In the Lectionary

October 10, Ordinary 28B (Hebrews 4:12-16)

The purpose of the word of God is not to make us feel condemnable, but to help us see what is commendable.

Read the author’s article on preaching Hebrews without supersessionism.

In this passage from Hebrews, two Greek words particularly catch my attention. The first word, kritikos (critical), describes the word of God and its lens on the thoughts and intentions of the heart. The second, parrēsia (confidence or boldness), is that with which we are encouraged to approach the throne of God.

Kritikos occurs only once in the New Testament, in this description of what the word of God is and does, how it works in us and with us, and how it is related to the will of God. Regrettably, many Christians have been taught that in an encounter with God, there is nothing but divine condemnation. And there are Greek words for “condemnation” and “to condemn”—they have in common the prefix kata-, which means “down” or “against.” But those are not the words used here.