Scriptural Gem for December 2013

In Hebrews 10:24-25 we read: 'And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.'

Many Christians think that verse 25 of our reading above is an admonition to believers to faithfully attend church and the translation unfortunately guides people to this erroneous idea. The original Greek text however, reveals something completely different. The Greek word translated in this verse as 'meeting together' is 'Episynagogue'. This word appears only twice in the entire New Testament and is a very special word indeed. If the writer of Hebrews wanted to indicate that he was referring to believers meeting together, he would simply have used the word 'Synagogue' which means 'to gather together'. However, in this verse he uses 'Episynagogue'. The prefix 'Epi' means 'upper, above, beyond'. So, the literal translation would be 'upper gathering together or gathering above'.

This is exactly how the word 'Episynagogue' is translated in the second of its two occurences in Scripture. Have a look at 2 Thessalonians 2:1: 'Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him, we ask you, brothers and sisters...' Here, the word 'Episynagogue' is used again, this time correctly translated as our being brought into oneness with God. Interesting.

Far from simply encouraging believers to meet together faithfully every week, the writer of the Hebrews is saying 'In your meeting together, please don't neglect the actual reason why you have come together - to be made one with God! Beloved, that main purpose for meeting together is sorely lacking in the church today. People go to church as a religious act of duty or for some social interaction and some don't really even know why they are going. The sole reason why we gather together on a Sunday is to meet with God, to be made one with Him. May God speak to our hearts today and may we prepare ourselves to attend the 'Episynagogue' this coming Sunday! 

Werner Schreiber