Church Judgments

© 2007 Great Commission Churches

Pastor David Bovenmyer, Ames, IA

1. What is a church judgment?

A church judgment is what has often been called “church discipline.” According to Webster’s, the word “discipline” refers to training that develops self-control, character, or orderliness and efficiency.” It can also refer to “correction, chastisement, or punishment inflicted by way of correction and training.”

In a fallen world, discipline is necessary in every arena of life—our personal life, our family life, our national life, and yes, our church life. The pull of the world, flesh, and Devil on our souls and minds requires effort and discipline, both from within and from without, to keep us on a path that is holy and pleasing to God.

Within the Church there are many ways that discipline is provided. In its broadest sense, discipline refers to anything that helps to train and educate God’s people to be holy and obey Him. Public teaching, self-discipline and restraint, mild reproofs and corrections in casual conversations between Christians—these are all a part of church discipline. Too often, “church discipline” is thought to refer only to the ultimate act of church discipline—a church judgment or excommunication. An understanding and practice of the broader nature of church discipline is essential to purifying and equipping the Church and will remove much of the need for the practice of the ultimate discipline.

This paper will talk about the ultimate discipline—church judgment. We will use the term “church judgment” rather than “church discipline” to distinguish this ultimate discipline from the broader forms of church discipline and to emphasize that, in most cases, it is to be applied to those that we judge to be radically out of step with God and very likely not even genuine believers.

2. What biblical passages deal with church judgment?

The primary passages that deal with church judgment are Matthew 18:15-20, 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, Romans 16:17-18, Titus 3:9-11, and 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15. As we study these passages, we must remember that each passage was written to a different group of people who presumably did not have the benefit of the other passages. Also, each passage addresses a particular type of sin, and some of the passages were written in response to a particular circumstance or situation.

It is clear from these passages that the Bible does not give us a formal legal procedure for “church trials” or a set of steps that must always be applied in every situation, but rather gives us instruction on what to do for different types of sin and in different situations. Sometimes the steps are slightly different. So, when studying one passage (for example, 1 Corinthians 5), we may refer to another passage for wisdom (for example, Matthew 18). However, there is no indication, in either passage, that the steps given in one (Matthew 18), must be followed in the other (1 Corinthians 5).

3. What are the purposes of a church judgment?

Although there are some differences in the procedures that the Church should use in a judgment depending upon the sin involved, there seem to be two basic purposes in most of the church judgment passages: (all quotations from NIV)

1. To cleanse and protect the church from sin and error.

In 1 Corinthians 5:6, Paul warns that, “a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.”

In Romans 16:18, Paul is concerned to protect “naive people,” from being led astray by “smooth talk and flattery.”

And in Titus 3:9, Paul commands Titus to protect the church from those who refuse to refrain from “foolish” and “useless” arguments and quarrels.

2. To attempt to reclaim and restore the person in error.

In 1 Corinthians 5:5, Paul commands the church to remove the immoral man from their midst so that “his spirit” would be “saved on the day of the Lord.”

The purpose of Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 18:15 is so that he will listen and you will be able to win your brother over.

In 2 Thessalonians 3:6, Paul instructs the church not to associate with certain people so that they might be “put to shame” and “admonished,” not as an enemy, but as a brother.

In addition, there is, most likely, a third purpose for church judgment—to preserve the Church’s holy and righteous witness to the world. This can be gleaned, not so much from the passages that directly address church judgments, but from other passages that show God’s concern that the Church demonstrate a holy life to the world (Titus 2:5, 1 Timothy 6:1, Romans 2:24, 1 Peter 2:9).

In the rest of this paper, we will take a close look at each of these passages and what they teach us about church judgments.

MATTHEW 18 — AN OFFENSE BETWEEN BROTHERS

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.16 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.18 I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:15-20, NIV).

In this passage, is Jesus giving a procedure for dealing with all types of sin, or is He dealing only with someone who sins against you personally?

The passage contains a textual variance. There are approximately 5,664 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament that are still in existence today, as well as over 8,000 Latin Vulgate manuscripts, plus an additional 8,000 manuscripts in Ethiopic, Slavic, or Armenian.1 With all these different manuscripts, there were bound to be some copying errors. Yet despite the wide diversity of locations in which they were found, the very different languages used, and the centuries spanned by these copies, there are remarkably few debatable passages in the New Testament. Yet the words “against you” in Matthew 18:15 are some that are in dispute, being present in some manuscripts (the majority) and not in others (a few of the earliest). The New American Standard, Wuest, and New English Bibles do not have the words “against you,” whereas the New International, Berkeley, Amplified, New Living, King James, and Revised Standard all do. It is beyond the scope of this paper to delve into the specific details of how many and which manuscripts have the words “against you” and which do not.

But if we apply the saying, “If you wish to understand the text, look at the context,” we will see that a fairly substantial argument can be made that the words “against you,” even if not part of the original text, are implied by the context of the passage. In His words prior to verse 15, Jesus exhorts the disciples concerning the need for humility and not looking down on the “little ones” who, like children, are weak and insignificant in the eyes of the world. So the context preceding the verse has to do with the sin of despising those who seem insignificant.

Next is the passage in question in which Jesus discusses how to deal with a brother who sins, or sins “against you.”

Then following this passage (vs. 21), Peter asks the question, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Apparently, Peter understood that Jesus was talking in verses 15 through 20 about what to do with someone who sins “against me,” since Peter’s question relates to this subject.

If, in the passage in question, Jesus had told them what to do with a person who sins against you and will not repent, a natural follow-up question might be, “what about the guy who does repent and gets right, yet still continues to sin against me?” Apparently, this is the person that Peter has in view. Peter takes a stab at being generous in forgiveness by saying, “up to seven times?” (The rabbinical thought was that after three times, no further forgiveness was needed.) But Jesus goes way beyond this, and expands it to 77 times, or if the marginal reading is correct, “seventy times seven.”

So, since the context before the passage in question refers to despising a “little one” and therefore mistreating him, and the context following the passage talks about someone who sins “against you,” it would seem likely that, in this passage, Jesus also had in mind the sin of a personal offense rather than any sin whatsoever.

4. Why is this important?

What are the ramifications of the words “against you?” If the passage is referring to sin in general, then it would apply to all sin, great or small. It would even apply to such things as smoking, overeating, failing to read the Bible, failing to attend church, failing to use our time wisely, grumbling, doubting, etc. All of these can be sins and disobedience to God. If this passage is interpreted as applying to sins in general, small or great, and if church members view this as a command to follow whenever they notice that someone has sinned, it could easily lead to a fearful, graceless atmosphere in the church. Even the smallest sins, if not repented of and forsaken, would be punishable by church judgment.

But if the passage refers to sins against an individual, then the type of sin in view is much more limited and the sin can only be prosecuted by the person sinned against. The passage would apply only to injurious offenses, where a person has been personally damaged, perhaps from stealing, defrauding, slandering, etc.

In summary, I see three reasons to believe that Jesus’ intent in this passage was to address personal offenses and not all sin in general:

1) The majority of the manuscripts include the words “against you.”

2) The context, especially the context following the passage, implies that a personal sin is being discussed.

3) A rigorous application of the passage to all sins would lead to a spirit in the church that is quite different from the rest of the New Testament.

5. What is the first step in confronting someone who sins against you?

The first step is to go to the one who has offended you in private. “Go and show him his fault, just between the two of you.” How seldom this is done. We are so quick to go to anyone and everyone else and tell them about our brother’s or sister’s faults rather than go to the source of the problem—to the only one who can do something about it. How much discord would be spared in the body of Christ if we would simply follow the first step in our Lord’s instruction. Peter exhorts us in 1 Peter 4:8 (NIV), “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” “

Love seeks to protect another’s reputation and therefore seeks to take care of an offense as privately as possible.

The goal of this first step is not to humiliate or judge or get back at the person that has wronged us, but rather to win him back to righteousness and to restore a relationship with him. “If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.” A desire to correct a wrong against us, or even to seek restitution, is not ruled out by the passage and can be a valid motivation to confront someone who has wronged us. Yet a concern for the offending brother and for the continuation of a relationship with him is specifically mentioned and must be present in our attitude.

Wise reprovers will first examine their own hearts and motives before confronting others. Any hurt pride, selfish desire, anger, bitterness, or resentment must be set aside. When reproof is given with an attitude of love and genuine concern for the other person’s welfare, the offender is almost always immediately restored.

6. What is the second step in confronting someone who sins against you?

If the problem is resolved in private, praise the Lord! The issue is settled. But if the person does not respond to private reproof, the person sinned against is commanded not just to drop the matter, but to pursue it farther by taking one or two others along to confront the offender.

Again, how seldom this is done. It is so much easier to just let the issue drop. Yet to leave an offense unresolved can have deeply negative repercussions. Bitterness can easily grow in our hearts. And if the offending person is not corrected, his spiritual life will suffer. And, inevitably, the unrepentant person will do harm to others as well.

It can be easy, especially in our age of “tolerance,” to feel that we should just put up with a brother or sister who has taken advantage of us. Yet this is not the way of love. Love demands righteousness, not only in ourselves, but in others. It is not love to let a person go on in unrighteousness because we do not have the fortitude to lovingly confront him and keep on doing so until he repents. Sin is like a cancer that destroys the sinning individual and harms those around him. We must do all that the Scriptures prescribe to root it out.

Why are the one or two others to be taken along? Clearly, it is to help judge the situation. Some of their goals might be the following:

1) The witness(es) can investigate the issue, if need be, and confirm the truth of what actually happened. In this way, they can insure that the accuser is not a false accuser.

2) They can also confirm that the offense was truly a sin and not just a difference of opinion, or caused by a critical or overly judgmental brother who takes offense too easily.

3) If they judge that the offender has truly sinned, the witness(es) can add their voices in reproof and, if need be, exhort and plead with the offender to repent.

4) If there is repentance, the witness(es) could help to determine what restitution or steps of reconciliation are appropriate.

5) Finally, if there is still no repentance, even after their admonition, the witness(es) can confirm this fact as well.

Who should these one or two others be? Jesus gives no qualifications. Yet the job that they are doing would require that they be men or women of wisdom and integrity, knowledgeable in the Word, aware of what is right and what is wrong, able to investigate between truth and error, and able to communicate a gentle, yet strong reproof. There is no requirement that they be elders in the church, but the nature of the job they are doing would make it advisable that they be fairly mature spiritually.

7. What is the third step in confronting someone who sins against you?

If the offending brother repents, praise the Lord! Reconciliation is accomplished and the issue is settled. But if he refuses to listen to the one or two others, the next step is to tell it to the church. But again, how seldom is this done? How often have offenses gone unresolved between brothers and allowed to fester, resulting in whole churches taking sides and even splitting because of personal offenses that should have been resolved years ago.

No, our Lord does not allow us to drop the issue when a person will not repent. Rather we are commanded to take the issue to the church. But how is this to be done? Jesus does not spell out the procedure, but it would seem wise to take it first to the elders, since they are entrusted by God to be shepherds and overseers of the church (1 Peter 5:2). As guardians of the flock, as well as of the accused individual, the elders should also investigate the issue, making sure that all their questions are answered, including the following:

Was the alleged sin truly a sin? What scriptures were violated?

Can the alleged sin be confirmed? Are there two or three individuals who witnessed the sin or heard the individual acknowledge that he committed the sin?

Did the person sinned against go in private and reprove the accused?

Did the person sinned against bring one or two others to reprove the accused?

Was the accused allowed to rebut the charges and present evidence and witnesses in his favor?

Were the charges clearly presented along with a clear presentation of the scriptures violated?

Did the accused fail to respond to the reproof?

If any of these questions cannot be answered affirmatively, then the elders should assure that the step is taken or the issue investigated. But if, in the eyes of the elders, these questions have been answered affirmatively, then they should assist the offended brother in bringing the matter up to the “church.”

Now one question we need to ask is, “What is the ‘church’ that Jesus is referring to?” When Jesus said these words, the Christian Church had not yet begun. Most likely, the disciples would have understood Him to mean the Jewish community, the people of God as they knew it. Yet Jesus may well have had the soon-to-be born Church in mind, even if the disciples could not understand Him at that time. Either way, the idea is to bring it to the people of God.

But how large a group of the “church” should be involved in hearing the offense and standing against it? Certainly it would be impossible today to bring it to the Church universal. Nor, in most cases, could the issue be judged by the entire church in a city. Perhaps the most practical group would be the local church. And indeed, a local church would generally have elders, mature men, to help judge the situation. Yet, what if the local church numbers in the thousands? Is it necessary to involve everyone? Or would it be sufficient to call a meeting of a home group or of whatever size group that would include those people who know the offender?

The passage does not specifically define what size or portion of the “church” should be involved, but the purpose of the passage would imply that, at a minimum, the group involved must be large enough to include those who know the offender and especially those who are in close fellowship and community with him. A major purpose of the passage is to bring the offender to repentance and to “win him over.” So at a minimum, those whom the offender would respect and desire affirmation from should be involved. On the other hand, there would seem to be no maximum limit as to how large a group of the “church” might be involved.

Does the person need to be present when you “tell it to the church?” It would seem not. Presumably, before the offended person took his “witnesses” along to confront the offender, he privately informed them of the nature of the offense. In the same way, it would seem appropriate to tell the church about the offense prior to the church confronting the offender. After hearing the testimony of the offended person and of the witnesses, the church could send representatives to inform the offender of the church’s judgment in the matter.

Nothing in the passage advocates a church trial where the “church” is judging the matter with the individual present. First of all, it would be highly unlikely that most people would come to a meeting where the church examines their offense and then pleads with them to repent. And even if someone did agree to this, it could easily be because of a desire to sway people to his side and turn people against the one he is sinning against.

No, the job of the “church” is not so much to judge the case in a lengthy, detailed trial, but to add the weight of the Christian community as a whole to the judgment already made by the two or three witnesses and by the confirmation of the elders. The fact of guilt is “established by the testimony of two or three witnesses,” rather than by a whole-church trial or a vote of the church. However, this does not mean that any questions, concerns, or additional information that may come up in a meeting of the church should not be adequately addressed or investigated.

Verses 19 and 20 are interesting in regard to the judgment of the two or three witnesses. In context, these verses may well be more of a direct promise to those who would judge situations of dispute and offense between brothers than a promise for prayer in general. The Lord seems to be promising that when two or three come together in His name—in sincerity and faith—His presence will be with them in such a way that they can confidently judge and that their judgment already will have been bound in Heaven. (The more normal translation of the perfect tense makes the NIV marginal reading “will have been bound” preferable to “will be bound.”) Where two or three agree concerning such a judgment against an offending person, not only will their decision be carried out on earth, but Jesus’ Father in Heaven will also honor their petition (what they “ask for”) against the person. (The Greek word translated “anything” most often means “any matter,” or “any affair” and frequently was used to refer to affairs of court. In 1 Corinthians 6:1, it is translated “dispute,” referring to a dispute in court.)

So it seems that when we judge a dispute in the church, or judge a person to have committed an offense against another and to be unrepentant of that error, God evidently concurs with the judgment and adds His weight to it. Perhaps this helps explain what Paul meant when he commanded the Corinthian church to “hand” a blatantly immoral man “over to Satan” for the destruction of his flesh (1 Corinthians 5:5).

Even after the church throws its weight behind the offended person, the passage still gives the offender an opportunity to repent. He has one final opportunity to “listen even to the church.” This would imply that representatives of the church should go and communicate the church’s judgment and give yet another appeal for repentance. At this point, a letter from the church would be helpful and appropriate. In a reproof situation, the offender’s emotions can run very high and he may not always truly hear what is being said. A letter can help to clearly communicate the church’s judgment. This letter might wisely include the following:

1) A confirmation of the church’s judgment against him.

2) A statement of the sin or sins of which he was judged guilty and the scriptural references showing that they are indeed sinful.

3) A reference to the verses the church followed in its judgment.

4) A statement of what is expected of him if he wishes to repent and be restored into fellowship with the church, including to whom he should talk or not talk in approaching the church about his repentance.

5) An explanation of how the church judgment applies to him should he not repent (i.e., how he can expect church members to treat him, whether, and on what circumstances, he can come to church, come to a church member’s house, do business with a church member, etc.).

6) An assurance that the judgment made by the church is out of genuine love and concern for him and that the church is fervently desiring and praying for his repentance so that he can remain in fellowship or be restored to fellowship with them.

Obviously, if the offender refuses to meet with the church’s representatives, it can be assumed that he is refusing to listen to the church. If this is the case it would be important to send a letter, since this may be the only way the church has to communicate its judgment and call the offender to repentance.

8. What is the fourth step in confronting someone who sins against you?

Again, if the person repents after the admonition of the entire church, praise the Lord! But if he does not repent, the church should treat him as a “pagan or a tax collector.” In order to know how to apply this command, we must understand what the disciples would have understood Jesus to mean.

The Greek word translated “pagan” is “eth-nee-kos,” and is almost always translated “gentile” in the New Testament. Throughout its history, the Jewish nation was constantly tempted to compromise with the idolatry and immorality practiced by other nations, resulting in God’s judgment and the exile to Babylon. This struggle against contamination from their neighbors led to so hard and exclusive an attitude toward other nations that by the time of Christ, for a Jew to stigmatize his fellow as “gentile” was a term of scorn. First century historian, Tacitus, said of the Jews that “they regard the rest of mankind with all the hatred of enemies” (Histories 5.5).2 We learn from Acts 10:28, 11:3, and Galatians 2:12, that the Jews considered it against their law to visit, eat with, or associate with a gentile.

The Greek word for tax collector is “tel-o`-nace,” and refers to a farmer of taxes. Tax collectors were personally responsible for paying the taxes to the government, but they were in turn free to collect extra taxes from the people in order to make a profit.3 Their generally extortionate practices made them an especially despised and hated class. In addition, the strict Jew regarded the tax collector as ceremonially unclean on account of his continual contact with gentiles and his need to work on the Sabbath. In addition, the rabbis taught their pupils that they should not eat with tax collectors.4

So we can see that both Gentiles and tax collectors were typically looked down upon and even scorned in Jewish society. To treat someone as a Gentile or a tax collector was to refuse to eat with them or to visit them or to associate with them. It essentially meant to avoid them whenever possible and have nothing to do with them, unless contact with them was absolutely necessary for business reasons or to pay taxes.

This is true love! This is God’s loving way of removing sin from the church so that righteousness might reign in His Church. It is the most loving thing for the church, as well as for the unrepentant person. God’s love is often a tough love. “Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:10-11, NIV).

One final thought on Matthew 18. Note that the person is judged not for committing a sin, but for being unrepentant. All men sin—but if a person is righteous, he will repent.

1 CORINTHIANS 5 — NOTORIOUS SINS

“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife.2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?3 Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present.4 When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5 hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?7 Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast— as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth. 9 I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people10—not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.11 But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?13 God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked man from among you’” (1 Corinthians 5, NIV).

9. What situation prompted Paul’s instruction to the Corinthians?

In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul gives instruction on church judgments in response to a situation that was occurring in the Corinthian church—someone was living with his “father’s wife”—evidently either his mother, or his step-mother. Paul sharply reproves the church because they had not already “put out of … fellowship” the one who was doing this. And Paul commands them to immediately “hand this man over to Satan.”

Then he instructs the church not to associate with anyone who claims to be a Christian (a so-called brother), who is sexually immoral, an idolater, a slanderer, a drunkard, or a swindler—what might be called “notorious sins.” This passage differs from Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 18 in that these are sins that must be judged regardless of whether or not the person damaged by the sin initiates an accusation against the person sinning. Two church members may be immoral and neither one may feel that they have been wronged by the other. Or a church member may swindle or slander someone outside the church, who would usually not pursue the offender through the avenue of a church judgment. Or someone may be an idolater without personally harming others in the church. Yet the sins mentioned are so damaging to the reputation and moral fiber of the church that they must be judged even if no offended person comes forward to initiate an accusation.

10. What reasons does Paul give for the church judgment?

Paul’s first reason for putting this man out of the fellowship was so that his sinful nature (lit. “flesh”) may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord. Paul’s command was first of all for the benefit of the one who was sinning. His behavior was so contrary to the will and desire of God, that Paul appears to judge that he was not a genuine believer, or at least to seriously doubt that he was a believer. The discipline of church judgment was to bring him to repentance so that he would ultimately be saved on the judgment day.

How much damage is done to people’s souls because churches tolerate, and sometimes even embrace, those who are openly sinning—adulterers, swindlers, homosexuals, drunkards—allowing them to think they are Christians and are right with God, even though their behavior indicates otherwise.

And, in the case of this man, Paul’s prescription worked. The church carried out Paul’s instruction and the man repented of his immorality. In 2 Corinthians 2:5-8, Paul acknowledges this man’s repentance and instructs the church to “forgive and comfort him so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow” (2 Corinthians 2:7).

A second reason Paul gives for judging this man was to protect the church from the invasive nature of this sin. Paul knew that Christians are like sheep and easily influenced by one another. He knew that “a little yeast (sin) works through the whole batch of dough.” Clearly, if one person was allowed to sin in such a blatant manner without any action or consequences from the church, the moral resolve of others would be weakened and others would be influenced to sin as well. Eventually, unjudged sin will leaven “the whole batch of dough.”

11. When can someone rightly be described as a “wicked man”?

Should a church judgment be instituted after a single instance of sin, or is a pattern required? In the case of the man that Paul was judging in 1 Corinthians, he had not simply stumbled once or twice in sin, he was evidently living with the woman—“a man has his father’s wife.”

It would seem apparent that an overall honest person could steal something, be grieved in his conscience, return what was stolen and not be considered a “swindler.” Certainly a person could over-imbibe and become drunk, acknowledge his error, and not be considered a “drunkard.” Or someone could say demeaning words toward another, repent of what they said, and not be considered a “slanderer.” Similarly, it would seem that a person could even sin in sexual immorality, repent deeply, and not be considered an “immoral” person.

All sin, even if only committed once, has consequences and requires repentance and restitution. And sometimes the consequences, even of one sin, can be severe and result in the termination of a marriage, the loss of a friendship or even time spent in prison. But the church judgment commanded in 1 Corinthians 5 should be reserved for those who either refuse to acknowledge that what they did was sin, or who verbally acknowledge the wrongness of what they did, but continue to do it anyway.

When evaluating if a person is a “wicked man” in need of church judgment, we must remember that certain sins, such as drunkenness or immorality, can be extremely addictive and difficult to conquer, even for a believer with the Spirit of God and a sincere desire to change. When a person is coming out of a lifestyle dominated by sin, stumbling is common. The sanctification process requires patience and, in many cases, a tremendous amount of support. We must be cautious with a person who is earnestly desiring and attempting to change and yet stumbles, perhaps even fairly frequently. It can be difficult to judge whether a person is a young or struggling Christian who is on the right track, yet sometimes failing, or whether he is a “wicked man” in need of church judgment. Such a judgment requires much prayer and wise evaluation of the person’s behavior, apparent motives, and responsiveness to advice and correction. “

12. How should the sins that Paul lists be defined?

Sexually immoral (por`-nos) – a man who indulges in unlawful sexual intercourse, a fornicator.5 This word was used in New Testament times to include all types of sexual immorality outside of marriage, including adultery, premarital sex, rape, incest, homosexuality, or other physical acts of sexual perversion.6 The term appears to refer to those who are engaging in actual physical acts and is never used in the New Testament or in the Old Testament Septuagint (Greek) translation to refer to those who are only sinning mentally. So it may be stretching the meaning of the word to apply it to someone who views pornography. (However, a case could perhaps be made that a person who is deeply and persistently involved with pornography could be included in the definition of the word pornos as an “immoral person.”) The word also appears to refer only to sex acts with others, and, for the purposes of church judgment, should not be applied to the act of self-manipulation in private.

Greedy (pleh-on-ek`-tace) – one who has or claims to have more than his share; a covetous, avaricious person, one who defrauds for the sake of gain.7 At its heart, this word refers to a greedy person who takes advantage of others in order to gain what is not rightfully his. Almost always in the New Testament, this word and its related words refer to taking advantage of others for material gain, but can apply to defrauding others for sexual gain as well (Ephesians 4:19, 1 Thessalonians 4:6) and possibly even for gain in prominence or prestige (2 Peter 2:3). Although this word includes an inner desire, those desires can only be judged by outward actions— actions that result in the defrauding of others.

Idolater (i-do-lol-at`-race) – an idolater, worshipper of idols.8 The word is a combination of two words: “idol” and “to serve.” Although in largely protestant America, idolatry is rare, world-wide it is still common, and in many cultures, idolatry is mixed right in with various forms of Christianity.

Slanderer (loy`-dor-os) – abusive, railing, reviling.9 The word is an adjective used to depict a person who verbally attacks others. This could be through bold abusive speech or through smooth and subtle accusations behind the person’s back. In 1 Peter 3:9 and John 9:28, the noun form of this word is translated “insult” and “hurled insults.” In the Septuagint translation of Proverbs, the word is used for a “quarrelsome” wife (Proverbs 25:24) and for the “quarrelsome” man who is like “charcoal to embers and as wood to fire” in bringing strife (Proverbs 26:21). So the word seems to have a fairly broad meaning referring to a person who openly or subtly abuses and attacks others with his mouth.

Drunkard (meth`-oo-sos) – drunken, a drunkard.10 A person given to drunkenness. Most likely, this could also be applied to a person who uses mind-altering drugs.

Swindler (har`-pax) – a robber, an extortioner.11 The root of this word means “to seize, to claim for yourself eagerly, to snatch away.” So this word refers to a person who steals the property of others, either overtly or by deceit.

13. Is Paul’s list of sins exhaustive, or are other sins implied?

Paul’s list would include most, if not all the “fruit of the flesh” as mentioned in Galatians 5 or other lists of sins in the New Testament. Murder would certainly be covered by the word “greedy,” taking advantage of others for selfish gain. Lying or deceiving would be covered either by “greedy,” or by “swindler.” However, there are some sins that seem not to be covered by Paul’s instruction, such as profanity (taking the Lord’s name in vain), or dishonoring your parents. Although these are serious and damaging sins, for the purpose of church judgments, we would probably be wisest to limit the punishable offenses to the list of sins specifically mentioned here by Paul.

14. How was the church to treat the “ wicked man?” Paul rebukes the Corinthians for not having already “put out of your fellowship the man who did this.” Later, he commands them to “expel the wicked man from among you.” Clearly, “wicked” people are not to be allowed to come to church meetings, large or small, or participate in the life of the church.

But Paul’s command goes beyond simply excluding such a person from the life of the church. He commands the Corinthians not to “associate” with such a one. The word “associate” is “soon-an-am-ig’-noo-mee” and means “to mix up with” (“sun”, with; “ana”, up; “mignumi”, to mix, mingle), signifies “to keep company with.”

The Corinthians were not even to eat with such a person. Additionally, the extent of what “not to associate” means is further defined by Paul’s statement that if Christians were not to associate with immoral people in the world, they would have to “leave this world” (vs. 10).12

So, in summary, Paul’s command is not to allow such a person to be involved in the life of the church, not to keep company with him, to avoid him, and not even to eat with him. Paul’s commands on how to treat the “wicked man” are similar, if not identical, to Jesus’ command in Matthew 18 on how to treat an unrepentant offender—like a “Gentile or a tax collector.”

15. When should a person be restored to fellowship?

Should it always be upon a verbal repentance, or, in some instances, might a time of testing be in order? In the case where the sin has been habitual and over a long period of time, a verbal repentance, no matter how sincere or emotional, may not always be sufficient to indicate that the offender is no longer a “wicked man.” Even prior to the church judgment, there may have been multiple occasions of sin, followed by seemingly sincere repentance, only to sin again. Sorrow and grief over sin are part of repentance and can lead to repentance, but genuine repentance goes farther than sorrow, and results in actions that back up the desire to do right (2 Corinthians 7:9-11). For this reason, when a person is judged to be a “wicked man,” the church may require a period of weeks or months to test the genuineness of a verbal repentance before “Never follow the crowd if you want the crowd to follow you.” – Unknown © 2007 GCC 123 The Church and the Doctrine of God Church Judgments restoring the person to fellowship; especially if the sin has been a long-standing, habitual problem. During this testing period, the church’s elders may wish to meet with the person periodically to give counsel and to gauge his progress.

The man that Paul was writing about did repent, and yet the church did not immediately restore him to fellowship until the genuineness of his repentance was evident. In 2 Corinthians 2:6-8, (NIV) Paul tells the Corinthians that “the punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him,” and that they should now “forgive and comfort” him and “reaffirm their love” for him.

16. Is a church judgment only to be applied to those who are official “members” of the church, or is it for anyone who attends?

And what about those who are investigating Christianity and coming to church, or have just recently come to Christ and are coming out of a sinful lifestyle?

Paul commands church judgment for any “wicked man” who “calls himself a brother,” whether the person is a church member or not. Yet, he makes a distinction toward the non-believer. He specifically states that he does not mean that Christians should avoid “people of this world,” (unbelievers), who are wicked. People who are investigating Christianity may come to church, yet never claim to be a genuine Christian, or not even know what a true Christian is. Not surprisingly, such people will often be living lives that are not pleasing to God. Perhaps they are living with someone they are not married to, or addicted to alcohol or drugs.

Paul’s instructions are not to avoid such people or put them out of the church, but rather are aimed at those who are claiming to be born again believers and considering themselves to be part of the church family.

(NOTE: If a person who claims to be a born-again believer and attends the church, but is not a formal member, and is to receive a church judgment, you are encouraged to check with legal counsel before announcing the judgment and the nature of their sin to the church.)

ROMANS 16:17-18; TITUS 3:9-11 — DIVISION, FACTION, STRIFE

“I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people” (Romans 16:17-18). “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.11 You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned” (Titus 3:9-11).

17. What is a divisive person?

Both Romans 16:17-18 and Titus 3:9-11 address a divisive person—a person who causes division. The Greek word translated “cause division” in Romans 16:17 is “dee-khos-tas-ee`-ah” and means, literally, “a standing apart,” (“dicheμ”, asunder, apart; “stasis”, a standing; the root indicating division).13 It means “division” or “dissension” or causing disunity.14 The word “obstacles” is the word most often translated “stumbling blocks.” It is “skan`-dal-on”, and in the New Testament ordinarily refers to anything that “arouses prejudice, or becomes a hindrance to others, or causes them to fall by the way.”15

So, Paul is warning the Romans to be on guard for and watch out for people who bring “contrary” teaching that becomes a stumbling block and causes division. He tells the Romans to “keep away” or turn away from them—avoid them. By smooth talk and flattery, they deceive those who are ignorant or naive.

The words translated “smooth talk” and “flattery” are literally “good words” and “blessings.” Such people can be extremely eloquent, affirming, positive, and impressive people. They may say flattering words about those they are opposing (often church leaders), yet in the next breath subtly undermine the person’s character or question his motives or teaching. Proverbs 26:23-26 warns us about people like this: “Like a coating of glaze over earthenware are fervent lips with an evil heart.24 A malicious man disguises himself with his lips, but in his heart he harbors deceit.25 Though his speech is charming, do not believe him, for seven abominations fill his heart.26 His malice may be concealed by deception, but his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.”

Yet no matter how wise or sincere or persuasive such people may appear to be, if they are undermining the truth of the gospel or dividing Christians, even over more minor issues, they are putting stumbling blocks in the way of God’s people and must be avoided.

In Titus 3:9-11, Paul commands Titus to avoid “foolish controversies,” “arguments,” and “quarrels” because they are unprofitable and useless. These quarrels might be over portions of God’s Word—the Old Testament law. Or they might be over speculative and peripheral subjects, such as “genealogies.”

Earlier in his letter to Titus, Paul says that there are truths (in context, the truths of the gospel), that Titus must “encourage and rebuke with all authority” and not let anyone disregard him (Titus 2:15, NIV). And immediately prior to verse nine, he lays out truths that are “excellent and profitable for everyone.” Yet people can so easily get into debates about all kinds of non-important, non-essential issues. Paul says to avoid such “foolish controversies” because they are “unprofitable and worthless.” They produce no spiritual benefits and lead to no constructive results.

Then in verse 10, Paul turns from the controversies themselves to those who are bringing them. He says to “warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.” With some people it is impossible to avoid foolish quarrels, arguments, and controversies. They are simply bent on a fight. In this case, you must avoid the person, after having attempted to correct him.

In Titus 3:10, the Greek word for “divisive” is “hahee-ret-ee-kos,” from which we get the word “heretical.” But the meaning of the word is broader than simply a person who brings a heretical teaching (a teaching that undermines the gospel). This word primarily denotes “capable of choosing; hence, causing division by a party spirit, factious.”16 And in the context of Titus 3:9, the word appears to be referring to some who were arguing as much about peripheral issues as they were about the core doctrines of the gospel.

If someone strongly insists on the importance and correctness of his own opinion, (even though it has little or no scriptural support), it can be just as divisive as someone who teaches false doctrine. Such a person usually has one note on his violin and plays it to death. Soon he gathers around him a group of people and begins to divide the church by promoting his own doctrinal hobbyhorse.

When thinking about non-essential doctrines, it is important to remember that throughout the history of the Church, God has put Christians into “spheres” (2 Corinthians 10:15-16) of influence and has led them by various Christian leaders. For a particular church or movement (a sphere) to be truly “Christian,” the basic truths of the gospel must be preached, believed, and obeyed. These are the truths Paul commands Titus to “encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you” (Titus 2:15, NIV). And if a church is denying the gospel, we must speak up for the truth that brings salvation no matter how much division it causes.

Yet different movements and churches have had many different interpretations and traditions in areas of the Scripture that could be considered debatable and that are not essential to the truths of salvation. Believers should be free to discuss issues like this and to share their opinions. But they are not free to push their opinion to such an extent that it causes division in the church.

So division, caused by “heretical” (divisive) people, can occur in the body of Christ in two ways. The first is when the divisive person undermines the truth of the gospel. The second is when the divisive person strongly or persistently opposes the “nonessential” teachings of the leadership of a particular church or movement. Such a person is failing to acknowledge that God has placed Christians in spiritual families under the care of spiritual leaders. And although the leaders may not always be right on every single issue of teaching, if they are preaching the truths of the gospel accurately, they should not be opposed on more minor issues, at least not opposed to the point of causing a division. These verses in Romans 16 and Titus 3 can be applied to either type of divisive person.

18. What is involved in giving a first and second warning?

The word “warning” is the Greek word “noo-thes-ee`-ah” and means “admonition, warning, literally, a putting in mind (“nous”, mind; “titheμmi”, to put).” “Nouthesia” is “the training by word,” whether of encouragement, or, if necessary, by reproof or argument.17

The person is to be admonished or reproved for his divisive behavior twice before we “have nothing to do with him.” This “warning” or “admonition” appears to be an admonition showing the individual that the divisive teaching or behavior is wrong, not necessarily a warning that he is about to be rejected from the church.

In other words, if a person’s communication is divisive and he repents after being admonished, he may remain in fellowship. If he communicates divisively a second time and repents after a second admonition, he may still remain in fellowship. But if he communicates divisively a third time, he is to be rejected, no matter how repentant he may seem. We can be sure that such a person is “warped and sinful.”

In the case of a person who has been divisive and refuses to repent upon being admonished, it is important to note that the passage says nothing about a time period being required between admonitions. If, after the first admonition, the person doesn’t agree that what he is teaching is wrong or divisive, he can be immediately admonished a second time, even in the same conversation. Thus he can be rejected immediately if he will not repent and agree to refrain from divisiveness.

Note how much God hates division in His Church! A person could commit other sins many times and repent each time and still not be the object of church judgment. But a divisive person is allowed only two verbal repentances before we are to “have nothing to do with him.” God loves unity and hates disunity among His people.

19. How should a divisive person be treated?

Romans 16:17 says to “keep away from them.” The Greek word translated “keep away” is “ek-klee`-no” and means to “turn away from, to turn aside, lit., to bend out of (“ek”, out; “klinoμ”, to bend).”18

Titus 3:10 says that after a first and second warning, we should “have nothing to do with him.” The Greek word translated “have nothing to do with him” is “par-aheeteh`- om-ahee” and means “to reject or repudiate.”19

So the divisive person should be “turned away from” and “rejected.” This would certainly include putting him out of the fellowship as well as instructing the church not to associate with him. To protect God’s people, it would be wise to inform the church of the nature of the false teaching or doctrinal hobbyhorse that the person is promoting and to answer any questions people may have about that teaching. Additionally, the church should be clearly instructed about what is and is not divisive  communication so that people can avoid causing division, but also not be afraid to share their opinions on doctrinal matters.

REFUSAL TO WORK (2 THESSALONIANS 3:6-15)

“In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you,8 nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you.9 We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow.10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat.’11 We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies.12 Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.13 And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.14 If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed.15 Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother” (2 Thessalonians 3:6-15, NIV).

20. What circumstances prompted Paul’s admonition to the Thessalonians?

Some believers in the Thessalonian church were not working to provide for their own needs, but were living off the generosity of others. They were “busybodies,” “peree- er-gad`-zom-ahee,” which literally means “to be working round about, instead of at one’s own business.”20 They were minding everyone’s business but their own. And they were “idle”—“at-ak`-toce” meaning: “disordered, disorderly, undisciplined, unbridled, without law or order.”21

In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul had already admonished them to make it their ambition “to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12). Yet, evidently, some had not responded to his admonition.

So in his second letter, Paul gives them an even stronger admonition, first pointing to his own example and how he “worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you” (3:8).

Paul’s admonition clearly applies to those who are able to work, but are not willing to do so. Also, it is directed to those who were not meeting their own needs. Therefore we should not apply this passage to any of the following persons:

1) A person who is incapable of working because of sickness or injury.

2) A person who is spending his full-time looking for work.

3) A full-time student who is able to meet his needs through grants, loans, or other legitimate means.

4) A dependent of another.

5) A retired person who has adequate savings or other income to meet his needs.

21. What does Paul command the church to do with such an idle, undisciplined person?

Paul clearly commands them not to give him food or monetary help—“If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” This may seem uncaring and unloving, but again, love often involves tough measures.

Love does not enable a person to continue in behavior that is self-destructive or destructive to others. Supporting such a person would only encourage him toward a continued lifestyle of irresponsibility.

Additionally, Paul commands the church to “keep away from” every brother who will not work. This word (stel`-lo) means to “withdraw from or avoid.”22 He also commands them to “take special note of” any person who will not obey Paul’s command to get to work. This Greek word is “say-mi-o`-o” and means “to denote, to signify…to mark for oneself.”23 Most likely Paul is talking about a public pointing out of the person and his problem. Paul also tells the church not to associate with him. This is the same word used in 1 Corinthians 5 for not associating with the “wicked man.” The reason Paul gives here for not associating with the undisciplined person was “that he may feel ashamed.” Again, the purpose of this church judgment is to bring shame and lead the person to repentance, a change of behavior, and restoration.

The question arises as to whether the discipline here in 2 Thessalonians 3 is in some way different from that in the other passages. Paul instructs them not to “regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.” This seems to be somewhat milder than Jesus’ instruction to regard the unrepentant offender as a “Gentile or tax collector.” Also, in this passage, Paul considers this undisciplined person to be a believer and calls him a “brother,” instead of a “so-called brother” as he did in 1 Corinthians 5. This seems to suggest that the discipline imposed by the church may be in some way less severe than that in Matthew 18 or 1 Corinthians 5.

Some commentators have suggested that Paul was allowing this brother to come to church meetings, but not allowing the church to associate with him outside of church meetings. But allowing him to come to church meetings would certainly not be “keeping away from him,” nor would it be not associating with him. “The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works.” – Augustine © 2007 GCC 129 The Church and the Doctrine of God Church Judgments It is difficult to know exactly how this church judgment in 2 Thessalonians 3 differs from the others we have studied, or what Paul specifically means by “don’t treat him as an enemy,” while at the same time telling them to “not associate” with him and to “keep away from him.” Perhaps their attitude was to be less severe than in the other cases of discipline. Or perhaps they were to urge him toward obedience whenever they happened to run into him, rather than turn away from him altogether, as they might have done with a “Gentile or tax collector.”

22. What are some general principles to keep in mind for any church judgment, no matter which passage applies?

1) Make sure that you have all the facts and that the facts are confirmed by two or three witnesses. Did more than one person witness the sin that was committed or hear an admission of guilt? This is the standard of evidence that the Scriptures require: “One witness is not enough to convict a man accused of any crime or offense he may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses” (Deuteronomy 19:15, NIV). Without this standard of evidence we must drop the matter, no matter how strong our suspicions may be or how much we may trust the integrity of the lone witness. We must believe that God, in His sovereignty, will make sure that two or three witnesses come forward when He wants the church to judge the matter. And if the person is guilty, yet there is only one witness, God is certainly able to judge the person Himself in some other way.

2) The person accused should have the chance to defend himself before those who are judging the matter. “The first to present his case seems right, until another comes forward and questions him” (Proverbs 18:17, NIV).

3) It is important to remember that the aim of church judgment is not permanent disassociation, but restoration to righteousness and fellowship. The church’s desire for restoration should be clearly communicated to the person who is judged. In this regard, it can be helpful to give the offender a letter explaining the reason for the church judgment, the love and concern of the church, and the way that reconciliation can be obtained. The section of this paper that deals with Matthew 18 gives some additional reasons for such a letter and a list of things that might be included.

4) We should attempt to keep the situation as confidential as possible: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). Church judgment, by its very nature, is a public judgment where sin is exposed and judged, yet there is no reason to unnecessarily broadcast the fact of the judgment or the specifics of the sin to the whole world. The purposes of the judgment—to protect the church and to restore the offender—should guide us as to how many people need to be informed.

5) If we learn that the person is attending another church, love for the offender and for our brethren in the other church would compel us to inform that church’s leadership of the church judgment. “

6) Wise counsel can avoid serious errors. In Great Commission Churches, counsel from a regional leader is required before member churches institute a church judgment. Also, in light of the growing tendency to take matters to court, it would be wise to seek legal counsel before informing the congregation of the reason for a church judgment.

7) In the case of a college student or other young person living away from home who is still a minor or a dependent of their parents, it can be helpful to inform the parents concerning the situation and the church’s attempts to correct their son or daughter and even to get their input prior to carrying out a church judgment.

8) Any meeting informing the church of the nature of the sin and non-repentance should include expressions of love and concern for the offender, a clear explanation of the reasons for the judgment, a teaching on the biblical basis for discipline, and prayer for the restoration of the sinning person.

23. What if someone gets wind of what is happening and leaves the church before the process of church discipline is complete?

In some cases, if the person is new to the church or hardly known by church members, no further action may need to be taken. However, if the sinning person has been an active part of church life, finishing the process of church discipline and exposing the sin to the church will most often be required. The reason for this is that most, if not all of passages relating to church judgment tell us not only to reject the person from fellowship, but also not to associate with him personally as well. Church members are not able to obey these commands if the church does not judge the situation. Rather, many of them may try to encourage the person, who is no longer coming, to come back to church—just the opposite of what the Lord commands.

Another reason that discipline may need to be carried out even after a person has already left the church is to protect the church by warning them to “watch out for” those who are divisive. Without such a warning, the divisive person may still be able to “deceive the minds of naive people.”

A third reason would be to bring “shame” to the one in sin, so that he may be convicted of his folly and seek restoration (2 Thessalonians 3:14).

24. In conclusion, why should the church practice church judgment? The exercise of church judgment is a not a suggestion, but a biblical command. The church cannot neglect this command and be obedient to Christ any more than it would willfully ignore Christ’s commission to evangelize the nations.

Often we do not realize how much we have been affected by the philosophies of the world. Our society tends to promote “tolerance” as the highest of all moral virtues. The world sees any strong, painful discipline as unloving. But a surgeon has to cut and cause pain in order to save a life. It would be unloving and even hateful for a doctor not to warn or treat a seriously ill person. The Scriptures say the same thing about dealing with serious sin. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy” (Proverbs 27:6). “Stripes that wound scour away evil, and strokes reach the innermost parts” (Proverbs 20:30). “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines” (Hebrews 12:6).

Christian leaders must not be intimidated by societal or congregational resistance to the concept of church judgment. Careful teaching of the Scripture on the subject will dissolve most objections and prepare the way for this restoring and healing ministry. When required, church judgment must be carried out in love, and with tears and sadness, not in harshness. People resist a judgmental spirit, but respond to a broken heart.

The Church must maintain biblical discipline or it will be held in contempt both by those who love righteousness and by those who promote evil. The exercise of biblical church judgment requires much courage, great wisdom, and spiritual sensitivity. A correct understanding of the Scriptures and a willingness to submit to them is the key to responding to those who sin in our midst with the right mixture of grace, firmness, and genuine love.

FOOTNOTES:

1 Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan Publishing House), 1998, p. 63.

2 Gentiles, The New Bible Dictionary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) 1962.

3 Publicans, Achtemier, Paul J., Th.D., Harper’s Bible Dictionary, (San Francisco: Harper and Row, Publishers, Inc.) 1985.

4 Tax Collectors, The New Bible Dictionary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) 1962.

5 Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan Publishing House), 1975, p. 532.

6 Kittel, Gerhard, and Friedrich, Gerhard, Editors, The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged in One Volume, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company) 1985. “Later Judaism shows how the use of porneéOEa broadens out to include not only fornication or adultery but incest, sodomy, unlawful marriage, and sexual intercourse in general.”

7 The Analytical Greek Lexicon, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan Publishing House), 1977, p 328.

8 Ibid., p 117.

9 Vine, W. E., Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell) 1981.

10 The Analytical Greek Lexicon.

11 Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament.

12 Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.

13 Ibid.

14 The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.

15 Ibid.

16 Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament.

17 Ibid.

18 Ibid.

19 The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.

20 Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament.

21 The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.

22 Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.

23 The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. “The truth is there are two great classes of sins—sins of the body, and sins of the disposition. The Prodigal Son may be taken as a type of the first, the Elder Brother of the second.” – Henry Drummond

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