH “weaknesses” = astheneia. From asthenes (without strength, sick, deprivation; weak in a moral or physical sense); {From a (not) + sthenes (strong, vigor); {from the base of sthenoo (to strengthen so that one can be mobile); from sthenos (strength)}}. This is weakness, frailty, illness, suffering, or calamity. It is any kind of sickness or injury that includes weakness or diminishes your ability to enjoy or accomplish what you would choose.
II “tested” = peirazo. From peira (trial, experiment, attempt, experience, assaying); from the base of peran (over, beyond, across); akin to pera (on the far side); from a derivative of peiro (to pierce). This is to test, try, tempt, or make proof of. It is to test, scrutinize, or assay something. It could also be examine, entice, prove, or discipline.
JJ “sin” = hamartia. Related to “divides” in v12. From hamartano (to miss the mark, do wrong, make a mistake, sin); {from a (not) + meros (see note I above)}. Literally, this means not having one’s share or portion – like not receiving inheritance or what was allotted to you. This word means missing the mark so it is used for guilt, fault, and acts of sin.

16 Let us therefore approachKK the throneLL of graceMM with boldness,NN

Notes on verse 16a

KK “approach” = proserchomai. Related to “passed through” in v14. From pros (for, at, towards) + erchomai (see note Z above). This is to approach, draw near, come up to. It is also used figuratively to mean worship.
LL “throne” = thronos. Probably from thanos (bench); from thrao (to sit). This is throne or seat – the place where the king sits. So, it is used figuratively to mean power, dominion, or a potentate. This is where the word “throne” comes from.
MM “grace” = charis. From chairo (to rejoice, be glad; used to say hello; properly, delighting in the grace of God or experiencing God’s favor); from char– (to extend favor, lean towards, be inclined to be favorable towards). This is grace, kindness, favor, gratitude, thanks. It is the sense of being inclined to or favorable towards – leaning towards someone to share some good or benefit. This can be literal, figurative, or spiritual. It is grace as abstract concept, manner, or action.
NN “boldness” = parresia. From pas (all, every, each) + rhesis (speech); {from rheo (say, speak of, command)}. This is confidence, openness, boldness, outspokenness. It can imply assurance – free speech.

so that we may receiveOO mercyPP and findQQ grace to helpRR in time of need.SS

Notes on verse 16b

OO “receive” = lambano. It does not refer to passive receiving of something, but active acceptance or taking of something whether it is offered or simply nearby. It focuses on individual decision and action.
PP “mercy” = eleos. This is mercy, pity, tender mercy, or compassion, whether from humans or from God. This is mercy, generally understood in action by word or deed. When we sing or say “kyrie eleison” (Lord, have mercy), it is related to this word.
QQ “find” = heurisko. This is to find, learn, or obtain. It is to discover something, which generally implies a period of searching for it. This is to find in a literal or figurative sense. This is where the word “heuristic” comes from.
RR “help” = boetheia. 2x in NT. From boetheo (to help, come to the rescue; this is running to assist with an urgent call for help; originally came from military language); from boethos (helper who responds to an urgent need); {from boe (cry call for help; this is onomatopoeia – mean to sound like an emotional cry for help); {from boao (to shout, summon, proclaim; call for urgent help); from boe (cry or shout)} + theo (to run)}. This is help or assistance that is critical and much needed, rescue.
SS “in time of need” = eukairos. 2x in NT. From eu (good, well, well done) + kairos (season, opportunity, occasion; chronos is used for chronological time while kairos is used for spiritually significant time – the right time or appointed time). This is well-timed, convenient, opportune, or strategic. It could also mean holiday or festival as well as time of need.

Image credit: “Presbytery with mosaic designed by Cláudio Pastro” – photo by Eugenio Hansen, OFS, 2009.

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