To be disfellowshipped from the Christian congregation is a very traumatic experience, both for the person who is disfellowshipped and for his or her family and friends. The NT speaks of the necessity of disfellowshipping wicked persons. But a large aspect of the disfellowshipping practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses is not based on the NT but on human commandments that are made up and invented by the members of the Governing Body. This is a clear violation of Bible principles. Last year, about 70,000 Witnesses were disfellowshipped, and my view is that more than 90% of these should not have been if the Bible was followed.
Are the “legal” biblical rights of a Witness taken into account when he or she is summoned to a judicial committee meeting? My answer is No, because, 1) Most elders are not competent to be judges, 2) What the Bible says about the characteristics of those who deserve to be disfellowshipped is ignored, 3) Eighty percent of the disfellowshipping offenses listed in the book for elders are not based on the Bible, and 4) Disfellowshipped persons are treated in a cruel and inhuman way that contradicts the Bible.
The basic purpose of this article is to show the actual criteria for determining which offenses require disfellowshipping actions according to the NT. In other words, in addition to those offenses that are directly said to be disfellowshipping offenses in the NT, how can we identify other disfellowshipping offenses not specifically listed in Scripture?
In the book for elders, “Shepherd The Flock Of God”, I count 46 different disfellowshipping offenses. Of these, I find that only 11 fill the criteria of being scripturally authorized disfellowshipping offenses, and 35 do not fill these criteria. This article has a list of all the disfellowshipping offenses in the Shepherd book and it distinguishes between those that are based on the Bible and those that are manmade
In addition to identifying disfellowshipping offenses, this study also has a short introduction to the articles dealing with disfellowshipping offenses.
The New Testament shows that disfellowshipping congregation members who have become wicked is right. But the NT requirements for disfellowshipping are strict, and so removing a person from the congregation should rarely happen. However, last year about 70,000 Witnesses were disfellowshipped, but to my view, 90% of them should not have been if the Bible had been followed.
THE DISFELLOWSHIPPING PROCEDURES
In English, there are two synonymous concepts, namely, “due process of law” and “legal security.” The meaning of both is that a person who is accused of something must have his or her case reviewed by competent people who take into account the rights afforded a person by law. In other words, the accused persons should have every opportunity to defend themselves, and the proceedings in court should follow the law in every detail.
In the Christian congregation, the laws and principles of the Bible are used just as the laws of a country are used in a court case. The important question is: Do the judicial committees follow the principle of “due process of law,” where “law” refers to the laws and principles of the Bible? And does the Witness who is accused of wrongdoing have “legal security,” where “legal” also refers to the laws and principles of the Bible? Sadly, the answer to both questions is a resounding No!
An accused Witness has no “legal security” because, 1) Most of the elders serving in judicial committees are not competent to be judges, and 2) The Bible’s criteria for identifying those who deserve to be disfellowshipped are not followed, 3) Eighty percent of the disfellowshipping offenses listed in the book for elders, “Shepherd The flock Of God” (2019), are made-up and invented by the GB and are not based on the Bible, and 4) Disfellowshipped persons are treated in a cruel and inhuman way that contradict the instructions of the Bible. Below I will elucidate each point.
Members of the judicial committees are in most cases not qualified to be judges
The book, God’s Kingdom Rules! (2014), page 114 says:
In the decades since then [the first article on disfellowshipping published in 1952], Christ has helped his followers to clarify and reﬁne the handling of serious cases of wrongdoing. Christian elders are carefully trained to care for judicial matters in Jehovah’s way, with a proper balance of justice and mercy.
The claim that “Christian elders are carefully trained to care for judicial matters in Jehovah’s way” is a lie. I call it “a lie” because the author of the book and those who proof-checked the contents of the book must know from the courses for elders that no “carefully training” has occurred during the last 30 years.
In 1974 and 1975, I was the instructor of a two-week course for all elders in Norway. Several lectures discussed deep Bible truths and how to do deep Bible study. Other lectures discussed organizational matters, including detailed studies of how to proceed in judicial cases. Fifteen years later, another course was held where judicial cases were discussed in detail. Since then, courses for elders have been held two days per year on average. But there has been no training for elders in connection with serving on judicial committees. Occasionally, judicial matters have been mentioned by giving examples of cases where persons should have been disfellowshipped. But such examples mentioned in passing often create problems because the elders, lacking in any detailed training, then try to apply these examples to their own judicial cases with bad results.
There is also a psychological side of a judicial case that is not taken into account because most elders are incompetent in this area. The main issue to consider is whether the wrongdoer regrets his or her actions and therefore will not be disfellowshipped. But how will the elders be able to determine that? They will have to be skilled readers of the psychological makeup of the wrongdoer. And this presents a serious problem because as individuals we behave in different ways. For example, a wrongdoer at a judicial hearing who is depressed may behave in a different way than he might have if he were not depressed. Others may be ill or taking medication that affects their demeanor in one way or another, or they may have some mental problems and so behave differently from the way they normally do. All of us have a tendency to measure others by comparing their actions to what we would do. But people are different, and this presumed comparison with self is often wrong.
Therefore, if elders must have psychological insight in order to be effective members of judicial committees, it will be difficult to find qualified members. The solution is very simple. As I will show below, only persons who are permeated by certain actions, for example, those who are incorrigible thieves, deserve to be disfellowshipped. Identifying persons who are permeated by bad actions is relatively easy and does not require any psychological prowess on the part of the elders. But when a great number of actions are incorrectly identified as disfellowshipping offenses, several of which are ambiguous and vague, scrutinizing and weighing the nature of any supposed wrongdoing will be difficult.
Nevertheless, the elders who participate in judicial committees should, in all cases, be specially trained for the task. Disfellowshipping someone places a huge responsibility on the shoulders of those making the decision. They are dealing with persons who are servants of Jehovah, and to make wrong decisions regarding these can ruin the lives of persons who should not have been disfellowshipped.
The real nature of disfellowshipping offenses
When it comes to disfellowshipping, it is very important for the elders to distinguish between actions and moral character. The works of the flesh mentioned in Galatians 5:19-21 are actions. And the wickedness that is the basis for disfellowshipping, according to 1 Corinthians, chapters 5 and 6, is not connected with actions per se, but with the moral and behavioral character of the wrongdoer—the person they have become. What does that mean?
It means that the words “thieves, greedy persons, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners” in 1 Corinthians 6:10 are not focussed on particular actions. But each word serves as a nomen agentis, a substantive made from a verb, an “actor noun.” Examples are “speaker” from “speak” and “rider” from “ride.” Actor nouns may also refer to an occupation or a characteristic. For example, the Greek word alieus (“fisherman”) comes from the verb alieuō (“to fish”) and hiereus (“priest”) comes from the verb hierateuō (“to serve as a priest”). Both alieus and hiereus shows what the persons are. Similarly, the words in 1 Corinthians 6:10 shows what the persons are, i.e., what they have become. We may use John 12:6 as an example. The text says that Judas was a thief because he used to steal the money that was put in the money box. Thus, a thief is a person who is permeated by thievery, that is what he has become, an incorrigible stealer. A “greedy person” (pleonektēs) is the nomen agentis of “greed” (pleonekteō), which, according to DNTT means, “to take advantage of, wrong, defraud, or cheat.” Thus, a “greedy person” is one who is practicing, or is permeated by fraud or cheating.
The members of the GB have not understood this because they refer to disfellowshipping offenses as actions. And to determine the nature of a wrongdoer’s character, their question is how many times has a wrong action occurred. In my experience, if a wrong action has occurred more than three times, the person will almost certainly be disfellowshipped even if he or she expresses remorse and promises never to do the wrong action again. In such situations, some judicial committees have reasoned like this: We cannot be certain whether the remorse claimed by the wrongdoer is genuine. So, we have to disfellowship the person. If he truly is repentant and his motive is right, he will rather quickly seek to be reinstated and the injustice will rectify itself.
There are also problems connected with child baptism. The members of the GB, such as Mark Sanderson in a talk in Germany as zone overseer a few years ago, have greenlighted children getting baptized as young as 12 years of age and even younger. Children are not physically or psychologically mature enough to make decisions that will last a lifetime. Two persons who read my book about the GB, told me that they were baptized when they were eight years old, and they did not understand what they did. In my view, it is exceptional if a person below his late teens is mature enough to be baptized. However, a great number of children have been baptized, and because they are immature, they have done ‘foolish’ and wrong things that Jehovah intended to be addressed by the “rod of discipline” from their parents. But since the GB allows these young ones to get baptized prematurely, they, instead, face the ax of disfellowshipping from the elders. (Proverbs 22:15).
The discussion above has shown that under the leadership of the GB, judicial committees have not followed the instructions relating to disfellowshipping that we see in 1 Corinthians, chapters 5 and 6, that only persons who are permeated by habitual wicked actions should be disfellowshipped.
The consequences of being disfellowshipped according to the GB
In connection with the disfellowshipping in the congregation in Corinth, Paul says in 1 Corinthian 5:5 (NWT13):
You must hand such a man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
The meaning of these words is not clear. But the view of the GB according to The Watchtower of 15 November 2006, page 27, is: The handing over to Satan means that the man again becomes a part of Satan’s world; the destruction of the flesh means that the fleshly element, which represents the wrong actions, must be removed from the congregation; and the spirit that may be saved is the dominant attitude of the congregation.
This explanation may be correct, and in that case, to be disfellowshipped does not mean that a person is eternally condemned. Paul confirms this in 2 Corinthians 2:5-10 because he shows that the man who had been disfellowshipped was reinstated and became a full member of the congregation again.
But do JW share that same optimism regarding disfellowshipped persons? The GB’s official answer to that question is not as straightforward as most JW might think. In order to understand how the GB truly sees disfellowshipped persons, we must examine the connection they have made between disfellowshipping and the scriptural reference “a sin that does incur death” (1 John 5:16), which is a sin that cannot be forgiven. The Watchtower of 15 June 1971, page 383, says:
The apostle John gives us further light on the question of prayer for disfellowshiped persons when he says: “If anyone catches sight of his brother sinning a sin that does not incur death, he will ask, and he will give life to him, yes, to those not sinning so as to incur death. There is a sin that does incur death. It is concerning that sin that I do not tell him to make request.”—1 John 5:16.
How, though, are we as individuals to know whether a person has committed a sin incurring death? John evidently refers to willful, knowing sin, as contrasted with one that does not incur death. Where the evidence indicated such willful, knowing sin, the Christian would not pray for the one so offending. (And such evidence must exist for a disfellowshiping to take place.) It is not a case of a person ‘being overtaken in a fault before he is aware of it’ and hence still meriting our prayers. (Gal. 6:1; Jas. 5:19, 20) God, of course, is the final Judge as to the heart attitude of the sinner, but in cases of disfellowshiping, the Christian does well not to risk having his prayer be in vain or be displeasing to God.
The quotation says that a person who has been disfellowshipped has committed “willful, knowing sin,” which is the sin “that does incur death” and cannot be forgiven. If this were correct, it would not be right to pray for a disfellowshipped person, according to 1 John 5:16. The words that God “is the final judge” do not contradict the conclusion in this paragraph. Sometime after this article was written, the GB realized that its conclusions were problematic. Questions from Readers in The Watchtower of 15 October 1979 again discusses prayer for disfellowshipped persons and we read:
In the past it has been held that such prayers would not be proper. And there are good Scriptural reasons for restraint. But relevant Bible counsel recommends considering the individual situation rather than taking a categorical position…
Next, John refers to ‘deadly sin,’ or “sin that does incur death.” What is that? It is sin for which one cannot be forgiven; it is “deadly” for it leads to the “second death,” or eternal death…
God, not we on earth, determines if someone has sinned against the holy spirit. Yet, we can appreciate from John’s inspired words that we should not pray in behalf of a person who gives evidence of practicing sin deliberately. John also wrote in 2 John 9-11 about persons who spread unchristian views. Prayers in their behalf would be offensive to God…
Should we conclude, then, that a person who is disfellowshiped because of unrepentant sin likely has committed a “sin that does incur death,” about which we should not pray? Not necessarily. Recall that in the first-century Corinthian congregation a man fell into immorality. For a while he was unrepentant and so had to be disfellowshiped. (1 Cor. 5:1, 9-13) It seems, however, that in time he repented and was reinstated. (2 Cor. 2:5-10)…
When a person is disfellowshiped, it may not then be clear whether the sin will ‘incur death’ or not. But in time evidence of repentance and turning around may begin to appear…
How, though, are we as individuals to know whether a person has committed a sin incurring death? John evidently refers to willful, knowing sin, as contrasted with one that does not incur death. Where the evidence indicated such willful, knowing sin, the Christian would not pray for the one so offending. (And such evidence must exist for a disfellowshiping to take place.)
The quotation above softens the conclusion in the article from The Watchtower of 15 June 1971 a little. The last paragraph, however, reaffirms the view previously stated in the 1971 article by reiterating that those who have been disfellowshipped have committed “willful, knowing sin,” which is sin that “does incur death” and cannot be given. However, the article shows that there are exceptions because a disfellowshipped person can repent, as in the case of the one who was disfellowshipped from the congregation in Corinth but was later reinstated. The two conclusions stated in the same article are utter contradictions and exclude each other, but why the author of the article and those who proof-checked the article did not understand that, is beyond me. If a disfellowshipped person has committed a “willful, knowing sin” that cannot be forgiven, then he can never repent and be reinstated.
In any case, the general view among JW is that anyone who is in a disfellowshipped state cannot have Jehovah’s approval, and if he or she continues to carry this “scarlet letter” designation of being disfellowshipped and does not repent of his or her sins, he or she will not gain everlasting life. A number of those who have been disfellowshipped have expressed that they are afraid of being killed at Armageddon.
Will a Witness lose God’s approval when he is disfellowshipped?
I will show below that only 11 of the 43 disfellowshipping offenses that are listed in “Shepherd The Flock Of God” are based on the Bible. This means that 32 disfellowshipping offenses are made up and invented by the GB. I will first apply the question in the heading in connection with the 11 disfellowshipping offenses that have a biblical basis. One disfellowshipping offense that is based on the Bible is being permeated by overdrinking. The bad thing, in this case, is to be habitually intoxicated and lose control of one’s mind. If a person is addicted to heroin, he or she is also permeated by being habitually intoxicated by drugs and is, therefore, in the same situation as one who is permeated by the intoxication of overdrinking. I will use a person who is addicted to heroin and is disfellowshipped as an example.
How will God view such a person? We can of course not know God’s decisions. But his Word provides some clues. The basic point to consider is the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ. 1 Timothy 2:5, 6 (NWT13) says:
For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all.
The Greek word pas (“all, every”) in the phrase “ransom for all” is used in this scripture and in Romans 8:32 and 2 Corinthians 5:15. This word can refer to all in a limited group or it can be used in a universal sense to include all persons, or all things, in the whole world. Romans 5:12-21 shows the contrast between Adam and Jesus and this shows that the word pas is used in a universal sense to include all descendants of Adam. So all descendants of Adam have been bought by Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:20; 2 Peter 2:1). This means that the person who is disfellowshipped because of heroin addiction is bought by Jesus Christ as well.
One of the basic characteristics of Jehovah God is righteousness, and because the ransom sacrifice is for every individual of Adam’s descendants, every individual must get a minimum chance to accept or reject the ransom sacrifice. Has the person who is addicted to heroin rejected the ransom sacrifice? Paul says that those who deserve to be disfellowshipped are wicked (1 Corinthians 5:13), and Hebrews 10:26, 27 says:
For if we practice sin willfully after having received the accurate knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice for sins left.
So the question remains: does the one who is addicted to heroin “practice sin willfully”? The Watchtower from 15 June 1971 and 15 October 1979 says Yes. But my conclusion from the scriptural evidence is that we do not know; only God knows. Supporting this conclusion is the following quotation:
When people become addicted to heroin, they crave the drug so strongly that, even when they know what consequences they face as a result of their heroin use, they are unable to stay away from the drug. This makes relapse to heroin use incredibly likely after detox. Often, those struggling with heroin addiction experience multiple episodes of relapse on their road to recovery.
In many cases, a young Witness has accepted drugs from someone in a moment of weakness or carelessness, and before he is aware of it, he is hooked. And when someone is hooked on a hard drug, it is extremely difficult to quit the addiction, as the quotation above shows. Is this addiction the equivalent of ‘practicing sin willfully’? Is it the will of the person that has caused his addiction? In most cases, the answer is No.
There are many different factors that influence our decisions, factors that the elders in a judicial committee cannot know. Our personality has been influenced by a great many things. In addition, some persons are depressed, others have some kind of mental imbalance, and still others in a moment of carelessness “takes a false step before he is aware of it” (Galatians 6:1), which may be the case with one who becomes a drug addict.
Because of God’s righteousness, and because of the ransom sacrifice that has been provided for all of Adam’s human descendants, I am certain that a great number of those who have been disfellowshipped because of one of the 11 disfellowshipping offenses that are based on the Bible will survive Armageddon or get a resurrection if he or she dies before Armageddon. The reason is that they have “taken a false step before he is aware of it,” and this has led them to an almost impossible and inescapable situation.
|A great number of persons who have been disfellowshipped because of one of the 11 disfellowshipping offenses that are based on the Bible will probably survive Armageddon or get a resurrection.|
I will now make some comments on the 32 disfellowshipping offenses mentioned in “Shepherd The flock Of God” that are made up and invented by the GB and have no basis in the Bible.
According to the quotations above from The Watchtower of 15 June 1971 and 15 October 1979, a Witness who is disfellowshipped because of a violation of one of these man-made disfellowshipping offenses probably has committed sins “that incurs death” (1 John 5:16) and cannot be forgiven. By making these human commandments and claiming that those who violate them will be condemned by God, the members of the GB are following the example of the man of lawlessness who “sits down in the temple of God, publicly showing himself to be a god.” (2 Thessalonians 2:5 NWT13). They say, in reality: “If you do not follow our commandments, you will be rejected by God.” They have put themselves in a position where they are judges in matters of life and death, a position that belongs only to God!
One of the categories of disfellowshipping offenses in the book for elders, “Shepherd The Flock Of God” is “brazen conduct.” In the category “Brazen conduct” on this webpage, I show that this expression is based on a misinterpretation of the Greek word asēlgeia and that it has no basis in the Bible. Ironically, the members of the GB are the ones who are guilty of brazen conduct by their inventing human commandments and then disfellowshipping those who do not adhere to them.
When a judicial committee of three elders disfellowship someone because of a “disfellowshipping offense” that is made up by the GB without any basis in the Bible, the elders in reality say: “Your good relationship with Jehovah is over because you have not been obedient to the GB. Therefore, we hand you over to Satan, and you no longer have any prospects of getting everlasting life in God’s new system of things.” This is the very definition of “brazen conduct,” first by the members of the GB who have instituted all the non-biblical disfellowshipping offenses, and secondly by the members of the judicial committee.
I use myself as an example. I have served Jehovah for 60 years, being in the full-time service for 15 years, including circuit and district work. I have been a member of the Hospital Liaison Committee in Oslo for 27 years, and I was presiding overseer and coordinator in a big congregation in Oslo for 35 years. All these assignments required hard work for God’s kingdom. On 18 June 2020, I was disfellowshipped from the Torstrand congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses because I wrote a book where I pointed out several errors in the organization. The members of the judicial committee had not read my book, so they could not consider whether it contained true information or not. But they evidently were instructed by the branch office in Denmark through the circuit overseer to disfellowship me. And the reason was the pretext that I had “caused divisions” (a.k.a. I had not been obedient to the GB, which is a disfellowshipping offense.)
During my 56 years as an elder, I have been taught that if I see something wrong in my congregation, I should immediately do something to correct it. The reason why I wrote the book was that I followed this training. I pointed to several serious wrong actions and procedures at the highest level of the organization. I knew that my actions would lead to my disfellowshipping. But my good relationship with Jehovah and what I had been taught as an elder in his organization was the reason for writing the book. On this background — my relationship with Jehovah has always been excellent — it was really brazen conduct for human beings to tell me that my good relationship with Jehovah was over, which would deprive me of everlasting life because I had not been obedient to the GB.
|Disfellowshipping persons on the basis of human commandments and telling them that their good relationship with Jehovah is over is truly brazen conduct.|
. In the future, my article “Who will get everlasting life?” will be found in the category “Personal, Writings” on this website. It will show that not only those who are baptized Jehovah’s Witnesses and who have not been disfellowshipped will survive Armageddon. It also shows that JW today generally have a too restricted view of who will get the benefits of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice.
THE CRITERIA FOR THE CLASSIFICATION OF DISFELLOWSHIPPING OFFENSES
The only place in the NT where disfellowshipping from the Christian congregation is directly mentioned is in 1 Corinthians, chapters 5 and 6, and in 2 Corinthians, chapter 2. The criteria for disfellowshipping offenses are found in 1 Corinthians, chapter 5.
I showed in the discussion above that only wicked persons who are permeated by habitual wrongdoing should be disfellowshipped. The focus should not be on how many times a certain wrongdoing has occurred but on the moral character of the person—what the person is. I will now look at Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians, chapter 5, in order to find the criteria behind legitimate disfellowshipping offenses:
1 Corinthians 5:13 says that disfellowshipped persons are wicked, and this means that the wicked actions being practiced must be disfellowshipping offenses.
To be handed over to Satan
. This is the expression describing disfellowshipping actions in 1 Corinthians 5:4. So when we read in the NT that someone is handed over to Satan, we know that the person is guilty of practicing a disfellowshipping offense.
To avoid a person
. Christians should “stop keeping company” with disfellowshipped persons. In a different situation, 2 Thessalonians 3:14 shows that we should also “stop keeping company” with members of the congregations who have been marked for not accepting all the words written by Paul. Yes, these should be marked but not disfellowshipped. Therefore, if a text in the NT says that we should “stop keeping company with someone,” whose sin is not of the kind that calls for being marked, we know that the sin in question is a disfellowshipping offense.
In what follows, I will apply the aforementioned criteria to the text of the NT, in order to determine how many of the disfellowshipping offenses listed in “Shepherd The Flock Of God” have a basis in the NT.
The criteria for disfellowshipping offenses applied to the NT
Many different sins are mentioned in the NT. But if we only want to build on the text of the Bible, only the three criteria mentioned above can indicate disfellowshipping offenses. When we apply these criteria, we get the following results:
The word poneros (“wicked”) occurs 26 times from Romans to Revelation. Only in two passages quoted below does the word refer to particular actions, namely in 1 John 3:12 and 2 John 11 respectively. The quotations are from NWT13.
12 not like Cain, who originated with the wicked one and slaughtered his brother. And for what reason did he slaughter him? Because his own works were wicked, but those of his brother were righteous.
10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your homes or say a greeting to him. 11 For the one who says a greeting to him is a sharer in his wicked works.
The words of 1 John 3:12 show that Cain originated with Satan and that he was wicked. The mentioned wicked action is manslaughter or murder, and because this action is called “wicked” it must be a disfellowshipping offense. The word “wicked” at 2 John 11 refers to the actions of the antichrists who were active propagandists, and who wanted to come into the homes of the Christians to spread their false teaching. The antichrists were not a part of the Christian congregations and so could not be disfellowshipped. But the use of the word “wicked” indicates that if someone in the congregation denied the basic teaching about Jesus, or made a sect (hairesis) as mentioned in Titus 3:10, he or she would be subject to disfellowshipping.
The expression handed over to Satan occurs in 1 Corinthians 5:5 in connection with the sexually immoral man who was disfellowshipped. The only other place where it is used is in connection with Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Timothy 1:20). According to 2 Timotheus 2:18, they were spreading false teachings, and this means that a person who is permeated by false teachings and is intent on spreading them deserves to be disfellowshipped.
One of the offenses mentioned under the umbrella term “Disassociation” is “Join another religious organization.” Because religious organizations are spreading false teachings, joining such a religious organization puts the person in the same class as Hymenaeus and Alexander. Because of this, joining a religious organization is a disfellowshipping offense, according to the Bible. In reality, there is one disfellowshipping offense based on the Bible—spreading false teachings. But because both spreading false teachings and joining a religious organization are listed in the Shepherd book, I list them as two separate disfellowshipping offenses.
The expression to avoid a person is expressed by three different words: synanamignymi (“mix together”), paraiteomai, and ekklinō. The two last words have the meaning “purposedly avoid association.” The word synananmignymi is used in 1 Corinthians 5:11 in connection with disfellowshipping, and in 2 Thessalonians 3:14 in connection with a marked person.
The word paraiteomai is only used in Titus 3:10 in connection with a person who made a sect (hairetikos). To purposedly avoid someone can be used in connection with marked ones and disfellowshipped ones. “The expression “have deviated from the way” in Titus 3:11 is translated from ekstrefomai, which, according to LN has the meaning “to have departed from the patterns of correct behavior and thus to have become corrupt.” A person with a “corrupt” character who attempts to form a sect should be disfellowshipped, and therefore, praiteomai (“purposely avoid association”) in this context refers to a disfellowshipping offense.
The word ekklinō occurs three times in the NT, and only in Romans 16:17 does it refer to avoiding association with someone.
17 Now I exhort you, brothers, to keep your eye on those who cause divisions and occasions for stumbling contrary to the teaching that you have learned, and avoid (ekklinō) them. 18 For men of that sort are slaves, not of our Lord Christ, but of their own bellies; and by smooth talk and complimentary speech they seduce the hearts of guileless ones.
What are the sins of those mentioned in Romans 16:17?
- Causing divisions.
- Causing stumbling.
- Acting contrary to Christian teaching.
- Are not slaves of Jesus Christ.
- Seducing the heart of guileless ones.
The last three points are the important ones. By acting against the Christian teaching and by seducing people, they are sect-promoters. They cannot anymore be helped, and therefore the Greek word ekklinō (“avoid”) indicates that they must be disfellowshipped. In addition to the seven disfellowshipping offenses mentioned in 1 Corinthians, chapters 5 and 6, only four other disfellowshipping offenses are found in the NT, namely, spreading false teachings, join another religious organization, making a sect, and manslaughter.
On the basis of the discussion above, 11 different disfellowshipping reasons can be found in the NT.
Table 1.1 List of disfellowshipping offenses in the NT
|pornos||A man or woman who engages in sexual immorality. (1 Cor. 6:9)|
|eidōlolatrēs||One who takes part in idol worship. (1 Cor. 6:9)|
|moikhos||A person who commits adultery. (1 Cor. 6:9)|
|malakos||The passive male partner in homosexual intercourse. (1 Cor. 6:9)|
|aresenokoitēs||The male partner in homosexual intercourse. (1 Cor. 6:9)|
|kleptēs||A thief. (1 Cor. 6:10)|
|pleonektēs||Exploitation (Wrongly written in the Shepherd book as “Greed,” 1 Cor. 6:10)|
|methysos||A drunkard (wine) (1 Cor. 6:10)|
|loidoros||A reviler, an abusive person. (1 Cor. 6:10)|
|harpax||A rapacious person, a robber. (1 Cor. 6:10)|
|anatrepō||Spreading false teachings, overturning the faith, joining another religious organization. 1 Timothy 1:20; 2 Timothy 2:18|
|hairesis||Making a sect. (Titus 3:10)|
|sfazō||Manslaughter or murder (1 John 3:12)|
If we count each Greek word mentioned in the list above, we find that the number of disfellowshipping actions found in the NT is 11. The three Greek words moikhos, malakos, and arsenokoites are all expressions of pornos and can be subsumed under this word. The word anatrepō (“overturn; destroy”) has three references. The basic one is “spreading false teachings.” Other religious organizations spread false teachings, and joining such an organization makes a person an accomplice to spreading false teachings. Because the Shepherd book both lists “spreading false teachings” and “joining another religious organization,” I list both as disfellowshipping offenses that are based on the Bible. On this basis, in the final analysis, we find 11 different disfellowshipping offenses. I
An analysis of the disfellowshipping offenses listed in “Shepherd The Flock Of God”
When I speak of “disfellowshipping offenses,” I include offenses that leads to what is called “disassociation” because this is a GB euphemism for disfellowshipping. First is a list of 35 disfellowshipping offenses that are made up and introduced by the Governing Body without any basis in the Bible. Then follows a list of the 11 disfellowshipping offenses that are found in the Bible.
Table 1.2 Lists of all disfellowshipping offenses in the book for elders
THIRTY-FOUR DISFELLOWSHIPPING OFFENSES MADE UP AND INTRODUCED BY THE GOVERNING
- Strong circumstantial evidence of porneia
- Adulterous marriage
- Child abuse
- Momentary touching of intimate body parts or caressing of breasts
- immoral conversations over the telephone or the Internet:
- Viewing abhorrent forms of pornography
- Misuse of tobacco
- Use of marijuana, betel nut
- Abuse of medical, illicit, or addictive drugs
- Extreme physical uncleanness:
- Unnecessary association with disfellowshipped or disassociated individuals
- Dating though not scripturally free to remarry
- Brazen conduct in different situations
- Deliberate, malicious lying; bearing false witness
- Obscene speech
- Bride price, high
- Refusal to provide for the family
- Fits of anger
- Professional boxing
- Violence, domestic violence
- Celebrating false religious holidays
- Participation in interfaith activities
- Causing divisions of any kind
- Employment promoting false religion
- Leave JW
- Accepting blood transfusion
- Violating Christian neutrality
- Resigning from Jehovah’s witnesses leads to shunning
ELEVEN DISFELLOWSHIPPING OFFENSES BASED ON THE BIBLE
- Sexual immorality (porneia)
- Stealing, thievery
- Exploitation (Wrongly written in the Shepherd book as “Greed”)
- Deliberately spreading teachings contrary to Bible truth
- Promoting sects
- Joining another religious organization
. Points 8, 9, and 10 are one entry in the Shepherd book. I have used three entries because the actions are different and have different consequences.
. The words pornos and moikhos both refer to sexual immorality. According to Matthew 5:27, 32, moikheuō (the verb corresponding to moikhos) refers to an adulterer, that is, to a married person who has sexual relations with a person to whom he or she is not married. According to Matthew 5:32, porneia (corresponding to pornos) can also refer to adultery. However, according to 1 Corinthians 7:2, porneia can refer to unmarried persons who have sexual relations as well. In Classical Greek, porneia could refer to different sexual actions, such as anal and oral copulation. As mentioned, that is not the case in the NT, where the word porneia only refers to wrong sexual relations and not to particular kinds of sexual actions.
. The phrase “practicing actions indicating greed” needs some explanation. The word pleonektēs (“greedy person”) occurs in only four places in the NT (1 Corinthians 5:10, 11; 6:10; Ephesians 5:5), and the contexts do not show the full meaning of the concept. Mounce defines the word in the following way: “One who has or claims to have more than his share; a covetous, avaricious person, one who defrauds for the sake of gain.” The corresponding verb is pleonekteō, and in 2 Corinthians 7:2; 12:17, 18, NIV translates the verb with “exploit.” The meaning of “exploit” can be “to use someone or something unfairly for your own advantage.” (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/exploit). Thus, a pleonektēs is a person whose actions show that he or she is permeated by greed.
. Points 8, 9, and 10 are one entry in the Shepherd book. I have used three entries because the actions are different and have different consequences.
THE CRUEL AND INHUMAN TREATMENT OF DISFELLOWSHIPPED PERSONS
In 1952, the first detailed discussion of disfellowshipping occurred in The Watchtower. The author introduced the view that disfellowshipping persons should be shunned; Witnesses should not greet them or speak with them, they should be treated as if they did not exist. The article did not refer to any scripture in the Bible as proof that shunning disfellowshipped persons was a Christian duty.
During the 68 years since the article was written, the Watchtower literature has not produced a single article with an analysis of any text in the Bible substantiating that shunning is a scriptural requirement. On the contrary, shunning is a human commandment made up and invented by the leaders of the organization, and it is cruel and inhuman. The use of the Greek word synanamignymi (“mix together”), in the phrase “Stop keeping company with” in 1 Corinthians 5:9 shows, when compared with 1 Thessalonians 3.14, that Christians can, in fact, greet disfellowshipped persons and speak with them, but they cannot socialize with them. Therefore, cutting off association with a disfellowshipped person is scripturally sufficient to send a signal that he or she needs to change course.
THE DISCUSSION OF THE DISFELLOWSHIPPING OFFENSES ON THIS WEBSITE
The different articles about disfellowshipping on this website are listed in different categories. If you click on “Table of contents,” you will get an overview of the different subjects under each category where the articles are. Many articles are yet to be added.
If you click on “The eleven disfellowshipping offenses,” you will find a detailed article discussing each of the disfellowshipping offenses. Under the category “Disfellowshipping offenses not based on the Bible” you will find a listing of the categories relating to the 32 disfellowshipping offenses that are made up and invented by the GB. When you click on each category, you will find its related articles.
If you click on the category “Shunning not based on the Bible,” you will find four articles showing that shunning is a manmade commandment that is not based on the Bible. If you click on “Disassociation not based on the Bible” you will find articles on the four offenses that are considered actions tacitly denoting disassociation, and if you click on “Reversed view of disfellowshipping offenses”, you will find four articles on actions that previously were disfellowshipping offenses but where the GB has now changed its view so that they are no longer considered disfellowshipping offenses.
A very important article that shows why so many disfellowshipping offenses are made up and invented by the GB, is the article “The power struggle inside the Governing Body in the 1980s and 1990s,” in the category “The harmful effects of the human commandments of the GB.”
If you have any comments or questions, you can write to the editor of the website by clicking on the category “Contact.”