Christians often misuse a key end-times scripture in order to encourage their “back-slidden” brethren to “go back to church.” They say, “Don’t forsake the assembling together of the brethren for fear of woeful judgment” as they mistakenly quote Hebrews 10:25-27.
But those verses have nothing to do with going to church. They have everything to do, however, with the parousia, the second coming of our LORD Jesus Christ. The Greek word translated “the assembling together” in Hebrews 10:25 is episunagoge which is used twice in this passage. This word occurs only one other time in all Scripture, in one of the very most important verses concerning Christ’s second coming, 2 Thessalonians 2:1. This is an important clue for discerning it meaning.
Paul said to the Thessalonians, “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him…” (2 Thessalonians 2:1 KJ2000) Here the editors translate the word episunagoge as “gathering together,” which is very similar to the meaning of “assembling together” used in Hebrews. But, notice the context here in 2 Thessalonians. This passage clearly concerns the gathering together, or assembling together, of Christians to meet Christ at his second coming. Is the context of Hebrews 10:25 different?
The apostle says in Hebrews, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching. For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful expectation of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” (Hebrews 10:25-27 KJ2000) The context here is “as you see the day approaching.” This passage concerns the day of the LORD, the time of Christ’s second coming, NOW!
Hebrews 10:25-27 means to prepare God’s people for his coming. The verse deals with readiness to meet him face to face and exhorts us to quit sinning willfully. Why? Because no sacrifice for sin but Jesus exists or remains to us. Many are called, but few are chosen. Jesus calls us to emulate him, to mourn over our sinfulness, and seek his perfection and holiness. We should especially do this as we see the day approaching. Why? Because those who think they have it made simply because they make a proclamation of faith in Jesus will be sorely surprised when they miss the rapture, the parousia. God calls us to be holy as he is holy.
John also speaks of this time in this important verse, “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:1-2 KJ2000)
This appearance of God alluded to here is the second coming Paul speaks of 2 Thessalonians 2:1. Paul, John, and Hebrews all speak about the same event. The doctrine of episunagoge, then, is this: Do not forsake the teaching about being ready to meet Jesus face to face at his second coming, especially as you see that day approaching. This is the doctrine of separation, sanctification, and holiness.