Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Nuance of Hebrews 10.25

I really think it is important for all believers to study biblical backgrounds to some extent. You will find that when you have at least a cursory understanding of the contexts in which Scripture was written, you will have a fuller picture and a deeper understanding of its meaning. One example is Hebrews 10.25 - Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching (NIV).

Many of us have heard messages (or even taught them) from this passage about how important it is for us to be a part of a local church and for us to attend church on a regular basis. Now, I am not saying that is not a valid view, but does it do service to the intent of that verse? When we investigate the reason why this verse was written, we see a deeper (and more serious) understanding of this verse.

The book of Hebrews was written to encourage Jewish Christians to stay firm in their faith. They were being persecuted by other Jews because of their devotion to Jesus. They were tempted to return to full fledged Judaism. This isn’t just a message to lapsed Christians who preferred to sleep in on Sundays or to the person who says “I don’t need to go to church to be a good Christian.” To continue meeting together may have been costly for some of the recipients of this letter, but the writer of Hebrews was trying to tell them why it was so necessary for them to keep gathering, even in the face of this pressure.

From Encountering the New Testament by Elwell and Yarborough:

“After initial courageous reception of the gospel in the face of bitter persecution (10.32-34), they must not throw away the high level of confidence they had attained (10.35). To stand firm is salvation; to shrink back would mean defeat and destruction (10.39).” The writer of Hebrews’ “central purpose is fairly elementary: Trust in the Lord and stand your ground" (349).

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