I am studying for our Wednesday night Bible class and was digging deeper into Hebrews 10:25. Below are the translations and the study notes from the ESV Study Bible and the NLT Study Bible.

ESV: not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

NLT: And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

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ESV Study Bible:

10:25 the Day drawing near. The coming day of Christ’s return and judgment (9:28; 10:37; see notes on Amos 5:18—20; 2 Tim. 1:12).

NLT Study Bible:

10:25 Some in this Christian community had evidently begun to neglect their meeting together in regular worship, perhaps to avoid persecution (10:32-39). – Our motivating one another to love and good works should be done in light of the day of his return,Christ’s second coming (9:28; Luke 12:42-46; 1 Cor 5:5; 1 Thes 5:2; 2 Pet 3:10; 1 Jn 2:28).

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I found these notes to be very surprising. No other alternatives are offered for the meaning “all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” It seems very unlikely to me that the writer of Hebrews in 68 AD is speaking about the second coming of Christ at the end of time. How would first century Christians see the second coming of Christ drawing near? His second coming was not drawing near because 1940 years have continued since the author wrote those words!

There are other options for interpreting this text. Some have suggests that the Day is simply referring to Sunday. This does fit the immediate context as these Christians were neglecting their gatherings. The point would be that they should consider how to stir one another up, especially as the week gets closer to Sunday so that they can stir each other up to love and good works.

Another option is that the Day is referring to the day of judgment against Jerusalem in 70 AD. F.F. Bruce in The New International Commentary on the New Testament on Hebrews wrote that this is a possibility for the first century Christians. This event would be something that the first century Christians could see coming since Jerusalem was already under Roman siege in 68 AD. Since the recipients of the letter are Hebrew Christians (hence “Hebrews” as the title of the book), the fall of Jerusalem would be very relevant to them. Also, the theme of the book of Hebrews is about the superiority of Christ, His worship, His covenant, and His sacrifice over the Moses, Moses’ law, and the sacrifices under the Mosaic Law. Chapters 12 and 13 of Hebrews continue to discuss the end of the Mosaic Law, the end of Jerusalem, and the end of the temple as the “things that are shaken” (Hebrews 12:25-29; 13:10-15).

Based on these contextual points and the theme of the book, I think “the Day drawing near” is the destruction of Jerusalem. Even if I am wrong, I am disappointed that the study Bibles did not reveal the other possibilities.

4 Comments

  1. When trying to interpret their meaning by hindsite, then that conclusion makes sense. However, they did not know the second coming was not going to happen in the next 2,000 years. For all they knew, just like us, it could happen tomorrow. There is evidence that Paul believed it was very near. If Paul believed that, other Christians most certainly did.

  2. Jonah, my point is that the inspired author is saying that they would SEE the Day DRAWING NEAR. It seems to me that the writer is saying that they would see the events coming shortly. If the day is the second coming, then the writer of Hebrews was wrong, in my opinion.

    I believe there is a difference in living a life with the expectation of the Lord’s return occurring (as Paul wrote) versus declaring that the Day was near and they would see it coming.

    Anyway, that is why I see it this way.

  3. You may be correct. But the NIV Study Bible, Ryrie Study Bible, Catholic Study Bible, and the NET Notes believe “day” refers to the second coming. It can mean that without the author being wrong.

    Anyone at any point since the crucifixion can say the day is drawing near or that you may see the day drawing near. The author didn’t know the date anymore than Jesus said he did. All the author knew was it could happen at any moment–just like we experience.

    Not to mention “near” is a relative temporal term. It’s nearly time for lunch and it’s nearly time for the second coming obviously refer to two different time spans. Usually when God is involved the time spans are longer than we would prefer them to be.

    At least that’s my take on it. :-)

  4. Considering just about every commentary mentions those listed it is a little strange nothing else was mentioned. It does reference other notes, which referenced other notes which referenced….you get the idea :-)