Hebrews 10:25 – Why We Gather…

Last post I talked about my journey towards a deeper understanding of Hebrews 10:25. I began by sharing what I realized this scripture did not say, specifically:

  • It didn’t say be sure to go to church every Sunday.
  • It didn’t say be sure that you gather in a specially designed building.
  • It didn’t say be sure you join an institution.
  • It didn’t say gather in one place around one primary leader.
  • It didn’t say make sure you hear a 1-hour sermon every week (or a 40-minute one, or a 30-minute one).
  • It didn’t even say how often to meet.

So what does it say? Well, let’s look at the context a bit. Hebrews 10:22-25 says:

22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

These verses imply a number of things about the purpose Christian community. Here are a few, I see:

  • To draw near to God
  • To experience forgiveness
  • To help each other hold fast and to not waver in our faith
  • To spur each other on to love and good deeds
  • To encourage each other

Furthermore, when reading the entirety of the book of Hebrews, one finds a major theme through out is that this world is a very difficult place, very much like a wilderness, which has a hardening tendency on our hearts (2:1, 3:7-8, 3:15, 4:7). It is in this context that we are exorted to:

The verse in 3:13 is especially interesting. I remember reading this verse once a few years back, and realized for the first time that it said to encourage each other “daily”. I looked up this word in my Greek lexicon, and found it meant (and I quote) “daily”. It hit me then that I wasn’t sure I had ever in my life encouraged someone or been encouraged by someone every single day.

So, a radical return to Hebrews 10:25-type gathering is what I would like to experience, in every increasing measure, in this life. Are you experiencing that? Let me hear from you. Feel free to leave a comment.

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11 responses to “Hebrews 10:25 – Why We Gather…

  1. hello,
    I stumbled across your site because my husband and one of our acquaintances are talking about whether we should be going to “church” or not. I feel people are the church and we can assemble anywhere, not just in a church building. We can encourage people everywhere we are and in everything we do.
    Thank you for posting your views, it was what I was looking for, and now I just have to wait to see what my husband thinks about needing to go to church, or have a home study church, or just be the church.

  2. Sue, so glad you stopped by. I think a lot of people are asking similar questions to yours. My next entry I hope to link to some of the dialogue that has been going on among several blogs about these very questions. Stop back by as you might be interested in reading those blog articles as well.

  3. Pingback: Striking a Chord « Alternative Church

  4. I love your site!

    One insight into this verse a friend of mine told me about leads to some similar conclusions you draw from the verse here. The insight is that the “assembling of ourselves together” is not coming together in an assembly, per se. It’s doing our part to see Eph. 4:16 accomplished: “from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” (NAS) It’s like the assembling of a body, like the dry bones in Ezekiel.

    Of course, assemblies (meetings, as in “freedom of assembly”) are part of that, but the idea that I may work on being fitted with others to be the full expression of Christ’s body inspires me more than just going to a meeting. Communities do what you describe better than “assemblies,” of course!

    Just another riff that leads to the same conclusions you draw, I think.

  5. Great insight Peter! That raises the stakes a bit, eh?

  6. I’d recommend the following for more info. about this:

    http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Hebrews/hebrews_052.htm

    To briefly summarize what this site says:

    1. The word forsake here is very strong in the original Greek language. It’s the word that Jesus said on the cross: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” The word forsaken here means a complete abandonment; in this case, an abandonment of one’s faith in Christ. Therefore, it’s not laziness or forgetfulness to attend church meetings that is warned against here. Rather, it is the possible abandoning one’s faith, apostasy (“falling away”), that is addressed here. (This meaning also clearly fits the context of the rest of the chapter, BTW.) Such a falling away was a very real possibility in a time and place of persecution, as was the case to the original readers of Hebrews.

    2. When it says “as is the manner of some” the word manner probably should be translated to us as “custom”, which is an ingrained habit in a culture. This would indicate that what is spoken of here is not an occasional forgetting to attend a meeting, but, rather, it’s a clear habit of no longer aligning oneself with other followers of Christ.

    3. The assembling together here is referring to the assembling of the body of Christ under the head, Christ himself. (This interpretation fits closely with 1 Cor. 12, BTW.)

  7. I too stumbled across your site while trying to get a better understanding of Heb. 10: 25. I loved your thoughts and I really got a clearer understanding of the text. I’m reminded though of the text in Isaiah 28: 10 that admonishes us to read the word, line upon line and precept upon precept, here a little, there a little. Luke 4:16 states that, …” And as his CUSTOM was ,He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read. As a Christian I want to follow the custom of Jesus. I don’t believe that I must be in church every single week, but I do believe that I should attend Sabbath worship on a regular basis, and fellowship with other saints regularly in variety of diffrent places. Don’t mean to open up a can of worms, just sharing my thoughts.

    • Thanks Wayna. Good thoughts! Not a can of worms at all. In fact, meeting with other believers for mutual encouragement is exactly what Hebrews 10:25 is talking about. It is saying we need to meet regularly (though as I pointed out it doesn’t say exactly what regularly is). It appears it may have been much more frequent than we do – perhaps daily. My point was not that we don’t have to meet together, but that sometimes the form of our meeting may be such that the primary scriptural purpose of meeting is not accomplished. When this happens we may want to rethink the form of our meeting.

      I do have some additional thoughts about comparing and contrasting traditional church services and the practice of going to synagogue on the sabbath, but as I started to write about it I realized it was an entire other post, so it will have to wait until I have time to write it :-).

      Thanks again for stopping by, and sharing your perspective!

  8. Thank you for your thoughts on Heb 10:24-25; you have great insight on these verses.

    I feel that our church traditions have strayed from the teaching of scriptures in many areas and we do not fully understand what is means to be a “follower of Christ”. As Jesus Himself said when addressing the teachers of His day: “You make the Word of God void for the sake of your traditions.” I believe regular church attendance is essential to our growth as believers, but is crucial that we act upon what we hear, and not just go there for religious duty. In John 3, Jesus told the most religious leader and teacher in Israel that he needed to be born again.

    We have to be doers of the Word.

    • Hey Rev_G,
      Thanks for your comments. God bless you. I agree it’s really important for believers to gather together with each other regularly, but an essential question is “what is the church?” Is it a Sunday morning service in a designated place? Or is it the gathering of people themselves? If we really believe it is the people themselves then we are free to have our church take new and fresh forms. Or if the form we currently have accomplishes God’s purpose in our midst than we are free to continue with our current form as well.

      Regarding being a “follower of Christ” I think one area we’ve lost is “taking up our cross daily”. We have been so prosperous in the U.S. that we have forgotten that following Christ often means sacrifice and suffering. My hope is that the present economic difficulties may work in our hearts to remind us that Christianity isn’t a “bless me” club, but instead a “lose my life for His sake” club.

      Thanks again for your thoughts and perspective.

  9. Hey,
    thanks for this post. This is a great topic that a friend of mine told me to come read. In times past I have felt like church (the place) was a must but it really is just that we are supposed to make time to learn, to be a part of each others lives and through that encourage each other.

    thanks for sharing.

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