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The True Meaning of Forsake Not Assembling Together

Defining the church of Christ

Forsake not assembling together is a misunderstood scripture in the church today. When the Bible refers to the "church" it is always the people who make up the body of Christ. When the book of Hebrews was written there were no church buildings. Houses of worship were not a part of the faith until around 323 AD. when Emperor Constantine initiated them. The author could not have been talking about religious services in buildings as we have them today because they had not yet been instituted. It used to be believed that Paul wrote the letter to the Hebrew Christians addressing the current issues of that day. Many scholars now say that one of Paul's associates probably wrote this letter because it is not in the style of Paul's other writings. Whoever the author was we should understand the message he was conveying as he was writing. During that dispensation, those who accepted Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior met with other sisters and brothers in Christ informally in their homes.

The "church" that prayed for Peter in Acts 12 were men and women who gathered inside of a house. Christianity, as a whole, has transitioned from that day to our modern establishments of elaborate physical structures that are referred to as churches. They have, however, nothing whatsoever to do with the letter to the Hebrews.

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Unlocking truth

The website Rawgod.com gives compelling reasoning why Hebrews 10:25 is not addressing church building attendance. Please note: The information in this article is not an attempt to discourage believers from attending church services. This Hub is about revealing Biblical truth so Christians can make informed decisions rather than choices based on tradition. Raw God takes the approach of those who say Hebrews 10:25 addresses the gathering of the saints after Christ's second coming.

Assembling together is from one Greek word whose lexical form is episunagōgē. which is a noun and found only in one other place: II Thessalonians2:1-2. “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand” “Gathering together” in this passage is episunagōgē which refers to our being gathered to Christ on THE DAY of his return.

The evidence from both the context and the wording is compelling. It clearly indicates that Hebrews 10:25 is admonishing believers that we should not forsake the faith in and the hope of our gathering with Christ after He returns as some at that time had done. Christians are to encourage each other to hold on to the blessed hope. We are to do this even more as we see the day of His return approaching.

The author, Ryan Hellyer goes on to say; To translate ‘do not forsake the gathering of yourselves’ into ‘don’t neglect to go to church,’ is to diminish hope, religiously distract people from the epic promised event, and exact a man-centered sort of extortion on the saints by leveraging shame for attendance".


Another viewpoint

On the website Radically Christian, Wes Mcadams says that Hebrews chapter 25, admonishes believers to “hold fast to their faith without wavering” (vs. 23). He warns them not to “profane the blood of the covenant by which they were sanctified” (vs. 29), not to “throw away their confidence” (vs. 35) or be like believers who “shrink back and are destroyed” (vs. 39). History indicates that some early Christians became discouraged because Jesus did not return during their lifetime. Hebrews was written in an attempt to deter more of the faithful from falling away, and giving up Putting the entire chapter in perspective, Mcadams agrees with Hellyer that verse 25 is about not forsaking faith that Christ will come again.

Peter Ditzel expresses this same sentiment by revealing that the word ekklēsia is mistranslated as “church” in most English Bibles and is not something we go to but what we are. His take on Hebrews 10;25 is that as Christians, we are cannot forsake our assembly because we are always assembled before God. We the believers are the assembly, we are the “called out” of Christ. The literal meaning of ekklēsia is the “called out ones,” but the Greeks used it to refer to the people who were called out of the community to be a part of the assembly The Bible also speaks of the ekklēsia in a local sense as a coming together in a family, house or city, according to (kata) as sunerchomai–literally, “come together”). It is never spoken of as something we go to that is apart from us, nor is our coming together locally ever spoken of as a duty. Yes, we can choose to gather in organized church services but it is not mandated based on scripture.


Hope for the future

It is only natural to take Hebrews 10:25, at face value and apply it to our modern-day system of going to church. There is nothing wrong with encouraging a congregation to continue to fellowship together. The problem comes in when the original context is misunderstood and or wrongly misused to guilt parishioners into believing they are not pleasing the Lord should they miss a Sunday service. So again, the author of Hebrews was emphasizing not to forsake the promise of the blessed hope of gathering together with Jesus when He returns to earth for a second time. (2 Thessalonians 2:1), He indicates this was the custom of some during his time. The Bible also indicates that the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. ( Matthew 22:23). This caused squabbles between these religious leaders and new believers.

There are those today who call themselves Christians, but don't believe in the return of Jesus or the resurrection of the dead in Christ. There are Increasing numbers of believers who are forsaking their hope by saying “my lord delayeth his coming” (Matthew 24:48) or that “the resurrection has already” taken place. (2 Timothy 2:18) Hebrews 10:25 is advising us that instead of forsaking the promise and hope, we are to encourage each another, and so much the more as we see the signs that day of His return is drawing near. This can be done within a local assembly or whenever you talk, text, email or gather with family, friends, or co-workers who are blood-bought. You can encourage other believers while in a taxi, uber, or Lyft ride, on the bus, a train station or a subway. You can uplift other Christians in a hospital, nursing home, or a food or clothing pantry. What is important is that you understand the proper context of scripture so you will not be misinformed or misinform others..


The bottom line

As stated earlier. This article is not intended to persuade or dissuade any believer in Christ regarding church attendance.

As a final point, consider these words from the website What sayeth the scriptures regarding this matter:

We need not handle God’s Word deceitfully, for that will profit us nothing in eternity. Let us first set aside our denominational biases, then let us search the Scriptures, and finally, let us agree, “Let God be true, but every man a liar. Hebrews 10:25 is one of the most mistreated verses in the book of Hebrews—maybe in all the Bible."


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Cheryl E Preston

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