“… 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.” (Hebrews 10:25, NKJV)
Last time, we studied the phrase “stir up” and broke down Hebrews 10:24 to discover exactly what it means to “stir up one another” as members of Christ’s church. Today, let’s study the next verse, Hebrews 10:25, to discover two more ways in which we can jump up, look up, and listen up.
“Not neglecting to assemble together…”
When we understand how to stir up love and good works, it is inevitable that we will assemble together whenever we have the chance. The word used for “assembling” here is found in only one other place in Scripture (2 Thessalonians 2:1), and simply means “an act of assembling or gathering together,” which can denote either a private or public meeting. Bible commentator Adam Clarke notes, “It is evident that the church was now in a state of persecution, and therefore their meetings were most probably held in private. For fear of persecution, it seems as if some had deserted these meetings, as the custom of certain persons is. They had given up these strengthening and instructive means, and the others were in danger of following their example.”
Whether or not we face open persecution, we can clearly see the command, the example, and our duty to meet together for the purpose of worshipping God (cf. Acts 2:42; 20:7). As commentator Albert Barnes observes, “Religion is social; and our graces are to be strengthened and invigorated by waiting together on the Lord. There is an obvious propriety that people should assemble together for the worship of the Most High, and no Christian can hope that his graces will grow, or that he can perform his duty to his Maker, without uniting thus with those who love the service of God.”
“But exhorting one another…”
Encouragement is both an avenue in which we are able to stir up love and good works and also a result of our assembling together. When we are joyful about worshipping the Lord with our fellow Christians, that joy will be evident and will encourage others.
But the word “exhort” or “encourage” here is an action verb: something we must do intentionally. When we come together, we must focus on the good being accomplished. We must praise and compliment others on their service to the Lord. We must look to the future with a positive attitude, all while looking up to our ultimate Example. It is easy to narrow our focus on the present moment or what could go wrong. But if we look for too long at the bumps in the road, we will become blind to the purpose of our journey. We must keep our eyes on Jesus and encourage each other to do so! (Hebrews 12:1-2; 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:11).
“And so much the more as you see the Day approaching…”
The final part of this verse is often skimmed over, but it is useful to our understanding of the passage. The early Christians were told to exhort one another, “and so much more (meaning, an intensified effort) as you see the Day approaching.” Brother Wayne Jackson comments that this “Day” is unlikely to refer to the Lord’s second coming, since a) the time of that event was completely unknown (Matthew 24:36); b) the first-century Christians never experienced it; c) there were no clues as to when it would occur; and d) there were signs of the impending destruction of Jerusalem (Matthew 24:1-34), which likely is the event to which the Hebrews writer alluded.
However, this does not discredit the fact that our encouragement to one another should consist of reminding one another to keeping the faith in light of Christ’s return (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18). According to 2 Peter 3:10-18, we ought to encourage one another to be people of “holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God…without spot and blameless” and to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
If you take a step back and look at Hebrews 10:24-25 as a whole, you will see that each part fits together. The writer starts with a statement,“let us,” that will spur the readers on to take action on the points he is about to bring up. First we are to “consider one another,” or to look to others’ well-being for impassioning them to serve God more fervently. Why?
To stir up love and good works. This means actively arousing each other’s passion for Christ so that we will love and each other to our fullest ability. How do we do this? By assembling together and encouraging one another, without which we cannot effectively stir up love and good works. We do all of this with the end goal in mind: entering eternity with our beloved Christian family, where we will forever dwell in joy among each other and our Father who made it all possible.
Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes
Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke
A New Testament Commentary, by Wayne Jackson