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Monday, November 23, 2009

To what extent should Christians avoid fellowship with disfellowshipped ones?

The Bible commands Christians not to keep company or fellowship with a person who has been expelled from the congregation:

"Quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man...Remove the wicked man from among yourselves." (1Cor. 5:11,13)

Jesus also said concerning this:

"Let [the expelled one] be to you just as a man of the nations and as a tax collector." (Mt. 18:17) Because those listening to Jesus knew well that the Jew of that day had no fraternization with Gentiles and that they shunned tax collectors as outcasts, they realized that Jesus was instructing his followers not to associate with expelled ones. (See the Watchtower of Sept 15, 1981, pages 18-20.)

This shows that loyal Christians do not have spiritual fellowship with anyone who has been expelled from the congregation. Not only that, but the Bible says that we should "not even eat with such a man." (1 Cor. 5:11) Clearly, even social fellowship with an expelled person should be avoided. This would rule out joining him in a picnic, party, ball game, or a trip to the mall or theater or sitting down to a meal with him either in the home or at a restaurant.

Does this include even speaking with a disfellowshipped person? The Bible doesn't cover every possible situation, but 2 John 10 helps us to get Jehovah's view of matters: "If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, never receive him into your homes or say a greeting to him."

Commenting on this, The Watchtower of September 15, 1981, page 25, says:

"A simple 'hello' to someone can be the first step that develops into a conversation and maybe even a friendship. Would we want to take that first step with a disfellowshipped person?" (Also see Our Kingdom Ministry, 8/02, pp. 2-4, Heading: "Display Christian Loyalty When A Relative is Disfellowshipped).

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