Monday, 11 February 2019
…not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25
The author continues his exhortations to his audience. Before looking at his words, remember that the specific audience consists of Hebrews. However, the truths found in the epistle often include truths which pass over to all believers at any given time. The work of Christ is one – for Jew and for Gentile. The church is one, whether made up of Jew or Gentile or both. Understanding this, he builds on what was just said with the words, “let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.”
How will this come about unless believers are around one another? With this thought in mind, he continues with, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.” The word translated as “assembling” is not the usual word for a called out assembly (ecclesia), but is rather one used only one other time, by Paul, in 2 Thessalonians 2:1 – episunagógé. It signifies “a specific (act) ‘grouping together’ that fulfills (builds on) the specific purpose of the gathering together” (HELPS Word Studies). In it can be seen the basis of the word “synagogue.”
Scholars are divided on the exact intent of the word; but rather than meaning “assembly,” as in the church body itself, it more probably means the “assembling,” signifying the gathering together of the people for the set purposes of worshiping God, and exhorting one another (as was stated explicitly in the previous verse). The reason for the specific wording, then, is to make a distinction between a synagogue where attendance was mandatory, regardless of what occurred while there, and simply gathering together for a set purpose, regardless as to the location. One could, in modern times, think of a person attending online as being a part of an assembly, even if not in the specific place. They are online in order to worship God, and they can – through the chat rooms – exhort one another at the same time.
The author then says, “as is the manner of some.” It is evident that some thought they could “go it alone,” and that being an island in their faith was acceptable. He reveals to them that this is not so. Whatever their reason for failing to gather, the author implies that their reasoning does not bear up under scrutiny. But rather, it is an excuse without any true basis when compared to the call to assemble.
He then gives a contrast. Instead of forsaking the assembly, they were directed to gather together for the purpose of “exhorting one another.” The words “one another” are inserted, but they are implied in the intent. The exhortation (or better, encouragement) is a two-way street. Some need to be built up at one time, others require it at other times. Those who forsake the assembly probably need it more than those who do not.
Finally, the author encourages this gathering together “so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” For the first-century Jews, there was great persecution lying ahead. This was spoken to them plainly by Jesus, and it was understood that the temple would be destroyed and the people would be scattered (along with all the other horrors spoken of by the Lord).
But this also applies to those Jews who will come to realize that Christ is the Messiah after the rapture of the church. As noted in previous commentaries, Hebrews is logically placed after Paul’s Gentile-led church age epistles as an indication that the words are actually more relevant to the Jews of the end times than at any other time. They will need to assemble and continue exhorting one another as the Day of Christ’s second coming draws near.
Life application: This is the most specific verse in the Bible telling believers (the truths here apply to all in intent) to not fail to assemble with other believers. All other verses merely imply attendance in some way or another. In other words, Jesus speaks of taking matters “to the church” in Matthew 18:17. Paul mentions the duties of elders and deacons in his epistles. To the Colossians, he says, “Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea” (Colossians 4:16). This implies people are assembling, and that their gathering is regularly set. Jesus tells John, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea” (Revelation 1:11). Again, this implies that these churches would receive and hear the words of the letter while meeting. The implied evidences are many and there’s no excuse for failing to meet. The age-old excuse that “The church is filled with hypocrites” is:
– A feeble excuse.
– Implies that the person stating this lives hypocrite-free the rest of his life, but such is not the case; everyone is guilty of hypocrisy.
People who find an excuse to not assemble with others don’t have problems with the church, but problems with themselves. Be sure to not forsake the gathering together with other believers for the worship of God, for gaining knowledge of the word, for personal edification, for encouragement of self and others, and for prayers which are lifted up to God.
Lord God, You’ve ordained that believers in Christ Jesus meet together as a congregation. You wouldn’t have done so unless it was honoring to You and beneficial to us. Therefore, give us the wisdom, the desire, and the ability to regularly meet and raise holy hands to Your honor and glory! Amen.