Take the 2-minute tour ×
Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professors, theologians, and those interested in exegetical analysis of biblical texts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart ( Hebrews 4:12 NIV).

The italicized phrase is λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ in Greek. It might be the same λόγος in John 1:1 because the same phrase is an appelation of Jesus in Revelation 19:13:

He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God(λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ).

My question is this:

Is Jesus the λόγος in Hebrews 4:12? Is there a church father or theologian who believes that the λόγος in this verse is the Lord Jesus Himself?

Also note , it says that it, " ...judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart and there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." Why the change of pronoun from "it" to "him"? It must be referring to a person and given the entire context of the scriptures, this is none other than Christ himself ( John 5:22-29, Romans 2:16).

share|improve this question

migrated from christianity.stackexchange.com May 7 at 19:26

This question came from our site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more.

add comment

3 Answers 3

Yes, I think Jesus is the Logos mentioned in Hebrews 4:12, for a few reasons.

To start with, the ESV translation: "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account."

Then, in Revelation, when John sees the ascended Jesus, John says that "... from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword..." (Rev. 1:12-16).

I think the "it" shouldn't really be in the translation, since the verbs are gerunds (i.e. piercing and discerning rather than pierces and discerns). A nice parallel comparison of translations for this verse is at: http://biblehub.com/hebrews/4-12.htm

In short, though, you can see the thinking of the translators in whether they use "it" or whether they translate the verbs as gerunds; i.e. "it" implies that the Logos is more of a general idea of the "Word of God," while the gerunds tend to imply that the Logos is the Second Person of the Trinity (i.e. Jesus Christ). If using "it," then the "his" and "him" in the latter part of the verse refer to God. If using the gerund form, then the "his" and "him" in the latter part of the verse could refer to either the Word of God or just God. That is, you have to make a judgement as to who the referent is for "his" and "him;" different translators disagree on this point as you can see in how they translate the verse.

Regarding the early Church fathers, some of them at least, seem to have connected the "Word of God" with Jesus in this verse. For example, St. John Chrysostom says of this verse, "In these words he shows that He, the Word of God, wrought the former things also, and lives, and has not been quenched." See the full text and the text note at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf114.v.xi.html

Origin also seems to make the connection; see section 36 of chapter 1 of Origin's commentary on the Gospel of John at: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/101501.htm

On the other hand, you have St. Augustine who considered the "two-edged sword" to be referring to the Old and New Testaments (see chapter 21 of book 20 of Augustine's City of God at: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/120120.htm )

share|improve this answer
    
+1 for adding some balance (Augustine). –  mojo May 7 at 13:58
add comment

The Apostle Paul makes the first logical connection of Jesus as the "Word" through references to the Book of Deuteronomy.

Romans 10:5-9 (NASB)
5 For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. 6 But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), 7 or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;

Paul is quoting from Deuteronomy 30:11-14 (LXX coincides with MT), and therefore makes Jesus to be synonymous with the "Word of God" from heaven that (who) saves. So the "Word" is both the special revelation from Moses (Word of God) and the Person who descends from heaven and then ascends (Word of God). Later in Eph 4:8-10 Paul expounds on the particulars of the descending of Jesus from heaven from an allusion found in Psalm 68:18 (LXX coincides with MT). That is, Psalm 68:18 does not mention any descent; thus the correlation to Deuteronomy 30:11-14, which refers to the ascent of the "Word" to heaven.

Secondly, the Apostle John then takes the same concept and expounds that the Word of God from heaven became flesh. (The incarnation of the Word would be the "descent" to which Paul was alluding.)

John 1:1; 14 (NASB)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . 14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

So, between the Apostle Paul and the Apostle John, we see the connection between the "Word" from heaven and the Person of Jesus, who descended to earth and was robed in flesh (and who of course then subsequently ascended to heaven). Of course the Law of Moses is the Word of God, but Paul also included the Person as the Word of God as just noted in Romans 10:5-9.

Now the passage in question (Hebrews 4:12-13) plays on the word λόγος, which occurs twice in the passage. In other words, the first occurrence refers to Scripture, and the second occurrence refers to our response to Jesus Christ by faith.

Hebrews 4:12-13 (GNT)
12 Ζῶν γὰρ ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἐνεργὴς καὶ τομώτερος ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν μάχαιραν δίστομον καὶ διϊκνούμενος ἄχρι μερισμοῦ ψυχῆς καὶ πνεύματος, ἁρμῶν τε καὶ μυελῶν, καὶ κριτικὸς ἐνθυμήσεων καὶ ἐννοιῶν καρδίας: 13 καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν κτίσις ἀφανὴς ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ, πάντα δὲ γυμνὰ καὶ τετραχηλισμένα τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς αὐτοῦ, πρὸς ὃν ἡμῖν ὁ λόγος.

The literal translation of the last clause is: "But everything is laid out bare and naked before the eyes of Him, to whom is our λόγος (account). In this regard, most modern translations state: "...before whom we have to do."

However, there is a nuance in Greek: that is, the λόγος (Scripture) not only cuts deep, but our λόγος (account) will depend on how we respond to Jesus Christ by faith. In other words, our relationship to the λόγος (incarnate Word) will be the determining factor in the day of judgment.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I don't have time to respond to this question fully, but let me offer this outline of an answer: No, I don't believe Hebrews 4:12 should be understood to referring to Jesus directly.

  1. There is no reason to suggest that the author of Hebrews had John 1 in mind as he penned this verse (much less Rev 19).
  2. Before looking at other authors in Scripture, it is important to see how a phrase is used in the book itself. In this case, Hebrews 13:7 is most instructive, as it clearly indicates that "the word of God" is referring to a spoken word.
  3. The immediate context (4:2) reveals that the author is referring to the word preached, i.e. the "good news"/"gospel". Following the context back a few more verses, we find that the author is referring to voice of God as spoken to Moses (cf. 3:15, "if you hear His voice").
  4. (NOTE: There is one more use of logos in the immediated context of 4:12. At the end of vs 13, there is an enigmatic comment, "with Whom we have to do", or "to Whom we must render an account". A word-by-word wooden translation might say, "before Whom, with us, a word (logos)." I think it is akin to the idiom used by a boss who taps us on the shoulder and says, "I want to have a word with you." Since this is an idiomatic phrase (echoed also in Hb 13.17), I don't think it has as much bearing on the interpretation of 4:12; but it does seem to lend credence to the idea that "word" (logos) in this context should be thought of as a spoken/verbal notion. But my thinking here is fuzzy; hence the parentheses around this point.)

In general, I would suggest that the context of chs 3 and 4 places emphasis on the words spoken by God, and specifically the word of invitation to enter His rest. (Cf. 4:10 "O that today you would listen as He speaks! Do not harden your hearts".) Of course, we who know the back story of the identity of Christ, know that He indeed is the embodiment of God's message and words and gospel. However, I thhink it is a real stretch to suggest that the author of Hebrews had this in mind when he wrote this passage.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.