Switzerland Co., Ind., Dec. 28, 1857.
Brother Beebe: Will you do me the favor to give your views on Hebrews iv. 12, especially on that part which speaks of the dividing asunder of soul and spirit? From the little experience I have had, I have been led to believe the word is a uniter of soul and spirit, at the present time. Now if you can inform me when it was, or when it will be, or how it is at the present time, a divider of soul and spirit, you will confer a great favor on your unworthy brother, if I may be so bold as to claim kindred with those of the household of God.
WM. W. HUSTON.
Reply: Whether we shall be able to satisfy the mind of brother Huston on the subject on which he has desired us to give our views, of course we cannot tell, but such views as we have we cheerfully submit to the consideration of himself and our readers generally. We do not remember of ever hearing the views of any of our brethren on the text, and we confess that we have generally regarded it as one of the most obscure passages in the New Testament, until now that our mind has been called especially to it, it seems to be presented to our mind more clearly. Of course we hold no one responsible for our views, and only give them as what occurs to our mind on the subject; if we are correct, the Scriptures will establish our view, but if we mistake the true import of the text, we rejoice to believe we have faithful and discriminating brethren to review us. The text reads thus:
“For the word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
“The word of God” is a term which is sometimes applied to the Scriptures, and sometimes to some special message from God, as when “the word of God came to the prophets, saying,” &c; but it also applies as a name and title to our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the essential Word of God. The Logos of the Scriptures, of whom it is said, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, the same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was nothing made that was made. (John 1:1-3) And in Rev. xix. 13, we are expressly informed that the name of the King of kings and Lord of lords, is called THE WORD OF GOD. That this name and title belongs to Christ as the Son of God, in his mediatorial character and relationship, as the one Mediator between God and men, is abundantly evident from the fact that it is only applied to him in his manifestation, or the revelation of him as the Lord from heaven, the begotten of the Father, and in connection with his mediatorial offices and work. In John i. we read, The Word was made flesh, or was revealed in the flesh, and became identified with flesh, and in him was life, and the life was the light of men. The term quick, used in our text, as applied to the Word of God, signifies vital, living, life, 8w., agreeing with the passages quoted above, and with the declaration 1 John v. 20, “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true: and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” Thus fully justifying and confirming the testimony of our text, that the Word of God is quick, or life, or vital, and in perfect harmony with other titles given to and assumed by our divine Mediator; as “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.”
But the Word of God is not only quick, or vital, as having life, but as having eternal life, - that life which was with the Father and was manifest as the Word of Life. (1 John i. 1,2.) “Who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who only hath immortality dwelling in the light.” - 1 Tim. vi. 15, 16. The life of his body, the church, according to the record borne by the three in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, which three are One, and witnessed by the Spirit, the water and the blood, in earth, and these three agree in one. (1 John v.7,8.) “And this is the record that God hath given unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” - 1 John v. 11. His Son, as the Word of life, is the repository of all the spiritual and eternal vitality of his body, the church, and as the Head and life of the church, which is his body, and the fullness of him that filleth all in all; his goings forth were of old, from everlasting.
Again, The Word of God is quick, as the fountain and source of spiritual, eternal life to his members, as the second Adam, the Lord from heaven, who is a quickening Spirit. (1 Cor. xv. 45.) Possessing in himself the exclusive power to quicken whomsoever he will, “For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.” - John v. 21. But while we witness the abundant testimony of the Scriptures that Christ is the Life of his people, we must bear in mind what he said to some of his murmuring disciples, “What and if ye shall see the Son of Man ascend up where he was before? It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit and they are life.” - John vi. 62, 63. The words, therefore, which Jesus speaks to his disciples, emanating from him as the Head and fountain and source of all spiritual life, as Adam was the head and source to us of all human life, are quickening in their nature and effects, and as direct communications from him to them; they also are the Word of God. And to the Word of God all life-giving power to quicken dead sinners, is ascribed. “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth [or is quick, or life-imparting,] and abideth forever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the word of the Lord abideth forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” - 1 Peter i. 23-25. The word of God, then, having power to communicate eternal life to as many as the Father hath given to Christ, (see John xvii. 2, 3; v. 25; x. 27, 28,) “Verily verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live; for as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself, and given him power to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.” “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand.” Hence we perceive that the Word of God, which is both quick and powerful, is not the mere letter of the Scriptures, nor the publication by men of what God has spoken, but, as God spake by the prophets of old, so doth he now speak by his Son whom he hath appointed heir of all things, and his words come in the execution of his eternal purpose and counsel, “not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance,” for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.
But we pass to speak of the peculiar qualities or attributes of the Word of God, as stated in our text. It is not only quick or vital, and life-giving, but it is powerful, or full of power, possessing no less power than that word by which the heavens and the earth were spoken into existence, with all that they contain. It is not a word which those unto which it is addressed have power to resist or gainsay, but that by which the rocks are rended, the earth is made to quake, the sun is darkened at noon, the raging tempest is instantly calmed, graves are unlocked and their doors thrown open, and the dead spring forth to life. It is his Word who hath power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life unto as many as the Father hath given him, and it cannot, therefore, be successfully resisted by men or devils.
“Sharper than any two-edged sword.” It is represented in the book of Rev. i. 16, and xix. 15-21, as a sharp two-edged sword going out of his mouth; but this, like all other figures, fails to fully set forth the power of the word which goeth forth from his mouth, - for his words are sharper than any two-edged sword. Paul says the sword of the Spirit is the word of God, piercing, even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit. On this part of the text, brother Huston desires us to dwell particularly, but in order to do so, we must defer our further remarks for another number.
January 15, 1858.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 4
Pages 46 - 50