Mark Those Who Miss Services?

Phil asked whether it is appropriate to "mark" them or disfellowship people who do not attend all of the meetings.

Click for another version.

First, Phil, the statement is "nor forsaking the assemblying of YOURSELVES." The punch line is that when people ASSEMBLE Paul usually uses a form of the Greek word Synagogue. God CALLS OUT the synagogue or ekklesia FROM the world into a one another body of "twos and threes" to "come learn of me." If an institution CALLS YOU into a human institution as the superior demnding the inferiors then you CANNOT assemble with Jesus because He won't be there. If your "church" is not a SYNAGOGUE or school of the Bible then there is no assembly to forsake. Because "music" or the alarm or triumph over was outlawed for the assembly (Qahal or synagogue or church in the wilderness Nu 10:7), there is never any historic example of the Jews synagoguing and indeed "there was no praise service in the synagogue." If you assemble to DO musical worship or watch it performed then your's is NOT a synagogue and you have a duty to forsake it.

Thesis: Hebrews 10 defines a form of spiritual worship which does not need -- cannot tolerate -- anyone in the "holy place" but the believers as virtual high priest and their God. Jesus defined that place as "in the spirit" or mind and John was "in the Spirit on the Lord's day." Friends, he was not inside of the Holy Spirit as a separated person of the Godhead.

In the church which is like the Greek assembly or community meeting there is a "contract" between the elders as Christ's only appointed pastor-teachers and the untaught as "student." The elder rules through teaching; they obey by listening and heading the Word -- only the Words of Christ "as it has been delivered to them."

Again: Hebrews 10 and other passages binds the real elder as "the party of the first part" to teach the Word of Christ as it has been delivered to them and deprives them of any priestly duty to mediate between God and man.

The less-educated and less spiritual "party of the second part" is bound to obey which means to listen to the Word of Christ and conform their lives as taught by Christ and demonstrated by the shepherds.

If the party of the first part violates the order of Hebrews 10 then the party of the second part has no duty to "attend" but on the contrary has the responsibility to "avoid" such teachers.

The purpose of the assembly is to remind everyone of the faith they have agreed to in order to equip them for life out in the "marketplace" so that they will not fall into sin.

The mortal sin is not "missing Wednesday night" but mortal may arise when the leaders do not lead and the student is not trained and they as in Amos 5, 6 and 8 hunger and thirst for the word but cannot find it and therefore cannot hear the trumpet blast of the "Assyrians" (Chaldeans or Canaanites {traders}) or any other enemy because of their own childish play.

In Hebrews chapter 8 Paul defined away the commercial teachers who usurp the role of Jesus Christ as our only Teacher-Mediator. Click for agreement among many scholars.

Now, Phil:

My general experience is that if the fellow is sleeping in the pew the problem may be in the pulpit. If everyone is going into a panic which only Prozac will partially cure over "worship services" clearly designed to manipulate the minds of people to force them to "change," then those who don't change may be the only sane and spiritual people in the tribe.

The Hebrew Christians had or would go out into the world and "the little brown church in the wildwood" or the accustomed meeting place in a town was no longer available.

This is not remotely related to a modern established church where the security of the "family" allows a group to assemble and carry on a long-term teaching process.

Paul made it clear that as Christians they were equipped to be strangers and pilgrims in a hostile world because they did not need a temple or a human priest. We will pursue this further but the following table is in answer to a question about Zechariah and the end-time Jerusalem which cannot be the model for the church or a future earthly kingdom because Jesus said;

Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. Re.11:8

As Jesus insisted that we call no man our authoratative teacher of father we hear Zechariah warning about the end-time traders or commercial seeker gurus:

The Canaanite religion is the eternal blend of false religion and commerce which will mark the harlot church at the end. One of the first things Jesus did was to affect an earthquake in the temple, turned out the 'traders' or Canaanites and fired the cleryg. So, I would insist that if they are going to look for a literal fulfilment they had better get out of the "house" because Zechariah said:

Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the LORD Almighty, and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD Almighty. Zech 14:21

A Canaanite is from the Hebrew:

Kenaaniy (h3669) ken-ah-an-ee'; patrial from 3667; a Kenaanite or inhabitant of Kenaan; by implication a pedlar (the Canaanites standing for their neighbors the Ishmaelites, who conducted mercantile caravans): - Canaanite, merchant, trafficker.
Kenaan (h3667) ken-ah'-an; from 3665; humiliated; Kenaan, a son of Ham; also the country inhabited by him: - Canaan, merchant, traffick.

The RSV reads

and every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be sacred to the LORD of hosts, so that all who sacrifice may come and take of them and boil the flesh of the sacrifice in them. And there shall no longer be a trader in the house of the LORD of hosts on that day. Zech 14:21RSV
In fact, every container in Jerusalem and Judah shall be sacred to the Lord Almighty; all who come to worship may use any of them free of charge to boil their sacrifices in; there will be no more grasping traders in the Temple of the Lord Almighty! Zech 14:21LIV

Jesus insisted that we: "Call no man" your father, priests, teacher, preacher or mediator. Now the curse has been lifted and every "pot" is cleansed and can come boldly before the throne of God. Performance preachers and Musical Worship Teams are still the priests and musical Levites standing squarely between the worshiper and Christ who died to fire them all.

Paul comformed to this and warned:

Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God. 2 Cor 2:17
Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth. 1Co.5:8

Peddle or corrupt is from the Greek:

Kapeleuo (g2585) kap-ale-yoo'-o; (a huckster); to retail, i.e. (by impl.) to adulterate (fig.): - corrupt

When one takes a tiny sample of the Word and then fills in with his own views he is a huckster of watered down wine. In the interest of numbers it is easy to become merchants, traders, hucksters or Canaanites. However, they have been booted by this prophecy out of the House of God.

Seminars are often the "wholesalers" of the Word. The "traveling salesmen" (located evangelists) come and get their bits and pieces, go home and retail it to the people who do not know that the Water flows from God free of charge (Isaiah 55).

Kenaan is assumed by some scholars to be the Genun or Jubal-like character in the traditions circulating at the time of Christ. He is the young man used by Satan to introduce mixed-sex choirs and instrumental music to seduce the holy Sethites down into the "dark soil" where Satan lived.

In many incarnations such as the king of Tyre and of Babylon Lucifer gave them musical instruments to fool the people to cheat them out of everything including selling Jews into slavery. The Canaanites or Traders will be the unholy whores of the end-time Babylonian religion of Revelation 18. Their instruments will be silenced.

Like the ongoing Greek Ekklesia, the family of Christ meets to memoralize the death of Christ and to pray and study. This was quite identical to the synagogue. "Church" was not a temple-like place of literal or spiritual sacrifices but a "school." Granted, however, that this direction to Christ in the Lord's Supper and prayer while He speaks to us in His Word, this was not worship as we define anxiety-creating rituals where the focus is upon "actors" rather than Christ.

Jesus insisted that "worship" is not in your house or my house but worship is "in spirit" or in the mind and in truth. That is, we speak to God in the mind and He speaks to us in truth.

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. John 4:21

Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship; for salvation is of the Jews. John 4:22

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. John 4:23

That, and not "worship" was the role of the synagogue. We urge you to read our notes on the synagogue to guard against the form of "church worship" which is often calculated to add the burden Jesus came to lift. Click Here for a description of the "acts of worship" in the Synagogue.

We won't cover all of this chapter but the "markers" have never read it. Paul speaks of "worship" as an individual responsibility enabled by a high priest Who is Spirit and ever-present. It nears blasphemy to believe and claim that we have to be at a certain place at a certain time to worship.

Paul discusses worship before his comments about the assembly:

Now, with the role of the Synagogue being understood and the pointed insistence of Jesus that worship is not in time and place, we notice that Paul shows the people how they are equipped to live in a non-institutional environment.

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, Heb 10:19

By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; Heb 10:20

That new "door" into the holiest is manifestly not on Mount Gerizim, not on Mount Zion and there fore not on any of our "mounts."

Fawcett-Brown notes that:

"No priestly caste now mediates between the sinner and his Judge. We may come boldly with loving confidence, not with slavish fear, directly through Christ, the only mediating Priest.

The minister is not officially nearer God than the layman; nor can the latter serve God at a distance or by deputy, as the natural man would like.

"Each must come for himself, and all are accepted when they come by the new and living way opened by Christ. Thus all Christians are, in respect to access directly to God, virtually high priests (Re 1:6). They draw nigh in and through Christ, the only proper High Priest (Heb 7:25).

If the party of the first part insists that their preaching is "an act of worship" which one must obey; if they insist on a mixed-sex choir to "preside over" (i.e. be nonsedantary) to mediate between the audience and God then the party of the second part has the freedom and responsibility to get out of the neo-Hebrew or neo-pagan temple because:

And having an high priest over the house of God; Heb 10:21

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Heb 10:22

Paul repudiated external rituals and wrote:

That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: Acts 17:27

For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Acts 17:28

Now wonder that God dwells in us as we dwell in Him.

You see, friends, it is a terminal sin to hire a Musical Worship Facilitator (manipulator in plain english) to lead the ignorant stuffers of collection plates "into the presence of God." This is blasphemy!

Drawing near is the worship in this passage:

Proserchomai (g4334) pros-er'-khom-ahee; from 4314 and 2064 (includ. its alt.); to approach, i.e. (lit.) come near, visit, or (fig.) worship, assent to: - (as soon as he) come (unto), come thereunto, consent, draw near, go (near, to, unto).

The worship or drawing near to God is with a heart which does not doubt because we have affirmed God by "not rejecting the counsel of God" for us in water baptism where He sprinkles our heart clean so that it (and not the body which must be figuratively put to death) can approach God in worship. All of the New Testament places the Christian or spiritual worship in the spirit or heart and not in a special "holy place" presided over by neo-priests. Peter said:

We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 2Pe.1:19

"Taking heed" to the Word of God is the "in truth" part of the "in spirit" worship. Christ seeks none others to be His worshipers and you cannot worship with your body.

Worship the Bible? No. Worship the Word as Spirit and Life (John 6:63)? Yes. We worship whatever we "give heed to." If the performance dispenser of chicken soup for the sick places his body between us and God then by default we give heed to and worship the theatrical performer. That is the "Lucifer Complex." If we are forced to give head to a wired-up, amplified, swinging with the hands, winking with the eye "musical worship team" then we are giving heed to or worshiping the "team" and there can be no disupte about it -- you cannot "give heed" to God and men at the same time.

This taking heed is devoted to the "sure word of prophecy" or the Words of Christ or Spirit which is the only thing which can contribute to spiritual worship.

The "Don on the Dole" usurps the authority of the "one another" and the senior members of the flock and insists on the right to "mark or warn" those who sow discord which means: "He doesn't agree with the presumptious high priest."

However, as usual, they have it turned upside down:

Paul claims that we must withdraw from false teachers because they are not fulfilling the "contract" between teacher and student:

If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words,

  • even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the
  • doctrine which is according to godliness; 1 Ti.6:3

He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 1 Tim 6:4

The "Don on the Dole" usurps the authority of the "one another" and the senior members of the flock and insists on the right to "mark or warn" those who sow discord which means: "He doesn't agree with the presumptious high priest."

However, as usual, they have it turned upside down:

Paul claims that we must withdraw from false teachers because they are not fulfilling the "contract" between teacher and student:

If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words,

  • even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the
  • doctrine which is according to godliness; 1 Ti.6:3

He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 1 Tim 6:4

In the "singing" command to Ephesus the only "resource" was Spirit overflowing and Jesus identified His Word with Himself as Spirit. In the parallel in Colossians Paul substitutes "the Word of Christ." Therefore, if any man presents anything other than the words of our Lord Jesus Christ he is proud, knowing nothing but is self-consumed on self-help or his own power to revive the church. As the prophet warns and we take liberty: "He is pregnant by a hay bailer and will give birth to straw."

The "contract" implied in Hebrews 11:35 is broken by "the part of the first part" if he does not read and explain the Word of Christ (Old and New Testaments) or if the songs are pitiful "praise songs" devoted to self pity.

These men are not just the not-quite educated to the lowest level of Biblical knowledge in a Spiritual sense; they are evil because they engage in:

Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. 1 Tim 6:5

Or: and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. 1 Tim 6:5NIV

Withdraw does not sow discord because it means in the Greek"

Aphistemi (g868) af-is'-tay-mee; from 575 and 2476; to remove, i.e. (act.) instigate to revolt; usually (reflex.) to desist, desert, etc.: - depart, draw (fall) away, refrain, withdraw self.

Because Paul has said that we have Jesus as our only Priest-Mediator then individually is the only way to worship:

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Heb.4:16

If the "party of the first part" does anything in worship which insinuates themselves between the worshiper and God then the "worship assemblies" are doing more harm than good because they are absolutely calculated to keep the "part of the second part" from worshiping in spirit and in truth.

My clear impression is that those who try to "find" God like a lost calf by shouting and crying out may never have "turned to the Lord" and simply cannot comprehend that worship is internal and that Jesus never suggested external rituals and truly did command that prayer be in our "closets" and "giving" be from my hand to the hand of the poor without slipping through your hand.

God is Spirit and therefore we cannot worship Him with out body however loudly we scream and chant in destructive songs or sermons. We, like John, have to "be in the spirit on the Lord's Day" and that is totally impossible in most contemporary "worship" rituals more pagan than Pauline.

The only external gate to permit us to worship in spirit is the "Word of Christ" or "Spirit" which Jesus locates in His words (John 6:63).

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Col.3:16

If it is not the inspired word of Christ then it is not suitable for songs.

If the bullying leader directs you into sentimental poetry often teaching error then the command is not fulfilled, one cannot worship "in spirit" and therefore the leader's side of the contract is broken and they are 'doing more harm than good.' This means that the individual members -- demoted from one or another to "audience" -- is freed from their side of the contract.

Only by teaching "the faith once delivered to the saints" is it possible for the "party of the second part" to get the values of the profession of that faith:

Let us hold fast (keep in memory the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) Heb 10:23

So far, we have Paul (over and over) supporting Jesus by showhing that "worship" can never be external acts calculated to manipulate the external senses to try to create some drug-high experience. Worship in the "Holy Place" allows room for only two: the priest and God.

The assembly is for something entirely different. So, Paul now comes to the assembly:

If the "party of the first part" usurps and violates Paul's clear statement that only Christ Jesus is our High Priests and permits only the "party line" not remotely faithful to the Word to be taught then the "part of the second part" is not under obligation even though the usurping priest may try threats or visits or some other coercive force:

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Heb 10:24

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Heb 10:25

You see nothing in this part of Paul's total context to indicate our modern idea of "worship." Rather, the assembly was always for the Lord's Supper and reading and prayer. Paul excludes "the collection" as an "act of worship" because He said: "This is not a command." And Jesus had said not to give in show. Never is preaching by "the party of the first part" to "the party of the second part" every called "an act of worship." This is a modern apostasy.

I see this as groups meeting together for awhile and then just deciding to give up the assembly totally. Forsake is from the Hebrew:

Egkataleipo (g1459) eng-kat-al-i'-po; from 1722 and 2641; to leave behind in some place, i.e. (in a good sense) let remain over, or (in a bad one) to desert: - forsake, leave

An individual is not "forsaking your assembly" but there simply is no assembly. Paul explains "the day" elsewhere:

Every mans work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every mans work of what sort it is. 1 Cor 3:13

"The Hebrews were now living close upon One of those great types and foretastes of it, the destruction of Jerusalem (Mt 24:1,2), "the bloody and fiery dawn of the great day; that day is the day of days, the ending day of all days, the settling day of all days, the day of the promotion of time into eternity, the day which, for the Church, breaks through and breaks off the night of the present world" [DELITZSCH in ALFORD].

We know that this cannot apply to Wednesday night because it means to utterly stop the assemblying of the collective church together. The word is explained better by two verses:

because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. Acts 2:27

For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. 2 Ti.4:10

If they are not meeting on Sunday they probably are not meeting throughout the week. There the "approaching day" is not Sunday but the predicted upset of the Roman world. Hebrews 10:25 is a parallelism:

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is;

but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Heb 10:25

Using a different word in Col. 3:16 the purpose of command to teach (the command is not first to sing) it to teach and admonish or exhort one another. If we don't forsake the assembly then it is within the assembly that we exhort one another on a weekly basis.

The NIV reads:

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Heb 10:25NIV

As a double-edged sword, when used to beat people over the head for not attending every assembly deemed necessary it also defines away the role of worship because Paul had defined the worship in the Throne Room of God and in the heart before he warns them that individual worship does not take the place of meeting to be educated and reminded.

This passage again (and again and again) shows that the purpose was not to "worship" using songs and sermons more like juvenile dog barks teaching nothing, and rather than exhorting, actually chasing people out of the line of fire. Such legalistic services as in Corinth (11:17) "do more harm than good."

Therefore, if the called assembly authorized clearly for "the first day of the week" but not otherwise is not for "exhorting" then we would not be guilty of violating some law of assemblying.

By analogy, we insist that the collection act of worship takes place every first day of the week and we insist that the communion be on the first day of every week. Beyond that there is no law to assemble on Sunday night or Wednesday night or whenever the program pushers get the burr under their saddle.

If the neo-priests can dictate meeting on Wednesday night for "exhortation" or "prayer meeting" then we cannot logically oppose those who insist on the Lord's Supper on Thursday.

Incidentally, unless "Sunday Night Worship" is held before sunset, it is really meeting on Monday to worship, take the Lord's Supper, take up the collection, engage in the "act of worship" called preaching.

Paul indicates that the church in Corinth did not meet "to eat the Lord's Supper" clearly showing that this was the primary purpose for the assembly in addition to the normal custom of the Synagogue which was for "education" and not "worship." There is no command, example or inference in the Bible for meeting for the Lord's Supper on any day but the first day and therefore there is no command to meet for any other purpose. But, we are told, that Hebrews applies to any meeting called by the elders. Again, the elders have no authority to "go beyond that which is written."

If one chooses to meet on Wednesday for exhortation (almost never happens) then that is ok but one cannot be "marked" for violating a law or creating division if they decide that they do not wish to attend what is often just a ritual conducted by rote.

The "sin" was an entire group abandoning their assemblying together. This is not directed to one who does not meet with the group which continues to meet.

The meeting and exhortation was to help fortify against sin. Therefore, Paul warned:

For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, Hebrews 10:26

The purpose of the assembly in Ephesians and Colossians was to teach the Word of Christ (spirit in Col) in order to teach and admonish. That is, the purpose of the assembly is to bring people "to a knowledge of the truth." "Edification" is not to create a feeling but means to "educate" or "house build."

There is no command, example, inference or church history to support the teaching of anything but the Word of God. If we use little cut and paste techniques or proof-text sermons, the "ACT" of the assembly is not being carried out.

I would conclude that if this is not taking place the individual is excused from participating in what is clearly a violation of everything we know about the teaching - exhortation task of the church.

What I am saying, is that there is a "contract."

Anyone who presumes to be the leader is contracted to deliver the Word as it has been delivered. The learner is contracted to learn and so conform their lives that they will not slip into sin. If the leadership is not fulfilling its contractual agreement then it has no moral authority to chastise or even warn those who do not come for the crumbs.

If we don't keep everyone "warmed up" it is easy to violate some command which we already understand. Therefore, if we don't keep rehearsing the "word as it has been delivered to you" then it is easier for people to slip into sin.

IGNATIUS says, "When ye frequently, and in numbers meet together, the powers of Satan are overthrown, and his mischief is neutralized by your likemindedness in the faith."

To neglect such assemblings together

might end in apostasy at last.

He avoids the Greek term "sunagoge,"as suggesting the Jewish synagogue meetings (compare Re 2:9).

While "church" was like synagogue in purpose it was not a Jewish institution but likened to the Greek Assembly which met according to the needs and not "religiously."

Therefore, missing an assembly is not the unforgivable sin. Fauwcett and Brown notes that:

"if we sin--Greek present participle: if we be found sinning, that is, not isolated acts, but a state of sin [ALFORD]. A violation not only of the law, but of the whole economy of the New Testament (Heb 10:28,29). wilfully--presumptuously, Greek "willingly." After receiving "full knowledge (so the Greek, compare 1Ti 2:4) of the truth," by having been "enlightened," and by having "tasted" a certain measure even of grace of "the Holy Ghost" (the Spirit of truth, Joh 14:17; and "the Spirit of grace," Heb 10:29): to fall away (as "sin" here means, Heb 3:12,17; compare Heb 6:6) and apostatize (Heb 3:12) to Judaism or infidelity, is not a sin of ignorance, or error ("out of the way," the result) of infirmity, but a deliberate sinning against the Spirit (Heb 10:29 Heb 5:2): such sinning, where a consciousness of Gospel obligations not only was, but is present: a sinning presumptuously and preseveringly against Christ's redemption for us, and the Spirit of grace in us. "He only who stands high can fall low. A lively reference in the soul to what is good is necessary in order to be thoroughly wicked; hence, man can be more reprobate than the beasts, and the apostate angels than apostate man" [THOLUCK].

The Signs of The Times:

The Hebrews would never "be the best show in town" but they would be seen as the beasts being sacrificed by the theatrical performers:

Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. Heb 10:33 [means a THEATER]

The gazingstock were the faithful believers who were "triumphed over" by theatrical performars. The evidence seems clear that even in modern musical worship there is a certain gleefulness when the theatrical performers are able to lie, cheat and steal to enable the theatrical performance which has no connection to either Judaism or Christianity but is ancient paganism. The Greek word is:

Theatrizo (g2301) theh-at-rid'-zo; from 2302; to expose as a spectacle: - make a gazing stock.

Theatron (g2302) theh'-at-ron; from 2300; a place for public show ("theatre"), i.e. general audience-room; by impl. a show itself (fig.): - spectacle, theatre.

And the goddes of the theater was:

Thea (g2299) theh-ah'; fem. of 2316; a female deity: - goddess.

She replaces the Theos or supreme divinity.

Theaoas (g2316) theh'-os; of uncert. affin.; a deity, espec. (with 3588) the supreme Divinity; fig. a magistrate; by Heb. very: - * exceeding, God, god [-ly, -ward].

So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. Ac.19:27

And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter? Ac.19:35

"Fawcett-Brown notes of verse 33. The persecutions here referred to seem to have been endured by the Hebrew Christians at their first conversion, not only in Palestine, but also in Rome and elsewhere, the Jews in every city inciting the populace and the Roman authorities against Christians. gazing-stock--as in a theater (so the Greek): often used as the place of punishment in the presence of the assembled multitudes. Ac 19:29 1Co 4:9, "Made a theatrical spectacle to the world." ye became--of your own accord: attesting your Christian sympathy with your suffering brethren. companions of--sharers in affliction with.

Again the contract between self-elected leaders and the "audience" is often broken when the "payee" usurps authority over the "payer" and using the violent threat of "don't rock the boat" deprives people of their property:

For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling (pillage) of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. Heb 10:34

Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. Heb 10:35

Fawcett-Brown note that:

"35-37. Consequent exhortation to confidence and endurance, as Christ is soon coming. Cast not away--implying that they now have "confidence," and that it will not withdraw of itself, unless they "cast it away" wilfully (compare Heb 3:14). which--Greek, "the which": inasmuch as being such as. hath--present tense: it is as certain as if you had it in your hand (Heb 10:37). It hath in reversion. recompense of reward--of grace not of debt:

"a reward of a kind which no mercenary self-seeker would seek: holiness will be its own reward; self-devoting unselfishness for Christ's sake will be its own rich recompense (see on Heb 2:2; Heb 11:26).

Those not completely abandoning the assembly are not urged to do anything about them. Indeed, what can you do? Just pout that they have offended us, I guess. Rather, the faithful assembly is urged to exhort one another. That is, they are to grow by invitation rather than by heavy-handed coercion. It seems clear in my little brain that the urge to disfellowship people is the urge of command authority to intimidate all of the rest. You do that in business but not in church. If people miss work in your business you "disfellowship" them to get rid of the dead weight and to do a bit of intimidating. If you want to salvage the person you take him into your private office for "a prayer meeting."

The reason for meeting and urging one another is to help preserve one another from growing cold and willfully sinning. Notice that the task flows horizontially from one to another: it does not flow from clergy to laiety.

I am not convinced that Paul is saying that forsaking breaks a law. Rather, forsaking exposes one to "Satan" for bad things to happen. If someone wants one foot in church and one foot in the world then the church needs to invite them in or out.

The leadership should read up on the legality of such a thing. Remember the lady who left the church in Oklahoma after she had a marriage not approved by the "business meeting?" Well, they disfellowshipped her and publicly "marked" her. She sued them and I applaud her. I don't know about her personal decisions but the law of the land decided that they had quit preaching and started meddling.

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. Romans 16:17

To "mark" does not mean to brand these people by sending a law-breaking letter from congregation to congregation. It simply means "to take aim at" or consider or to look closely or inspect the false teachers. If I see a skunk I don't attack it; I just avoid it.

Or, you might also mark or observe closely those who walk according to Paul's example:

Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. Ph.3:17

I don't think that we need to play denomination and send a letter to all of the other member congregations marking old Joe as a faithful member. Why should we mark those who won't play by our self-appointed rules?

Paul doesn't even command a "circular letter" for divisive teachers. They are just commanded to avoid them. It is a free world and all you have to do is walk around them or don't attend their sermons. You are at liberty to examine their teachings in light of the Bible. Since you may have trouble distinguishing false doctrine from true doctrine you might change your mind and decide that you have been the false teacher.

Unless there is a clear doctrine for publicly denouncing people for a specific offense then those who try to do it -- and assuredly divide at least the opinion of the church, if not its membership -- may just be the ones Paul is talking about when he said mark them which cause divisions among you.

Well, that exhausts my brain for now but I will keep looking at this issue.

Ken Sublett

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