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By 30. October 2020January 17th, 2023Shunning not based on the Bible

In The Watchtower of 1952, the practice of shunning disfellowshipped ones was introduced. The article seems to build its case for this practice on the words “stop keeping company with” in 1 Corinthians 5:11. But the article provides no analysis of this or any other biblical passages.

In the 70 years since that time, the Watchtower literature has not presented so much as one linguistic analysis of any biblical passages proving that shunning is based on the Bible. This means that shunning was made up and invented by human beings, and it is not a biblical requirement. However, the three scriptures 1 Corinthians 5:11, Matthew 18:17, and 2 John 7 have loosely been referred to when shunning has been discussed. I use the word “loosely” because the articles assume that the scriptures refer to shunning. But this has never been demonstrated in the literature.

Since 1952, when shunning was introduced, The Watchtower literature has never presented so much as one scriptural analysis proving that shunning is a biblical requirement.

The category “Shunning not based on the Bible” has in-depth studies of the three mentioned scriptures.

1 Corinthians 5:11.

The article shows that the Greek word synanamignymi (“mix together; associate with”) does not include the idea of shunning, of not greeting, and not speaking with. On the contrary, the use of the same word in 2 Thessalonians 5:14 shows that the expression “stop keeping company with” means not “fraternizing with” or “not socializing with.” But the verse also makes clear that those who are not “keeping company with” a person are still required to greet and speak with this same person.

A detailed analysis of 2 Corinthians 2:6 shows that a great number of the members of the congregation in Corinth rebuked the man who was disfellowshipped. In order to rebuke him, they had to greet him and speak with him. This shows that shunning a disfellowshipped person is wrong and that the members of a congregation can greet and speak with a disfellowshipped person. But they will not have any social contact with such a person.

2 John 10.

The article shows that there is no reference in the letters of John to disfellowshipping. The persons mentioned in 2 John 7-10 were antichrists who denied “Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh” and not disfellowshipped persons. These antichrists were active propagandists, and therefore Christians should not receive them into their homes or say a greeting to them.

The Watchtower of August 1, 1974 agrees with my words above, and the magazine shows that The Watchtower uses 2 John 7-10 as an illustration in connection with disfellowshipped ones. The claim of the GB is that disfellowshipped persons are like the antichrists mentioned in 2 John, and therefore Christians shall not greet them or speak with them.

There are two serious flaws with these arguments, 1) Most of the readers of The Watchtower are misled because they are given the impression that 2 John 7-10 discusses disfellowshipped persons, and 2) They are also misled because they are made to believe that the Bible shows that we should not greet or speak with disfellowshipped persons, when this is only a claim that the members of the Governing Body have made.

Matthew 18:17

The offender mentioned should be like “a man of the nation and a tax collector,” not for the whole congregation but only for the offended one. Between 1938 and 1954, the Watchtower literature pointed out this fact and showed that these words did not refer to disfellowshipping.

But in 1954, the words of Jesus were applied to disfellowshipping. The Watchtower of  March 1, 1974, showed that the word “congregation” referred to the Jewish congregation (nation). People of the nations and tax collectors were not disfellowshipped from the Jewish nation, and therefore Matthew 18:17 cannot refer to disfellowshipping.

Jesus does not mention any kind of sin. But the Governing Body claims that fraud and slander are the sins Jesus had in mind. Not only is there no biblical evidence for this claim. The Christian Greek Scriptures do not show that fraud and slander are disfellowshipping offenses. So again, no biblical evidence showing that Matthew 18:17 refers to disfellowshipping has ever been presented.


The conclusion is that no scripture in the Bible requires that disfellowshipped persons should be shunned. Since 1954, when shunning (not greeting and not speaking to) was introduced, no article in the Watchtower literature has made an analysis of any scripture in order to show that shunning is a biblical requirement. Thus, shunning is an inhuman and cruel manmade commandment that has caused great harm to hundreds of thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Rolf Furuli

Author Rolf Furuli

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