ALL THINGS IN CHRIST
In all wisdom and prudence making known to us the mystery of His will according to His
good pleasure which He purposed in Him the plan for the fullness of the times
TO HEAD UP THE ALL THINGS IN THE CHRIST ,
the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth, in Him ….
(Ephesians 1:8b-10)
By – Stuart H. Pouliot
Article #2
Do Not Abandon the Hope
October 2007
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;
and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our
own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging {one another} and all the
more, as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10.23-25 NASB)
This particular portion of scripture, without any doubt, is universally interpreted to mean that
Christians must not forsake gathering together, typically in so-called "church meetings."
Further, many pastors use this verse to exhort people to attend Sunday "worship services,"
often putting guilt on their consciences that if they do not attend, then something dreadful will
happen to them.
Now, let me be perfectly clear that the gathering together of Christians is essential. After all,
how can the body of Christ be built up in love if the joints and marrow are not relationally
connected in practical, living ways? Every begotten from above believer in Jesus Christ is called
out of the world, and all are joined together in the body of Christ. This is an undeniable truth
based on the word of God. However, it is not the intent of this article to discuss the merits or
means of Christian gatherings other than to say that the most basic and essential gathering
together of Christians is when two or three are gathered together in the name of the Lord and
under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. When this occurs, the Lord is in their midst.
"For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst."
(Matthew 18.20 NASB)
Is there anything greater than knowing that Jesus is in the midst of as few as two or three that,
in sincerity of heart, have gathered together in His name? It doesn't take a building, a temple, a
meeting place, a "worship center," or any such thing. All that is required is for two or three to
be gathered together in His name. It is profoundly simple. Unfortunately, Christendom has
made it profoundly complex, and in many cases, something that scripture does not teach.
Think about this: Christ is in each person who has been given the faith, Christ's faith, to believe
in Him, and this life within also establishes a hope within. Christ in you, the hope of glory
(Colossians 1.27). So, when two, as a minimum, gather together in His name, it is an
acknowledgment that He is within each one and, on this basis, they can come into agreement.
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Much could be written on this matter, but the purpose of this article is to challenge the
traditional interpretation of the verse not forsaking our own assembling together . It is realized
that the traditional interpretation of this verse is so ingrained in Christian thinking and even
teaching that, most likely, many, out of hand, will reject what follows. It must be left to the
spirit of God to reveal if what follows is true or not. The point to be made is that this verse deals
with the great hope that is set before everyone who is truly begotten of God. It is proposed that
the writer of Hebrews, who most likely was Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,
encouraged the brethren who had come out of Judaism not to abandon their new-found hope
in the return of the Lord, and their being snatched away to meet Him in air. This verse could be
paraphrased as such:
Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds [which is the proper
result of our hope] , not abandoning [the hope of] our own gathering together [unto the Lord
when He comes a second time] , as is the habit of some [who have given up this hope] , but
encouraging one another [with this hope] , and all the more as you see the day [the day of
Christ when He comes to meet His people] drawing near .
Now, let us test this paraphrase according to scripture and not the traditions of men to see if
this is the intent of Paul. [A case can be made that Paul or, perhaps, someone very close to Paul
was the writer of Hebrews. However, going forward, the expression "the writer of Hebrews" or,
simply, "writer" is used to avoid confusion or, for that matter, undo controversy.]
To test the writer's intent, we need to approach this verse from three views, that is, to
understand: 1) the subject of the letter to the Hebrews; 2) the immediate context of this
portion of scripture. [Does the context support the notion that it refers to the hope of the
return of Christ?]; 3) the Greek word from which gathering together is derived and its
relationship to other New Testament verses.
Subject of Hebrews
The writer left no doubt about the subject matter of the entire letter and, especially, the first
two chapters. He pointed to a future day.
For not to messengers did He subject the coming world , concerning which we speak.
(Hebrews 2.5 YLT)
For he has not subjected to angels the habitable world which is to come, of which we speak.
(Hebrews 2.5 DNT)
Clearly, the writer was looking forward to a new day in which the government of the habitable
world is changed. No longer will angels rule over the earth as they do today, but the one new
man in Christ will be crowned with glory and honor, ruling as he was created to do but has been
unable to do since the fall of Adam. This day speaks of the coming reign of Christ when Christ
will ascend His own throne to rule over this earth and the devil is bound in the pit for 1,000
years (Revelation 20.1-3). The world to come commences at the conclusion of Man's day (6,000
years since Adam) when the great voices in heaven declare: "The kingdoms of the world did
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become [those] of our Lord and of His Christ, and he shall reign to the ages of the ages!"
(Revelation 11.15 YLT). It is the seventh day, a day fixed by the Father (Acts 1.7; Hebrews 4.4,
7). It is the day in which those who will reign with Christ will receive a kingdom which cannot be
shaken (Hebrews 12.28) and will be spiritually perfected as New Jerusalem, the heavenly
Jerusalem, the lasting city, the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God
(Hebrews 11.10; 13.14).
From the very start, the epistle to the Hebrews proclaims that the world to come is centered on
one thing—the Son of God returning to this earth a second time. However, instead of dying for
the sin of the world, Christ is coming to rule over this world. He has suffered the shame of the
cross, but when He returns, He will glory in His crown. God the Father will once again introduce
His Son to the whole habitable world as the King who holds the scepter of the kingdom of the
heavens. He is the Son of Man, and He will reign!
Moreover, when He brings the firstborn Son again into the habitable world, He says, Let all
the angels of God worship Him. (Hebrews 1.6 AB)
All the angels will worship Him as He takes the reign over this earth and brings many sons to
glory to rule with Him (Hebrews 2.10). No longer will man be a little lower than the angels, for
those who have been given the faith to believe on Jesus and have been victorious (conquerors)
will be like Him, crowned with glory and honor (Hebrews 2.5-10).
This is what this epistle calls so great a salvation . It is not just about the salvation by grace
through faith that we receive when we first believe but about the full salvation of being
counted worthy to reign with Christ in His millennial kingdom of glory (1 Thessalonians 2.12).
For this reason, we are warned not to neglect so great a salvation (Hebrews 2.3). In fact, we are
to eagerly await the second coming of Christ, for this is our so great a salvation.
So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time
for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him. (Hebrews 9.28 NASB)
Do you grasp the greatness of this hope? Jesus is coming a second time not to die for the sin of
the world, nor to judge for all sin that has been brought under His blood. He is coming for those
who are eagerly awaiting His arrival to this earth after having been gone a long time (Matthews
25.19; Luke 19.12-15). Today, the Son is seated at the right hand of God the Father until all His
enemies are made a footstool for His feet (Hebrews 1.13; 10.11-13). But the time is almost up
and very soon the Son will be given the command to leave the throne of His Father and come to
this earth to ascend His own throne so that the nations know He is King and Lord of all
(Revelation 3.21) with His kingdom no longer hidden but manifested for all to see.
This is the hope placed before every Christian. It is time to endure to the end, to hold fast to
this hope. He will come, and He will not delay! This is our hope.
For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may
receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will
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not delay. But My righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no
pleasure in him. (Hebrews 10.36-38 NASB)
This epistle contains five sets of verses that encourage us in this hope, as well as exhort us not
to lose this hope but to hold it fast, firm until the end.
Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which
were to be spoken later; but Christ {was faithful} as a Son over His house whose house we
are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end. (Hebrews 3.5-
6 NASB)
And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full
assurance of hope until the end, that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who
through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6.11-12 NASB)
In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the
unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, in order that by two
unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have strong
encouragement, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us. This
hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a {hope} both sure and steadfast and one which
enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high
priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6.17-20 NASB)
For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its
weakness and uselessness (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is
a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. (Hebrews 7.18-19 NASB)
This is the subject and hope of the epistle to the Hebrews. Naturally, this letter contains many
truths, but our present purpose is not to expound on the entire content of the letter but to
study one verse in the context of the letter. This leads to the last direct reference to our hope,
and it is found immediately preceding the exhortation to not forsake the assembling or
gathering together.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;
and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our
own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging {one another} and all the
more, as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10.23-25 NASB)
The Context
What is the context of these verses? The writer had previously unveiled the great truth that
Christ is our High Priest ministering in the heavenly sanctuary on our behalf (Hebrews 8.1-2). He
is a high priest of the things to come and has entered the greater and more perfect tabernacle.
Through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eonian
redemption (Hebrews 9.11-12). The good news is that because of His present priestly ministry,
He is also able to save forever [to the uttermost] those who draw near to God through Him,
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since He always lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7.25). Because of His blood and
His present ministry, everyone who has believed on Jesus has bold access to the throne of grace
(Hebrews 4.16).
[Note: Literally, "to the end," which means to the end of the eon [age], at which time the Lord's
priestly ministry in the heavenly sanctuary ends and He ascends His throne as the King-Priest,
according to the order of Melchizedek.]
Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,
by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and
since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in
full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our
bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10.19-22 NASB)
Because of the blood of Jesus, we have full confidence that we can enter into the presence of
God today. We can enter into His presence in spirit with full assurance of faith. This is our
present confidence of which we are fully assured because of the finished work of our beloved
Lord Jesus. We have a new and living way, daily, into the presence of God.
Now, the writer exhorts us, with this present confidence, to hold fast the confession of our
hope. Because of the present ministry of Jesus, we have full assurance of a great hope set
before us, and the writer of this epistle does not want us to waver in our resolve to endure to
the end by losing sight of this hope. Why? Because He who promised is faithful! The One who
said that He will never desert us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13.5) will come again to receive us to
Himself (John 14.3). When all of heaven opens up, Jesus will come riding on a white horse, and
He will be called Faithful and True (Revelation 19.11).
Given this hope, we are then encouraged to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.
When we have the hope of the coming of the Lord sealed in our hearts, it should be manifested
in very practical expressions of love and good deeds for one another (see Hebrews 6.10-12). Of
course, our hope, the hope of our Lord's return and our love for one another, springs forth from
love for the One who first loved us (1 John 4.19).
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you,
that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you
have love for one another." (John 13.34-35 NASB)
In fact, this is exactly the heart that is seen in the early church that held to the hope of the
second coming of Christ. Specifically, we see it in the believers who resided in Thessalonica and
Colossae. The Thessalonians were waiting for the Son to come from heaven (1 Thessalonians
1.10); and as they waited, they were engaged in a labor of love (1 Thessalonians 1.3), and their
love for one another grew greater. Consider Paul's words to the Thessalonians.
We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is {only} fitting, because your
faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows {ever}
greater; therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your
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perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure.
{This is} a plain indication of God's righteous judgment so that you may be considered worthy
of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. (2 Thessalonians 1.3-5 NASB; also 1
Thessalonians 3.11-13)
Their faith, love, and perseverance in the midst of great trial were working gold into their lives
that would count them worthy of the kingdom that is coming, the kingdom of our Lord and of
His Christ.
Likewise, the Colossians had love and hope, and for this, Paul commended them.
We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we
heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; because of
the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the
gospel…. (Colossians 1.3-5 NASB)
The hope laid up for them refers to the coming kingdom when Christ ascends His throne to
manifestly rule over the nations. Thus, loving one another, even stimulating one another to love
and good deeds, is the outcome of one's hope in the coming of our Lord. If we are eagerly
waiting for the appearing of our Lord, we should love one another. However, there is a danger
that as we do love one another, we might take our eyes off the hope set before us. As to this
concern, the spirit of God exhorts us not to abandon the hope of our future gathering together
to be with the Lord when He comes to be in air.
Not only are we to hold to this hope, but we are to be all the more diligent in holding fast to our
hope, and all the more as we see the day approaching. This is quite significant, for in the verse
we are studying, the writer brings us to the very heart of the matter, and that is the day of
Christ . What day is this? It cannot refer to the present day in which Christ is ministering in the
heavenly sanctuary. This is not an approaching day, for He has been interceding on behalf of His
people, in fact, all of mankind, for 2,000 years. Clearly, it is a day that is set out in front of us.
This day must have to do with the confession of our hope. What is our hope? It is that Christ
will come again and raise from among the dead all the conquerors that have fallen asleep in
Him and transfigure them into His likeness, along with His conquerors that are alive and remain
on the earth. This is the glorious day of Christ (Philippians 1.6, 10; 2.16)! It will commence with
the coming of the Lord in His Parousia during the fall feast of Tabernacles.
Now, this is the context in which we find this matter of assembling or gathering together.
Admittedly, stimulating one another to love and good deeds is something that requires
Christians to be with one another. However, is this the only way to view this verse? To answer
this question, let us dig a little deeper and look at the Greek words from which our English
words have been translated and compare their usage in other New Testament verses.
Gathering Together
Before looking at the verse in question, it is noteworthy to refer to the Lord's own words in
which He laid out the essential principle of gathering together.
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"For where two or three have gathered together [ sunago ] in My name, there I am in their
midst." (Matthew 18.20 NASB)
The Greek word for "gathered together" is sunago , and its noun form is sunagoge . We derive
the English noun synagogue from this word. Sunago is one of the more common verb forms
meaning "to lead together, i.e., collect or convene, gather." Sunagoge means an "assemblage of
persons." Both words come from the root word sun , which means "union, with or together."
According to the Lord's words, a gathering of His people occurs when any number of His people
gathers together in His name. It is so simple.
Now, let us look more closely at the verse in question.
Not forsaking our own assembling together [ episunagoge ] , as is the habit of some…. (Hebrews
10.25 NASB)
In the Hebrews epistle, the "assembling together" comes from the Greek word episunagoge ,
which means "a complete collection." The prefix epi means "above or after," implying a more
intensified meaning of the word; thus, it is a complete gathering, implying that it could be a
rather large collection of people. The only other place in scripture that this intensified form is
used in the noun form is in one of the few verses in all of scripture that directly refers to the
snatching away of the believers of our present age in clouds to meet the Lord in air.
Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our
gathering together [ episunagoge ] to Him, that you may not be quickly shaken from your
composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the
effect that the day of the Lord has come. (2 Thessalonians 2.1-2 NASB)
In 1 Thessalonians 4.13-17, Paul had written to the Thessalonians about the snatching away in
clouds to meet the Lord in air, so that he did not have to repeat himself but merely remind
them of this hope. The gathering together that Paul referenced is a complete gathering of the
Lord's people, or, at least, a great gathering of conquerors. It is a full, complete, great
gathering.
Further evidence that this sort of gathering is a full or complete gathering is also discovered by
reviewing all the uses of the Greek word episunago , which is the verb form of the noun
episunagoge .
The first reference is discovered when Jesus cried out over ancient Jerusalem. His heart's cry
was that He longed to gather the entire house of Israel, to Himself; but at His first advent He
could not do this, for they rejected Him.
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How
often I wanted to gather [ episunago ] your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks
under her wings, and you were unwilling." (Matthew 23.37 NASB; also Luke 13.34)
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The second reference, we could say, is the fulfillment of the Lord's heart cry when He will
gather the true, spiritual Israel , all the elect, to Himself.
"And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together
[ episunago ] His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other." (Matthew
24.31 NASB; also Mark 13.27)
The angels will gather the elect from every corner of the world to which they have been
dispersed as the four winds of heaven (Zechariah 2.6). This is a full and complete gathering. This
is very similar to Paul's revelation of 1 Thessalonians 4.13-17. Perhaps, it is one and the same.
Finally, there are two other verses that relate to full, complete gatherings. One involved the
complete gathering to Jesus of the city of Capernaum. The other involved a multitude or many
thousands of people gathered to Jesus.
And the whole city had gathered [ episunago ] at the door. (Mark 1.33 NASB)
Under these circumstances, after so many thousands of the multitude had gathered together
[ episunago ] that they were stepping on one another…. (Luke 12.1 NASB)
Now, leaving out Hebrews 10.25 for a moment, all seven uses of this word (both the noun
episunagoge and the verb episunago ), refer to full, complete gatherings to the Lord Himself,
and literally involve large numbers of people.
At this point, the challenge remains as to whether this matter of not forsaking our gathering
together is a present reality (i.e., "church meetings"), or whether it, in fact, refers to the future
gathering of a great host of believers to the Lord in the day of Christ.
To answer this challenge, let us begin by summarizing what has been presented to this point.
First , the subject of the epistle to the Hebrews is the world to come when Christ comes a
second time, and the one new man in Christ reigns over this earth in the place of the angels.
This is our hope. The fact of the matter is that if He does not come we have no hope, for there
will be no resurrection and transfiguration into His image.
Second , the context of the verses immediately preceding and following the one in question
refer to the hope we have, and this hope is summed up in the day that is coming, the day of
Christ. The not forsaking our gathering together is nestled between the hope and the day.
Third , the exhortation in reference to the hope and the day is to love and good deeds. We must
be faithful to our Master while He is gone for a long time to receive a kingdom. We are called to
bear fruit that is commensurate with our hope of the coming kingdom of glory. The
Thessalonians and the Colossians all held to the hope of the coming kingdom, and as they did,
they fulfilled the Lord's command to love.
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Fourth , the Lord never expressed a desire that we, as His people, should meet in very large
gatherings while He is gone. On the contrary, He defined the true assembly of His people as
those gathering in His name, even as few as two or three. Historically speaking, it is noteworthy
that once the believers had shed their ties to Judaism, they often met in their homes (see
Romans 16.5). The emphasis was not on buildings or great meeting places but on simply coming
together to break bread, fellowship in the Lord, and pray together. It is true that in the very
beginning there were large numbers gathered together, but as time went on, this changed. The
large gatherings in great buildings took hold later when the church, sadly, became wed to the
world rather than to her Lord. Outwardly, that which is called "the church" in our day has never
recovered from being wed to the world.
Fifth , other, less intensified Greek words, such as sunago and sunagoge , are used in scripture to
describe most other types or acts of gathering, including the Lord's heart for where two or
three are gathered together in His name. In other words, these Greek words are used for
gatherings in general and often for small gatherings, not the gatherings of the multitude.
Sixth , all uses of the words episunagoge and episunago refer to full, complete gatherings to the
Lord Himself , that is, actually being in His presence (not some mystical or spiritual experience).
Two uses refer to large numbers of people gathering to the Lord when He first walked on this
earth. Two uses speak of the heart of the Lord Jesus to gather the true, spiritual Israel to
Himself. Three uses refer to the actual gathering of the elect to Himself at the end of Man's day.
Seventh , if seven out of the eight uses of the words episunagoge and episunago refer to
actually gathering in the presence of the Lord, then why would the Holy Spirit change the
meaning in this one epistle? Some might argue that today Christians meet with the Lord in the
spiritual sense and that Hebrews 10.25 is merely a call for Christians to gather for worship. Few,
if any, of the Lord's people would question that we are not to gather together. However, the
question is whether Hebrews 10.25 deals with our gathering in this day or with a future
gathering at the coming of the Lord? Why didn't the writer use the more simplified word for the
gathering of two or three that the Lord had used in Matthew 18.20? Surely, it makes more
sense to use the simplified form of the Greek word to encourage the brethren to gather, no
matter how many there might be.
Contextually, the writer of Hebrews makes no other reference to this matter of gathering
together in this day. However, the epistle clearly focuses on our future hope, which is focused
on believers being gathered together with the Lord. Based on their background, the Hebrews
who were reading this letter must have known something about a future gathering together.
Christians were being scattered in that day, making it difficult to meet in large gatherings. Why
would the spirit of God exhort them to maintain large meetings that could not possibly be held
in a time of persecution? Further, why call for large meetings when persecution and scattering
would be an ongoing reality for some of the Lord's people until Christ comes a second time?
Was this a prophetic word that looked forward 2,000 years to the mega-church of our day?
Thousands are packed into buildings that are erroneously called "the church," places in which
they have all sorts of entertainment that looks no different than the world from which we have
been saved. The single pastor that stands in the man-exalted pulpit every Sunday has little, if
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any, relationship with the masses that listen to him every week. (The solo pastor is a concept
that cannot be supported through scripture.) How can 10,000 people be a daily stimulant to
one another to love and good deeds when, at best, they can be in relationship with only a
handful of people? In these mega-churches, people are at best acquaintances. How can they be
vitally and practically related to one another? Further, how could the Spirit exhort us to large
gatherings when it goes against the very heart of our gathering together?
The only satisfactory resolution to this matter is based on the Greek word itself and the
contextual uses of it in Hebrews and in other New Testament verses. Just because the
traditions of men state that this must refer to today's gatherings does not make it correct.
These are the same people who often hold to the traditions of the single pastor, the strong
pulpit, and many other things that are held by Christendom but which cannot be supported by
scripture. Much of what has been adopted by Christendom today can be traced to pagan
customs and practices and not to God's word.
[For an interesting study of this matter: Pagan Christianity The Origins of Our Modern Church
Practices by Frank Viola, Present Testimony Ministry.]
It is recognized that early in the history of Christ's ecclesia on earth, some were deserting the
hope of the second coming of our Lord. We know that the assembly at Ephesus, merely 50-60
years after Pentecost, had fallen from her first love (Revelation 2.4), a love for the Lord and His
return. They were doing many good things, but they were no longer motivated by the hope laid
up for them in heaven. They had become earthly minded, even in their good deeds. Simply,
they had lost sight of their destiny in Christ, and their intimate love for Him had waxed cold. If
falling away from this hope could happen to an assembly that had such a rich history and
teaching from the beloved Paul, and later, the beloved John, then surely this is something
about which the Holy Spirit would continue to warn the Lord's people.
On a personal note, some years ago, I regularly met with an elderly brother in Christ. This
brother was very active in building churches and encouraging brothers. You could say that he
was quite proud of his work, perhaps, rightly so. However, one day I was shocked by his
response to me as I shared my heart with him about the coming of the Lord and how I longed to
see Jesus. He responded that he had no interest in the coming of the Lord, didn't care if He
comes, and had no interest in seeing Him. I was speechless. How could one help the Lord's
people and express love to one another and not have a love for His appearing?
There is one other key that might help to unlock this verse for some as found in the phrase our
own gathering together . Hebrews 8.8-12 reminds us of the new covenant.
"Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, When I will effect a new covenant with the house of
Israel and with the house of Judah…. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house
of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write
them upon their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall
not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for
all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their
iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more." (Hebrews 8.8-12 NASB)
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Do Not Abandon the Hope
October 2007
Portions of these verses are repeated in Hebrews 10.16-17, right before the exhortation about
gathering together (Hebrews 10.16-17). Surely, as Paul wrote to the Romans, the Hebrews must
have known that a partial hardening had come to Israel until the fullness of the nations [ ethnos ]
has come in, and thus all Israel will be saved (Romans 11.25-26).
Could it be that this remnant of Hebrews was being reminded that they too would be gathered
to the Lord, as Paul had written to the Thessalonians? After all, the Hebrews still had roots in
Judaism and needed to be reminded of the gathering of the Lord's people. Relatively speaking,
not much time had passed since Calvary, and the great hope of Christ's return held by the early
church was beginning to wane. Some had given up hope of the coming of the Lord. Many days
had come and gone since Calvary, and yet they were encouraged not to follow the habit of
others who had lost this hope but to hold to it, and all the more as they saw the day
approaching.
Of course, we need to be reminded that the new covenant is not based on genealogy or
bloodline but on God who has mercy. All who believe, Hebrew or non-Hebrew, are included in
the promises of the new covenant. Based on the Lord's own words in Matthew 24.31, the elect
of the new covenant will be gathered together at the commencement of the millennial
kingdom of Christ.
Given what has been presented, it is possible that the exhortation to not forsake our gathering
together ( episunagoge ) refers to our gathering together to be with the Lord as a future hope. If
this exhortation were a call today for large meetings, actually full, complete meetings of all the
Lord's people, it seems that it is a contradiction to all the other uses of this word, as well as a
contradiction to the Lord's heart for the two or three. Actually, it is literally impossible for all of
the Lord's people, either dead or alive, to be gathered together. It is only possible when the
Lord comes to gather His people to Himself. It also would be quite difficult, if not impossible, for
all the believers in large cities of our day to meet together.
The following rendering of this portion of scripture is proposed to the reader.
Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, which is the proper
result of our holding fast the confession of hope as we await our Lord, not abandoning the
hope of our own, unique gathering together unto the Lord [when He returns to establish His
kingdom over this earth], as is the habit of some who have given up this hope, but
encouraging one another all the more as you see the day of Christ drawing near.
Before concluding, there is one other observation to be made regarding these verses. It is
rather curious that it ends with as you see the day , when in all the preceding verses the writer
referred to our and us —let us, our hope, our own. Why doesn't it end by stating as we see the
day ? Could it be that as you see the day is for the Lord's people who will be on the earth when
the Lord returns? Perhaps this is a prophetic word to the transfiguration generation!
Nearly two millennia have passed since these words were first penned. Surely, we are closer to
the day, even at the very cusp of the day. The six days are nearly over (or, perhaps have been
completed and we are in a transitional period) and the seventh day is set before (or, upon) this
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Do Not Abandon the Hope
October 2007
very generation in which we live. The time is almost up! This word is more vital to the
generation that will be alive and remain when He comes than to the original recipients. We are
in that generation! We are the ones seeing the day drawing near.
Oh, do you see the greatness of our hope? Do you see the day approaching? In our day, many
have abandoned the hope of our gathering together to meet the Lord in air. Others have never
been introduced to this great hope. And yet, others are growing weary waiting. Let us not grow
weary, but let us encourage one another that there is a gathering unto the Lord that is uniquely
for the conquerors of Christ and that this gathering is closer than we realize.
For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may
receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will
not delay. (Hebrews 10.36-37 NASB)
It is time to wake up and to look up, for our Redeemer is coming very soon. The day is drawing
near! Let us not abandon the hope of our own gathering together with the Lord when He
comes.
If what has been presented is still difficult to accept, then may your heart love the thought of
the appearing of our Lord in the day that is coming.
From this time onward there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord,
the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but also to all who
love the thought of His Appearing. (2 Timothy 4.8 WNT)
Revised June 2013
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