2 Thessalonians– Chapter Three XVI

by Ed Urzi

“And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15).

Here in 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15, Paul the Apostle offers some practical instruction for interacting with those whose lives do not accurately represent what they profess to believe as Christians. This is important, for a person who claims to follow Christ but habitually acts in a manner that denies His teachings is someone who misrepresents Jesus and will likely bring unwarranted criticism upon His people.

Unfortunately, this was not the only New Testament-era church where Paul had to address this issue…

“I wrote you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. In no way did I mean the immoral people of this world, or the greedy and swindlers and idolaters, since you would then have to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who calls himself a Christian who is sexually immoral, or greedy, or an idolater, or verbally abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person” (1 Corinthians 5:9-11).

Since those outside the church often judge Christ by those who claim to represent Him, we thus have Paul’s instruction to disassociate with those who are living in a manner that is inconsistent with genuine Biblical doctrine. Nevertheless, we should note the emphasis he places upon the potential for restoration: “Don’t think of him as an enemy, but speak to him as you would to a brother who needs to be warned” (TLB).

A person who is genuinely concerned about his or her relationship with Jesus will surely be shamed by such expressions of disapproval and hopefully be motivated to adopt a more God-honoring lifestyle. One source expands upon the desired  outcome from such a response…

“‘…allowing a believer to persist in blatantly unchristian, exploitive, and disruptive behavior is not a kindness—neither to the church nor to the errant believer nor to the watching non-Christian public.’ (a) Paul put social pressure to good use here. It is regrettable that in our day social pressure often has very little influence on erring brethren. Rather than submit to church discipline, many Christians simply change churches. Strong measures may be necessary (‘do not associate with him’), in some cases, so the offender will feel the need to repent (‘so that he will be put to shame’), and to live in harmony with the will of God.” (b) (1)

(1) (a) D. Michael Martin, 1, 2 Thessalonians, p. 213; (b) See John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 4:12:5-11. Quoted in Dr. Thomas L. Constable, Notes on 2 Thessalonians 2020 Edition [3:14, 3. Further discipline for the unrepentant 3:14-15] https://www.planobiblechapel.org/tcon/notes/html/nt/2thessalonians/2thessalonians.htm