The main scripture that is used for the shunning of disfellowshipped people is this passage at 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 “9 In my letter I wrote YOU to quit mixing in company with fornicators, 10 not [meaning] entirely with the fornicators of this world or the greedy persons and extortioners or idolaters. Otherwise, YOU would actually have to get out of the world. 11 But now I am writing YOU to quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man. 12 For what do I have to do with judging those outside? Do YOU not judge those inside, 13 while God judges those outside? “Remove the wicked [man] from among yourselves.”

To understand this passage we must understand the context so go ahead and read 1 Corinthians 5:1-8.

What problem was Paul addressing? He had heard through reliable sources that a brother in the congregation was in an incestuous relationship with his father’s wife. Paul was worried by the reaction of the others in the congregation. This man was allowed to remain in a good standing in the congregation even though he was practicing crass immorality. Some of the congregation may have even condoned this grave sin.

This man was an insider (a brother) in the congregation a member of good standing. He was not an outsider. An outsider (someone not a member of the cong.) that is a fornicator or greedy person does not pose a threat to the congregation as Paul says in verse 10 “not [meaning] entirely with the fornicators of this world or the greedy persons and extortioners or idolaters. Otherwise, YOU would actually have to get out of the world.” Christians must deal with people that fit this description all the time at work, while shopping, or in other facets of our lives.

Paul is dealing with the situation of someone within the congregation. Paul tells the corinthians that while that man is an insider and a practicer of fornication he is to be avoided. In fact they shouldn’t even eat with him. Paul finally recommends in vs. 13 that the congregation remove the wicked man from among themselves.

When a person is disfellowshipped from the congregation an announcement is made “so and so is no longer a Jehovah’s Witness”. In effect that person has been removed from the congregation and is no longer a brother. None of the members of the congregation consider him to be a brother and the expelled person himself does not consider himself part of the brotherhood until possibly he would be readmitted. He is a non-JW.

Therefore, could the counsel of vs 11 (quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man.) be applied to him after his expulsion from the congregation? Is he not now part of the world? Would not then vs. 10 now apply to him? As he now is no longer an insider but an outsider Jesus counsel at Matt. 18:17 would apply – “If he does not listen to them, speak to the congregation. If he does not listen even to the congregation, let him be to you just as a man of the nations and as a tax collector.” Yes, he would be treated as anybody else that is not part of the congregation. Jesus ate meals and had dealings with many sinners and tax collectors.

The danger of an unrepentant sinner for the congregation is when he is part of the congregation and allowed to continue to have a good standing. Once he is removed from the congregation that corrupting influence ceases. Any association that members would have with him when he becomes a non-brother would be up to their conscience, just as association with other non-members of the cong. is up to each Christian’s conscience.

In the very next chapter of 1 Corinthians notice what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:5,6 – “am speaking to move YOU to shame. Is it true that there is not one wise man among YOU that will be able to judge between his brothers, 6 but brother goes to court with brother, and that before unbelievers?”

Paul shows brother should not take brother to court before unbelievers. How does the Society view the action of a brother taking a disfellowshipped person to court?


***w73 11/15 pp. 703-704 Questions From Readers ***

However, if a Christian refuses to correct a serious wrong when it is made clear to him by elders serving in judicial capacity in the congregation, such a one would be expelled. This is in line with Jesus’ words: “If he does not listen even to the congregation, let him be to you just as a man of the nations and as a tax collector.” (Matt. 18:17) Thus, for example, one who defrauded his Christian brother or who failed to provide materially for his wife and children would find himself outside the congregation if he did not repent.—1 Tim. 5:8.

The injured party could thereafter decide whether legal action should be taken in an attempt to force the guilty one, now disfellowshiped, to rectify matters. Of course, the injured party would want to take into consideration whether it would be worth the time and expense as well as whether the congregation could still come into disrepute by bringing to public attention the actions of one of its former members. If the wronged Christian conscientiously felt that God’s name would not be reproached and legal action was definitely needed, he would not necessarily be acting contrary to the spirit of Paul’s counsel if he were to take to court one who was no longer a part of the Christian congregation. Jehovah God has permitted secular authority to serve as his instrument in bringing lawbreakers to justice, and in this case the one wronged would be availing himself of legal help after exhausting the intracongregational means to have the wrong corrected.—Rom. 13:3, 4.



*** w55 2/15 pp. 126-127 Questions From Readers ***

But suppose the case has been brought before the representatives of the congregation and one of the disputants has been definitely proved in the wrong, shown guilty of working an injurious fraud against a brother, and yet this guilty one will not accept the decision of the congregation and will not repay the amount taken? When the evidence is clear and convincing the congregation cannot ignore it, but must disfellowship the one who is a thief. In this connection Paul said a thief, among other offenders, would not inherit God’s kingdom; neither does he have any right to be in the Christian congregation on earth. (1 Cor. 6:9, 10) So when the evidence is conclusive and the offender shows no repentance and no inclination to repay, he should be disfellowshiped.

Now the disfellowshiped thief is on the outside of the congregation. He is no longer a brother. He is no longer involved in Paul’s instructions at 1 Corinthians 6:1-6. For the wronged one still within the congregation to now take the defrauder to court would be no violation of Paul’s counsel, for it would not now be a case of brother going to court against brother, which is what Paul was forbidding. Whether the wronged one would want to, or whether it would be worth the time and trouble and expense of a court case for him to do so, is another matter and one that he must individually decide for himself. The congregation’s role in the matter ends with the disfellowshiping action.


So we see from these Watchtower cites that the disfellowshipped person is no longer a brother and therefore the counsel of brother not taking brother to court doesn’t apply. Is it not a double standard to then apply “quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man” to a disfellowshipped person when he is no longer a brother? How can one say in 1 Corinthians chap.5 the DFed person is a “brother”, but in 1 Corinthians chap. 6 he is not a brother?

Recently one elder in my congregation called me a “rebel against Jehovah” because I talk with my son who is DFed. It can be disheartening to hear these words from someone I formally respected. Matthew 5:22 (YLT) “but I — I say to you, that every one who is angry at his brother without cause, shall be in danger of the judgment, and whoever may say to his brother, Empty fellow! shall be in danger of the sanhedrim, and whoever may say, Rebel! shall be in danger of the gehenna of the fire.”

The teachings of the organization having to do with disfellowshipping is unbiblical on several accounts. The way DFed people are treated as brought out in this article. The secretive nature of the judicial committee makes it a fertile ground for injustices. The procedures for reinstatement etc.

This policy had led to tens of thousands of ruptured families and even contributed to suicides on the part of the DFed individual or their loved ones who are forced to shun them. Forced shunning of DFed individuals is a God dishonoring practice.




Rating 4.88 out of 5


19 Comments on A Balanced View of 1 Corinthians 5:9-13

  1. Simpleman says:

    Interesting artical … in all honesty I’ve never been able to work out why someone who talks with a disfellowshipped person can be disfellowshipped themselves. The Watchtower has certainly overstepped the mark and have added many other sins outside of those recommended by Paul for excommunication.


  2. LonelySheep says:


    You and JJ must be on some kind of spritual juice or smoking something(joking). Both of you are so prolific, it is amazing. Both myself and my wife thoroughly enjoy them. Your musings have become like our ‘Days Text’ since we no longer read that publication.

    Anycase, going back to your article. I was only thinking about this today and was looking at some of the WT articles. I have one question. Sorry two.

    Firstly, the references you cited is that all of them that talk about taking a dis fellow-shipped brother to court? Are you aware if ‘new light’ has not come forth that nullifies what was written earlier?

    Secondly, how does your understanding of dis fellow-shipped brothers relate to those that disassociate themselves?




    • andrew says:


      I believe the policy put forth in the 2 cites about taking a dfed person to court still stands.

      It is incredible that the Society even applies shunning to individuals who DA themselves. The person obviously does not wish to be part of the JW cong. and yet the society insists that they are “brothers” that must be shunned.


  3. LonelySheep says:


    Another question, in today’s litigious society would it be possible to conduct matters as they were done in ancient Israel or the early congregation?

    For example say sis x is known or accused of having an affair. Could the matter be brought to the ‘city gate’ so to speak or brought into the open in front of the whole congregation as was done in the past. How would this work?

    1. Would there be an announcement to the effect that sister x is accused of having an affair? At that point would we then stop talking to her? Lets say it was true, and she was not repentant and was dis-fellow shipped. Would we then go back to talking to her? (in answer to the last part of my question, I guess we would talk to her and interact with her as we would with any non-Christian, ie in a very limited way).

    2.Would a judicial committee be set up in front of the whole congregation?

    3. Would we be violating some modern man made law by enacting ancient customs for judging a person in such a manner in today’s society?


  4. Scepticalone says:


    If you notice the scripture text 1 Corinthians 5:9-11 deals with the practice of sin and not one time sinners. This may change the situation somewhat as to how sinners in the congregation are to be dealt with. It would maybe protect the congregation from any court litigation. Besides are not religious bodies protected against litigation because of what is called the theory of “Ecclesiastical Government”?



  5. andrew says:

    I agree with Scepticalone. Paul was not dealing with a single sin of fornication, but of fornicators. If a situation came before the congregation to decide whether or not to remove someone from the cong. undoubtedly many members of the cong. would already know what had been happening.

    Following Jesus advice they would have spoken privately to the person to get them to turn around. Some time later they would have taken others with them to get the person to repent. Finally the matter would be taken before the cong. If the person refuses to change after the matter is dealt with by the cong. he should be removed.

    I am not sure about the legal ramifications. I can say that since there would only be possible removal from the cong. of brothers who have made sin a habit, the cong. would not need to try to get details about the sin of the person. Undoubtedly many would already be aware of the lifestyle of the individual.

    When JW elders handle a judicial case for instance of possible one time fornication, they often must try to ascertain exactly what happened and so they go into embarrassing detail. This would not be the case of a brother who has become a fornicator and has his case before the whole cong. Since there is no doubt he is committing fornication the only question would be if he is repentant or not.


  6. greybeard says:

    Great article Andrew! I agree with Lonlysheep, you and JJ must have some special “spiritual juice”. When I was DFed I told my family, “1 Corinthians no longer applied to me! They announced I was no longer a Jehovah’s Witness! I am not called a brother!” Of course, this got me no where. They also take 2 John 11 out of context and say we are not to say a greeting to DFed ones when it is clear that scripture is talking about the anti-christ.

    I love the way you used those WT articles to show the organization has a double standard. It is ok to take a DFed one to court as he is not longer a brother. Clearly the organization has an agenda! I believe they took a harder line in the 80’s in order to DF Ray Franz a former GB member. A REAL threat to their throne.

    I found another really good article here on this subject:

    Your brother in Christ,


  7. JWB says:

    Andrew, a very good article. I understand what you said about Jesus associating with ‘sinners’ and tax collectors, but I don’t think Jesus would have used the words “let him be to you just as a man of the nations and as a tax collector” without meaning that there would need to be a significant change in relationship between the one who did “not listen even to the congregation.” We know how the Jews generally felt about a ‘man of the nations’ and the negative feelings towards tax collectors. Since Jesus used ‘man of the nations’ and ‘tax collector’ to describe how to view the offender, I don’t think a disciple would just carry on with the offender as if nothing had happened.

    However, concerning the situation of judicial committees among JWs, at least some of those disfellowshipped may be quite innocent of the charges, or if guilty were truly repentant, but for some reason the elders did not believe him/her to be so. It is not up to three men to determine the spiritual standing of another individual on the basis of a closed-session judicial hearing. Jesus said that the second step to resolving a matter would involve two or more witnesses and THEN, if there was no seeming success, to involve THE CONGREGATION. He did not say solely REPRESENTATIVES/ELDERS of the congregation. This I believe would be a public affair inasmuch as the whole congregation could be witness to any ‘proceedings’. My view is that the three-to-one closed sessions of JW judicial committees not only are unscriptural but do not even measure up to “the world’s” sense of justice.

    I think we need to ask ourselves: “Would I even want to associate with the sorts of persons described at 1 Corinthians chapter 5?” When Paul said that the brothers could not avoid these sorts of people entirely, I believe he was showing that they would obviously encounter such people as they went about their daily lives, but I don’t think that means that it would have been okay for them to purposely mix with those sorts of people socially. It seems to me that the people Jesus mixed with who were labelled ‘sinners’ were people to whom he believed he could reach the hearts of by means of his teaching. I don’t think he would have spent time with them had he not believed it could produce good fruit.

    Let’s not forget that Jesus’ ministry was focused on the ‘lost sheep’ of Israel (please see Matthew 15:24); those who had strayed and who needed Jesus as ‘the fine shepherd’ to reclaim them and save them from their wickedness. I understand that the intent of his association was done with this purpose in mind rather than to simply socialize. That this was his particular ministry at this particular time is, I believe, borne out by his sending out his apostles quite specifically ‘continually to the lost sheep of the house of Israel’ (Matthew 10:5-6)


    • andrew says:

      I agree JWB that Christians should carefully consider social involvement with non-Christians. When someone becomes a non-brother all who remain part of the congregation should reevaluate their association with him.
      Of course each Christian would have to make this determination. It would be wise to choose our most intimate companions from those who love God.

      What is wrong is the forced total shunning of expelled individuals.


  8. JWB says:

    Andrew, I don’t think we are essentially in disagreement here. Of course what has to be balanced here is Christ-like love and concern for our fellow human beings (whether believers, unbelievers, disfellowshipped (by the organization, disassociated, etc) and not having unnecessary association with people whose lifestyle is God-dishonouring and likely to affect our own spirituality. Otherwise there would not be the advice about ‘bad associations’. What, I believe, should be important to a Christian is not what label has been given a person by an ecclesiastical court (eg JW judicial committee), but how the person is living his/her life.

    With regards to disassociation, what if the person’s conscience had told them that they could no longer appear to be giving support for the organization by being a member of the congregation? Is the disassociation itself the same as willful sin? I don’t think so. This is why each situation must be weighed according to the facts, not some blanket set of rules.

    Concerning shunning, I don’t believe the scripture 1 Corinthians chapter 5 can be used to support the complete shunning of one’s own family members (whether they live with you or not). When Paul speaks of ‘anyone called a brother’, I don’t accept the argument that that relates to family members along with non-family members who are/were believers. I understand that such warnings are to help keep THE CONGREGATION clean, so there would be a need to not include an unrepentant sinner in occasions for congregation worship (so as not to condone the sinner’s lifestyle) or other CONGREGATION activities. However, when it comes to family relationships, although one may personally not wish to associate much with a relative who is pursuing an ungodly way of life, I believe it is up to a person’s conscience on how much association they have.


  9. CAMELOT says:

    I want to share my experience that shows that this practice of shunning has not merit because in my opinion there is not love or mercy involved. 3 years ago, I had several stressful life changing experiences going on. I was very stressed out and overwhelmed. I shared this with a couple of elders and mentioned if you see me missing it’s because of these burdens, and that I was needing a sheparding call for encouragement. Months went by, no help was given, I fell apart and felt alone. I emotionally sent in a DA letter simply stating I wanted out. 2 weeks later they announced me as being no longer a witness, 2 weeks later I returned. It was understood by the elders I was just going through a very difficult time and my coping skills weren’t the best. They asked me to put a letter together for reinstatement. My remorse was great due to what It(DA)implied and to be shunned for it. My remorse was very evident. They knew my circumstances. It was done impulsively in distress. Yet, they didn’t meet with me for several months. I was always at the meetings as I had been before. I thought for certain my brothers were going to reinstate me. Nope. For the sake of the congregation I had to remain shunned because it would stumble them if I was reinstated after just a few months. A week later I attempted suicide. It as a serious attempt on my life and once they were aware, no one at all reached out to me or my family. I received no mercy. I felt no love. Long story short. I got reinstated 3 months afterwards, without any one ever checking up on me even if I missed a meeting again. I never looked at them the same. Over the past 3 years doubt sank in for real. I discovered I did want to be disassociated due to the evidence they are not God’s channel. I have found so much love and concern outside the Organization that makes my heart rejoice.


    • Jayme says:

      Welcome Camelot, and thanks for sharing your experiance. So sorry you had to go thru all that. Sadly I have seen many similar situations. The elders are poorly equiped to deal with sheep who are having emotional or mental distress. They are so caught up in following the regulations set out in the elders book and the “Organized to do Jehovahs Will” book that they fail to adjust to the individual needs. Its a one size fits all system and many fall thru the cracks because they don’t recieve the love and mercy that they need. Its like survival of the fittest…”only the strong survive”. But that seems to be ok with them because the so called strong ones put in alot of hours and move alot of literature.

      This strict application of WT protocal is also most likly why they didn’t reinstate you sooner. They like to wait a minimum of 6 months. They wouldn’t want the rank and file thinking they were getting soft. I also knew a brother who was going thru extreme distress and was suicidal. The elders told him that if he tried to hurt himself they would disfellowship him for not respecting life. They also made a big deal about him seeking professional help and said if he chose to he could not tell the doctor about anything the elders had said to him in their meetings.

      But although the pain of these things is great it has led us to a better place. It reminds me of a song that says “God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you”. He surely has blessed us and led us into the arms of our true Shepard, Jesus Christ.

      Peace be yours,



  10. lynn says:

    andrew, lets get down on our knees and pray that jehovah provides us with enlightment over this issue very soon.imagin being married for just two years and having a 3 months old baby, then your dear hubby gets dfed?brothers dont realy understand the extent of the pain.its a mixture of embarassment,pain, confusion, a broken love and affects intimacy,your total life.
    here is the real situation,you share one vehicle when attending meetings with the dfed who happens to be the family head. you say amen and he has to storm out of the KH…what do the other members of the family do?they follow suit!so there is no widening out for the rest of the family…mostly i feel embarrased to remain behind. i feel like everyone thinks we are such a stupid couple. the truth is i am also 75% disfellowshipped bcoz my dear hubby is.its painfull brothers…very painfull….and to you jehovah my True God, i think give us new directions….I know you are there and care about me, my husband and my children.I am just so tired of the tension at home because of the status quo….and please Jehovah can you send someone to strengthen me…..and my kids?


    • andrew says:

      I’m very sorry for the pain that you and your family have to bear. Disfellowshipping as practiced by Jehovah’s Witnesses is not christian. It is not even human. I sincerely hope that the governing body decides to abolish this barbaric practice one day.


    • Rupunzelsawake says:

      Dear sister Lynn, My heart just ached for you reading your post. I am so sorry you are having to endure such harsh and unloving treatment. You clearly have a deep love for Jehovah and faith in him and if you keep prayerfully entreating him, I am certain He will help you to endure. You are right that the brothers do not understand the extent of the pain and damage done. I am about to be called to a judicial meeting myself (I think), and this is something I am going to try to get through to the brothers. They need to understand they are participating in an abusive practice. Jesus would not treat his little sheep this way, nor would our loving Father. Keep meditating on the love they have for you. They will never, ever, let you down! My dear sister, if I were there I would give you a hug, and hold your hand through this!! I will pray for you to be fortified. Please do visit us here at struggle again!


  11. Ruth says:

    l totally agree with Repunzel and send my love and a big hug to you sister.
    Please know your not alone anymore we are here for you. Are you in Australia?


  12. Maxine says:

    I have a Jehovah Witness neighbor. I can tell you that the people in the JW religion are brain washed! It is a cult, and a very dangerous one. I am a Christian (Lutheran). I have talked many times with my neighbor. She is a lovely lady – but she is so brain washed that she thinks the Jehovah Witness relgion is the only true religion. I can tell her for sure that it IS NOT! They pick just certain scripture to support their dogma. I keep telling her that her beliefs are JW interpretation – not everyone else reads the scripture as they do. But, it is a total lost cause to even talk to her because of the way they brain wash their people!


  13. Rupunzelsawake says:

    You are right Maxine. This religion really screws with your mind!! I think you only realise it when you leave (or wake up). We all leave the religion a bit damaged. Thanks for your kind interest in your JW neighbour. I was just listening to one of Kim’s videos where she makes phone calls to HQ regarding calling apostates “mentally diseased” in the literature, and regarding shunning of disfellowshipped family members. The lies the Bethelite brother spouts out are unbelievable. He said that JWs only stop associating in a “spiritual sense” with their df’d family members and that normal family dealings and affections, and blood ties, remain. Of course this is what the FAQ section of says but we know this is a LIE!! Did this brother not hear the talk at the 2012 Convention where members were told not to associate even a tiny bit with their df’d family members, because the desire for association is a strong motivation for them to come back to the organisation. They were instructed in the WT not to look for excuses to associate with them even through e-mail. See Jan 15 WT 2013 pg 16, par 19. I will post the link to her video here. She asks him about shunning at the 26 minute point. This brother is LYING!!!


  14. Axrover says:

    I never thought I’d say this, but you have a point. A very good one too.


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