Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 23, 1967
NUMBER 45, PAGE 8b-9a

On Assembling

R. B. Rasmussen

One of the more widely discussed texts in new testament scripture is Hebrews 10:25, "not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh. " Various discussions on this text usually focus on the issues of which day is seen approaching, and what assemblies are referenced.

Three candidates for the approaching day are the first day of the week, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the judgment day. Before examining the qualifications of these days, consider the day's approach and its relationship with the assemblies in the context. Both the exhorting of verse 25 and the provoking unto love and good works of verse 24 are opposite of the forsaking of the assemblies. But assembling is also opposite the forsaking the assemblies. It is evident that the provokings and exhortings are identical and constitute the purpose of the assemblies. We also see that the occasion for the saints' assembling and exhorting is seeing the approaching thy under consideration. Together these facts argue to eliminate two of the proposed days.

Suppose that the approaching day is the first day of the week. The conclusion forced by our text is that we must exhort one another "so much the more" as the week progresses towards the Lord's day. Provoking, exhorting, and assembling become more important later in the week, and less important on Mondays than on Fridays. The supposition of the Lord's day must be rejected on grounds of finding it exceedingly difficult to believe.

Supposing that the day is referring to the destruction of Jerusalem lands us in the same quandary. Why was it more important to provoke unto love and good works the nearer the destruction approached? Why is it therefore of less importance now as that day departs from us? We must evoke the same rejection of this supposition as for that of the first day.

The judgment day affords us a solution that is not forced and that harmonizes perfectly with the rest of the gospel. Consider the approach or "drawing nigh" of this day. In Rom. 13:11, 12, the apostle Paul said that now is salvation nearer to us than when we first believed," and that "the day is at hand." The terms "nearer" and "at hand" in this passage are found to have the same Greek root word as "drawing nigh" as in Heb. 10:25.

I further submit that Paul is speaking on the same principle in both passages in that he cited the approach of the day of salvation to motivate his exhortation, saying, "let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light." As it is true here, it is also true throughout the New Testament that the approaching day of judgment is causal of the provoking unto love and good works. James urged us to be patient and establish our hearts because the coming day is at hand. (Jas. 5:8) Because the end of all things was seen to be at hand, Peter exhorted us to be of sound mind, sober unto prayer, and provoked unto various good works. (1 Pet. 4:7-9) John revealed that "the time is at hand" and thus the righteous should continue righteous and the holy should continue holy. (Rev. 22:10-12) In each of the above passages we again find the term "at hand" having the same root as "drawing nigh" in Heb. 10:25.

Finally, the writer of Heb.10:25 proceeds to discuss the fearful judgement of those who sin willfully and the great reward for those who continue patiently. Surely, that day seen approaching is the judgment day.

Let us now attend to the matter of the assemblies. That the assemblies occurred frequently and regularly is evidenced by the fact that some customarily or habitually forsook them. The purpose of the assemblies was for the saints to exhort one another. Recall that the exhortation is motivated by the seeing of the day approaching. "See" is most interestingly translated as "take heed" in Heb. 3:12,13. "Take heed, brethren, lest haply there shall be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God: but exhort one another day by day. "Here, "take heed" is causal of exhorting one another, so I find it not improper to coordinate this passage with Heb.10:25. Since "exhort one another" permits the assembling together of saints, we find here the permitted frequency of assembling described by the term "day by day". This is certainly more frequent than the Lord's day, and certainly includes any and every day that the saints determine to assemble on for this purpose. These are the assemblies not to be forsaken.

Brethren, salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. Take heed lest any fall away from God. Exhort one another daily. Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together.