The Sinners’ Bible is a classic example of how important modifiers are to the meaning of a sentence. The Sinners’ Bible is an edition of the Bible published in 1631 by the royal printers in London. It was meant to be a reprint of the King James Bible.
The name “Sinners’ Bible” is derived from a mistake made by the compositors of the new publishing. In the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:14, the word “not” in the sentence “Thou shalt not commit adultery” was omitted. This changed the sentence into “Thou shalt commit adultery”!
“not” is an adverb that modifies the verb “shalt commit”. In the 10 commandments, the adverbs make or break the total meaning of the command. This is true with single modifying words in a sentence, but could it also be true with modifying clauses in a sentence?
Learning from past sins
Let’s apply this to Hebrews 10:25:
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is”
The main clause of the verse is “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together”.
At the end of this sentence there is a modifying clause, “as the manner of some is”. This modifying clause is as important to the true meaning of this verse as the adverb “not” was in the 10 Commandments.
Let it snow!
If the verse only read, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” this would mean that under absolutely no condition are we to ever miss a church meeting. For example, if there was a snowstorm on Sunday, you would be commanded to drive to church no matter what. Even if the roads were closed by the police you would be commanded to bypass them. If your car got stuck, you would be required by God to get out and snowshoe it the rest of the way. Church-goer, aren’t you glad that there is a modifying clause at the end of this command in Hebrews 10:25!
The phrase “as the manner of some is” changes the meaning of this verse. It tells us there was a certain group of people who stopped going to church and that we are not to be like them. But what type of people is this verse warning against? Is it warning against those who refuse to come to church because of a snowstorm? Probably not. We must therefore investigate deeper!
Minding your manners (a lesson from the Sinners’ Bible)
The entire chapter 10 of Hebrews is the key to understanding who “the manner of some is”. Hebrews 10 starts off by comparing the supremacy of the New Covenant through the sacrifice of Jesus with the weakness of the Old Covenant through the Law of Moses. This chapter is reminding the Jewish Christians not to forsake their new faith in Christ and go backwards towards Judaism.
“For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins…. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God”
(Hebrews 10:4, 19-21)
Reasons for NOT to go back into Judaism:
- Jesus’ sacrifice has everlasting affects, this is better than Jewish Law which had to be done yearly through the sacrifice of animals
- The Lord’s sacrifice broke down the veil of separation between the believer and God, this is better than Jewish Law which only temporarily covered sin
- Jesus’ sacrifice placed Him as our One and only priest (He is everything to us), this is better than the Jewish Law which demanded we approach God indirectly through human priests
So, there were two covenant agreements between man and God. The Old Covenant was given through the Jews. It was meant to be temporary until Christ completed His atoning work on the Cross. The New Covenant was presented to the world through Jesus Christ. It is an everlasting agreement with individuals. If a person receives Jesus as their only Lord and Saviour, God will forgive all their sins forever and adopt them as His children.
But this led to a problem in Jewish Christian churches such as the first church in Jerusalem. You see, there were Jews who believed that Jesus was the Messiah. They started attending the Christian church, but their faith was only a head “knowledge”. They had received “the knowledge of the truth” (v. 26), but they had not received the Truth Himself. They believed the facts about Jesus, but they did not put their trust in Him. In the Jerusalem church, not only were there 2 groups of nationalities (Jews & Gentiles), but there were also 2 groups of Jews:
- those who tried a belief (v. 26): “we have received the knowledge of the truth”; and
- those who trusted a Saviour (v.32): “after ye were illuminated”.
“But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions” (Hebrews 10:32)
To be “illuminated” means to enlighten, spiritually; to infuse with saving knowledge. This describes the miraculous internal working of the Holy Spirit. So, let’s back to our key verse of Hebrews 10:25. “The manner of some” is referring to a group of Jewish Christians. They believed the apostles’ preaching and the Bible’s record that Jesus was the Christ. However, they were only samplers of the faith. They were only trying it on for size.
Once persecution came, these “believers” abandoned the church they had once joined. Additionally, they felt the pull of the Temple worship that they had be raised in. They were not born-again Christians who had become spotty in their attendance. They were unsaved Christians who had completely abandoned Christ’s church.
How many people do you know who believe in God and go to church but are not saved? They are Christians to the extent that they accept the knowledge of the Bible, but they are not born-again Christians in that they have not trusted in Jesus to the saving of their souls.
To sum this up with Hebrews 10:25, the born-again Jews were being encouraged not to let their former unsaved church-mates influence them. Just because they cut themselves off from the church and abandoned Christ should never encourage the true believers to follow in their footsteps.
Anyone turning back and renouncing the salvation of Jesus Christ was never saved in the 1st place. They had a head knowledge of the facts about Jesus but were never spiritually illuminated by the Holy Spirit to fully trust in Him as their personal Saviour.
Hebrews 10:25 reminds us to beware of the “Sinners’ Bible”. We must ensure that we do not forget to include all the modifying words involved in a Bible verse as we study it. Each word and each clause are very important to the overall meaning.
The next time you face a blistering snowstorm on your way to church, remember, if the road is closed, Hebrews 10:25 says its ok to turn around and come back another week!