Today’s bible study is Hebrews 4:12: For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
We all recognize that the word of God is powerful, and can understand the analogy to a two edged sword. It is very sharp and cuts deeply. But the division of the soul and the spirit is an interesting and confounding concept for many of us. Usually we think of the soul and the spirit as one, being the intangible essence of God that dwells within our hearts and minds. We do not think about cutting it into a separate soul and spirit.
It is sometimes said that this form of expression is simply poetical and refers to the innermost recesses of our spiritual being. Other theologians feel that the word of God produces conviction and distinguished between the emotions of the soul and those of the spirit. Some claim that Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart,” supports a trichotomist view of man’s essence because it suggests splitting soul and spirit.
But a careful look at the verse’s language refutes that contention. The writer did not say the sword of the Word penetrates a person’s inner being and separates his soul from his spirit. He said only that the sword cuts open the soul and the spirit of the person. He used a second metaphorical expression “piercing … both joints and marrow” to further depict the deep penetration God’s Word makes into the inner person. This verse poses no special difficulty for the dichotomist position. (MacArthur, J. 1 & 2 Thessalonians. Chicago: Moody Press.)
However we perceive it, we agree that God can see into the most hidden corners of our hearts and discerns even those things that we have subconsciously hidden for so long. It can see everything we have done, everything we have been, everything we have felt and experienced, every good deed we have done and every sin we have committed. God can see our hopes, our aspirations, our dreams and our fears. He can see our weaknesses, our frailties and faults. And yet, no matter what God sees within our souls, His love is unconditional. Of this we can forever be certain.
References: The People’s New Testament Commentary by M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock, The MacArthur Bible Commentary by John MacArthur, Concise Bible Commentary, David S. Dockery, General Editor
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