What does the phrase "to put away" from an assembly mean?

The phrase, “to put away,” is ambiguous, because this can be done either by “expulsion” or “withdrawal,” as we are told in 2 Thessalontians 3: in the case of every brother “which walketh disorderly”.

Do not the various denominations owe their existence to this “putting away”, and to the outcast members setting up another table?


Not only are the words “put away” in 1 Corinthians 5:13, and “withdraw yourselves” in 2 Thessalonians 3: 6, quite distinct in the original, but the context shews clearly that they are not at all two ways of describing the same action, but rather two ways of describing distinct actions in reference to very different degrees of evil. In 1 Corinthians 5 there was serious immorality, and the offender was regarded, at his face value, as a “wicked person”, though afterwards he proved to have the root of the matter in him; whereas the evil at Thessalonica was not at all immorality, but “walking disorderly”, that is, “out of rank” with their brethren, and not according to the order laid down for their guidance in the Word of God (“Working not at all but are busybodies”). Such are not to be treated as enemies or wicked persons, but as erring brothers. “Note that man and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (2 Thess 3:14, i5). The distinct treatment in either case denotes degrees of discipline —the one excision from the local assembly; the other a deprivation of the social amenities which form part of the fellowship of the saints.

I do not think that the exercise of extreme discipline has been the root cause of denominationalism, rather the lack of it; though there are doubtless other causes such as the growth of a party spirit, resulting in attachment to leaders and consequent division. “Also of your own selves shall men arise . . . to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:30), either promulgating error, or magnifying some truth out of all proportion and making it the centre, instead of Christ. Surely those who have formed such Sects or who perpetuate them, with their infant sprinkling, clericalism, official ministerialjsm, cannot be said to be walking according to the scriptural order. Would not Paul’s advice to the Lord’s servants and people be: “Withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition that ye have received of us”? Those who seek to carry out these principles will find themselves ostracjsed as “narrow”, but is it to be a matter of surprise, if those who walk in the narrow way, should be dubbed, “narrow”, by some?

W.H.