Living Free in the Spirit of Christ

Free The Church

Intentional Relationships, Hebrews 10:25

Heb 10:25
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (KJV)

Coffee and friends

After much research and meditation, I believe that this verse is completely misunderstood, and abused by organized religion to make a law out of an admonition that has nothing to do with “going to church.”

When we look at the Greek word translated into “assembling” we find that it is the word episunagwgh episunagoge, which is the same word that synagogue is derived from. So, the natural conclusion is that we are to follow the Jewish practice of Synagogue meeting. But the verse seems to be out of context with the rest of the chapter, and has an incidental “by the way” quality to it, especially if one understands it from this point of view.

Intentional Hospitality

When one considers the complete definition given for the Greek word episunagoge, a significant meaning occurs. It is a compound word that breaks down as thus:

  • Epi is a primary preposition that means “over,” “upon,” “toward” or “at;”
  • Sun denotes “union” or “together;” and
  • Ago means “to bring” or “to induce”.

Sunago combined means “to come together” especially “to entertain hospitably”. All three root words of the word episunagoge form the idea “to intentionally entertain hospitably together.” Obviously the usage of the word throughout the Bible has to be considered, which is why it is translated in these
various ways as “assemble,” “meet together” “church meeting” or “worship together” which all have an organized meeting feeling. Two notable exceptions are found in God’s Word which states:

We should not stop gathering together with other believers, as some of you are doing. Instead, we must continue to encourage each other even more as we see the day of the Lord coming. (God’s Word)

The second is found in the Geneva Bible and has the most informal feeling to the translation.

Not forsaking the fellowship that we have among ourselves, as the manner of some is, but let us exhort one another, and that so much the more, because ye see that the day draweth near.

End of Religion

I believe that the context of Hebrews supports a one on one fellowship as the meaning of Hebrews 10:25 instead of the corporate interpretation traditionally given to it. When we consider verses 24 with 25:

24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
25 … but exhorting one another… (KJV)

This “one another” view of this verse is further supported by the remainder of the book of Hebrews. Hebrews up to chapter 10 is all about the end of religion as a means of coming to God. The writer of Hebrews, in essence, declares the need for religion dead since through Jesus, the Holy Spirit now permanently indwells every believer. The second part of the book, which Chapter 10 is the transition towards, is the answer to the question, “How then shall we live?”

No Shame in Fellowship

The significant point made regarding in the Levitical system, is that the consciences of sinners were not permanently purged, but needed repeated offerings. Whereas with the blood of Christ, our consciences are permanently cleansed once and for all. We have clean consciences before God but we also have clean consciences towards one another, as chapter 10 through 13 imply. That means since we have no shame coming before God because of the finished work of Christ, neither should we have shame meeting one another. We are accepted by God, therefore we should be accepted by one another. True Christianity is transparent Christianity with one another.

Because we can approach God one on one without the need of any religious system, then the natural mind thinks that we do not need one another, that is why we are reminded to not forsake the assembly (or fellowship as GB says). But this line of thinking makes no real sense. If we are coming before God and entering a genuine relationship with Him, then we will want to do those things that please Him. Loving others is the fruit of knowing Him. Neither does it make sense to interpret v. 25 to mean that we should re-institute religious meetings again when the religious system has been replaced by the indwelling of the Spirit.

Free from Legalism

When one understands that an encouragement is being given to intentionally build relationships by extending hospitality to others, the following chapters make more sense. Verses 26 through 31 address someone who has lost faith in Christ to the point of losing their salvation. I submit that the writer is reminding us to seek out those who have fallen back into legalistic thinking and have misunderstood the grace of God. These verses have fueled much controversy regarding salvation, yet I think the writer is only showing the folly of living by the law again, which is the bread and butter of religion today.

Comfort the Persecuted

The next group of people to extend hospitality towards are the persecuted. Verses 32 to 34 remind the readers that they were persecuted for their faith in Christ, as was the writer who was imprisoned. We are to exhort and encourage one another in holding fast to our faith in Christ (v. 35-39) since there are many discouragements to our trust in God, legalism and persecution being two examples.

To build on the example of those who trusted God and suffered for it in this life, the writer continues in chapter 11 with the “roll call of faith”. All endured hardships and needed encouragement, some got it and some did not.

The Chastened

While we are reconciled to God through the blood of Jesus, the consequence of sin still remains. Therefore, we have another group of people that need encouragement. Those whom the Lord chastens. We should be intentional with our hospitality in encouraging those whom the Lord is bringing back in line so they may be wiser and free from the consequence of sinful actions and behavior.

Hebrews 10:25 is not exhorting continued religion with professional clergy. It is clearly an exhortation of intentional relationships. Our fellowship together can take many forms. We can meet in organized religion if that is where you are in your walk with Christ, or House Churches, or simply informally with other believers in coffee shops, parks, on the job or wherever. Regardless of the setting and number in the fellowship, it is easy to be discouraged from the grace of God given us through Christ, and we all need encouragement. We should be volitional in seeking the fellowship that the Spirit may lead us to so that we may be an encouragement to one another.

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