Hebrews 10:25 is not about ‘going to Congregation’
ecause of confusing translations, Hebrews 10:25 is a very misunderstood passage. That has its reasons; it is not very easy to know what original language words and meanings are hidden behind such wordings as “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together”. Congregations and their bible-translators and preachers have caused people to think that the apostle supposedly was talking about “going to congregation”. But, Paul was writing about something very different.
His words referred to the event when the set apart ones were to be gathered up to Yeshua. Here is a different translation of the passage in question (there is more on the meaning of these verses, below). Let us begin in verse 22, in order to see some of the context:
Hebrews 10:22 let us then draw near, [B] with a true heart, in total faithfulness, [C] having our hearts sprinkled [D] from an evil conscience and our bodies washed [E] with pure water. 23 We should hold fast to [our part in] the agreement, [F] in an assured expectation, [G] because, he who gave the promise [H] [to us] is faithful. 24 And we should keep an eye on one another, provoking unto love and to good works; 25 not turning our backs on our [coming] gathering [I] (as some do), but admonishing one another: And so much the more, as you see That Day [J] approaching. 26 For if we deliberately trespass after having received the full knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a furious fire that will consume those who oppose. (Author’s tr.)
[B] and [C] Verse 22, “drawing near” and “faithfulness”- these things are explained later under this present heading.
[D] and [E] Verse 22, “sprinkled” and “washed” - the meaning of those words is explained in the table that follows after this note section.
[F] Verse 23, “agreement” - the Greek word is homologia. It did not mean “profession” as some have it; its primary meaning was “agreement”. (See for instance the Greek-English Lexicon by Liddell and Scott.) Here, it referred to an agreement in the meaning “betrothal” - the set apart ones’ betrothal to Yeshua.
[G] Verse 23, “expectation” - the Greek word is elpis which meant “hope”, “expectation” (not “faith” as some have it).
[H] Verse 23, “who gave the promise” - the Father had betrothed those set apart ones to his son Yeshua. That was a promise regarding marriage. Those set apart ones were waiting for the Wedding Feast.
[I] Verse 25, “gathering” - the Greek word is episunagoge whose primary meaning was “carrying away” or “gathering”. That referred to the episunagoge of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 -the day when Mesengers were to gather up those set apart ones and take them to the Lord Yeshua.
[J] Verse 25, “that day”- the day when those set apart ones were to gathered up to the Lord Yeshua, the same day and event which 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 mentions, “the Day of the Anointed”.
Regarding these old Greek words - please note that “biblical” Greek lexicons are often very misleading, because of dogmatic reasons. See instead the Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon by Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, or their more extensive Greek-English Lexicon. (Even they contain some religious bias, but not at all as much as “biblical” lexicons do.)
There is more on these things, later.
Let us first consider the “drawing near” which verse 22 mentions. The wider context shows that the apostle was comparing the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. He made an analogy where he used symbols and parallels. Here are some of them:
|The ancient Israelites and the Old Covenant:||The set apart ones and the New Covenant:|
|When the Old Covenant was made at Mount Sinai, the Israelites had to wash their clothes before they drew near the mountain where the Old Covenant was made (Exodus 19:10-14).||Even the set apart ones had gone through a washing - baptism - before they were formally joined to the Lord in the New Covenant. That is what the words “bodies washed with pure water” in Hebrews 10:22 refer to.|
|The ancient Israelites were sprinkled with “the blood of the covenant”, at Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:8).||The set apart ones’ (symbolic) “sprinkling” (Hebrews 10:22) was by Yeshua’ blood. See even Hebrews 12:24 and 1 Peter 1:2.|
|The ancient Israelites drew near an earthly mountain, Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:10-14).||The set apart ones were not “drawing near” an earthly mountain but a very different one: “Mount Zion, the City of the living Elohim, the heavenly Jerusalem” (see Hebrews 10:22 and 12:18-22).|
|The Old Covenant’s “formal celebration” (like a “wedding feast”) took place up on Mount Sinai - present were the Lord, and Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and seventy of the elders of Israel - see Exodus 24:9-11.||The New Covenant’s “Wedding Supper” is actually mentioned, not only in Revelation 19:9 but also in other passages, among them Hebrews 12:23. Most bible-versions hide this away, but the Greek text of that verse mentions panegurei kai ekklesia prototokon en ouranois apogegrammenon, “the festal gathering and assembly of the first-born ones registered in Heaven”. That did not refer to some “church” as bible-translators have made it seem; that referred to the New Covenant’s formal celebration or “Wedding Supper”, the location being “Mount Zion, the City of the living Elohim, the heavenly Jerusalem”. (Again, see Hebrews 12:18-22, and then verse 23.)|
Then, regarding Hebrews 10:23 - see it quoted above - the set apart ones had a “forward-looking agreement” with Elohim (ten homologian tes elpidos) [K]- that is, Elohim had betrothed them to his son Yeshua. That betrothal was an agreement regarding a marriage. Verse 23 contained even the word pistos, [K] in the meaning “faithful”.
[K] As was mentioned earlier in note [F], the primary meaning of the old Greek word homologia was “an agreement”, “a contract”. In the case of verse 23, it referred to “an agreement” in the meaning “betrothal” - the set apart ones’ betrothal to Yeshua. In the same verse, the word elpidos (elpis) referred to “hope”, “expectation”. That is what the words “not turning our backs on our [coming] gathering” in Hebrews 10:25 are all about. The apostle Paul was urging those set apart ones not to turn their backs on that agreement (betrothal). They were to remain faithful to Yeshua in their betrothal, and look forward to the time when he would come for them and take them to the Wedding Feast. Indeed, that is what the words me egkataleipontes ten episunagogen heauton in the Greek text of Hebrews 10:25 referred to. In other words: That verse referred to the very special episunagoge (“gathering” or “carrying away”) which Paul mentioned even in his letter to the set apart ones in Thessalonica:
2 Thessalonians 2:1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Yeshua Messiah, and of our gathering together [episunagoge] to Him [...] (VW-2006, comment added)
Please note that the word episunagoge occurs only twice in the New Testament - in Hebrews 10:25 and in 2 Thessalonians 2:1. The noun epi-sun-agoge was composed of the preposition epi, the preposition sun, “together”, and the noun agoge. The primary meaning of agoge was “carrying away”, but it could also refer to other things, especially if combined with other words.
In short: Both Hebrews 10:25 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1 were about the time when Yeshua was to came and send down his Mesengers who then were to take (gather, carry) those set apart ones up to him.
The phrase “That Day” in Hebrews 10:25 refers to “the Day of the Anointed” which is mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:2 - the day when Yeshua was to come for those set apart ones; the day when they were to be gathered together and taken up to him.
Again: The gathering or carrying away that is mentioned in Hebrews 10:25, is the same one which is mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:1. Those passages did not refer to “going to church” but to the set apart ones being taken up to Yeshua.
Yeshua was the Bridegroom who had promised to come for his Bride and take her to the Wedding Feast. Again, the set apart ones were betrothed to Yeshua, and were to be faithful to him. They were not to forget the Bridegroom and the coming Wedding.
A note regarding Hebrews 10:23: Some bible-translators have put in that verse the words “profession of faith”. But, that verse has nothing to do with churches or with the modern-day concepts of "profession of faith". See the translation of Hebrews 10:23 above, in its context (Hebrews 10:22-27). The apostle Paul was just reminding the set apart ones of the fact that they were betrothed to Yeshua, and that they had to remain faithful to him, for Elohim and Yeshua certainly were faithful and kept their part of the contract.