STUDY Hebrews 4:12-17 (click here for notes)

For the word of God is living 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. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (NIV)


The Living Word

The author of Hebrews has just explained why Israel never entered God's rest and has urged Christ-followers to enter that rest Today. He has warned us not to fall by repeating Israel's disobedience and unbelief. He now gives his reason for exhorting believers to avoid Israel's unbelief and to enter that rest: the word of God is living and active. We cannot ignore what God tells us without ignoring God.

1. What is the word of God, and what does it do or accomplish? (see Mark 4:14; Luke 5:1; s11:28; John 10:35; Acts 12:24; 1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 2:9; 1 Peter 1:23; 1 John 2:14; Rev. 1:2)


2. What does it mean when it says "the word of God is LIVING"? (See Acts 7:38; 1 Peter 1:23,25; James 1:18)


3. How is the word of God ACTIVE? (see Isaiah 55:11; 40:8; Jer. 23:29; 1 Thess. 2:13; Gal. 3:8; Eph. 5:26; 6:17; James 1:18; Rev. 1:16; Psalm 107:20 174:18)


Verse 13 explains that nothing is hidden from God's sight, and it suggests that the word of God performs the same activity as God himself.

1. What is the ultimate revelation of God? (John 1:1, 14)


2. How is the "Word" related to the "word of God"? (see 2 Peter 1:20; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 4:2-3)


3. Why is the word of God described in terms of judgment and represented by a sword? (see Ephesians 6:17; 1 Cor. 14:24,25; Romans 2:16; Ecclesiastes 12:14; 1 Cor. 4:5; Acts 10:42,43; Rev. 1:16)


Our Great High Priest

Hebrews 4:14 begins a discussion based on Psalm 110:4 in which the author explains how Christ is superior to Aaron because Jesus has a better priesthood. This discussion will continue until Hebrews 7:28.

1. Jesus is identified in v. 14 as a high priest. What special duties did the high priest perform that the regular priests did not? (see Lev. 16)


2. What did Israelite high priests do that symbolized Jesus going "through the heavens"? (Lev. 15:15,17)


3. Why is it so important to us that Jesus "has gone through the heavens"? (Acts 1:9-11; Heb. 6:20; 8:1; 9:24)


The author stresses that Jesus, the Son of God, is "a great high priest" and "has gone through the heavens."

1. How do these facts about Jesus give us a reason to "hold firmly to the faith we profess," and what is the faith we profess? (see Heb. 3:1; 1 Tim. 6:12; Heb. 10:23; 2 Cor. 9:13)


2. The Jews believed God was DIFFERENT from themselves; the Greek Stoics believed gods were FEELINGLESS, and the Greek Epicureans believed gods were DETACHED from everything earthly or human. Why is it so important that Jesus was tempted like we are and can "sympathize with our weaknesses"? (see Heb. 2:17-18; Hebrews 7:26; 2 Peter 2:22; 1 Cor. 1:30)


3. Although Jesus was tempted as we are, how was he different from us in his temptations? (2 Cor. 5:21; Matt. 4:1-11)


Approach with Confidence

1. What does it mean that we can "approach the throne of grace with confidence"? (see Heb. 7:19; 10:1, 19-22; James 4:8)


2. How is our ability to "approach the throne of grace" different from Old Testament provisions for worship and supplication? (Hebrews 7:18-19, 27-28; 10:1-4, 19-22)



1. Does the word of God seem "living and active" to you? If so, explain.


2. Have you experienced God's word as judgment in your life? How?


3. Have you experienced God's word and God's love healing and integrating your heart and mind? How?


4. Does it make a difference to you that your Lord has experienced temptation in every way you have? If so, what difference does it make?



1. What internal tension between your heart and your mind has God's word and Spirit revealed to you?


2. What shame or sin have you rationalized or kept hidden and now need to submit to your faithful high priest for grace and mercy?


3. In what way(s) have you loosened your firm hold on the faith you profess?


4. Ask God to show you what he wants you to submit to him, and ask him to strengthen your conviction and your willingness to grow in the areas he reveals to you.


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