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Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Excommunication

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As the church is a society constituted for maintaining certain doctrines and corresponding morals, it plainly has the right to exclude from communion such as flagrantly violate its doctrinal and moral code. The Jews had three forms of excommunication, alluded to in Luke 6:22 by our Lord, "blessed are ye when men shall separate you from their company (the Jewish niddui , for 30 days), and shall reproach you (the second form, cherem , for 90 days (See ANATHEMA), Judges 5:23), and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake" (the third form, shammatha , perpetual cutting off): John 9:34-35 margin; compare Exodus 30:33; Exodus 30:38; also John 12:42; John 16:2.

Christian excommunication is commanded by Christ (Matthew 18:15-18); so 1 Timothy 1:20; 1 Corinthians 5:11; Titus 3:10; "delivering unto Satan" means casting out of the church, Christ's kingdom of light, into the world that lieth in the wicked one, the kingdom of Satan and darkness (Colossians 1:13; Ephesians 6:12; Acts 26:18; 1 John 5:19). The apostles besides, under divine inspiration, inflicted bodily sicknesses and death on some (e.g. Acts 5, Ananias and Sapphira; Acts 13:10, Elymas). For other cases of virtual, if not formal, exclusion from communion, though in a brotherly not proud spirit, see 2 Thessalonians 3:14; Romans 16:17; Galatians 5:12; 1 Timothy 6:3; 2 John 1:10; 3 John 1:10; Revelation 2:20; Galatians 1:8-9.

Paul's practice proves that excommunication is a spiritual penalty, the temporal penalty inflicted by the apostles in exceptional cases being evidently of extraordinary and divine appointment and no model to us; it consisted in exclusion from the church; the object was the good of the offender (1 Corinthians 5:5) and the safeguard of the sound members (2 Timothy 2:17); its subjects were those guilty of heresy and great immorality (1 Timothy 1:20); it was inflicted by the church (Matthew 18:18) and its representative ministers (Titus 3:10; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 5:3-4). Paul's infallible authority when inspired is no warrant for uninspired ministers claiming the same right to direct the church to excommunicate as they will (2 Corinthians 2:7-9). Penitence is the condition of restoration. Temporary affliction often leads to permanent salvation (Psalms 83:16); Satan's temporary triumph is overruled "to. destroy the flesh that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (Luke 22:31).

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Excommunication'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/fbd/e/excommunication.html. 1949.

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