George Booker
Biblical Fellowship

34. “Walking Disorderly” (2 Thessalonians 3)

“Withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us... And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed” (2 Thes. 3:6,14).

The argument for a “pure fellowship” achieved through broad excommunication goes as follows: “It is part of Paul’s word by this letter that we ‘withdraw’ from any brother who ‘walks disorderly’. If this withdrawal is not enforced, then it is necessary to ‘have no company’ not only with the original sinner, but also with all who disregard Paul’s instruction.”

This rather casually constructed logic runs afoul of several considerations:

We see, therefore, that 2 Thessalonians 3 does deal with matters of ecclesial order, but only as pertaining to local matters of personal conduct. The terms of separation do not necessarily imply disfellowship. Even if disfellowship were the final outcome of an unrepentant attitude, the basis of that disfellowship would be improper conduct and not false doctrine. Finally, there is no suggestion that ecclesias failing to act as severely as Paul commands should themselves be disfellowshiped en masse by all other ecclesias. Yet all use of this passage to justify “block disfellowship” or “guilt by association” assumes that it clearly says this.

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