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Understanding The Assembly

Unless the Lord joins people together, there is no complete assembly.

Unless the Lord joins people together, there is no complete assembly.

Published on: Oct 11, 2009

An associate of mine, Art Nelson, through several social networks provided an outstanding explanation on the meaning Hebrews 10:25. This verse is the main gun pointed at those who leave the paid clergy system. He provides many outstanding points that are worth meditating upon.

by Art Nelson

Let’s look at the Greek word [in Heb 10:25] for “assembling”–episunagoge (Strong’s # G1997). This is the only occasion that it is used in connection with the translation “assemble” (there are other Greek words that are normally used for “meeting”). The only other place that this particular Greek word is used in in 2 Thessalonians 2:1, which refers to our gathering together with the Lord at His return.

[Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, (II Th 2:1 KJV) –episunagoge]

The original Greek word comes from episunago (Strong’s #G1996) and means “a complete collection”. Its root is in two other Greek words—Strong’s numbers G1909 and G4863, which mean “to collect upon the same place; gather”. Putting all of this together, we get “to collect upon the same place to complete collection (assemble).” Based on this, it appears evident that the way we have been using “assemble” falls far short of its true meaning. To assemble together is more that meeting together. The parts of the Body are collected together upon the same place to complete the assembly.

Assembly Required

Probably all of us have experienced the practical meaning of this word that is used for “assembling” if we have ever purchased anything that said “some assembly required”, especially when we have purchased various kit types of furniture or Christmas presents for the kids. “Assembling” the item usually leads to a time of frustration as we try to interpret arcane instructions written by some foreigner. Time and work is required to make sure that all of the parts go together correctly and are fastened securely.

If we only look at the individual parts, it is hard to visualize the finished product. We have to look at the assembly diagram for an idea of how everything is supposed to fit together. Of course, if you are like me, you might glance at the picture but you feel like you know how the thing is supposed to go together and immediately get to work. It is only when we are half finished that we realize that for some strange reason the designers have followed a logic pattern that is different than expected and now we must take off a piece or two in order to get the other pieces to fit properly and then re-assemble them in a different order. We would have saved this time and effort if we had simply followed the step-by-step assembly instructions.

The Body of Christ is the same way—some assembly required. And we are doing it the same way—ignoring the instructions and proceeding on our own until we get into trouble. We need to see and understand the diagram for the finished product

So, what does it mean to be “assembled”? We use the word to mean, “gathered together”, but is that correct? A bag or box of parts are “gathered together” but they certainly are not “assembled”.

Again, with anything that is being assembled, there is already an executed design, which was developed by the designer. There is a collection of parts that were also designed to be fitted together in a pre-determined place and a pre-determined order. The same is true of the Body of Christ. God has designed His Temple according to His own desires. He has pre-determined (chosen) the parts (living stones) and has a pre-determined placement and function for each one.

We have been told many times that the Sunday morning meeting is the assembling together and that if we don’t attend then we are “forsaking the assembling together”. This is simply not true. First, I have attended many Sunday mornings and that gathering is far short of the meaning of “assembly”. Second, no “assembling” is going on—it is just a bag full of parts that are being jiggled together. I am not at all sure that any institutional church has the capability to “assemble” the way that the Scriptures intend. At least, they can’t and continue to function according to their denominational by-laws.

For more on this please see “Being the Church Series” on my website: www.lifestreamteaching.com This is taken from lesson one. but lesson 3 gives us the purpose of assembling.

Heb. 10:24-25

The idea of being “assembled together” is far greater than we have supposed from the traditions of the Institutional Church. It is greater than simply “going to Church” or even gathering in a home for a meal and fellowship. There is spiritual function involved in being assembled together. As a whole, I think that we have failed in this. We can see that we fall short just from what is mentioned in Hebrews with the verses associated with “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together”.

According to these couple of verses (Heb. 10:24-25), there are three things that we should be doing as the people of God: 1) let us consider one another; 2) let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together; 3) let us exhort one another.

1. Let us consider one another.
“Consider” means to observe carefully, to take careful note of one another’s condition. It is the same word used in Hebrews 3:1 about “consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession”. This is a deeper relationship than a hello and handshake at the doorway. When we truly “consider one another” there is a result, an outcome that affects who we are and what we do.

The reason we “consider” is “in order to”, The New American Standard Bible says that we “consider how to stimulate”. By doing this we learn how to stir up or stimulate love and good works in each other. This is part of our spiritual duty, an obligation that we have to the Lord and to the Body of Christ.

(Eph. 4:16) from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

We each have a supply that is necessary to the Body that helps us to be joined and knitted together. We each must do our share. That is the way that the Body organically grows and the way that the Body is built up in love. This is a spiritual function and has nothing to do with where we assemble.

Our individual spiritual life becomes a corporate life expression of Jesus. As long as it is “me and Jesus” it is easy to be spiritual. But, as the Lord begins to place us with others, things begin to get complicated and seem to become decidedly “un-spiritual”. We learn how to give and receive help as we “consider one another”.

We don’t “naturally” love one another—at least not with God’s kind of love. Love has to be “stirred up”, “stimulated” in order to come forth. This is an absolute necessity for us. It is the mark of a circumcised heart because the world knows we belong to Him because we love one another, which means that there is a visible demonstration of love that others can see.

Jesus repeatedly commanded us to love one another. This love is expressed in the Body relationships. These types of relationships cannot be developed in a typical Institutional Church service or even in the auxiliary meetings. They can only be developed by spending time together in the presence of the Lord, which brings us to the next aspect of Hebrews 10:24 and 25.

2. Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together.
The meaning of the phrase is “parts brought together, collected to be put together, assembled”. There is a spiritual goal in mind each time that we come together as the people of God. The Assembly, the Ekklesia, is the “ones called out” by the Holy Spirit and it is also the “ones called together” by the Holy Spirit.

There are aspects of our coming to maturity that cannot be accomplished without us being “assembled together”. The things spoken above about “considering” can only be applied in a corporate gathering and as we saw, we are “joined and knit together”. That is a two-step process—joined is coming together in relationship and knit is being bound, secured together, by the Holy Spirit. It is a time intensive process that requires commitment, endurance, and change on our part.

In the Scriptures we have an organic picture of being assembled as a body; but, we also have an architectural picture of being built together. This is so that we can receive a full understanding of what the Lord means.

As living stones, we have been dug up from the quarry of the world and made alive by the Spirit of Christ. We have been cleaned up by the washing of water by the Word. We have been shaped up by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Now, we are being built up into a Holy Temple in the Lord, a dwelling place for our God.

God’s intent in all of this cannot be achieved by simply piling up stones. This is what is happening with the Institutional Church—sheds have been built to house piles of stones. The sheds, themselves, are of no spiritual value—they are only an artificial construct. A mega-church is simply a larger pile of stones in a bigger shed. Piles of stones are of no practical value—they have to be built into something; they have to be assembled to be worthwhile.

We need to forsake the shed with the pile of stones in order to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Isn’t is amazing that the organizations that have condemned us in the past for “forsaking the assembly” actually prevent us from being assembled!

3. Let us exhort one another.
The Greek word that is translated “exhort” has a much broader meaning. The meaning of the word includes exhort, comfort, console, encourage, strengthen, instruct and teach. Therefore, the meaning of the word can only be applied in a corporate context and is included when we “assemble” and “consider” as we have discussed earlier.

Paul uses this word in Colossians 2:2 when he says, “that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, …” and also in his letter to the Thessalonians:

Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NKJV)

In both cases, it is tied to the idea of the corporate body that is knit together in love and edified by our comforting one another.

As the people of God, these three things from Hebrews 10: 24 and 25 are required of us. They should be important to us as we come together. However, it becomes obvious that for us to fulfill the Word and actually do these three things, requires us to gather in a manner that would allow it to take place. It would also require the direction of the Holy Spirit to administrate these things to provide an orderly manner for them to be accomplished.

It cannot be done in the Institutional Church. The order, structure, method, and type of gathering that is done in the Institutional Church will not allow the direction of the Holy Spirit to bring this about nor the freedom of the people to minister to one another.

That means that it requires us to provide a venue where this can be done. We have to locate, or allow the Lord to create, a type of gathering where the Holy Spirit leads and the people are intimately involved with each other and the Lord. Then, let us not forsake the assembling.

Art Nelson

Art Nelson

This explanation was made on a Facebook conversation. More of his views can be read on his website, Life Stream Teachings.

Comments to Original Post

Alexander Douglas
Submitted on 10/11/2009

Since Art wrote this article, it seems appropriate for me to add my comments in the comments section.

The first thing that grabbed me about his article was the point that episunogague is only used one other time in reference to the rapture. When the word gather is translated from the Greek the prefix, “epi” is not attached. Instead we have sunogague or synagogue. Epi is a prefix that means “above”. Strong’s gives the compound word a meaning of complete assembly, as Art had stated. However, if we break down the word into its root meanings we get a literal translation of “above” (epi) joined “together” (sun) “to lead” (ago). Knowing that this is the word used in the “Rapture” chapter, it literally implies “brought together by above, or the Spirit”.

To not forsake that which God has joined together reminds one of marriage. God joins a man and woman together in marriage and we should not think that because the veil has been torn (Heb. 10:20) which allows us union with God by the forgiveness of sins to take lightly forsaking the assembly brought together from above, our spouses.

My point is a sub point, I think of the Hebrew passage, for I believe Art is right in his analysis. However, the marital bond and families are the core of the body of Christ. To forsake a spouse is to tear the veil again, or to crucify Christ again (Heb. 10:29). It is when we have strong families that we gain strong friendships as well for the corporate expression of Christ. A corporate expression hinted at by Paul as the mystery of Christ and the Church in Eph. 5:32, a statement made in the context of husbands loving their wives.

Another point of consideration on the topic should be addressed. While the Lord is the one who joins members of the Body together, we need to be intentional in our relationships. In other words, while a church group or house church may be a pile of lively stones in the shed, seeking out friendships is still our responsibility. One lively stone in that pile may be one that the Lord wants you to co-labor with. We are told to seek first the Kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33) which is an imperative of responsibility on our part. Sitting home alone will not join you with the those whom the Lord wants you to join.

Kat
Submitted on 10/12/2009

That’s an interesting take on the matter. I like it. Have to mull over it a bit. A few years ago I found another good word on the assembling by Robert Beecham here: http://www.growthingod.org.uk/word11.htm

Cara Van Ing
thewikichurch.blogspot.com/2009/10/staying-church…
Submitted on 10/14/2009

Thanks for cross posting this discussion. I’ve linked to it on my blog. In institutional church attendance I tried to remember that last part, #3, that going to church was really to encourage each other. I think Art can expound on this in greater detail.

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Unless the Lord joins people together, there is no complete assembly.

Unless the Lord joins people together, there is no complete assembly.

An associate of mine, Art Nelson, through several social networks provided an outstanding explanation on the meaning Hebrews 10:25. This verse is the main gun pointed at those who leave the paid clergy system. He provides many outstanding points that are worth meditating upon. by Art Nelson Let’s look at the Greek word [in Heb 10:25] for “assembling”–episunagoge (Strong’s # G1997). This is the only occasion that it is used in connection with the translation “assemble” (there are other Greek words that are normally used for “meeting”). The only other place that this particular Greek word is used in in 2 Thessalonians 2:1, which refers to our gathering together with the Lord at His return.

[Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, (II Th 2:1 KJV) –episunagoge]

The original Greek word comes from episunago (Strong’s #G1996) and means “a complete collection”. Its root is in two other Greek words—Strong’s numbers G1909 and G4863, which mean “to collect upon the same place; gather”. Putting all of this together, we get “to collect upon the same place to complete collection (assemble).” Based on this, it appears evident that the way we have been using “assemble” falls far short of its true meaning. To assemble together is more that meeting together. The parts of the Body are collected together upon the same place to complete the assembly.

Assembly Required

Probably all of us have experienced the practical meaning of this word that is used for “assembling” if we have ever purchased anything that said “some assembly required”, especially when we have purchased various kit types of furniture or Christmas presents for the kids. “Assembling” the item usually leads to a time of frustration as we try to interpret arcane instructions written by some foreigner. Time and work is required to make sure that all of the parts go together correctly and are fastened securely. If we only look at the individual parts, it is hard to visualize the finished product. We have to look at the assembly diagram for an idea of how everything is supposed to fit together. Of course, if you are like me, you might glance at the picture but you feel like you know how the thing is supposed to go together and immediately get to work. It is only when we are half finished that we realize that for some strange reason the designers have followed a logic pattern that is different than expected and now we must take off a piece or two in order to get the other pieces to fit properly and then re-assemble them in a different order. We would have saved this time and effort if we had simply followed the step-by-step assembly instructions. The Body of Christ is the same way—some assembly required. And we are doing it the same way—ignoring the instructions and proceeding on our own until we get into trouble. We need to see and understand the diagram for the finished product So, what does it mean to be “assembled”? We use the word to mean, “gathered together”, but is that correct? A bag or box of parts are “gathered together” but they certainly are not “assembled”. Again, with anything that is being assembled, there is already an executed design, which was developed by the designer. There is a collection of parts that were also designed to be fitted together in a pre-determined place and a pre-determined order. The same is true of the Body of Christ. God has designed His Temple according to His own desires. He has pre-determined (chosen) the parts (living stones) and has a pre-determined placement and function for each one. We have been told many times that the Sunday morning meeting is the assembling together and that if we don’t attend then we are “forsaking the assembling together”. This is simply not true. First, I have attended many Sunday mornings and that gathering is far short of the meaning of “assembly”. Second, no “assembling” is going on—it is just a bag full of parts that are being jiggled together. I am not at all sure that any institutional church has the capability to “assemble” the way that the Scriptures intend. At least, they can’t and continue to function according to their denominational by-laws. For more on this please see “Being the Church Series” on my website: www.lifestreamteaching.com This is taken from lesson one. but lesson 3 gives us the purpose of assembling.

Heb. 10:24-25

The idea of being “assembled together” is far greater than we have supposed from the traditions of the Institutional Church. It is greater than simply “going to Church” or even gathering in a home for a meal and fellowship. There is spiritual function involved in being assembled together. As a whole, I think that we have failed in this. We can see that we fall short just from what is mentioned in Hebrews with the verses associated with “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together”. According to these couple of verses (Heb. 10:24-25), there are three things that we should be doing as the people of God: 1) let us consider one another; 2) let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together; 3) let us exhort one another. 1. Let us consider one another. “Consider” means to observe carefully, to take careful note of one another’s condition. It is the same word used in Hebrews 3:1 about “consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession”. This is a deeper relationship than a hello and handshake at the doorway. When we truly “consider one another” there is a result, an outcome that affects who we are and what we do. The reason we “consider” is “in order to”, The New American Standard Bible says that we “consider how to stimulate”. By doing this we learn how to stir up or stimulate love and good works in each other. This is part of our spiritual duty, an obligation that we have to the Lord and to the Body of Christ.

(Eph. 4:16) from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

We each have a supply that is necessary to the Body that helps us to be joined and knitted together. We each must do our share. That is the way that the Body organically grows and the way that the Body is built up in love. This is a spiritual function and has nothing to do with where we assemble. Our individual spiritual life becomes a corporate life expression of Jesus. As long as it is “me and Jesus” it is easy to be spiritual. But, as the Lord begins to place us with others, things begin to get complicated and seem to become decidedly “un-spiritual”. We learn how to give and receive help as we “consider one another”. We don’t “naturally” love one another—at least not with God’s kind of love. Love has to be “stirred up”, “stimulated” in order to come forth. This is an absolute necessity for us. It is the mark of a circumcised heart because the world knows we belong to Him because we love one another, which means that there is a visible demonstration of love that others can see. Jesus repeatedly commanded us to love one another. This love is expressed in the Body relationships. These types of relationships cannot be developed in a typical Institutional Church service or even in the auxiliary meetings. They can only be developed by spending time together in the presence of the Lord, which brings us to the next aspect of Hebrews 10:24 and 25. 2. Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. The meaning of the phrase is “parts brought together, collected to be put together, assembled”. There is a spiritual goal in mind each time that we come together as the people of God. The Assembly, the Ekklesia, is the “ones called out” by the Holy Spirit and it is also the “ones called together” by the Holy Spirit. There are aspects of our coming to maturity that cannot be accomplished without us being “assembled together”. The things spoken above about “considering” can only be applied in a corporate gathering and as we saw, we are “joined and knit together”. That is a two-step process—joined is coming together in relationship and knit is being bound, secured together, by the Holy Spirit. It is a time intensive process that requires commitment, endurance, and change on our part. In the Scriptures we have an organic picture of being assembled as a body; but, we also have an architectural picture of being built together. This is so that we can receive a full understanding of what the Lord means. As living stones, we have been dug up from the quarry of the world and made alive by the Spirit of Christ. We have been cleaned up by the washing of water by the Word. We have been shaped up by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Now, we are being built up into a Holy Temple in the Lord, a dwelling place for our God. God’s intent in all of this cannot be achieved by simply piling up stones. This is what is happening with the Institutional Church—sheds have been built to house piles of stones. The sheds, themselves, are of no spiritual value—they are only an artificial construct. A mega-church is simply a larger pile of stones in a bigger shed. Piles of stones are of no practical value—they have to be built into something; they have to be assembled to be worthwhile. We need to forsake the shed with the pile of stones in order to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Isn’t is amazing that the organizations that have condemned us in the past for “forsaking the assembly” actually prevent us from being assembled! 3. Let us exhort one another. The Greek word that is translated “exhort” has a much broader meaning. The meaning of the word includes exhort, comfort, console, encourage, strengthen, instruct and teach. Therefore, the meaning of the word can only be applied in a corporate context and is included when we “assemble” and “consider” as we have discussed earlier. Paul uses this word in Colossians 2:2 when he says, “that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, …” and also in his letter to the Thessalonians:

Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NKJV)

In both cases, it is tied to the idea of the corporate body that is knit together in love and edified by our comforting one another. As the people of God, these three things from Hebrews 10: 24 and 25 are required of us. They should be important to us as we come together. However, it becomes obvious that for us to fulfill the Word and actually do these three things, requires us to gather in a manner that would allow it to take place. It would also require the direction of the Holy Spirit to administrate these things to provide an orderly manner for them to be accomplished. It cannot be done in the Institutional Church. The order, structure, method, and type of gathering that is done in the Institutional Church will not allow the direction of the Holy Spirit to bring this about nor the freedom of the people to minister to one another. That means that it requires us to provide a venue where this can be done. We have to locate, or allow the Lord to create, a type of gathering where the Holy Spirit leads and the people are intimately involved with each other and the Lord. Then, let us not forsake the assembling.

Art Nelson

Art Nelson

This explanation was made on a Facebook conversation. More of his views can be read on his website, Life Stream Teachings.
Word count: 2017 Last edited by Alexander on February 10, 2011 at 2:05 pm

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ExcerptTo assemble together means more than just meeting together. It means that people are joined together by the Lord who has a master plan for His Body. The purpose that the Lord has for putting specific people together is so that we may consider one another, provoking one another and to exhort one another. Art Nelson provides a clear explanation of the intention of the Lord.

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Alexander Douglas
Submitted on 10/15/2009

Cara,
You are welcome. When someone makes a clear statement in the Spirit of Christ, I want to share with everyone. Art has hit the nail on the head, in my opinion.

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