"THE SECOND EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS"
A Charge To Withdraw (3:6-15)
1. As Paul nears the end of his epistle to Thessalonians, he gives them
a serious charge…
a. To withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly, and not
according to the tradition received from Paul –
2 Th 3:6; 2 Th 3:14; cf.2 Th 2:15
b. The seriousness of the charge seen in that Paul invokes the name
of Jesus – 2 Th 3:6
1) Something he rarely does
2) Another example is found in 1 Cor 1:10
2. The circumstances at Thessalonica that prompted such a serious
a. Some had quit working, and had become busybodies – 2 Th 3:11-12
b. Contrary to Paul’s own example, and previous commands –
2 Th 3:7-10; cf. 1 Th 4:11-12
— Perhaps excitement about the Lord’s coming was the excuse given
3. This charge to withdraw pertains to the subject of church
a. How churches are to discipline unruly members
b. A subject not often discussed, even less often applied
— Yet necessary if we are to remain a faithful church of Jesus
[With Paul’s charge to withdraw before us (2 Th 3:6-15), this may be a
good opportunity to review what else is revealed about the command and
purpose of church discipline…]
I. THE COMMAND TO WITHDRAW FELLOWSHIP
A. BY JESUS HIMSELF…
1. In the case of a brother who sins and refuses to repent – Mt 18:15-17
2. Jesus’ own words: "…let him be to you like a heathen and a
a. Spoken in the context of social relations at the time
b. Jews had no social dealings with Gentiles, nor with their
Jewish brethren who worked for the Roman government as tax
3. The point is to withdraw social association from a brother who
refuses to repent
B. BY HIS APOSTLES…
1. Paul’s charge to the church at Rome – Rom 16:17-18
a. Involving those who "cause divisions and offenses"
b. The brethren were to "note" and "avoid them"
2. Paul’s charge to the church at Corinth – 1 Cor 5:1-13
a. Involving a man who had his father’s wife,
the church was instructed:
1) To "deliver such a one to Satan…" – 1 Cor 5:5
2) To "purge out the old leaven" – 1 Cor 5:7
3) To "not keep company" To "not even to eat with such a person" –
1 Cor 5:11
4) To "put away from yourselves that wicked person." – 1 Cor 5:13
3. Paul’s charge to the church at Thessalonica – 2 Th 3:6-15
a. Involving those who would not work and support themselves,
the church was instructed:
1) To "withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and
not according to the tradition which he received from us"
– 2 Th 3:6
2) To "note that person and do not keep company with him"
– 2 Th 3:14
4. John’s charge to the elect lady and her children – 2 Jn 9-11
a. Involving anyone who would seek their support, and yet not
abide in the doctrine of Christ
b. They were instructed to "not receive him into your house nor
[It is clearly evident that "withdrawing" is necessary under certain
conditions. What is the purpose of withdrawing in such cases?]
II. THE PURPOSE FOR WITHDRAWING FELLOWSHIP
A. TO SAVE THE SOUL IN ERROR…
1. Note well: one who refuses to repent of sin is in a lost state
– cf. Heb 10:26-31
2. By making him (or her) "ashamed" of their sin, perhaps they may
repent – cf. 2 Th 3:14
3. Consider again Paul’s words in 1 Cor 5:5…
a. The church is to "deliver such a one to Satan"
1) That is, to remove all godly influence from that person
2) This is done by withdrawing fellowship
b. The purpose is "for the destruction of the flesh"
1) It is "fleshly desires" (of which pride plays a great
part) that encourage one to persist in sin
2) But "shame" can go a long way to destroying these things
of the flesh
3) Therefore the command to publicly note and withdraw from
such a person – cf. 1 Cor 5:4; 1 Cor 5:13
c. The ultimate goal: "that his spirit may be saved in the day
of the Lord Jesus"
1) Our concern is not his (or even our own) temporary
2) But the salvation of his soul on the day of judgment!
3) Therefore the need for "tough love" by withholding
B. TO SAVE THE SOULS OF OTHER MEMBERS IN THE CHURCH…
1. This is Paul’s point about the need to purge out the "leaven"
– cf. 1 Cor 5:6-8
2. Just as leaven infects the whole loaf, so can "sin in the
3. Sin left unchecked will destroy the other members in the
a. Either by tempting them to sin in similar fashion
b. Or by their failure to exercise the proper discipline
1) For they would then be guilty before the Lord on that
2) As was the church in Pergamos – cf. Rev 2:14-16
4. Even if the erring brother does not repent, the church that
exercises proper discipline will still be saved!
C. TO MAGNIFY THE LORD AND HIS CHURCH IN THE EYES OF THE
1. This was an effect of the first case of "church discipline"
recorded in the NT.
a. The example of Ananias and Sapphira illustrates how
seriously the Lord Himself views "sin in the camp" – cf. Ac 5:1-10
b. The result was one of "fear", yet great "esteem", which lead
to many conversions – Acts 5:11-14
2. The world is not going to take the gospel call to holiness
seriously if the church does not deal properly with "sin in the
3. But when a church deals with unrepentant sin in the manner of
withholding fellowship, the reputation of the church is held in
4. When people decide to get serious about sin, where do you think
they will go?
a. To a church that winks at sin?
b. Or one that provides every proper motivation to turn from
1. One cannot ignore the subject of church discipline…
a. It is commanded by Christ and His apostles
b. It is necessary for the salvation of erring brother, and for the
rest of the brethren
2. It is a form of "tough love"…
a. Not to be done out of spite
b. But in the spirit of brotherly love, as difficult as it may be
– cf. 2 Th 3:15
3. Yet the charge to withdraw presumes certain conditions exists…
a. There is fellowship to withdraw
b. Fellowship withdrawn will be a significant loss to the erring
— For church discipline to be more effective, church fellowship must
be more meaningful
If we desire to truly walk "according to the tradition received" from
the apostles, we need to heed the command to love one another
(cf. 1 Th 4:9-10) as well as the command to withdraw when necessary!
May the Lord help us keep both commands as He intended…