Church discipline (2)

Bible Reading 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15

Warning Against Idleness

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, labouring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.

Take special note of anyone who does not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer.

In our last study we were introduced to what the Bible teaches about "Church discipline." We found that our Lord Himself spoke of it first. Since His church consists of redeemed human beings, it is important for the preservation and growth of the church that the members properly relate to one another. Sin, of whatever sort, is destructive, and cannot be allowed to continue either in the individual life or the life of the church. It must always be dealt with and put away. So the Scriptures teach us how to deal with sin in our lives as Christians and sin in the life of the church. At this potnt we ask the question

What is the purpose in church discipline?

There are at least two reasons for church discipline.

1) To purge the church and keep it free of destructive elements.

2) To effect the restoration of harmony in the body and of the guilty member or members. We will speak of restoration first.

Gal. 6:1-2 (Amp.) - "Brothers, if anyone is caught in any sin, you who are spiritual [that is, you who are responsive to the guidance of the Spirit] are to restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness [not with a sense of superiority or self-righteousness], keeping a watchful eye on yourself, so that you are not tempted as well. Carry one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfil the requirements of the law of Christ [that is, the law of Christian love].

The use of the word "fault" in some translations, may leave the impression that what is spoken of here is not as serious as "sin". This would be unfortunate for the word sometimes translated "fault" also refers to Adam's sin and is translated "offence" (Romans 5:15). It was for our "offences" (same word) that our Lord Jesus was "delivered" to the cross (Romans 4:25). It is also translated in other passages as "fall, sin, and trespass."

The Greek word is "paraptoma" and we dealt with it in our "Beginnings" series in the section on "sin", It means "a falling aside, deviation from the right path." It "describes the slip which a man makes when he is off guard, when he is not looking where he is going, when he takes his eyes off the goal. It is the failure in concentration, the failure in self-control through which a man is swept or slips into sin." "It is the falling where one should have stood upright."

The brother in our text is "overtaken" in this sin. This does not mean that he was detected in the act, but "surprised by the fault itself." This agrees with the meaning of "fault." The brother has allowed his defences to be weakened, the sin has caught him off guard. He is completely responsible for the sin and needs "restoration."

The word "restore" means to "make thoroughly right." "The idea conveyed is that of adjustment - the putting of all parts into right relation and connection," It is used in Scripture of mending the nets (Matt, 4:21), of Christians being "perfectly joined together (1 Cor. 1:10), of being complete (2 Cor, 13:11), and so in the general sense of perfecting (Matt. 21:16; Luke 6:40; 1 Thess. 3:10). "In medical language it is used of setting a bone or joint," So the purpose in dealing with a sinning brother is to "RESTORE" NOT DESTROY!

Those who are to effect the restoration are such as "are spiritual," it is to be hoped this would include the rest of the church, In any case it should certainly refer to elders and deacons who must be spiritual men,

However, even their proven spirituality must be protected by deliberate caution. Paul warns that they must undertake their task of love and concern "without any sense of superiority." If you are "spiritual" it is because of the grace of God and gives no ground for human boasting. Furthermore, if you are not "on guard" you might become involved and "be tempted also." So those who undertake to "restore" the sinning brother, must do so with humility, purity and gentleness.

We cannot dissociate ourselves from our brother's sin. When he sins the whole church is involved and we must bear with him this "fault / sin" and lovingly seek to deliver him, and in so doing, deliver the whole assembly.

Remember, RESTORATION is the main purposes of discipline!

What are other areas requiring discipline?

1) THE BROTHER WHO WALKS DISORDERLY (1 Thess. 5:14; 2 Thess. 3:6-15)

While we are to love one another and in every way seek to help one another, we are not to take advantage of our fellow Christian, The teaching of the Word of God is quite explicit on the matter of personal responsibility. While the apostles were at Thessalonica, they had laid down a rule that "if any one will not work, neither let him eat" (2 Thess. 3:10). Some were disobeying this rule and Paul deals with the matter in his letters. These undisciplined people were not only lazy, but, having time on their hands they were meddlers and troublemakers.

1 Thess. 5:14 (Amp.) — "We [earnestly] urge you, believers, admonish those who are out of line [the undisciplined, the unruly, the disorderly],"

Wey. - “Keep a check upon LOAFERS."

2 Thess. 3:6,11 (Amp.) — "...every brother or sister who leads an undisciplined life and does not live in accordance with the tradition and teaching that you have received from us ... Indeed, we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined and inappropriate life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies [meddling in other people’s business]."

Moff. - "Shun any brother who is loafing, instead of following the rule you received from us. We are informed that some of your numbers are LOAFING, BUSYBODIES INSTEAD OF BUSY."


Paul addresses a charge to these idle, undisciplined loafers.

2 Thess. 3:12 (Amp.) - "Now such people we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work quietly and earn their own food and other necessities [supporting themselves instead of depending on the hospitality of others]."

Moff. - "Now in the Lord Jesus Christ we charge and exhort such persons to KEEP QUIET, TO DO THEIR WORK AND EARN THEIR OWN LIVING."

Such as persist in this kind of thing are to be disciplined by the church. The apostolic rule is laid down for the assembly to follow. Two things are required of the church. First, the undisciplined brother is to be warned. Second, if he fails to heed the warning and come under the discipline of truth, he is to be "marked" and not associated with. This condition seems to have increased in Thessalonica. In the first letter Paul counsels the church to warn "the loafers", while in the second letter he lays down rules of discipline.

1 Thess. 5:14 (Amp.) - "We [earnestly] urge you, believers, admonish those who are out of line [the undisciplined, the unruly, the disorderly],..."

2 Thess. 3:6,14 (Amp.) - "Now we command you, believers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by His authority, that you withdraw and keep away from every brother or sister who leads an undisciplined life and does not live in accordance with the tradition and teaching that you have received from us. Now if anyone [in the church] does not obey what we say in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be ashamed and repent."

JBP (vs. 14) — "If anyone refuses to obey the command given above, MARK THAT MAN, DO NOT ASSOCIATE WITH HIM until he is ashamed of himself.

NEB (vs. 14) ~ "If anyone disobeys our instructions given by letter, MARK HIM WELL, AND HAVE NO DEALINGS WITH HIM until he is ashamed of himself."

Paul puts certain limits on such discipline. While the disobedient brother has removed himself from the life and fellowship of the body, he is however, not to be treated as an enemy. While the act of discipline must be definite and firm, nevertheless hope must be entertained that he will respond to admonition and be restored to the normal activity of the assembly.

2 Thess. 3:15 (Amp.) - “DO NOT REGARD HIM AS AN ENEMY but simply admonish and WARN HIM AS [BEING STILL] A BROTHER."