Heb 3:1-4:16

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  • Heb 4:12. In this verse, the Logos is described as piercing (diikneomai) and creating a "dividing assunder" (the Greek noun merismos). Merismos appears only one other time in the New Testament, in Heb 2:4, where it is translated as the gift of the Holy Ghost.
The words translated here as soul (psuche) and spirit (pneuma) have a long and complex history in Greek thought, and we should be careful about taking these to mean the same thing that we mean by the English terms soul and spirit.
  • Heb 4:14-16. Verse 14 actually forms a more natural break than chapter 5. In particular, with this verse we move into the priesthood-temple section of Hebrews. Thus, in verse 14 we see the reference to Jesus as the high priest. The image is central to the author's argument for the superiority of Christianity to the older law of Moses. In identifying Jesus as a high priest the author places him in the context both of priesthood and of the temple.
"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." This sentence touches on a Christological point that is also made in the Book of Mormon, namely that Christ's suffering was important because it gave him the capacity to empathize with our suffering. The author extends the point, however, to include temptation itself. In the Doctrine & Covenants it says that Christ did not recieve of a fullness at first but had to learn precept upon precept. The Christology in Hebrews doesn't seem to have the same progressive aspect, but like the Doctrine & Covenants it is at pains to emphasize Christ's humanity and make it theologically significant.
In verse 16 the author invites us to go to the "throne of grace." This is a reference to the believer's assent to God. It is also a reference to the temple, where the high priest symbolically came into God's presence within the Holy of Holies of the temple on the day of Atonement. The image, however, is changed in at least two subtle ways. First, the invitation to enter God's presence is extended to all believers, not simply to the chosen high priest. Second, the imagery is hopeful. As we shall see later on, the contrast between the awe-filled spirituality of the law of Moses and the hopeful spirituality of the Christian message is a central theme for the author.

Points to ponder[edit]

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  • Heb 4:12. LDS scriptures state that the body and spirit united make up the soul of a person, so how can the word of God separate the soul from the spirit? How are the words soul and spirit being used here?


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