Vol.VI No.VII Pg.3
September 1969

Out Of Fellowship

Robert F. Turner

Brethren get disturbed over talk about disfellowshipping folk. This usually amounts to nothing more than marking some names off the directory. I doubt a church can withdraw fellowship — at least from some of these brethren. Let me explain.

Fellowship (koinonia) is joint participation, partnership, partaking. (See Thayer or Vine) Thus, withdrawing fellowship would be dissolving the partnership and terminating the participation together.

Fellowship with God (church universal 1 Jno. 1:1-7) is through obedience — walking in the light. When a man does as God directs, he is in fellowship; when he rebels, God severs relationship with him (Jno. 15: 1-6). Some brethren couldnt care less what God says. Withdraw this fellowship from such people? They have already broken fellowship with God. Nevertheless remember, God never charged men with keeping his roll book. He adds (Acts 2:47); he blots out (Ex. 32:33). Doubtless, God has already pruned the trees of such rotten and fruitless branches!

The local church is a fellowship in things saints do together. The Lords supper is fellowship (communion koinonia, 1 Cor. 10:16) with the body and blood of Jesus, and it is observed together with other Christians. Some never participate with other saints in this memorial. Praying together is fellowship, but these folk add no amen. Neither do they mingle their voices with other saints in singing praise and thanksgiving — yet singing together is fellowship. Class study, sharing the fruit of our research, admonishing and correcting each other is fellowship but many go fishing instead. Pooling our money to provide for the work of the congregation is fellowship, but their mite is not in the treasury. These brethren do not attend, hence, they are not in this fellowship!

The congregational fellowship is also the daily partnership of saints in things of the kingdom. It is a man working together with a preacher to convert a sinner (Gal. 6:6 — communicate koinoneo). It is ministering to the sick, comforting the distressed, supporting the weak, and supplying the needs of the destitute. It is weeping with those that weep and rejoicing with those that rejoice (Rom. 12:15). It is hands joined in the work of God but many brethren never soil their hands in such activities. Withdraw fellowship? How? There is no fellowship to withdraw! Anyway, where in the Bible did we read about withdrawing fellowship?

I am not opposed to scriptural discipline; God demands it. See Matt. 18: 15-17; Rom. 16:17; 1 Cor. 5:1-13; 1 Thes. 5:14; 2 Thes. 3: 6-15; 1 Tim. 6: 3-5; 2 Jno. 9-11. Plainer commands can not be found, and we can do what they require — warn them mark them avoid them with such... not to eat reject withdraw yourselves. Yet all this is NOT in order to disfellowship. But because man through sin has already broken fellowship with God and his saints. Such drastic measures are the last efforts aimed at restoring fellowship — gaining a brother (Matt. 18:15). Joe Fitch.