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Hebrews 4:13

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

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;
  • It is flayed, so it is naked;
  • It is cut open, so that all the intestines are exposed to view;
  • 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,
  • 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.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    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 tetrachēlismenaThe 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.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    Observe the end proposed: rest spiritual and eternal; the rest of grace here, and glory hereafter; in Christ on earth, with Christ in heaven. After due and diligent labour, sweet and satisfying rest shall follow; and labour now, will make that rest more pleasant when it comes. Let us labour, and quicken each other to be diligent in duty. The Holy Scriptures are the word of God. When God sets it home by his Spirit, it convinces powerfully, converts powerfully, and comforts powerfully. It makes a soul that has long been proud, to be humble; and a perverse spirit, to be meek and obedient. Sinful habits, that are become as it were natural to the soul, and rooted deeply in it, are separated and cut off by this sword. It will discover to men their thoughts and purposes, the vileness of many, the bad principles they are moved by, the sinful ends they act to. The word will show the sinner all that is in his heart. Let us hold fast the doctrines of Christian faith in our heads, its enlivening principles in our hearts, the open profession of it in our lips, and be subject to it in our lives. Christ executed one part of his priesthood on earth, in dying for us; the other he executes in heaven, pleading the cause, and presenting the offerings of his people. In the sight of Infinite Wisdom, it was needful that the Saviour of men should be one who has the fellow-feeling which no being but a fellow-creature could possibly have; and therefore it was necessary he should actual experience of all the effects of sin that could be separated from its actual guilt. God sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, Ro 8:3; but the more holy and pure he was, the more he must have been unwilling in his nature to sin, and must have had deeper impression of its evil; consequently the more must he be concerned to deliver his people from its guilt and power. We should encourage ourselves by the excellence of our High Priest, to come boldly to the throne of grace. Mercy and grace are the things we want; mercy to pardon all our sins, and grace to purify our souls. Besides our daily dependence upon God for present supplies, there are seasons for which we should provide in our prayers; times of temptation, either by adversity or prosperity, and especially our dying time. We are to come with reverence and godly fear, yet not as if dragged to the seat of justice, but as kindly invited to the mercy-seat, where grace reigns. We have boldness to enter into the holiest only by the blood of Jesus; he is our Advocate, and has purchased all our souls want or can desire.
    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 156

    Parents generally put too much confidence in their children; for often when the parents are confiding in them, they are in concealed iniquity. Parents, watch your children with a jealous care. Exhort, reprove, counsel them when you rise up and when you sit down, when you go out and when you come in, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little. Subdue your children when they are young. With many parents this is sadly neglected. They do not take as firm and decided a stand as they should in regard to their children. They suffer them to be like the world, to love dress, and associate with those who hate the truth and whose influence is poisonous. By so doing they encourage in their children a worldly disposition. 1T 156.1

    I saw that there should always be a fixed principle with Christian parents to be united in the government of their children. There is a fault in this respect with some parents—a lack of union. The fault is sometimes with the father, but oftener with the mother. The fond mother pets and indulges her children. The father's labor calls him from home often, and from the society of his children. The mother's influence tells. Her example does much toward forming the character of the children. 1T 156.2

    Some fond mothers suffer wrongs in their children which should not be allowed in them for a moment. The wrongs of the children are sometimes concealed from the father. Articles of dress or some other indulgence is granted by the mother with the understanding that the father is to know nothing about it, for he would reprove for these things. 1T 156.3

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    Ellen G. White
    SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 1 (EGW), 1110

    29-33 (2 Corinthians 3:13-15). Moses Saw the Day of Christ—In the mount, when the law was given to Moses, the Coming One was shown to him also. He saw Christ's work, and His mission to earth, when the Son of God should take upon Himself humanity, and become a teacher and a guide to the world, and at last give Himself a ransom for their sins. When the perfect Offering should be made for the sins of men, the sacrificial offerings typifying the work of the Messiah were to cease. With the advent of Christ, the veil of uncertainty was to be lifted, and a flood of light shed upon the darkened understanding of His people. 1BC 1110.1

    As Moses saw the day of Christ, and the new and living way of salvation that was to be opened through His blood, he was captivated and entranced. The praise of God was in his heart, and the divine glory that attended the giving of the law was so strikingly revealed in his countenance when he came down from the mount to walk with Israel, that the brightness was painful. Because of their transgressions, the people were unable to look upon his face, and he wore a veil that he might not terrify them.... 1BC 1110.2

    Had the Israelites discerned the gospel light that was opened to Moses, had they been able by faith to look steadfastly to the end of that which was abolished, they could have endured the light which was reflected from the countenance of Moses. “But their minds were blinded; for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament; which veil is done away in Christ.” The Jews as a people did not discern that the Messiah whom they rejected, was the Angel who guided their fathers in their travels in the wilderness. To this day the veil is upon their hearts, and its darkness hides from them the good news of salvation through the merits of a crucified Redeemer (The Signs of the Times, August 25, 1887). 1BC 1110.3

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    Ellen G. White
    SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 3 (EGW), 1160

    33. See EGW on Judges 6:15, Vol. 2, p. 1003. 3BC 1160.1

    2. God Reads the Secret Devisings—It is for the eternal interest of every one to search his own heart, and to improve every God-given faculty. Let all remember that there is not a motive in the heart of any man that the Lord does not clearly see. The motives of each one are weighed as carefully as if the destiny of the human agent depended upon this one result. We need a connection with divine power, that we may have an increase of clear light and an understanding of how to reason from cause to effect. We need to have the powers of the understanding cultivated, by our being partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Let each one consider carefully the solemn truth, God in heaven is true, and there is not a design, however intricate, nor a motive, however carefully hidden, that He does not clearly understand. He reads the secret devisings of every heart. Men may plan out crooked actions for the future, thinking that God does not understand; but in that great day when the books are opened, and every man is judged by the things written in the books, those actions will appear as they are.... 3BC 1160.2

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    Ellen G. White
    SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 3 (EGW), 1153

    126. When David in his day saw the departing from the law of God, he expected that a manifestation of divine displeasure would be seen. He looked for the Lord to show forth His righteous indignation. “It is time for thee, Lord, to work,” he exclaimed, “for they have made void thy law.” He supposed that in their lawlessness men had exceeded the bounds of God's forbearance, and that the Lord would not longer restrain Himself (MS 15, 1906). 3BC 1153.1

    Where Will the Church Stand?—It is possible for men to go so far in wickedness, under continual remonstrance, that God sees that He must arise and vindicate His honor. Thus it is at the present period of this earth's history. Crime of every degree is becoming more and more strikingly manifest. The earth is filled with violence of men against their fellow-men. 3BC 1153.2

    What position will the church take? Will those who in the past have had respect for the law of God, be drawn into the current of evil? Will the almost universal transgression and contempt of the law of God, darken the spiritual atmosphere of the souls of all alike? Will the disrespect of the law of God sweep away the protecting barriers? Because wickedness and lawlessness prevail, is the law of God to be less highly esteemed? Because it is made void by the great majority of those living on the earth, shall the few loyal ones become like all the disloyal, and act as the wicked act? Shall they not rather offer up the prayer of David, “It is time for thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void thy law” (Manuscript 15, 1906)? 3BC 1153.3

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