Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.
Hebrews 10:25 is one of the most misunderstood and misquoted scriptures in the entire Bible. People use it out of context to warn others about church attendance. There is a big difference between "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together" and "Not forsaking the assembly."
Many people quote it this way, but the Bible does not say:
"Not forsaking the assembly."
What people misquote is not even a complete sentence. The whole scripture begins in Hebrews 10:24 and ends in Hebrews 10:25.
"And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."
Changing the wording also changes the meaning and diminishes the context and validity of the entire scripture.
Not About Church Attendance
The part of Hebrews 10:25 that is misquoted is often used to rebuke those who don't have perfect attendance in a church. Because a person is not sitting in the pews every Sunday for a church service or every Wednesday night for Bible Study has nothing to do with this particular scripture. Therefore, misusing the scripture is doing more harm than good.
The Book of Hebrews was written to Christians who were experiencing the “great persecution against them in Jerusalem” according to Acts 8:1. Back then, the Jewish Christians had enough faith to endure the persecution. Decades later, they were beginning to waver in their faith. Some of them were ready to abandon the way of Jesus. They were told what is found in Hebrews 10:24-25 to keep them from falling away. Also, they were cautioned against apostasy; that is giving up on Christianity and reverting to Judaism as some were doing.
In order to understand any scripture in the Bible, we must understand what it first meant then to a particular audience before we can determine what it means to us today. In other words, we must understand the scripture in its original context. That's what many readers of the Bible fail to do.
The verb "forsaking" in Hebrews 10:25 is not a command to go to church. It is an ongoing verb that describes the way in which people should care for others.
In order to get the full and correct meaning of Hebrews 10:25, one should read all of Hebrews 10. As far back in the chapter as Hebrews 10:22, there are "Let us" appeals that lead up to Hebrews 10:25.
- The appeal is to love other believers by not abandoning fellowship with them.
- There is an appeal to love one another by not forsaking them when they are under pressure.
God does not tell us to gather in corporate worship in this verse, as most people think. Abandoning others when they are in need is how we forsake them.
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Even after 10:25, there is more information that shines a light on the scripture that some people use only part of. Verses 29, 35, and 39 give warnings to those who throw away their confidence.
Pastors and others have repeatedly used part of Hebrews 10:25 to warn people about not worshiping in a church building when that is not the context of the scripture because there were no church buildings at the time of the writing of the Book of Hebrews.
The Bible doesn't use the word church as someplace to go because we are the church. Whenever the Bible refers to "the church," it is always the people who make up the body of Christ and not a building. The author could not have been talking about church attendance inside a building like we have today. During that time, believers met with other believers in their houses.
Because Jesus had not returned during their lifetime, some early Christians became discouraged and were giving up hope. Hebrews 10:25 was written to encourage the faithful from giving up and falling away. Hebrews 10:25 admonishes believers to hold on to hope even more as the day of Jesus' return approaches.
When people read the entire chapter, they are better able to put Hebrew 10:25 in its proper perspective. Then they will see that the scripture is not about forsaking an assembly or church. Instead, it is about not forsaking the faith that Christ will come again.
What Hebrews 10:25 advises can be done in any gathering. Believers can encourage other believers while in a grocery store, a laundromat, on a bus, at a train station, or in the park. We can encourage others while visiting them in a hospital, nursing home, or in a prison.
- "Not forsaking the assembly" is not in the scripture.
- Hebrews 10:25 says "not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together."
- There is a big difference between "assembling" (verb) and "assembly" (noun).
- The local modern-day church is not mentioned or alluded to in Hebrews 10:25.
- At the time of the writing of Hebrews 10:25, there were no church buildings.
- What people quote is only part of the scripture and even that is misquoted.
- The complete scripture starts in Hebrews 10:24 and continues in Hebrews 10:25.
- The scripture must be understood based on its context.
- In order to understand Hebrews 10:25 and any other scripture in the Bible, we must understand what it MEANT when it was first written before we can understand what it MEANS to us today.
- The focus of Hebrews 10:25 is about serving Christ through others until He returns.
- To misquote or misuse Hebrews 10:25 takes away its real meaning and is far from its intended meaning.
- Nine out of ten people (including religious leaders) use the scripture incorrectly.
- When Christian leaders and others quote only part of Hebrews 10:25 mainly to demand church membership and church attendance, they discredit the verse by taking the attention away from its main theme which is Jesus Christ and His return.
- There is nothing wrong with encouraging people to go to their local assembly. However, it is not appropriate to use Hebrews 10:25 as a warning.
After having been a Bible teacher for over 50 years, it grieves my spirit deeply when I hear people misquote scriptures. It grieves me even more when I hear preachers and Bible teachers misappropriate scripture to stress a point. It grieves me to the nth degree when people misquote scriptures to me as if I don't know what the Bible says.
Be it known that the valid arguments made in this article are not against the church, church leaders, church members, or anyone else. What is written is not to advise anyone to go to church or not to go to church. Instead, the arguments are threefold.
- against using only part of Hebrews 10:25
- against misquoting it
- against taking it out of its original context
The goal of this article is to provide information about the proper context of Hebrews 10:25 so people can stop being misinformed and stop misinforming others.
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.