Updated: Feb 28
Cue Excuses by The Kingsmen Quartet
Let’s be honest, Hebrews 10:25 is likely the best known, and possibly one of the most quoted verses from the epistle to the Hebrews. The passage is most often used to exhort people to ensure that they are not missing church but is not exactly what the author had in mind.
This passage is most often used to compel believers towards church attendance. We are told that if we miss church, without a good reason, (and sometimes even with a good reason), we are forsaking the assembly.
Let’s look at the context
The book of Hebrews was written to a group that had been enduring all types of suffering, from being thrown in prison to having their property stolen from them, and even tells us that they had endured this with joy. (Heb. 10:32-33)
In all this, the author's goal is to encourage them to keep their eyes on Christ, and not return to their own self-righteousness. (v. 39) Paul, through the pen of Luke, (see what I did there) had even spent the previous nine chapters of the book reminding these believers that Jesus was better than any picture of Him from the Old Testament. He was the substance of the shadows that their fathers had been given and He was worth much more than anything. (v. 10-13)
And It is only in this context that we can understand what the author is saying when we read “not to forsake the assembling of ourselves”.
Don’t forsake assembling?
Too often we find ourselves parachuting into verses in order to prove some point that we are trying to make, and this text is a perfect example. Verse 25 isn’t even the complete sentence (notice the colon?)
23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
25 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.
In verse 24, we are told to “consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.” The author is quite literally calling these believers to remember Christ (v.23b), hold to the faith (v.23a), and stir up each other love towards one another and towards those that are outside of Christ. (v. 24) In other words, we need to be thinking about how we can help our brethren be motivated to love as they motivate us to do the same.
The “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves” can be seen in contrast with a similar call to “provoke one another.”
Understanding this, we can draw the conclusion that “forsaking the assembling of ourselves” is not "be there for every service", rather it is "encourage your Christian family to look to Christ".
Don’t abandon your brethren and don’t forsake the faith.
The word forsaken that is used in this verse means to “leave behind or to desert” and it is the same word that Christ uses on the cross speaking of being forsaken by the Father. (Matt. 27:46) Further, if we trace the word for “forsaken” to other passages, it is translated as “left” in Acts 2:31 and is used when speaking of the abandonment of Paul by Demas in 2 Timothy 4.
Considering the warning against the abandonment of the faith in verses 30-35, we can draw the conclusion that this abandonment of faith begins when we abandon our brethren. The author is calling them not to abandon Christ or our brethren as had become “the manner of some”. (v.25 & 35)
I'm not saying that assembling with other believers is not important, actually, quite the opposite. Like many other proof texts, the bar is in a completely different place than something that we are checking off a to-do list.
We could give 10% of our income and be in church every time the doors are open, and still forsaking our assembly because we are not stirring up their faith. We have forsaken them in lieu of ourselves and our perceived faithfulness.
When we place the horse in front of the cart where it belongs, we see that faith in Christ that flows into and from your brother, not faithfulness to church is the point of the text.
 Strong’s (1459. ἐγκαταλείπω (egkataleipó))