Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 3, 1968
NUMBER 22, PAGE 10b-11a

Forsaking In Hebrews 10:25

Ralph Williams

Does a Christian "forsake" assembling when he wilfully misses a single service of the church?

Articles have been written and statements made to the effect that "forsaking the assembling" pertains to a total abandoning of public worship. However, upon further research no evidence has been found indicating the word "forsake" (Greek, enkataleipo) necessarily denotes a state of FINALITY. Neither Vine nor Thayer imply the word inherently carries the thought of absolute permanent abandonment. Rather, it seems the time element or extent of "forsaking" must be determined from the context or other positive evidence. (Please feel obliged to advise otherwise if you have such authoritative information to the contrary).

For example, this same word is used in Matt. 27:46. What was the EXTENT to which the Father had "forsaken" the son? Apparently it was the three hours of darkness during which Jesus alone bore the weight of humanity's sin. But the point of issue here is the word "forsaken" refers to a relatively short duration of time, and not total termination of fellowship for good. Note Isa. 54:7 for another example where the context modifies use-age of the word.

In Heb. 10:25 the one word which shows some brethren had reached this sad condition of "totally abandoning" the "assembling" is the word MANNER ("custom" — ASV). Some made it their "custom" to forsake while faithful brethren customarily assembled. Thus, this word modifies and explains the extent to which some forsook public worship. Forsaking was a habitual practice or "custom" with them.

One or two drinks don't make one an alcoholic, but they do start him down the road. One day he arrives to find that drink has become his "custom." If a Christian could attend a certain gathering together of the church but wilfully choose to be absent, would he not "forsake" that one particular meeting? If he did not abandon the Lord, the Truth and the body of Christ on that specific occasion, what did he do with that opportunity to glorify God? But, should he search his heart and remove the worldly hindrance in true repentance, there is little danger that "forsaking" will become a "custom" with him. On the other hand, should he begin to miss (forsake) other occasions, is he not traveling that road of hardening the heart where finally he'll "desert" any and all opportunities to praise God with the saints?

If these observations are sound, then we ought not to speak about brethren "missing services" when they're wilfully absent. Let's put the teeth of Scripture into it and inquire as to what is causing them to "forsake" assembling before it becomes their "custom" to do so!