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In Hebrews 10:25 we read

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (KJV)

The word there for "assembling of ourselves together" being episunagógé (ἐπισυναγωγή).

The question is that the only other biblical usage for that word is 2 Thessalonians 2:1, as

Christ and our gathering together to Him.

So there is a preacher here in Brazil that states this: The fact that this word episunagógé is used firstly in 2 Thessalonians 2:1 to speak about "gathering toguether with Christ" implies that the text from Hebrews is speaking about assembling of ourselves together with Christ and not to each other.

MY question

Is this a valid hermeneutic approach? Can I use the first mention of a term to determine the meaning of the second mention like this? Has any relevant commentary made this relation before?


Personally, I have a problem with this view. Any study tool will tell you that episunagógé means simply "assembling together". Context seems to show that Hebrews talks about "assembling together" of the members of the Church and 2 Thessalonians talks about the "assembling together" of the Church with Christ.

  • Hebrews and 3 Thessalonians have two completely different authors, each of whom who could have used the term somewhat differently. And (regardless of authorship) the preacher in Brazil is wrong if he simply assumes that 2 Thessalonians predates Hebrews - we simply don't know. – Dick Harfield Jan 21 '16 at 19:38
  • Your question in the title is not the same as your question in the "MY question" section. Please make them agree so we know what you are trying to find out. You can use the "edit" button under the tags. Thanks. – Ruminator May 4 '18 at 17:39
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μὴ ἐγκαταλείποντες τὴν ἐπισυναγωγὴν ἑαυτῶν, καθὼς ἔθος τισίν,

not who leave behind the leading ourselves together upon, just as a custom to some,

ἀλλὰ παρακαλοῦντες, καὶ τοσούτῳ μᾶλλον ὅσῳ βλέπετε ἐγγίζουσαν τὴν ἡμέραν.

rather who call beside, and to so much more as much as you all look at the day approaching.

The next clause gives the alternative as "call beside", and since it is plural, there's no chance of it being Christ doing the calling but rather we who do. If in the immediate context the alternative to "we leave behind assembling/gathering" is "we summon/invite/exhort" it's a large stretch to override that meaning with another context of a letter written at another time to another audience most likely by another author.

The use of "ἐπι-" as a prepositional prefix with "συναγωγή" is limited in the NT to these two passages; however, "ἐπισυνάγω" appears 8 times and "συνάγω...ἐπί" 5 times. Each of these describes the gathering of multiple people to a common person, place or idea. If any inference is to be made between them, it is that the Hebrews passage points out that 2 Thessalonians 2:1 should also be read with an emphasis on the "together" bit: we are not "led upon Christ" individually (which would be "ἐπάγω") but "led together upon Christ" ("ἐπισυνάγω").

-1

This is a valid approach (albeit a failed one if it is half pursued). On the basis of just word occurrence using this "Method", you would also have to look at related concepts of the word in first its root noun/adjective/adverb forms, and then its various assembled meanings in each usage case of the root(s).

In stark contrast to my preferred method ("Sola Scriptura"), you would recognize that there are doctrinal themes that could be searched out in other places of scripture to clarify the answer. In this case you could do a study on the doctrine of unity, church assembly, fellowship, etc... and find a pretty solid understanding of what it meant to assemble together from common practice of history.

In either case, I believe that this approach is valid, but gauging from the question, this was a weakly formed conclusion based off of one scriptural precedence. Which leads to the mention of my preferred method; which tells me this effort of interpretation was lacking enough effort to make the conclusion valid.

Examples (given in KJV) via Sola Scriptura:

Deuteronomy 17:6 - At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.

Isaiah 28:9-10

9 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.

10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.

10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.

11 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?

12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Not trying to debate these scriptures, but rather showing how quickly one can form a conclusion that there needs to be more than one occurrence of a supporting argument for it to have strength to hold up.

Based on just the single statement of "the approach of precedence" to me is too weak, and I hope the above example at least conveys why it is so weak in its implementation.

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The phrase 'one another' of Hebrews 10:25 is italicized, which means the phrase was not in the original text. Regarding assembling ourselves, a relationship with Christ is one on one, not because we belong to a religious organization. Therefore, I am inclined to believe Christ and our gathering together to Him is the valid hermeneutic approach. Further, the Bible has enough examples that synagogues and later churches are prone to becoming apostate. While there are numerous examples in the Bible of one on one relationships with God.

  • I've edited this to remove the prescription to readers. This is not a Christian site. Please describe the text without prescribing it to readers. – Dan Nov 1 '16 at 20:45
  • Welcome to BH.SE Craig Jordan! – enegue Nov 2 '16 at 4:27
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    This fails to address the issue in the original text. The reason words like that are added during translation (and italicized in some editions) is to make the sense of the original clear, particularly when a verb tense make something unambiguous in the original that would become ambiguous with the help of extra words. – Caleb Nov 2 '16 at 5:51

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