on Hebrews 4 :13
Neither is there any creature that is not manifest - God, from whom this word comes, and by whom it has all its efficacy, is infinitely wise. He well knew how to construct his word, so as to suit it to the state of all hearts; and he has given it that infinite fullness of meaning, so as to suit it to all cases. And so infinite is he in his knowledge, and so omnipresent is he, that the whole creation is constantly exposed to his view; nor is there a creature of the affections, mind, or imagination, that is not constantly under his eye. He marks every rising thought, every budding desire; and such as these are supposed to be the creatures to which the apostle particularly refers, and which are called, in the preceding verse, the propensities and suggestions of the heart.
But all things are naked and opened - Παντα δε γυμνα και τετραχηλισμενα. It has been supposed that the phraseology here is sacrificial, the apostle referring to the case, of slaying and preparing a victim to be offered to God.
1. It is slain;
2. It is flayed, so it is naked;
3. It is cut open, so that all the intestines are exposed to view;
4. It is carefully inspected by the priest, to see that all is sound before any part is offered to him who has prohibited all imperfect and diseased offerings; and,
5. It is divided exactly into two equal parts, by being split down the chine from the nose to the rump; and so exactly was this performed, that the spinal marrow was cloven down the center, one half lying in the divided cavity of each side of the backbone. This is probably the metaphor in 2 Timothy 2:15 (note).
But there is reason to suspect that this is not the metaphor here. The verb τραχηλιζω, from which the apostle's τετραχηλισμενα comes, signifies to have the neck bent back so as to expose the face to full view, that every feature might be seen; and this was often done with criminals, in order that they might be the better recognized and ascertained. To this custom Pliny refers in the very elegant and important panegyric which he delivered on the Emperor Trajan, about a.d. 103, when the emperor had made him consul; where, speaking of the great attention which Trajan paid to the public morals, and the care he took to extirpate informers, etc., he says: Nihil tamen gratius, nihil saeculo dignius, quam quod contigit desuper intueri delatorum supina ora, retortasque cervices. Agnoscebamus et fruebamur, cum velut piaculares publicae sollicitudinis victimae, supra sanguinem noxiorum ad lenta supplicia gravioresque poenas ducerentur. Plin. Paneg., cap. 34. "There is nothing, however, in this age which affects us more pleasingly, nothing more deservedly, than to behold from above the supine faces and reverted necks of the informers. We thus knew them, and were gratified when, as expiatory victims of the public disquietude, they were led away to lingering punishments, and sufferings more terrible than even the blood of the guilty."
The term was also used to describe the action of wrestlers who, when they could, got their hand under the chin of their antagonists, and thus, by bending both the head and neck, could the more easily give them a fall; this stratagem is sometimes seen in ancient monuments. But some suppose that it refers to the custom of dragging them by the neck. Diogenes the philosopher, observing one who had been victor in the Olympic games often fixing his eyes upon a courtezan, said, in allusion to this custom: Ιδε κριον αρειμανιον, ὡς ὑπο του τυχοντος κορασιου τραχηλιζεται. "See how this mighty champion (martial ram) is drawn by the neck by a common girl." See Stanley, page 305.
With whom we have to do - Προς ὁν ἡμιν ὁ λογος· To whom we must give an account. He is our Judge, and is well qualified to be so, as all our hearts and actions are naked and open to him.
This is the true meaning of λογος in this place; and it is used in precisely the same meaning in Matthew 12:36; Matthew 18:23; Luke 16:2. Romans 14:12 : So then every one of us λογον δωσει, shall give an account of himself to God. And Hebrews 13:17 : They watch for your souls, ὡς λογον αποδωσοντες, as those who must give account. We translate the words, With whom we have to do; of which, though the phraseology is obsolete, yet the meaning is nearly the same. To whom a worde to us, is the rendering of my old MS. and Wiclif. Of whom we speake, is the version of our other early translators.
on Hebrews 4 :13
Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight - There is no being who is not wholly known to God. All his thoughts, feelings, plans, are distinctly understood. Of the truth of this there can be no doubt. The "design" of the remark here is, to guard those to whom the apostle was writing from self-deception - since they could conceal nothing from God.
All things are naked - Exposed; uncovered. There is nothing that can be concealed from God; Psalm 139:11-12.
"The veil of night is no disguise,
No screen from thy all-searching eyes;
Thy hands can seize thy foes as soon.
Thro' midnight shades as blazing noon."
And opened - - τετραχηλισμένα tetrachēlismena. The word used here - Τραχηλίζω Trachēlizō - properly means:
(1) to lay bare the neck, or to bend it back, so as to expose the throat to being cut;
(2) to expose; to lay open in any way.
Why the word is used here has been a matter of inquiry. Some have supposed that the phrase is derived from offering sacrifice, and from the fact that the priest carefully examined the victim to see whether it was sound, before it was offered. But this is manifestly a forced exposition. Others have supposed that it is derived from the custom of bending back the head of a criminal so as to look full in his face, and recognize him so as not to be mistaken; but this is equally forced and unnatural. This opinion was first proposed by Erasmus, and has been adopted by Clarke and others. Bloomfield, following, as he says, the interpretation of Chrysostom, Grotius (though this is not the sentiment of Grotius), Beza, Atling, Hammond, and others, supposes the allusion to be to the custom of cutting the animal down the back bone through the spinal marrow, and thus of laying it open entirely.
This sense would well suit the connection. Grotius supposes that it means to strip off the skin by dividing it at the neck. and then removing it. This view is also adopted substantially by Doddridge. These explanations are forced, and imply a departure more or less from the proper meaning of the Greek word. The most simple and obvious meaning is usually the best in explaining the Bible. The word which the apostle employs relates to "the neck" - τράχηλος trachēlos - and not to the spinal marrow, or the skin. The proper meaning of the verb is "to bend the neck back" so as to expose it in front when an animal is slain - Passow. Then it means to make bare; to remove everything like covering; to expose a thing entirely - as the naked neck is for the knife. The allusion here is undoubtedly to the "sword" which Paul had referred to in the previous verse, as dividing the soul and spirit, and the joints and marrow; and the meaning is, that in the hand of God, who held that sword, everything was exposed.
We are in relation to that, like an animal whose neck is bent back, and laid bare, and ready for the slaughter. Nothing "hinders" God from striking; there is nothing that can prevent that sword from penetrating the heart - any more than when the neck of the animal is bent back and laid bare, there is anything that can hinder the sacrificing priest from thrusting the knife into the throat of the victim. If this be the true interpretation, then what an affecting view does it give of the power of God, and of the exposedness of man to destruction! All is bare, naked, open. There is no concealment; no hindrance; no power of resistance. In a moment God can strike, and his dreadful sentence shall fall on the sinner like the knife on the exposed throat of the victim. What emotions should the sinner have who feels that he is exposed each moment to the sentence of eternal justice - to the sword of God - as the animal with bent-back neck is exposed to the knife! And what solemn feelings should all have who remember that all is naked and open before God! Were we "transparent" so that the world could see all we are, who would dare go abroad?
Who would wish the world to read all his thoughts and feelings for a single day? Who would wish his best friends to look in upon his naked soul as we can look into a room through a window? O what blushes and confusion; what a hanging down of the head, and what an effort to escape from the gaze of people would there be, if every one knew that all his secret feelings were seen by every person whom he met! Social enjoyment would end; and the now frivolous and blithe multitudes in the streets would become processions of downcast and blushing convicts. And yet all these are known to God. He reads every thought; sees every feeling; looks through the whole soul. How careful should we be to keep our hearts pure; how anxious that there should be nothing in the soul that we are not willing to have known!
With whom we have to do - Literally, "with whom is our account." Our account; our reckoning is to be with him before whom all is naked and open. We cannot, therefore, impose on him. We cannot pass off hypocrisy for sincerity. He will judge us according to truth, not according to appearances; and his sentence, therefore, will be just. A man who is to be tried by one "who knows all about him," should be a pure and holy man.
on Hebrews 4 :13
4:13 In his sight - It is God whose word is thus powerful: it is God in whose sight every creature is manifest; and of this his word, working on the conscience, gives the fullest conviction. But all things are naked and opened - Plainly alluding to the sacrifices under the law which were first flayed, and then (as the Greek word literally means) cleft asunder through the neck and backbone; so that everything both without and within was exposed to open view.