the weblog of Alan Knox

Dave Black comments on Hebrews 10:24-25

Posted by on Jan 31, 2010 in blog links, edification, gathering, worship | 7 comments

Dave Black wrote this on his blog today concerning Hebrews 10:24-25:

Wow! Does this not suggest the character of our church meetings? Does this not teach us that we are to come together for the purpose of mutual edification? Does this not challenge our deeply entrenched views about “worship”? Should we not suspect The Message of a bit of eisegesis when it renders “let us not neglect our meeting together” as “not avoiding worshiping together”?

Paul’s point is crystal clear: We come together to encourage one another. How we can get “We come together to hear the Word of God preached” from these verses is beyond me.

Earlier in the day, he also wrote this concerning the phrase “corporate worship”:

I’d like to know where in the New Testament we are told to assemble for the purpose of “corporate worship.” Just thinking out loud. Yes, I know we have our worship teams, our worship guides, our worship services, our worship pastors. But could we be wrong about the whole notion of why we gather in the first place? Man, if we get something as basic as this wrong, just think of all the areas of ecclesiology we might be missing!


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  1. 1-31-2010

    I am not sure the point is as “crystal clear” as it might first appear. First, the author of Hebrews is not making a developed point, that is arguing for an ecclesiology, but rather giving an exhortation. Exhortations by nature are not typically exhaustive but particular and focused. What we can say is that the author commands us not to avoid meeting together for at least the purpose of mutual encouragement. This exhortation does not rule out preaching for example. Two verses are insufficient to develop a more robust understanding of what it means to be the church gathered. Before we begin to imply that we have gotten it wrong we would really need to do biblical theology. I might add that mutual edification and or encouragement (which are not exactly the same) does not mean that everyone edifies each other in the same way. Preaching can be a form of edification but most preachers that I know would deny that it is the only form of edification in a church.

  2. 2-1-2010


    Actually, the author of Hebrews “commands” us to consider how to stir up love and good works among one another. He states that we cannot do this by failing to meet together, but instead we do this by encouraging one another.

    If by “preaching” you mean one person teaching, I would agree as long as that one person teaching (lecture) is one part of multiple people speaking when the church meets. I have talked to many “preachers” who say that preaching isn’t the only form of edification in a church, but who will not allow any other type of speaking or any other person speaking when the church meets. I’ve even known many who would prefer to have someone from outside the church speak when the “preacher” is away than to have someone who is part of the church.

    If you read more of Dave Black’s posts and books, you’ll find that he doesn’t base his ecclesiology on these two verses.
    I agree that this type of study must be part of a broader study (biblical theology). In fact, my dissertation will be that kind of broader study.


  3. 2-1-2010


    Well, if you’re member of a “corporation,”
    (a 501 (c) 3, non profit, tax deductible, religious corporation.)
    then “corporate worship” might be the way to go.

    But, If you’re a member of a body, the body of Christ, The Church,
    it seems to me, “corporate worship” is just another
    “Tradition of men” that cancels out and nullifies
    “The Word of God.”

    It sounds real good… Even gave me goose bumps at times…

    Do we have all these “worship teams,” “worship services,” etc.
    because God likes it, or wants it?
    Or because it makes “us” feel good? 😉

    It’s amazing what happens, “when the people are one.”
    You can even,
    “Build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name,”
    “nothing will be restrained from them,
    which they have imagined to do.”

    Yea, I have a problem with all that “corporate” stuff I hear today.

    And we do everything but what God asks us to do.

    How is it then, brethren? when ye come together,
    every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine,
    hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation.
    Let all things be done unto edifying.
    1 Cor 14:26

  4. 2-1-2010

    Granted the clarification concerning the nature of the command, but my main point was that a single command does not in and of itself indicate priority or exclusivity. That is, this command does not mean that it is the foremost exhortation an exhaustive explication of what the church gathered is to do. For example, if I exhort my congregation to love their enemies, I am not necessarily implying that this is is primary nor exhaustive. I am not saying that you cannot love your friends or that love for friends is secondary to loving one’s enemies. It is simply a command in a given context. The original remarks are presented in a way that suggest to me that this has not been taken into account.

    You also might be correct concerning in stating, “If you read more of Dave Black’s posts and books, you’ll find that he doesn’t base his ecclesiology on these two verses.” But please note what Dr. Black actually writes:

    “Wow! Does this not suggest the character of our church meetings? Does this not teach us that we are to come together for the purpose of mutual edification? Does this not challenge our deeply entrenched views about “worship”?”

    Is not the referent to “this” in the above statements Hebrews 10:24-25? What other texts does he reference or allude to in the context of making these rather sweeping statements? Are the references in this post to previous posts which would help to establish a broader biblical theology on which to establish his assertions?

    Concerning preaching, preachers, and edification I can only say that such has not been my experience.

    By the way, I appreciate Dr. Black’s ministry and am probably sympathetic to his view of the church. But I just think he has overstated his case a bit here. One further aside, I am not convinced that his affirmation of Pauline authorship of Hebrews is correct, but he has made one of the better cases for it that I have read.

  5. 2-1-2010


    Perhaps your concern is the reason that Dave Black used the word “suggests” instead of something stronger. For example, this passage does suggest that the author of Hebrews assumes that once the believers have considered how to stir up one another toward love and good works that they will then have opportunity to exhort one another when they gather together. If this is suggested by this passage (and I think it is), then Black would be correct in questioning both the purpose for and the manner in which many believers gather together today.

    But, like I said, I don’t think his further commentary is based strictly on this passage, but on a combination of other passages in the New Testament.


  6. 2-1-2010

    I am not sure you understand my concerns here. Basically,even if one grants that Dr. Black’s interpretation for Hebrews 10:24-25 is correct, I would suggest that his application exceeds the text. As I have already indicated exhortations do not typically convey the idea of priority or comprehensiveness. There are some exceptions of course such as Jesus’ identification of the greatest commandment. But you do not have that kind of language here. It seems to me that Dr. Black sees here both a priority and comprehensiveness that is not apparent to me in the Hebrews text. Should Hebrews 10:24-25 inform the way we do church? Absolutely. But I think it is questionable whether Hebrews 10:24-25 can serve as a sufficient foundation for the sweeping challenges apparently drawn by Dr. Black from it.

    You may be correct in stating that, “I don’t think his further commentary is based strictly on this passage, but on a combination of other passages in the New Testament.” But you wouldn’t know it from the post at hand. As I have already asked, what is the referent to Dr. Black’s “this” in the post?

  7. 12-19-2011

    Came across this searching Hebrews 10:24-25 and wanted to offer a few points even though this thread is over a year old. One of the best uses of this passage is to disprove the theology of growing number of believers that the idea is to shrink the church. They assert that the idea is to evolve and ultimately disband. Paul’s instruction is clear to assemble together regularly and lift each other up.

    There is also a lot of misguided thinking about the structure of church services. The purpose of praise and worship through music is to soften hearts and minds to receive the seed, the Word of God delivered by a pastor. The only problem is that many churches fail to stress that the service is the beginning not an end point. If the seed does not bear fruit in the form of works in the believer’s life, then the service is useless and their faith is dead. The last exhortation of every service should be to go and do God’s works.