* Note – I use the covenant names of The Father and The Son in this post. For a study on the true names click here. Also, I have used 2 different Bible versions throughout this post as noted. To learn more about the ISR98 Bible version used click here.
I originally started this blog post with the title “When you find yourself without a church home” but, that is no longer a fully accurate statement for my family…not after all we’ve been shown by the Holy Spirit. At this point in our walk with Yahuah, it’s a choice not just happenstance. I will discuss the details of those revelations in a separate post I am working on simply called “Why we came out of the church”. But, for this post I specifically want to address the scripture most widely known and misused within “Christianity” regarding church attendance, Hebrews 10:25.
This verse has caused much grief personally as I have at several points in my life, found myself not attending church regularly or even at all. Whether it was because of life circumstances, not finding one that felt like “Home”, re-location or various other reasons, I was always reminded of this verse and out of my own guilt, attempted to find a church home in order to be a “good Christian”. Let’s face it, this verse seems to be thrown around quite often in the Christian community when we learn of a brother/sister who is not attending church regularly and we feel the need to admonish them with “Thus Sayeth the Lord”. I admit now that even though I’ve reacted in the flesh as a result of reading and hearing this verse, I always had a ‘nudge’ in my spirit. If this verse is in fact to be taken as commonly interpreted, it poses a conflict with other scriptures as it creates a yoke of slavery/bondage which is something Messiah clearly destroyed for those who follow Him. “In the freedom which Messiah has made us free, stand firm, then, and do not again be held with a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 ISR 98
But, as I am confident in the fact that we have been called OUT of the institution called “Church” I could not seem to reconcile this one verse and what we’ve learned Elohim has directed for us. So, what should we always do as Bereans of The Word? Most especially if we think we see a conflict in the Scriptures which serve as our daily instruction? Study …. Dig …. Read …. Learn with the ministry of the Holy Spirit bringing truth as we seek Him.
So, this is what I did and my findings brought much freedom. I’ve come to learn that this verse in fact has nothing to do with going to church at all. It is simply another deception contained in the false religion of modern Christianity that keeps us shackled in chains and following after man-made practices instead of the pure Gospel of our Savior and Messiah!
*Disclaimer – I do in fact believe that the New Testament encourages true believers to gather together for the purposes of edification, encouragement and prayer. As a matter of fact Hebrews 3:13 says we should do this daily. However, this post is to specifically uncover the deception that Hebrews 10:25 says this must be done weekly, on Sunday morning, in a building with man-made religious practices.
Stay with me as I share what I have found concerning this commonly, misinterpreted verse and hopefully provide encouragement for those struggling as I once did.
In the KJV (because this is a commonly used version) Hebrews 10:25 states, “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.”
Most Christians interpret this verse to mean that we should always attend church and attend every Sunday at that. That if we ever find ourselves without a “church home” we must be actively seeking to find one and it would be best if we found one quickly or else, we are disobeying scripture. And honestly, at first glance that is what it seems to say….which is why so many (including myself) have been kept in bondage over this one single verse.
Let me just quickly stop here to reiterate this is the O-N-L-Y verse of Scripture that folks can use to try and “prove” we should be attending church. I could be wrong here, but if that is what this verse means and if our Father thought it as imperative as the Christian community seems to for us to be attending church, don’t you think He would make sure there were multiple verses found to help us understand this principle and why He thought it important? Anything more than just one single verse maybe? Hhhmmmm….red flags should begin to raise right about there.
As we get started, I would encourage you as with any study of scripture to read at least the chapter before as well as the chapter after in order to grasp the theme or context of the writing. For this study in particular, I will discuss the theme of the entire book of Hebrews which is about clinging to Messiah and the promised hope of eternal salvation, not at all about attending religious ceremonies/church.
As you read Hebrews you can see in the 9 chapters before our key verse that Paul was encouraging the Israelites (which also applies to us today) not to abandon the hope of Messiah and go back to their old ways. During this time, there was much persecution by those that opposed the gospel of Messiah and Paul was encouraging them to stand strong, hold fast to the profession of faith and hope of salvation in Yahusha. I will summarize below.
In the first chapter of Hebrews Paul speaks to them about the foundation of their redemption, Yahusha Messiah.
In chapter 2, Paul begins to warn them not to turn away from and neglect their hope of salvation found in Messiah. The hope of being joined (gathered) to Him as He promised. Hebrews 2:1 says“Because of this we have to pay more attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away.”
Several verses in the 3rd chapter of Hebrews give admonition and encouragement to hold fast to their hope of salvation in Messiah to the end.
vs 6 says “but, Messiah as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the boldness and the boasting of the expectation firm to the end.” ISR 98
And the following verse warns not to turn away from Elohim therefore losing out on the hope of salvation (coming together with Messiah).
vs 12 says “Look out, brothers, lest there be in any of you a wicked heart of unbelief in falling away from the living Elohim, but encourage one another daily, while it is called “Today”, lest any of you be hardened by the deceivablenss of sin. For we have become partakers of Messiah if we hold fast the beginning of our trust firm to the end. ISR 98
In Hebrews 4 we see that Yahusha is our rest and Paul encourages them (and us) not to turn away from the promise given us by Messiah (our coming together with him), lest we be in sin by unbelief and disobedience.
Hebrews 5 speaks of our high priest, Yahusa Messiah who became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.
In chapter 6 we see warnings if they do not progress and continue in their faith. This is an admonition also to us today, not to forsake our profession of hope (gathering together with Messiah in eternal salvation).
Vs 4-8 says “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Set-apart Spirit, and have tasted the good Word of Elohim and the powers of the age to come, and fall away, to renew them again to repentance – having impaled for themselves the Son of Elohim again, and put Him to open shame. For ground that is drinking the rain often falling on it, and is bearing plants fit for those by whom it is tilled, receives blessing from Elohim, but if it brings forth thorns and thistles, it is rejected and near to being cursed, and ends up by being burned.”
vs 11 “And we desire that each one of you show the same eagerness, to the entire confirmation of expectation until the end.”
Hebrews 8 tells us about our new High Priest, Yahusha Messiah in contrast to the Levitical priesthood. Chapter 9 explains the beauty of the New Covenant and once again talks about our hope in deliverance at his second coming (when we are gathered unto Him).
Vs 27-28 “And as it awaits men to die once, and after this the judgment, so also the Messiah, having been offered once to bear the sins of many shall appear a second time, apart from sin, to those waiting for Him, unto deliverance.”
That brings us to chapter 10 which contains the main passage of this study. In the beginning Paul is explaining how the law was a shadow of things to come and Yahusha Messiah is now the ultimate and perfect sacrifice which will fulfill/establish the law and Elohim’s will. Paul then encourages them to draw near in completeness of belief. Vs 22 Let us draw near with a true heart in completeness of belief, having our hearts sprinkled from a wicked conscience, and our bodies washed with clean water.
What belief? Based on the previous chapters it was a belief that we will be gathered unto Messiah if we do not waiver and if we hold fast until the end. Paul again encourages them to hold fast to their expectation, which is Messiah’s promise of eternal salvation.
This is where things require a bit deeper study and break down of the passages surrounding our key verse:
– In the KJV vs 23 reads “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)”.
– The ISR98 vs 23 reads “Let us hold fast the confession of our expectation without yielding, for He who promised is trustworthy.”
– The Geneva Bible (used by the faithful men during the reformation) vs 23 reads “Let us keep the profession of our hope, without wavering, (for he is faithful that promised).”
In the KJV the word faith has been used which is the Greek word elpis. It means to anticipate, expectation, confidence and hope (words seen translated in the other 2 versions above). This is important here because in all other places that same Greek word elpis is used in the New Testament the word “hope” is used.
Here are some of those verses (shown using KJV) for your reference.
Acts 26:6 “And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God, unto our fathers.”
Acts 28:20 “For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.”
Romans 5:1-2 “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
Ephesians 1:18 “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints”
Romans 8:24-25 “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”
This ‘hope’ that Paul is speaking of in all of these verses is the hope of redemption and eternal life in Yahusha Messiah and this is the same hope talked about in our key verse Hebrews 10:23.
Here are some other verses that speak of this great hope that also refers to the return of Messiah and our gathering unto Him:
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.”
Titus 2:13 “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”
So clearly, scripture interprets scripture to shows that the ‘hope’ spoken of is the hope of salvation through Yahusha Messiah and the resurrection of the saints at His return when He will gather us unto Himself.
In the next verse 24 Paul instructs “And let us be concerned for one another in order to stir up love and to good works.” ISR 98
So to keep this in context; if our hope is in the resurrection at the return of Messiah; Paul is telling them (and us today) to think of one another and to encourage each other in love and good works to continue in this hope. Clearly we see this has nothing to do with a weekly assembly in a specific building, but of our continuous encouragement and edification of the saints in this hope. As we see in the early New Testament church, true believers are to be about hoping for Messiah’s return and encouraging others according to that hope. They did this daily, not just on one set day of the week as we see in in Acts 2:46 “And day by day, continuing with one mind in the Set-apart Place (temple), and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart.” ISR98
Here we do see that in addition to homes, they went to the Temple as it used to be a dwelling place for God’s presence. That is NOT the case of today’s man-made religious buildings. Much can be studied and learned from the early church in Acts, but we will stay focused on the key passage for this post.
So, let’s stop to digest the theme of Paul’s writings up to this point. As we move on to the next key verse let’s consider why after 9 chapters of encouraging and admonishing the Israelites (and us today) not to turn away from their hope in eternal salvation, but to hold fast to their expectation of the Messiah’s promise of deliverance (and the gathering of themselves to Him) would Paul completely change directions and interject “oh and don’t forsake going to church” by assembling themselves together?
The truth is, he’s not. He is again telling them not to turn away from their expectation/hope (verse 23) of gathering unto Messiah as He promised upon His return and the granting of salvation through Him. In fact he says to encourage one another much more as they see the day approaching. What day? As we will see as we continue, this is referring to the day of Messiah’s return to gather His faithful, spotless bride and to make good on the promise of eternal life to those who hold fast to this expectation.
So, let’s jump in to our key verse Hebrews 10:25 “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging and so much more as you see that day coming near.” KJV
The Greek word “forsake” in this passage is egkataleipō and it means to: quit, leave entirely abandon, desert, to give up or renounce. You can find this same Greek word used in 2 Timothy 4:10, Matthew 27:46 and several other verses.
This term “forsake” in vs 25 used in context with the rest of the book of Hebrews would mean not to abandon the hope promised by Messiah and his coming as it seems at the time, by Paul’s warnings some were doing.
But, the words “assembling together” is the real key here. This phrase is actually translated from one word in Greek episunagōgē (this is the noun form) and it means gathering or assembling together. So, in study how do we always determine the correct use and meaning of words? By finding additional verses where the words are used and allowing scripture to interpret scripture. So, where do we find other uses of this particular Greek word?
Interestingly enough, the only other place in the entire Bible this word is used is in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 in reference to our Messiah’s return and our “gathering together unto Him”.
“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.”
This verse is telling us to cling to the hope of out gathering unto Messiah at His return. Not to be shaken or troubled as they see the turmoil that is fast approaching. This doesn’t sound like it has anything to do with a set weekly meeting of the saints, but instead of their persistence to stay focused on Messiah and His return.
The verb form of this Greek word which is episynago is used also as a “gathering unto to Messiah” which you can see in Matthew 23:37, Mark 1:33, Luke 12:1 and others.
As we can clearly conclude, this form of the Greek word episunagōgē meaning “assembling together” is always used in reference to gathering unto Messiah upon His return. This meaning is consistent with what we see as the theme of the entire book of Hebrews as Paul admonishes the Israelites to hold fast to this hope.
Paul warns them not to forsake the hope of the resurrection and the gathering unto Messiah at his second coming “as is the habit of some.” In those days, the Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection (see Matthew 22:23). Others who once had the name Christian also forsake their hope. Saying “my lord delayeth his coming” (Matthew 24:48) and “the resurrection is past already” (2 Timothy 2:18). Even today, many who call themselves Christians/Believers, such as preterists, do not believe in a literal and future return of Jesus Christ and resurrection from the dead. And this belief that there is no resurrection of the saints, was and is in error.
In the next verses Paul gives a stark warning if one forsakes the hope of gathering together with Messiah who is our perfect sacrifice for sin…vs 26-31 “For if we sin purposely after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a slaughter offering for sins. 27 but some fearsome anticipation of judgment, and a fierce fire which is about to consume the opponents. 28 Anyone who has disregarded the Torah of Moses dies without compassion on the witness of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment do you think shall he deserve who has trampled the Son of Elohim underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was set apart as common, and insulted the Spirit of favour? 30 For we know Him who has said “Vengeance is Mine, I shall repay, says Yahuah.” And again, “Yahuah shall judge His people.” 31 It is fearsome to fall into the hands of the living Elohim.”
Let’s think for a moment. Do we really believe those verses of warning above which directly follows our key verse would be our consequence from our Heavenly Father for not attending service in a church building, observing man-made practices on Sunday? No. But, I do believe this is what Elohim warns will happen if we know the truth of His promise (gathering together with Him unto eternal life) and yet turn away from it, ultimately insulting the Spirit of favour (grace).
The same theme carries on through the rest of Hebrews chapter 10 as Paul continues to encourage them not to cast away their confidence in their reward (vs 35). If they have patience and do the will of Elohim they will receive the promise (vs 36) and again reference is made to the coming of Messiah in that He will not tarry (vs 37). Then the last two verses of chapter10:38-39 proclaims who we are, as those who do not draw back unto perdition (turn away from our hope in Messiah) but of them who believe in the saving of the soul. Once again, which happens at the coming of Messiah when we are gathered unto Him.
The truth is that the ekklēsia (mistranslated as “church” in most English Bibles) is not something we go to; it is what we ARE. As believers in Yahusha Messiah, we cannot forsake our assembly because we are always assembled before God. We ARE the assembly, the “called out” of Messiah. (The literal meaning of ekklēsia is the “called out ones,”) The Scriptures also speak of the ekklēsia in a local sense as being in a city, according to (kata) houses or families, and as coming together (sunerchomai – literally, “come together”). But it is never spoken of as something apart from us that we go to, nor is our coming together locally ever spoken of as a duty or command as believers. Reality is, it was pagan Rome that started the weekly rituals you see practiced by the various denominations today (Catholic and Protestant alike). The church buildings and services as we see today consist of man-made ideas based on Babylonian practices and symbolism which did not even exist until 1500 years after Messiah ascended to the right hand of The Father. There will be more posts on the false religion of modern day Christianity to come.
So, let’s revisit my disclaimer at the beginning of this study that states I DO in fact believe that the New Testament encourages true believers to gather together for the purposes of edification, encouragement and prayer. As we see in Hebrews 3:13 we should actually do this daily as a lifestyle, a way of living out the true purposes of the New Testament church as we see in Ephesians chapter 4. As Messiah’s set-apart and called out body of believers we should be encouraging each other to live holy and giving honor to Him, fulfilling His purposes while we wait in anticipation for His return. But nowhere do we see this command to do these things weekly, in a man-made institution which creates a yoke of bondage to those of us who have been made free!
I rejoice that I have ‘church’ daily in various places with various other believers in Messiah and NONE of them are in a man-made church building. I have ‘church’ at work with co-workers as we discuss the goodness of Messiah and pray for one another. I have ‘church’ at home with my precious family as we study the Scriptures and pray for direction from our Father, Yahuah. I have ‘church’ while on the phone with a dear friend as we discuss new found truths and edify one another in Messiah. I have ‘church’ at any time of the day, everyday with an online community of faithful believers who seek truth and bring daily encouragement to my weary soul…so much so, I consider them my family. As we truly are the ekklēsia (the called out ones) of Yahusha Messiah!
In summary, Hebrews 10:25 is not a command to gather on Sunday (or any set day of the week) as we see today in mainstream, denominational churches. Instead this verse in proper context tells us not to forsake the promise and blessed hope (vs 10:23 and Titus 2:13) of our gathering to Messiah at His coming (2 Thes 2:1), which is the custom of some (at that time and we see this also today).
I hope this study encourages you in your walk with Yahusha, as you seek the truth and test all things (1 Thes 5:21). Matthew 10:16 says we must be ‘wise as serpents’ as sheep in the midst of wolves and we are warned to beware not to be deceived by the tradition of men (Colossians 2:8). The chains of church attendance to somehow prove your love for Messiah is nothing more than a tradition of men. Lest we always remember, Yahusha Messiah said “For My yoke is gentle and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:30 ISR 98