Amplified: And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities, (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: and let us put our minds to the task of spurring each other on in love and fine deeds. (Westminster Press)
NLT: Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: and let us think of one another and how we can encourage each other to love and do good deeds. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: And let us constantly be giving careful attention to one another for the purpose of stimulating one another to divine and self-sacrificial love and good works, (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: and may we consider one another to provoke to love and to good works,
THE FIVE WARNING PASSAGES
|Heb 2:1-4 (notes)|
|Heb 3:7-4:13 (notes)|
|Heb 5:11-6:12 (notes)|
|Heb 10:19-39 (notes)|
|Heb 12:14-29 (notes)|
AND LET US CONSIDER HOW TO STIMULATE ONE ANOTHER TO LOVE AND GOOD DEEDS: kai katanoomen (1PPAS) allelous eis paroxusmon agapes kai kalon ergon: (Heb 13:3; Ps 41:1; Proverbs 29:7; Acts 11:29; Ro 12:15; 15:1,2; 1Corinthians 8:12,13; 9:22; 1Corinthians 10:33; Galatians 6:1; Colossians 3:16; 1Thessalonians 5:11; 2Thessalonians 3:9) (Romans 11:4; 2Corinthians 8:8; 9:2) (He 6:10,11; 13:1; Galatians 5:6,13,22; Philippians 1:9, 10, 11; 1Thessalonians 1:3; 3:12,13; 1Ti 6:18; Titus 2:4; 3:8; 1Jn 3:18)
Let us - Another exhortation. Let us - 13x in 12v - Heb 4:1, 11, 14, 16; 6:1; 10:22, 23, 24; 12:1 (2x), He 12:28; 13:13, 15
The Jewish readers were in great need of exhortation to move forward in the grace found in the New Covenant and (at least some) were having a hard time breaking with the Old Covenant, with the Temple and the sacrifices. They were continuing to hold on to legalism, ritual and ceremony, all of which represented the outward manifestation of their prior practices in Judaism. Old habits die hard, don't they.
Henry writes that here the writer gives us "the means prescribed for preventing our apostasy, and promoting our fidelity and perseverance.
The able Lutheran commentator Lenski aptly summarizes the three let us exhortations in this section of Hebrews writing that "The first ("let us draw near" - Heb 10:22-note) admonition deals with the heart, the second with the mouth ("let us hold fast the confession" - Heb 10:23-note), the third with conduct (Hebrews 10:24). The first with God, the second with the world, the third with the church.
Draw near in Faith
Let us ever seek to be stimulators and encouragers, not irritators and fault finders for as George Adams reminds us "Encouragement is oxygen to the soul."
Consider (2657) (katanoeo from kata = down [kata can be used to intensify the meaning] + noéo = to perceive or think) means literally to put one's mind down on something and so to observe or consider carefully and attentively. It means to fix one’s eyes or mind upon and to perceive clearly, cautiously, observantly. The idea is to think about something very carefully or consider closely and includes the action of one's mind apprehending certain facts about a thing so as to give one the proper and decisive thought about the thing considered.
Notice the present tense which calls for continuous consideration of how to stir other believers - not to stir them in the sense of causing trouble, but stirring them up in the sense of motivating them to live on earth as citizens of heaven who are anticipating a better hope to be fully realized when "the day" draws nigh. The exhortation is to take careful note of each other’s spiritual welfare, for we are in fact in a very real sense "our brother's keeper" in the flock of God.
Wuest - Consider” is the translation of katanoeo which speaks of attentive, continuous care (Ed: especially in the present tense). The exhortation is to take careful note of each other’s spiritual welfare. The purpose of this attentive, continuous care is to provoke each other to the exercise of love and good works. (Hebrews Commentary online)
Jamieson writes that the idea of consider is...with the mind attentively fixed on “one another", contemplating with continual consideration the characters and wants of our brethren, so as to render mutual help and counsel.
Expositor's Greek Testament writes that the author is here saying...let us consider one another, taking into account and weighing our neighbor's circumstances and especially his risks, but this with a view not to exasperating criticism, but "with a view (eis) to incite them to love and good work," acknowledging honest endeavor and making allowance for imperfection.
This is the second use of katanoeo in this epistle, the first use being in Hebrews 3 where he commands the readers "Therefore (based on what he has just written - Heb 2:18), holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider (aorist imperative - do this now, do it effectively, it conveys a sense of urgency and do in in dependence on the Spirit) Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession. (Heb 3:1-note)
TDNT writes that katanoeo...is closely related to the simple noeo, whose literal meaning is intensified, “to direct one’s whole mind to an object,” also from a higher standpoint to immerse oneself in it and hence to apprehend it in its whole compass... It can also denote 2. critical observation of an object: “to consider reflectively,” “to study,” “to examine,”... 3. In literary Greek katanoeo...means especially apprehension of a subject by intellectual absorption in it: “to consider,” “to ponder,” “to come to know,” “to grasp,” “to understand” (Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Eerdmans)
Matthew Henry - Christians ought to have a tender consideration and concern for one another; they should affectionately consider what their several wants, weaknesses, and temptations are; and they should do this, not to reproach one another, to provoke one another not to anger, but to love and good works, calling upon themselves and one another to love God and Christ more, to love duty and holiness more, to love their brethren in Christ more, and to do all the good offices of Christian affection both to the bodies and the souls of each other. A good example given to others is the best and most effectual provocation to love and good works.
Stimulate (3948) (paroxusmos from para = besides, near + oxuno = literally to sharpen, figuratively to incite or irritate) is a strong word which literally means to sharpen and figuratively speaks of a sharpening of one's mind or incitement to some action. Depending on the context, paroxusmos can have either a positive or negative meaning. In a positive sense (Hebrews 10:24) it refers to a rousing of one to activity by incitement or encouragement.
In a negative sense, paroxusmos refers to a state of irritation, a sharp disagreement, a "bristly" argument or a provocation. - "And there arose such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus." (Acts 15:39)
Paul uses the related verb paroxuno in his "definition" of Christian love noting that such love "does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked (paroxuno), does not take into account a wrong suffered (1Cor 13:5-note)
Wuest - The word “stimulate” is the translation of paroxusmos which means “an inciting, incitement, a stimulation.” The word is used also in a bad sense, for instance, “irritation.” Here it is used in its good sense, that of a stimulation. Vincent says: “The new economy demands mutual care on the part of the members of the Christian community … They must stir up each other’s religious affections and ministries.” (Hebrews Commentary online)
Expositor's Greek Testament notes that paroxusmos is frequently used by the classic Greek writers "of stimulating to good as in Plato (Epist. iv., p. 321) and in Xenophon (Cyrop. 6, 2, 5), et al...
In Hebrews 6:9-10 (note) the writer presents his readers a good example of this stimulation
This Greek word paroxusmos is related to our English paroxysm which describes a sudden attack or violent expression of something. Although that is not exactly what the writer is saying for his readers to do, it does convey the sense that we are to be serious about spurring one another. Perhaps you have had this experience -- You were driving home late at night with someone else at the wheel and you noticed them begin to nod off. How did you stimulate them? A whisper? Hardly. Instead you would rather vigorously tried to excite them and arouse them from their stupor to prevent "the day" of your car crash from drawing near! In the same way, we believers are to consider seriously out to spur each other onward and upward and all the more as the day of His return draws nearer.
There are two uses of paroxusmos in the Septuagint...
Spurgeon - The Greek is, to stir each other up to a paroxysm of love. There is no fear that we shall ever go too far in our love to God; though it should cast us into a state of blessed excitement, yet would it be healthy for us so to live and so to work. I am afraid there are some who consider one another to provoke in quite a different spirit from this,-who watch to find out a tender spot where a wound will be most felt. They observe the weakness of a brother’s constitution, and then play upon it, or make jests about it. All this is evil, so let us avoid it; let us all seek out the good points of our brethren, and consider them, that we may afterwards be the means of guiding them to those peculiar good works for which they are best adapted.
Spurgeon - “Provoke unto love and to good works.” I do not know how we can do that better than by being very loving and very full of good works ourselves, for then will others be likely to say, “If these people are helped by God’s grace to love like this, and to labor like this, why should not we do the same” A good example is often better than a very proper precept.
Matthew Poole adds that paroxusmos...is a word borrowed from physicians, who use it to set out the violent incursion of a fever, when the fit is so strong as to make the body tremble and bed shake with the horror and rigour of it. In this place it is used to set out the vehemency (speaks of intense emotion, feeling or conviction) of affection to which the sacrifice of Christ obligeth Christians, as those who had their whole persons acted by love to each other, with all vehemency, to the highest and fullest pitch of it; as who should exceed in benevolence, beneficence, and complacency in each other, such as is conscientious, pure, and extensive to the very end, see notes Heb 13:1-note; Ro 12:9-note, Ro 12:20-note; 1Thes 4:9-note; 1Pe 1:22-note; and manifesting itself in good works to them, especially merciful ones, pitying, counselling, succouring, supplying, and comforting them, Jas 2:13, 15, 16 1 John 3:14, 16-18 and this freely, cheerfully, and constantly, see Eph 2:10-note; Eph 4:32-note; 1 Ti 6:18. (Matthew Poole's Commentary)
One another (240) (allelon) is a frequent Pauline word which is found 40 times in the NAS and makes for a very interesting study (click the 40 uses). Note that he does not say “Meet together so the pastor can stir you up to love and good works, and encourage you.” One another means that every believer can and should encourage, exhort, admonish and even rebuke other believers to press on for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, to fight the good fight of faith, to run the race with endurance. And to reiterate, the verb katanoeo does not imply we are to give this activity an occasional thought but that we are to continually be putting our mind to this task (of stimulating one another), observing and considering carefully and attentively how we can carry out this exhortation toward other believers. We need to think carefully and not casually about how to stimulate one another. The end is at hand and we are to redeem the time for the days until the end are evil. In the meantime we are to think of ways to stimulate our brethren to love and good deeds.
As John Piper says "This is a reason for living that is focused enough to be practical and big enough to last a lifetime."
Solomon alludes to this idea of the "one another-ness" our writer is calling his readers to pursue...
John Wesley once said "There is nothing more unchristian than a solitary Christian."
In the next verse the writer says we are to do these things "all the more and as you see the day drawing near." In other words this stirring one another up to love and good deeds ought to be motivated by a sense of our Lord's imminent return. Each day closer to His glorious Second Coming should serve to motivate us to pour ourselves into acts of love toward one another.
John Piper has an interesting comment on this section writing that stimulating one another......is the focus for your life. Here is what you aim at from morning till night as a Christian. Notice carefully: it is not what you might expect. It is not: consider how to love each other and do good deeds. That would be Biblical and right. But it’s different: “Consider how to stimulate each other to love and good deeds.” Focus on helping others become loving people. Aim at stirring up others to do good deeds. And of course the implication would also be that if others need help and stirring, we do too, and so we would be aiming at what sorts of ways we can think and feel and talk and act that will stir each other up to love and to do good deeds. The aim of our lives is not just loving and doing good deeds, but helping to stir up others to love and to good deeds. (See the full text of Consider Each Other How to Stir Up Love)
A B Simpson explains stimulating one another this way...Every new experience is a preparation for a higher ministry. We can only give to others the Christ that we ourselves know. After coming closer to God we shall always find some hungry heart waiting for our message and ready for our assistance. Let us go out of ourselves as soon as we can, and find our blessings in blessing one another. There is special reference in the following verse to the approaching day of the Lord's coming, and the ministry referred to has doubtless reference to the gathering out and preparation of the Bride to meet her Lord. This, indeed, seems to be the great work which the Holy Spirit has for the disciples of Christ today, not so much the conversion of sinners, although that is not to be forgotten, but the purifying and preparing of the Lord's own people to meet Him in the air. We shall find as we endeavor to give our blessing to others that it grows in the exercise, even as the traveler who found that he had saved himself from death by the warmth that came into his freezing limbs while he rubbed and chafed the limbs of a fellow-traveler, who was dying in the snow. So let us "consider one another to provoke unto love and good works." (A. B. Simpson. Christ in the Bible - Hebrews)
Here are four ways believers can be positive "irritants" to one another to incite them to love and good deeds...
(1) Prayer - If we specifically pray for each other by name and pray for the development of volitional, selfless love (agape) and for specific good deeds, God will answer for John says...
Paul "shot his arrows" very specifically as he interceded and importuned for the saints at Philippi...
(2) Example - A second powerful way to spur one another on to “love and good deeds” is by example.
(3) God’s Word - The Word of God is our basic primer for love and good deeds. When we internalize it and allow it renew our mind and transform us, we become veritable conduits of its virtues and gentle examples and provokers of this Spirit wrought grace to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
(4) Encouragement - Lastly, there is the responsibility to verbally spur others on through words of encouragement. Always remember that "A good word costs no more than a bad one." And as someone else once said more people fail for lack of encouragement than for any other reason. Spurgeon tells the following stories...
Love (26) (agape) speaks of unconditional, sacrificial love and Biblically refers to a love that God is (1Jn 4:8,16), that God shows (Jn 3:16, 1Jn 4:9) and that God enables in and through His yielded, humble saints (see fruit of the Spirit Gal 5:22-note). Biblical agape love is the love of choice, the love that serves with humility, the highest love and noblest devotion, the love of one's will (intentional, a conscious choice), a love not motivated by superficial appearance, emotional attraction, or sentimental relationship but initiated and energized by the Spirit in the obedient saint. Agape is not based on pleasant emotions or good feelings that might result from a physical attraction or a familial bond. Agape chooses as an act of self-sacrifice to serve the recipient. From all of the descriptions of agape love, it is clear that genuine agape love is a sure mark of salvation, Jesus Himself explaining that "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love (agape) for one another." (John 13:35)
Agape love can exhibit emotion, but it must always exhibit action. Agape is unrestricted, unrestrained, and unconditional. Agape love is the virtue that surpasses all others and is the prerequisite for all the other virtues. Jesus when asked "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” replied ”‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment." (Mt 22:36-38)
F B Meyer has the following description of agape love "Wherever there is true love, there must be giving, and giving to the point of sacrifice. Love is not satisfied with giving trinkets; it must give at the cost of sacrifice: it must give blood, life, all. And it was so with the love of God. "He so loved the world, that He gave his only-begotten Son." "Christ also loved and gave Himself up, an offering and a sacrifice to God." (Eph 5:2-note) We are to imitate God's love in Christ. The love that gives, that counts no cost too great, and, in sacrificing itself for others, offers all to God, and does all for His sake. Such was the love of Jesus--sweet to God, as the scent of fields of new-mown grass in June; and this must be our model. Not to those who love us, but who hate; not to those who are pleasant and agreeable, but who repel; not because our natural feelings are excited, but because we will to minister, even to the point of the cross, must our love go out. And every time we thus sacrifice ourselves to another for the sake of the love of God, we enter into some of the meaning of the sacrifice of Calvary, and there is wafted up to God the odor of a sweet smell. (Devotional Commentary on Ephesians)
Meyer in his book The Way Into the Holiest adds that agape love "is queen of all the graces of the inner life. Love is the passion of self-giving. It never stays to ask what it can afford, or what it may expect to receive; but it is ever shedding forth its perfume, breaking its alabaster boxes, and shedding its heart's blood. It will pine to death if it cannot give. It must share its possessions. It is prodigal of costliest service. Such love is in the heart of God, and should also be in us; and we may increase it materially by considering one another, and associating with our fellow-believers. Distance begets coldness and indifference. When we forsake the assembly of our fellow Christians we are apt to wrap ourselves in the chill mantle of indifference. But when we see others in need, and help them; when we are willing to succor and save; when we discover that there is something attractive in the least lovable; when we feel the glowing sympathy of others-our own love grows by the demands made on it, and by the opportunities of manifestation.Let us seek earnestly these best gifts; and that we may have them and abound, let us invoke the blessed indwelling of the Lord Jesus, whose entrance brings with it the whole train of sweet Christian graces."
Good deeds (ergon = work + agathon = good) (Click incredible example of good deeds) is a frequent Pauline phrase used 6x in the short letter to Titus (Titus 1:16-note, Titus 2:7-note, Titus 2:14-note, Titus 3:1-note, Titus 3:8-note, Titus 3:14-note).
John Morley helps us understand the "good" in "good deeds" writing that...It is not enough to do good. One must do it in the right way.
Chester A. Pennington also adds the qualifier that...No amount of good deeds can make us good persons. We must be good before we can do good.
See related resource by A W Pink - The Scriptures and Good Works
Paul emphasized the principle that good deeds flow from "ready" vessels, writing that if a man cleanses himself from these things (Amplified - "from what is ignoble and unclean, who separates himself from contact with contaminating and corrupting influences"), he will be a vessel (instrument) for honor, sanctified, useful (beneficial for honorable and noble purposes) to the Master, prepared (ready, ripe, primed) for every good work (ergon agathon)." (2Ti 2:21-note)
In other words, you get up, go to work, and immediately God gives you an opportunity to perform a good work. Are you ready?
Every morning is a new day of opportunity and we need to arise and "present (our) bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God" (Ro 12:1-note), redeem (buy up) "the time (opportunities), because the days are evil" (Eph 5:16-note), disciplining ourselves for godliness which is "profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come." (1Ti 4:7-8-note)
R. L. Dabney adds that...The gospel teaches us that while believers are not rewarded on account of their works, they are rewarded according to their works...While our works are naught as a ground of merit for justification, they are all-important as evidences that we are justified.
Spurgeon - I would not give much for your religion unless it can be seen. Lamps do not talk, but they do shine.
Don't let the opportunities slip by. Be "confessed up", "repented up" and "filled up" with the Holy Spirit and you will be ready to recognize the opportunities God graciously gives. And remember that although we are to be seen doing good works, we must not do good works in order to be seen!
Peter explained the vital importance of good deeds in a godless society exhorting us to "Keep (our) behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander (us) as evildoers, they may because of (our) good deeds, as they observe (behold with their own eyes like a spectator or overseer) them, glorify God in the day of visitation." (1Pe 2:12-note)
Your good works will validate your good words (works are fruit but words are leaves) which is in stark contrast to the false teachers who "profess to know God, but by their deeds they (continually) deny Him, being detestable (root word = "to stink"!) and disobedient and worthless for any good deed” (Titus 1:16-note).
Good deeds are not the root of salvation, but they are the fruit of genuine salvation (cf Mt 3:8, Eph 2:10-note).
The lives of believers should continually demonstrate the reality of the spiritual regeneration and supernatural transformation they have received by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Believers who have been redeemed...from every lawless deed and now are the rightful possessions of Christ, are to be zealous (afire, ardent, fervent, eager, enthusiastic) for good deeds. (Titus 2:14-note)
Thomas Adams phrased it this way...Good deeds are such things that no man is saved for them nor without them.
John Calvin rightly reminds us (for a man is tested by the praise accorded him - Pr 27:21)...In our good works nothing is our own.
Oswald Chambers explains it this way...Do good until it is an unconscious habit of life and you do not know you are doing it.
Martin Luther in his preface to his comments on Romans wrote...Oh, it is a living, busy, active, mighty thing, this faith; and so it is impossible for it not to do good works incessantly. It does not ask whether there are good works to do, but before the question rises; it has already done them, and is always at the doing of them. He who does not these works is a faithless man. He gropes and looks about after faith and good works, and knows neither what faith is nor what good works are, though he talks and talks, with many words, about faith and good works.
Spurgeon wrote the following regarding works and our Salvation. - William Wickham being appointed by King Edward to build a stately church, wrote in the windows, "This work made William Wickham." When charged by the king for assuming the honour of that work to himself as the author, whereas he was only the overseer, he answered that he meant not that he made the work, but that the work made him, having before been very poor, and then in great credit. Lord, when we read in thy Word that we must work out our own salvation, thy meaning is not that our salvation (Php 2:12-note) should be the effect of our work, but our — Feathers for Arrows (Eph 2:10-note)
As alluded to in some of the preceding quotes, we must be careful to notice that the phrase is good deeds which differs from your deeds. Let me explain. Paul is calling for good (agathos = good in its character or constitution, beneficial in its effect) deeds, and the only "good" deeds are those borne by believers (like "branches") who are abiding in Christ ("the Vine"). Good deeds reflect Christ's life flowing through us, initiated and energized by His Spirit and bringing glory to His Father (Mt 5:16-note). Paul reminds us in (Php 2:13-note) "it is God Who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure."
Jesus stated the basic principle of good deeds when He declared "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing (absolutely, totally nothing!)...By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit (good deeds = good fruit) and so prove to be My disciples...You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain...." (John 15:5,8,16)
Paul reminded the Corinthian church of this same foundational principle regarding "good deeds", explaining that "God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed" (2Cor 9:8).
Paul acknowledged that the key to his good works was the grace of God writing that His "grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me." (1Cor 15:10-note).
In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul emphasized that "no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ ("the Vine"). Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire." (1Cor 3:11-15)
One day in the future the Lord Jesus will even "disclose the motives of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God." (1Cor 4:5)
In sum, good deeds in a Biblical sense refers to a genuine, sincere, loving, Spirit empowered, God glorifying eagerness to serve others. No matter how hostile the society around us may be, we are to be good to the people in it whose lives intersect with ours. Paul reminded the Galatian believers that While we have opportunity, [we are to] do good (agathos) to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Gal. 6:10-note).
Believers are to be known for what might be described as consistent aggressive goodness, done however not simply out of a sense of obligation or duty but out of an unselfish love for our Lord and for other people, "for (we) have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for (us), leaving (us) an example...to follow in His steps...entrusting Himself to Him Who judges righteously. (1Pe 2:21-23-note)
We do not witness just with our lips but with out life, validating our "talk" with our "walk." There should be nothing in our conduct that will give the unsaved world ammunition to attack Christ and the Gospel. Our good works must back up our good words. Jesus gave this same charge in Mt 5:16 (note) "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."
Believers can make a profound impact on the lost when they combine a godly life with a loving witness. We all know of instances of conversions simply because dedicated Christians let their light shine. On the other hand, we can recall with grief some lost persons who rejected the Word because of the inconsistent lives of "professed" believers.
In the summer of 1805, a number of Indian chiefs and warriors met in council at Buffalo Creek, New York to hear a presentation of the Christian message by a Mr. Cram from the Boston Missionary Society. After the sermon, a response was given by Red Jacket, one of the leading chiefs. Among other things, the chief said:
We are the Bibles the world is reading.
Barnes adds that "A Christian should be always ready to do good as far as he is able. He should not need to be urged, or coaxed, or persuaded, but should be so ready always to do good that he will count it a privilege to have the opportunity to do it."
Matthew Henry reminds us that "Spiritual privileges do not make void or weaken, but confirm civil duties. Mere good words and good meanings are not enough without good works."
Believers are to spur one another on to the love and good works (contrast "dead works" see Heb 9:14-note) that had distinguished them as a community in the past (Heb 6:10-note) when exemplary service of fellow believers had been the hallmark of the congregation (cf. Heb 10:33-note ; Heb 10:34-note)
Illustration of Stimulation to Good Deeds - The story is told of Ludwig von Beethoven. Born into a musical family in Germany, Beethoven was compelled to spend a lonely childhood while he practiced his music for hours upon hours every day. His genius soon showed itself. At the age of eleven he was composing his own music and conducting an orchestra, and in his late teens he went to Vienna for further study. There he reached fame if not fortune. There he composed what was perhaps his most bewitching composition. Beethoven was passing a cobbler's cottage early one evening and heard someone practicing one of his compositions. As he paused to listen, he overheard the girl express the desire to hear a real musician render it properly. He entered the house and discovered that the young lady was blind. Offering to play for her, he sat at the piano and did so for an hour or more. Dusk had settled into evening. The lone candle in the room went out. But the moonlight glistened in the room and, under its inspiration and that received from the blind girl who so loved his music, Beethoven composed the "Moonlight Sonata."
Stimulated by McGuffey Readers - William McGuffey loved to learn. Born in Youngstown, Ohio, in 1800, McGuffey learned the ""three R's"" from his mother and attended classes taught by the local minister. He began teaching other students at the age of 13, furthering his own education by borrowing books from neighbors. McGuffey became a college professor at the age of 26; but he is best remembered for his series of readers, which were used by generations of American school children. The McGuffey Readers urged (stimulated) students to adopt virtues such as truthfulness, kindness, hard work, thrift and sobriety. William McGuffey was very successful at motivating others to practice virtuous behavior. He used interesting examples to make his point, knowing how important it is for people to see virtue in action. McGuffey was not the first person to understand the value of a good example when it comes to helping people do what's right. The writer of Hebrews wanted his readers to make a deliberate effort to find ways they could spur one another forward in their Christian walk.
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Our Daily Bread - The Good Sense Of The Grasshopper - One grasshopper seems insignificant as it leaps across the lawn. But when it joins forces with other grasshoppers, the resulting swarm can soon devour all the vegetation in its path. Grasshoppers demonstrate the power of community. What they cannot do by themselves, they can accomplish together. In the book of Proverbs, the wise man Agur observed,
We can learn a lesson from these little creatures. Believers can make far greater advances for Christ's cause when they act and pray together than they could ever make alone. When Christians are united in serving the Lord, they can become a mighty force for God. Although the New Testament urges us to possess a personal faith in Jesus Christ, it says nothing at all about a private faith. We need other believers, and other believers need us. Let's enjoy the strength and fellowship available in the unified body of Christ. An effective church will reflect "the good sense of the grasshopper" by its love and unity in the Holy Spirit. --H W Robinson (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
We all depend upon the strength
Two Christians are better than one--
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How important is our fellowship in the local church? Let me answer that question by telling a story. A minister was concerned about the absence of a man who had normally attended services. After a few weeks, he decided to visit him. When the pastor arrived at the man's home, he found him all alone, sitting in front of a fireplace. The minister pulled up a chair and sat next to him. But after his initial greeting he said nothing more. The two sat in silence for a few minutes while the minister stared at the flames in the fireplace. Then he took the tongs and carefully picked up one burning ember from the flames and placed it on the hearth. He sat back in his chair, still silent. His host watched in quiet reflection as the ember flickered and faded. Before long it was cold and dead. The minister glanced at his watch and said he had to leave, but first he picked up the cold ember and placed it back in the fire. Immediately it began to glow again with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it. As the minister rose to leave, his host stood with him and shook his hand. Then, with a smile on his face, the man said, "Thanks for the sermon, pastor. I'll see you in church on Sunday." —David Roper (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
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We Need One Another - If recent polls can be trusted, an upsurge of Lone Ranger spirituality is occurring in the United States. Church attendance is down. Biblical beliefs are being abandoned. More and more of our fellow citizens are looking inward, online, and out-of-doors for the uplift they once sought in church sanctuaries.
How different from Jesus! He made it His practice to join in synagogue services regularly (Luke 4:16). But today, people no longer take Him as an example. They settle for what is loosely called "spirituality" and try to nurture their souls without the timeless traditions of congregational praise, prayer, biblical instruction, and edifying fellowship.
To gather regularly with other worshipers is an uplifting source of comfort, inspiration, and emotional strength. The Bible urges us not to forsake "the assembling of ourselves together" (Hebrews 10:25).
We should, of course, have regular devotional times by ourselves. Just as surely, we need the blessing of uniting with other believers for worship and fellowship. We need to spend time together "in order to stir up love and good works" (v.24). We need to make it our habit to worship with others. We need one another.—Vernon C Grounds (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
We each can have sweet fellowship with Jesus
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Stopping At Nothing (Good Deeds) - As we rounded a curve, the beams from my headlights suddenly shone on a woman desperately waving her arms. I did not want to stop. It was late and very cold. My wife and I were exhausted from ministering all day in a small church where I was student pastor, our small son was asleep on the back seat, and I had to be in class at 8:30 the next morning. "Somebody else will come along," I said to my wife, rationalizing to myself that the woman might be trying to lure us into a trap. But my conscience made me stop. And it's a good thing we did. In the woman's car we found four unconscious children, overcome by fumes from a faulty muffler. Quickly we loaded them into our car and headed for a nearby hospital, where they soon recovered after prompt treatment.
I don't advocate stopping along the highway for just anyone. Yet so many pressing needs go unmet. For instance, an elderly couple, no longer able to drive, haven't been to church for several months be-cause no one has offered to take them. And a widow with multiple sclerosis wishes that somebody would take her grocery shopping and help her get to church on Sunday. "Why isn't somebody meeting these needs?" I wondered. Then I remembered my own initial response that night along the highway: Somebody else will come along.
Hebrews 10:24 holds the solution to this problem. As Christians, we can stir up fellow believers to love and good deeds by setting a good example. We can be that "somebody else." —H. V Lugt (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
When it comes to doing things for others,
Today in the Word - Many of us recall parents, teachers, pastors, coaches, Sunday school teachers, and other special people who challenged us to do our best and seemed to bring out the best in us. Dr. Howard Hendricks recalls his sixth-grade teacher, who inherited a troubled boy from a broken home whose reputation preceded him. “Howard,” she told him, “I’ve heard all about you. But I don’t believe a word of it.” Hendricks began to blossom under her loving direction, and said later, “I would have walked through a wall for that woman.”
One of the God-intended delights of marriage is that the partners can be teachers, guides, coaches, and encouragers to each other. It’s painful to admit that one of the greatest failures of Christian husbands is their failure to feed and encourage their wives’ spiritual lives. The result is marriages in which one partner is growing in Christ, while the other lags behind.
God has a better plan. Again, today’s verses have a special meaning for married people. If Christians in general are commanded to urge one another on in love and service to Christ, how much more should a husband and wife do so?
Studying God’s Word and praying together are two obvious ways that couples can fulfill this biblical command, but don’t overlook the irreplaceable value of the church in a healthy marriage. It seems obvious, but couples need to be committed to attending church together and serving the body of Christ. One spouse attending church without the other may be common in our culture, but it’s one “tradition” that needs to be discarded.
The author of Hebrews wrote with an urgency relevant to both marrieds and singles. We must encourage each other because “the Day [is] approaching” (He 10:25). That is, “the time is short” (1Cor. 7:29). Christ could return tomorrow, so it’s important that we make use of today. (MBI - Today in the Word)
LOVE AND GOOD WORKS
WE have had the fulness of faith in which we are to draw nigh, and the confession of hope we are to hold fast, now follows the third of the sister graces: Let us consider one another--let us prove our love and care for each other in the effort--to provoke unto love and good works. These three thoughts form the subdivision of the practical part of the Epistle. Hebrews 11, may well be headed, The fulness of faith; Hebrews 12:1-14, The patience of hope; and Hebrews 13., Love and good work.
And let us consider one another. He that enters into the Holiest enters into the home of eternal love; the air he breathes there is love; the highest blessing he can receive there is a heart in which the love of God is shed abroad in power by the Holy Ghost, and which is on the path to be made perfect in love. That thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself is the house of God--remember this, Faith and hope shall pass away, but love abideth ever. The chief of these is love.
Let as consider one another. When first we seek the entrance into the Holiest, the thought is mostly of ourselves. And when we have entered in faith, it is as if it is all we can do to stand before God, and wait on Him for what He has promised to do for us. But it is not long before we perceive that the Holiest and the Lamb are not for us alone; that there are others within with whom it is blessed to have fellowship in praising God; that there are some without who need our help to be brought in. It is into the love of God that we have had access given us; that love enters our hearts; and we see ourselves called to live like Christ in entire devotion to those around us.
Let us consider one another. All the redeemed form one body. Each one is dependent on the other, each one is for the welfare of the other. Let us beware of the self-deception that thinks it possible to enter the Holiest, into the nearest intercourse with God, in the spirit of selfishness. It cannot be. The new and living way Jesus opened up is the way of self-sacrificing love. The entrance into the Holiest is given to us as priests, there to be filled with the Spirit and the love of Christ, and to go out and bring God's blessing to others.
Let us consider one another. The same Spirit that said, Consider Christ Jesus--take time, and give attention to know Him well--says to us, Consider one another--take time, and give attention to know the needs of your brethren around you. How many are there whose circumstances are so unfavourable, whose knowledge is so limited, whose whole life is so hopeless, that there is but little prospect of their ever attaining the better life. For them there is but one thing to be done: We that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Each one who begins to see what the blessedness is of a life in the full surrender to Christ should offer himself to Christ, to be made His messenger to the feeble and the weary.
Consider one another, to provoke unto love and good works. Love rind good works: These are to be the aim of the Church in the exercise of its fellowship. Everything that can hinder love is to be sacrificed and set aside. Everything that can promote, and prove, and provoke others to, love is to be studied and performed.
And with love good works too. The Church has been redeemed by Christ, to prove to the world what power He has to cleanse from sin, to conquer evil, to restore to holiness and to goodness. Let us consider one another, in every possible way, to provoke, to stir up, to help to love and good works.
The chief thought is this: Life in the Holiest must be a life of love. As earnest as the injunction, Let us draw nigh in fulness of faith, Let us hold fast the confession of our hope, is this, Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works. God is love. And all He has done for us in His Son, as revealed in this Epistle, is love. And Christ is love. And there can be no real access to God as a union with Him in His holy will, no real communion with Him, but in the Spirit of love. Our entering into the Holiest is mere imagination, if we do not yield ourselves to the love of God in Christ, to be filled and used for the welfare and joy of our fellow-men.
O Christian! Study what love is. Study it in the word, in Christ, in God. As thou seest Him to be an ever-flowing fountain of all goodness, who has His very being and glory in this, that He lives in all that exists, and communicates to all His own blessedness and perfection as far as they are capable of it, thou wilt learn to acknowledge that he that loveth not hath not known God. And thou wilt learn, too, to admit more deeply and truly than ever before, that no effort of thy will can bring forth love; it must be given thee from above. This will become to thee one of the chief joys and beauties of the Holiest of All, that there thou canst wait on the God of love to fill thee with His love. God hath the power to shed abroad His love in our hearts, by the Holy Spirit given unto us. He has promised to give Christ, so dwelling in our heart by faith, that we shall be rooted and grounded in love, and know and have in us something of a love that passeth knowledge. The very atmosphere of the Holiest is love. Just as I breathe in the air in which I live, so the soul that abides in the presence of God breathes the air of the upper world. The promise held out to us, and the hour of its fulfilment, will come, when the love of God will be perfected in us, and we are made perfect in love- Nowhere can this be but in the Holiest; but there most surely. Let us draw nigh in the fulness of faith, and consider one another. While we are only thinking of others to bring God's love to them, we shall find God thinking of us, and filling us with it.
1. It is the very essence, the beauty, and the glory of the salvation of Christ, that it is for all. He that truly receives it, as the Holy Spirit gives it, receives it as a salvation for all, and feels himself impelled to communicate it to others. The baptism of fire is a baptism of redeeming love, but that not as a mere emotion, but a power at once to consider and to care for others.
2. How impossible to love others and give all for them in our strength! This is one of the real gifts to be waited for in the Holiest of all, to be received in the power of the pentecostal Spirit--the love of God so shed abroad in the heart, that we spontaneously, unceasingly, joyfully love because it is our very nature.
Andrew Murray. The Holiest of All
Amplified: Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching. . (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: Let us not abandon our meeting as some habitually do—but let us encourage one another, and all the more so as we see the Day approaching. (Westminster Press)
NLT: And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: And let us not hold aloof from our church meetings, as some do. Let us do all we can to help one another's faith, and this the more earnestly as we see the final day drawing ever nearer. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: not letting down on the assembling of ourselves together, even as the custom of certain is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you are seeing the day drawing near.(Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as a custom of certain is, but exhorting, and so much the more as ye see the day coming nigh.
NOT FORSAKING OUR OWN ASSEMBLING TOGETHER AS IS THE HABIT OF SOME: me egkataleipontes (PAPMPN) ten episunagogen heauton kathos ethos tisin: (Matthew 18:20; John 20:19-29; Acts 1:13,14; 2:1,42; 16:16; 20:7; 1Corinthians 5:4; 1Corinthians 11:17,18,20; 14:23; Jude 1:19)
Not forsaking - The present tense can be rendered not continually neglecting our meeting together.
Forsaking (1459) (egkataleipo from en = in + kataleipo [kata = down or intensify meaning + leipo = leave behind] = leave behind, abandon) means to separate connection with another, and in context to neglect or abandon something, in this case meeting together.
Poole writes that this verb speaks of "a desertion, as leaves destitute in deep trouble or distress, when they should be helping." (Matthew Poole's Commentary)
Wuest - They are exhorted not to egkataleipo, that is, let down in their attendance upon these meetings, or abandon them. They are, on the other hand to exhort each other to continued attendance, and in view of the fact of the approach of the time when the Lord would come. (Hebrews Commentary online)
Assembling together (1997) (episunagoge from epi = upon, unto + sunago = to cause to come together) describes a gathering together at some location. In both the NT uses, this word is used in an eschatological (study of last things, future events, prophetic) setting (but see notes below about how some interpret "the day").
Wuest explains that "Assembling is the translation of episunagoge The word is a compound of ago “to go,” sun “with,” and epi. Sun and ago come over into English in the word “synagogue,” the meeting place of the Jews other than the temple at Jerusalem. Alford suggests two reasons for the addition of epi. It was used by the writer to take away the Judaistic sound of sunagoge. Or, it might point to the individual meeting places of the various assemblies. Some of the recipients of this letter were, under stress of persecution, absenting themselves from the Christian assemblies. (Hebrews Commentary online)
The only other NT use (none in the non-apocryphal Lxx - it is used as with an eschatological note in 2 Macc 2:7-8, where it refers to the final gathering of dispersed Israel) is in 2 Thessalonians 2:1 which describes the "rapture" (see note) of the saints (cf. Latin congregatio) "Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him."
Jamieson writes that "the Greek, “episunagoge,” is only found here and 2Thes 2:1 (the gathering together of the elect to Christ at His coming, Mt 24:31). The assembling or gathering of ourselves for Christian communion in private and public, is an earnest of our being gathered together to Him at His appearing. Union is strength; continual assemblings together beget and foster love, and give good opportunities for “provoking to good works,” by “exhorting one another” (see note Hebrews 3:13). Ignatius says, “When ye frequently, and in numbers meet together, the powers of Satan are overthrown, and his mischief is neutralized by your likemindedness in the faith.” To neglect such assemblings together might end in apostasy at last. He avoids the Greek term “sunagoge,” as suggesting the Jewish synagogue meetings."
Poole has an interesting thought on the prepositional prefix epi- attached to synagogue explaining that the compound noun episunagoge "strictly notes an addition to this synagogue of the Jews; an accession of new members to the former church assembly, even the Gentiles, becoming Abraham’s seed by their conversion to, and confession of, the faith of Christ. This some of the Jews, from the self-conceit of their being the only people of God, disdained, and continued in a separation from them, and all communion with them. (Matthew Poole's Commentary)
TDNT writes that in the context of Hebrews 10:24-25 "The point is not leaving the community, but failing to attend its gatherings, which are so necessary in view of the approaching day. The specific reason for the warning is not given. Believers might have been taking part in other gatherings or failing to attend due to pride, fear of persecution, or flagging zeal. (Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Eerdmans)
Some commentators suggest that the compound word episunagoge is used instead of sunagoge (synagogue) in order to avoid a word with Judaic association. Others feel that the word sunagoge might have been more suggestive to them of a building and formal meetings rather than the more generic concept of meeting together as believers in whatever venue might be appropriate. I favor the latter thoughts and certainly it has applicability to our modern world where even meeting for coffee or lunch can be time redeemed for stimulating one another. I think of men (and women) meeting in accountability groups fulfilling the aim of the proverb which declares that...
Or as the NKJV renders it...
As is the habit of some - This may indicate there had been a defection on the part of certain members.
Poole adds that "such desertion of those assemblies in the worshipping and serving of God, was the common custom among some of these Hebrews; a usual, frequent mode of them to do it; some idolizing their own nation; others, their own selves, thinking them holier than others, Gal 2:12-14; others, that valued honours, riches, and ease more than Christ or their souls; some for fear of persecution, as foretold, Luke 8:13, 14, fulfilled, Gal 6:12. (Ibid)
Let the words of George Atkins' 19th century hymn encourage you to assemble together if you have been "disassembling" as of late...
Matthew Henry - It is the will of Christ that his disciples should assemble together, sometimes more privately for conference and prayer, and in public for hearing and joining in all the ordinances of gospel worship. There were in the apostles' times, and should be in every age, Christian assemblies for the worship of God, and for mutual edification. And it seems even in those times there were some who forsook these assemblies, and so began to apostatize from religion itself. The communion of saints is a great help and privilege, and a good means of steadiness and perseverance; hereby their hearts and hands are mutually strengthened. To exhort one another, to exhort ourselves and each other, to warn ourselves and one another of the sin and danger of backsliding, to put ourselves and our fellow-Christians in mind of our duty, of our failures and corruptions, to watch over one another, and be jealous of ourselves and one another with a godly jealousy. This, managed with a true gospel spirit, would be the best and most cordial friendship.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer - The physical presence of other Christians is a source of incomparable joy and strength to the believer.
How else can we can stir one another to love and good deeds unless we meet together? (This was written of course the day of text messages, etc, but face to face contact is still the best!) And when we meet, it should not be for glib conversation but for godly consecration, centered around the Word of God and prayer to God. And all the more as we see the Day of His return drawing nigh!
Spurgeon - For Christian fellowship is helpful to us, and we are helpful to others by it. A Christian is not meant to be a solitary being. Sheep are gregarious, and so are the sheep of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us not be solitary pilgrims along the road to heaven, but join that glorious host of God’s elect who march beneath the guidance of our great Master. Does not every day bring us nearer to the coming of the Lord? Are there not many signs that these are the last days? Well then, so much the more let us stir each other up to love and to good works. Yes; there are some who even make a bad use of what ought to be a great blessing, namely, the printing-press, and the printed sermon, by staying at home to read a sermon because, they say, it is better than going out to hear one. Well, dear friend, if I could not hear profitably, I would still make one of the assembly gathered together for the worship of God. It is a bad example for a professing Christian to absent himself from the assembly of the friends of Christ. There was a dear sister, whom many of you knew, who used to attend here with great regularity, although she could not hear a word that was said; but she said it did her good to join in the hymns, and to know that she was worshipping God with the rest of his people. I wish that some, who stay away for the most frivolous excuses, would think of this verse: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is.” An example of not forsaking assembling together: Josef Gabor grew up in Czechoslovakia when it was dominated by communism, and religion was despised as weakness. His father taught communist doctrine classes. But Josef’s mother, who believed in Jesus Christ, took Josef and his brother with her to church. They got up early each Sunday morning and took a 3-hour train ride to Prague. Then they walked to the church and sat through a 2 1/2-hour service. After eating lunch in a nearby park, they returned to church for another 2 1/2-hour meeting. Then they took the 3-hour ride home. Today Josef Gabor is a missionary to his own people in Czechoslovakia. When he tells about going to church as a child, his eyes fill with tears of gratitude for a mother who cared enough about his spiritual welfare to help him come to know and serve Christ.
Today in the Word - A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association says that people who are involved in a variety of activities such as work, church, sports, and family recreation catch fewer colds than people whose lives are only consumed by a few things--work being the most common. The article supports the idea that mental well-being affects a person's physical health. This is encouraging news for the winter season, but we don't need a study to tell us that believers who are faithful to the church are spiritually healthier than those who are not. Today's verse shows that all of us need the strength we draw from one another. That's the way Christ intended His body to work.
How does the command to continue meeting together relate to God's faithfulness? You probably saw the connection in He 10:23. God's faithfulness to His promises is the link that connects He 10:19, 20, 21, 22, in which we are urged to draw close to God, with He 10:24, 25, which command us not to forsake the church. The point is that both of these spiritually healthy activities are possible and beneficial because our God keeps His promises. (MBI - Today in the Word)
Today in the Word -This December 31 promises to be one of the noisiest New Year's Eves many people have spent in their lifetime. Entertainment providers have been busy planning the 'party of the century' on land, on sea, and in the air as the supersonic Concorde takes a group of revelers around the world. Even the traditional New Year's eve celebration in New York's Times Square is going to begin twenty-four hours earlier than usual.
Getting together with people is a good way to multiply our enjoyment and divide our anxieties. Close fellowship with others is important on the spiritual level too. It helps us keep our equilibrium and focus on what is eternally important.
Since that's our goal, look at four powerful ways we can accomplish it. The writer of Hebrews tells us first to draw near to God (Heb. 10:19, 20, 21, 22). We can do this because the blood of Jesus Christ has opened the way into God's presence, and Jesus Himself is there to minister on our behalf as our great High Priest.
Second, when our relationship with God is solid we can hold to the hope we have in Him without wavering (He 10:23).
The Hebrews themselves were wavering between their faith in Christ and their former lives in Judaism. There are plenty of believers today wavering in doubt every time they hear some doomsayer predict the terrible things that could happen at the end of the millennium. That kind of fear does not produce steady faith. God's faithfulness is not limited by events.
He 10:24 describes a third way we can keep an eternal perspective. When we come together as believers, our objective is not just to have a social or mark a date on the calendar. We should be urging each other on toward love and Christian service.
The best context for this ministry is the fourth 'Let us' in today's reading (He 10:25). We need to stay in contact with our fellow believers on a regular basis. We have a 'Day' approaching the return of Christ. We need to stay close to God and one another to be ready when this day comes. (MBI - Today in the Word)
Grouped For Strength - Several years ago, former American prisoners of war were interviewed to determine what methods used by the enemy had been most effective in breaking their spirit. Researchers learned that the prisoners didn't break down from physical deprivation and torture as quickly as they did from solitary confinement or from being frequently moved around and separated from friends. It was further learned that the soldiers drew their greatest strength from the close attachments they had formed to the small military units to which they belonged. These observations give us insight into why Christians need the group experience of fellowship with other believers to help them remain loyal to the Lord. Our own personal relationship to God, vital as that is, is not sufficient to produce spiritual maturity and endurance. Relationships within a unified, Spirit-filled body of believers are essential for growth and for maintaining our individual faithfulness to the Savior (Hebrews 10:23-25). Sometimes we would rather not be involved in church life, thinking it's easier just to go it alone. But Christians who do that miss out on all the benefits. Let's remember that God in His wisdom has grouped us for strength. —M R De Haan II (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Some people don’t need much of an excuse to stay home from church. If it even looks like it might rain, they don’t want to risk getting a little wet.
The hymn writer Frances Havergal (bio) gave several reasons for attending church—especially on rainy days. She enumerates these as follows:
The Man Who Refused to Attend Church - A book in my library includes a humorous tale about a man who refused to attend church. When a pastor asked him why, he answered, “I don’t go to church because every time I do they throw something at me.” “What do you mean?” the preacher inquired. The man went on to explain. “When I was just a baby and my parents took me to church, the minister threw water on me. When I got married, the wedding ceremony took place in a church, and they threw rice at me.” Hearing this the pastor quickly responded, “And if you don’t start going to church soon, the next time you do I’m afraid they’ll throw DIRT on you!”
Sadly, this describes the situation for many people. As far as church attendance is concerned, it’s “three times and out.” They go to church to be baptized, married, and buried—and that’s about all. For an obedient child of God, however, that will never do. He does not forsake “the assembling together commanded in Hebrews 10:25. Rather, thanking God for the church, the dedicated believer takes advantage of the opportunities his local assembly offers for fellowship, for the ministry of God’s Word, for the observance of the ordinances, and for service. The church is a special blessing that God Himself has provided for believers. - R. W. De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
OLD BILL'S PROMISE FULFILLED - The "habit" of old Bill was not to go to church. He had never gone to church in his life. No matter how much he was coaxed, he couldn't be persuaded to attend even on a special day such as Christmas or Easter. "When it freezes in June," he would say, "then I will go to church." One year there was an unusually cold spring, and it stayed that way into June. The first part of the month the temperature dipped to freezing for several nights. Everyone thought about Bill and what he had said. Perhaps this spell of cold weather would finally get him to attend church. It did! One Sunday, Bill made his first appearance in the church building--while the organ played softly. Six men carried him in! Bill finally made it, but he was lying in a casket instead of sitting in a pew! Don't be like old Bill! Those who think they don't need church don't think much of the one who founded it.
Spurgeon on "church at home" - There are some who make a bad use of what ought to be a great blessing—namely, the printing press, and the printed sermon—by staying at home to read a sermon because, they say, it is better than going out to hear one. It is a bad example for a professing Christian to absent himself from the assembly of the friends of Christ. There was a dear sister who used to attend here with great regularity, although she could not hear a word that was said; but she said it did her good to join in the hymns, and to know that she was worshiping God with the rest of His people. I wish that some who stay away for the most frivolous excuses would think of this verse: “Not abandoning or meeting together, as is the habit of some.”
BUT ENCOURAGING ONE ANOTHER : alla parakalountes (PAPMPN): (Heb 10:24; 3:13; Romans 12:8; 1Corinthians 14:3; 1Thessalonians 4:18; 5:11)
But (alla) introduces the attitude and action that stands in contrast to their forsaking assembling together.
Encouraging (3870) (parakaleo [word study] from para = side of, alongside, beside + kaleo [word study] = call) means literally to call one alongside, to call someone to oneself, to call for, to summon. Parakaleo can include the idea of giving help or aid but the primary sense in the NT is to urge someone to take some action, especially some ethical course of action. Sometimes the word means convey the idea of comfort, sometimes of exhortation but always at the root there is the idea of enabling a person to meet some difficult situation with confidence and with gallantry.
Related Resource: More Discussion of encouragement w/ illustrations, devotionals, etc
Kent Hughes illustrates the root idea of parakaleo "to come alongside and encourage" with the following example - I see this exemplified every time my church has a roller skating party, and the parents put their little ones on skates for the first time. Mom and Dad skate with their child, holding on to his or her hands, sometimes with the child’s feet on the ground and sometimes in the air. But all the time the parents are alongside encouraging....[exhortation] is a wonderful gift, and we are to place it at Christ’s feet and be willing to be worn out in its use.
One Greek historian used parakaleo to describe a military regiment which had lost heart and was utterly dejected. The general sent a leader to talk to the disheartened ranks and he so enlivened them that their courage was reborn and a body of dispirited men became fit again for heroic action.
The present tense calls for encouragement to be the believer's daily/continual practice. Who have you encouraged today? Who has encouraged you? When was the last time either of these dynamics transpired in your life? When we surrender each morning to our indwelling Comforter, we will be better prepared to perceive those who need to be comforted. Such spiritual exercises are every believer's daily need (see Hebrews 3:13 below). Send an email to your pastor. Write a note to a brother or sister experiencing sorrow or joy. Be a "grace giver" as Paul exhorted the Ephesian saints...
One another - This phrase is not in the Greek text but is certainly appropriate in this context in order to emphasize the necessity of proximity of the members of the Body of Christ. You've got to make contact in order to have impact. Spurgeon says "It is not the work of the minister alone to exhort, but the brothers, and the sisters, too, should exhort one another and seek to stir each other up in the faith and fear of God."
The writer has a parallel passage in chapter 3 warning them that instead of falling away from the living God they were to...
The Hebrew recipients are exhorted by the writer to exhort one another not to harden their hearts by renouncing their professed faith in Messiah and going back to the Levitical system and sacrifices but to press on in faith in the better covenant, better ministry, better promises and better sacrifice of the better Priesthood of the Messiah.
Believers should encourage one another...
The writer's exhortations in this section remind us that Christians are a lot like coals of fire -- together they glow hot but apart, they grow cold. Lord, stir us and provoke us to "burn hot" (root for zealous in Gk is zeo = be hot, boil, fervent) for the Gospel of the Kingdom and for the glory of Thy Name. Amen.
Martin Luther spoke of the stimulatory effect of rubbing shoulders with the brethren confiding that when he was "At home in my own house there is no warmth or vigor in me, but in the church when the multitude is gathered together, a fire is kindled in my heart and it breaks its way through."
Barclay writes that leaders (and applicable to all believers) "must be able to encourage the (saints)... The navy has a rule which says that no officer shall speak discouragingly to any other officer in the performance of his duties."
GROW IN GROVES
If we are going to be spiritually healthy, we need all the encouragement and support we can get. And in this section our "trainer" is telling us that spiritual fitness calls for team effort. Yes, we are to be oaks of righteousness, but God desires us not to be isolated oaks but growing "groves" of oaks, as is so well illustrated in nature by the giant sequoia trees of California that tower up to 300 feet. These beautiful behemoths belie their unusually shallow root systems that reach out in all directions to capture the greatest amount of surface moisture. As their roots extend horizontally, the intertwining roots of the juxtaposed trees weave a network of support which provides stability against violent storms (think "storms of life"). In short, these gentle giants are so constructed by their Creator that they need each other, which explains why you virtually always see them growing assembled together in clusters ("not forsaking their assembling together"). Seldom do you see a giant redwood standing alone, because the high winds would quickly uproot the shallow root system of these "loners". The Hebrew believers of the first century desperately needed to grow in groves and we of the 21st century are no different!
Christian fellowship provides us
Spurgeon wrote that believers should both...
AND ALL THE MORE, AS YOU SEE THE DAY DRAWING NEAR: kai tosouto mallon oso blepete (2PPAI) eggizousan (PAPFSA) ten hemeran: (Matthew 24:33,34; Mark 13:29,30; Romans 13:11, 12, 13; Philippians 4:5; James 5:8; 1Peter 4:7; 2Peter 3:9,11,14)
The day - The Greek includes the article ("the") which identifies this as a very specific day. What day? There are two possibilities.
One (favored by J Vernon McGee, Dwight Pentecost) is the fact that the day of destruction of the temple and of Jerusalem was soon to come to pass in 70AD. The point of the writer's argument is clear -- encourage one another. Why would that be necessary? As the day of the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem approached, the true believers would need to "hang together" in order to hang on.
The Expositor's Greek Testament that "The day is of course the day of the Lord's return (Heb 9:28-note), the day of days. The Epistle being written in all probability a year or two before the destruction of Jerusalem, the signs of the coming day which could be "seen" were probably the restlessness, forebodings of coming disaster, and initial collisions with the Romans which heralded the great war."
The other possibility (favored by John MacArthur, Charles Ryrie, W A Criswell, William Hendriksen, Simon J. Kistemaker, Life Application Bible Commentary - Bruce Barton, Reformation Study Bible, Nelson Study Bible, NIV Study Bible) is the day of the return of the Lord, but admittedly it is difficult to prove this from the text or context. There is however no question that a sense of Christ's imminent return is used throughout the New Testament as a truth to spur believers toward an upward look and a willingness to hold loosely the things of this world which is passing away, even it's lusts.
There is a third possibility or application for the day would also be relevant to a time yet future, when the Jewish Temple is rebuilt and the Jews pick up the book of Hebrews and realize that the warnings are for them, because the true Day of the Lord is imminent, beginning with the unveiling of the Antichrist in the Temple in Jerusalem.
Matthew Henry adds that "There is a trying day coming on all men, the day of our death."
John Calvin (who favors the day as the day of the Lord's return) comments that "How could the (writer) say that those who were as yet afar off from the manifestation of Christ, saw the day near and just at hand? I would answer, that from the beginning of the kingdom of Christ the Church was so constituted that the faithful ought to have considered the Judge as coming soon; nor were they indeed deceived by a false notion, when they were prepared to receive Christ almost every moment; for such was the condition of the Church from the time the Gospel was promulgated, that the whole of that period might truly and properly be called the last. (ED: cp "the last days") They then who have been dead many ages ago lived in the last days no less than we. Laughed at is our simplicity in this respect by the worldly-wise and scoffers, who deem as fabulous (ED: literally meant resembling a fable!) all that we believe respecting the resurrection of the flesh and the last judgment; but that our faith may not fail through their mockery, the Holy Spirit reminds us that a thousand years are before God as one day, (see note 2 Peter 3:8) so that whenever we think of the eternity of the celestial kingdom no time ought to appear long to us (ED: "Amen!"). And further, since Christ, after having completed all things necessary for our salvation, has ascended into heaven, it is but reasonable that we who are continually looking for His second manifestation should regard every day as though it were the last. (ED: What a great perspective to aspire to beloved.)
Jamieson comments on the day drawing near writing that "The Church being in all ages kept uncertain how soon Christ is coming, the day is, and has been, in each age, practically always near; whence, believers have been called on always to be watching for it as nigh at hand. The Hebrews were now living close upon One of those great types and foretastes of it, the destruction of Jerusalem (Mt 24:1, 2), “the bloody and fiery dawn of the great day; that day is the day of days, the ending day of all days, the settling day of all days, the day of the promotion of time into eternity, the day which, for the Church, breaks through and breaks off the night of the present world” [Delitzsch in Alford]."
In the devotional, Our Daily Bread, there was a wonderful illustration of the power of encouragement --
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Journalist Robert Maynard related the following story from his childhood in The New York Daily News...
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WHY GO TO CHURCH - William Willimon, chaplain at Duke University, was invited to preach in an inner-city church. The service, with its long preliminaries, lasted 2 1/2 hours. When it was finally over, Willimon was exhausted and asked the pastor, "Why do these people stay in church so long?"
His friend replied,
The world is constantly pressuring Christians to conform to its values. We need to read God's Word and encourage one another so that we will be able to keep alive a strong sense of who we are in Christ.
Why go to church? Because God uses the exhortation and love of fellow believers to reassure us that the world's message is a lie and that God's good news is true. - D J De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
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Why Go To Church? - In a letter to the editor of a British newspaper, a man complained that he saw no sense in going to church every Sunday.
That letter sparked many responses. One, however, was the clincher:
The Bible assumes the importance of going to church, and the only admonition to do so appears in the context of the danger of forsaking the practice (Hebrews 10:25). We need help to keep our faith and hope from wavering (v.23), and to love and do good works (v.24). Just as physical food keeps us alive and strong, so also the spiritual nourishment of teaching and fellowship are necessary for our survival. -- Dennis De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
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DON'T MISS IT! - At the time these words were written, Jewish believers were experiencing great persecution. They were being watched, beaten, and some were even killed. Any defection from their profession of faith was a source of great satisfaction to the enemies of Christ. One way which demonstrated to the world that they were holding "fast the profession of . . . [their] faith" (Heb 10:23) was their assembling together. Matthew Henry wrote, "Forced absence from God's ordinances and forced presence with wicked 'people are great afflictions; but when the force ceases and such a situation is continued of choice, then it becomes a great sin." Some are unavoidably detained from meeting with other believers. Pro-longed illness, an unalterable work schedule, residence in a re-mote area — these could be legitimate reasons why one could not gather with other Christians, for fellowship and instruction. To such comes the encouragement of His Word, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20).
Every Christian should desire to be with God's people when they assemble. The church service is where the power of the Word is brought to bear upon the hearts and lives of those who profess to be children of God. I remember well the little widow in our home church who with her eight children walked nearly two miles summer and winter in order to meet with other Christians. She has seen the influence of that training multiplied in the lives of her son and daughters.
Christ's promise to be "in the midst" should be sufficient incentive for every believer to be present. (Ibid)
I love Thy church, 0 God!
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Should You Be "Court Martialed?" - A minister once asked a G.I. to give a few words of testimony. The congregation had just sung, "Like a mighty army moves the Church of God," so when the young soldier arose he said, "You might have been able to sing that hymn some years ago without anyone challenging you, but now millions of men know exactly how an army does move. And it doesn't operate the way a lot of you do. Suppose the military accepted the lame excuses you present as an alibi for not attending services. Imagine this if you can. Reveille sounds, and the squads form on parade ground. The Sergeant barks out, `Count off! One, two, three .. . say, number four is missing. Where's Private Smith?' `Oh,' says a chap nearby, `Mr. Smith was too sleepy to get up this morning. He was out late last night and needed the rest. He said to tell you he would be with you in spirit.' `That's fine,' says the sergeant, `remember me to him. But where is Brown?' `Oh, he's playing golf. He gets only one day a week for recreation, and you know how important that is.' `Sure, sure,' says the sergeant cheerfully, `I hope he has a good game. Where's Robinson?' `Robinson,' explains the buddy, `is sorry not to greet you in per-son but he is entertaining guests today. Besides, he was at drill last week.' 'Thank you,' says the sergeant smiling. `Tell him he is welcome any time he finds it convenient to drop in for drill.' Honestly, folks, did a conversation like that ever happen in any army? Why, if any G.I. tried to pull that stuff, he would get twenty days in the brig! Yet you hear things like that every week in church. `Like a mighty army!' Why, if this church really moved like a mighty army, a lot of folks would be court-martialed within the hour!"
Christian, read Hebrews 10:25 again and then ask yourself, "Should I be court-martialed?"
Suppose you had to "run" for church membership each year on the basis of what you had done for Christ during that period, would you be "re-elected"? (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
THE ASSEMBLING TOGETHER
THE inward and the outward must ever go together. As there is in every man a hidden inner life of the soul, along with the outer life of the body, so too in the Church of Christ. All its members are one body; the inward unity must be proved in active exercise, it must be seen in the assembling together. The assembling of His saints has its ground in a divine appointment as well as in the very nature of things; all who have entered into the Holiest to meet their God must turn to the meeting of His people. The tabernacle of old was the tent of meeting; to meet God and to meet our fellow-men are equally needful. Among the Hebrews it was already the custom with some to forsake the assembling together; it was one of the dangerous symptoms of backsliding. They are reminded, not only of the personal duty of each to be faithful, but also to care for others, and to exhort one another. For exercise and strengthening of the faith and hope and love, to which we have just been urged; for the full development of the life in the Holiest of All; for the helping and comforting of all who are feeble; for the cultivation of the fellowship of the Spirit and the Word--the assembling of ourselves together has unspeakable value. Let us listen to the exhortation, in connection with our entrance into the Holiest. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the custom of some is.
If we would rightly apprehend the import of this word let us not forget the link to its context. Our section has been teaching us what life in the Holiest is to be. As those who have drawn near to God we are to draw near to our fellow-men. Meeting God is a thing of infinite blessedness and peace and power. Meeting our fellow-men is often accompanied with so much of weakness, distraction, and failure that some have thought it indeed better to forsake the assembling together. Let us see how life in the Holiest of All points to both the duty and the power of our assemblies.
It suggests the duty. The Holiest of All is the home of eternal love. It is love dwells there. It is love that came forth from there to seek me and bring me in. It is into the everlasting love I have been welcomed and taken in. It is love that has been shed abroad in my heart. My entrance in was only in the path of self-sacrifice; my abiding there can only be as one dead to self and filled with love. And love seeketh not its own; it gives itself away, and only lives to make others partakers of its happiness. And it loves the assembly of God's people, not only for what it needs and hopes to receive, but for the communion of saints, and the help it can give in helping and encouraging others.
It not only does this, but obeys the added injunction--Exhorting one another. It seeks to watch over those who are in danger of becoming unfaithful. It cares for those who have grown careless in their neglect. True love is quick of invention; it devises means for making smaller or nearer or more attractive assemblies for those who have become estranged. It counts nothing too humble or too difficult if it may but win back to the gathering of God's children those who may there be blessed and saved. It lives in the Holiest of God's love; it gives itself up to the one work of winning others to know that love.
The life in the Holiest is thus not only the motive but the power for doing the work aright. Yes, it is as those who profess to have entered the Holiest of All truly draw near to God, and prove the power of fellowship with Him, that they will have power in prayer and speech and service among their fellow-Christians. The Holiest of All is the place for daily worship and consecration and intercession; even a little band in the assembly will have power to make the divine presence felt. The worship in the place of prayer may become so linked to the secret worship of the Holiest of All that its blessing may come to those who have never known of it. God is willing so to bless the fellowship of His redeemed that the assembly shall be crowned with a fuller sense of His love and presence than ever can be found in the solitary approach to Him. Wherefore, brethren, having boldness to enter into the Holiest, let us draw near; not forsaking the assembly of ourselves together, but exhorting one another.
And so much the more as ye see the day approaching. The writer has doubtless in view the then approaching day of judgment on Jerusalem. We know not in how far the perspective of prophecy was clearly revealed, and that day was connected with the coming of the Lord Himself. It is enough for us to know that the fear of an approaching day of judgment was the motive to which appeal is made; and that, not only to move the indifferent, but specially to urge the earnest to exhort others. Christians need to be reminded of the terrible doom hanging over the world, and of all the solemn eternal realities connected with our Lord's coming in their bearing upon our daily life. So will our efforts for helping and saving others all be under the power of the thought of how short the time is, how terrible the fate of those who perish, and how urgent the call for everyone who knows redeeming love to do its work with all his might. In the Holiest of All we hear the voice of warning, and come out to save ere it be too late.
1. Note the intensely practical character of the gospel. Our section (Hebrews 10:19-25) is only one sentence. It begins with spiritual, heavenly mysteries; it ends in the plainest rules for our conduct to our fellow-men. Let us be sure that the deeper we enter into the perfection-teaching of Hebrews 10:7-10, the fitter we shall be to be a blessing in the world.
2. When Christ spoke His farewell discourse to His disciples one of the things He pressed most urgently was that they should love one another. He loves all His redeemed ones, however feeble or perverse they be, so intently, that He tells us that we cannot prove our real love to Him in any other way than by loving them; the proof of a real entrance into the Holiest of All, the humility and gentleness and self-sacrifice with which we speak and think and prove our care of one another.
3. Study carefully the connection between those last twelve meditations, and see to get a clear hold of the unity of thought in this portion, the living centre of the Epistle.
Andrew Murray. The Holiest of All