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Topical Bible Verses
Leviticus 26:1-46
You shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither raise you up a standing image, neither shall you set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down to it: for I am the LORD your God.

Proverbs 25:26
A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring.

1 Timothy 5:8
But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

Smith's Bible Dictionary

(expulsion from communion).

  1. Jewish excommunication. --The Jewish system of excommunication was threefold. The twenty-four offences for which it was inflicted are various, and range in heinousness from the offence of keeping a fierce dog to that of taking God's name in vain. The offender was first cited to appear in court; and if he refused to appear or to make amends, his sentence was pronounced. The term of this punishment was thirty days; and it was extended to a second and to a third thirty days when necessary. If at the end of that time the offended was still contumacious, he was subjected to the second excommunication. Severer penalties were now attached. The sentence was delivered by a court of ten, and was accompanied by a solemn malediction. The third excommunication was an entire cutting off from the congregation. The punishment of excommunication is not appointed by the law of Moses; it is founded on the natural right of self-protection which all societies enjoy. In the New Testament, Jewish excommunication is brought prominently before us in the case of the man that was born blind. (John 9:1) ... In (Luke 6:22) it has been thought that our Lord referred specifically to the three forms of Jewish excommunication: "Blessed are ye when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake."
  2. Christian excommunication. --Excommunication, as exercised by the Christian Church, was instituted by our Lord, (Matthew 18:15,18) and it was practiced and commanded by St. Paul (1 Corinthians 5:11; 1 Timothy 1:20; Titus 3:10) Int he epistles we find St. Paul frequently claiming the right to exercise discipline over his converts; comp. (2 Corinthians 1:23; 13:10) We find, (1) that it is a spiritual penalty, involving no temporal punishment, except accidentally; (2) that it consists in separation from the communion of the Church; (3) that its object is the good of the sufferer, (1 Corinthians 5:5) and the protection of the sound members of the Church, (2 Timothy 3:17) (4) that its subjects are those who are guilty of heresy, (1 Timothy 1:20) or gross immorality, (1 Corinthians 5:1) (5) that it is inflicted by the authority of the Church at large, (Matthew 18:18) wielded by the highest ecclesiastical officer, (1 Corinthians 5:3; Titus 3:10) (6) that this officer's sentence is promulgated by the congregation to which the offender belongs, (1 Corinthians 5:4) in defence to his superior judgment and command, (2 Corinthians 2:9) and in spite of any opposition on the part of a minority, (2 Corinthians 2:6) (7) that the exclusion may be of indefinite duration, or for a period; (8) that its duration may be abridged at the discretion and by the indulgence of the person who has imposed the penalty, (2 Corinthians 2:8) (9) that penitence is the condition on which restoration to communion is granted, (2 Corinthians 2:8) (10) that the sentence is to be publicly reversed as it was publicly promulgated. (2 Corinthians 2:10)
ATS Bible Dictionary

An ecclesiastical penalty, by which they who incur the guilt of any heinous sin, are separated from the church, and deprived of its spiritual advantages. Thus the Jews "put out of the synagogue" those they deemed unworthy John 9:22 12:42 16:2. There were two degrees of excommunication among them: one a temporary and partial exclusion form ecclesiastical privileges, and from society; the other a complete excision form the covenant people of God and their numerous privileges, and abandonment to eternal perdition. See ANATHEMA.

The right and duty of excommunication when necessary were recognized in the Christian church by Christ and his apostles, Matthew 18:15-18 1 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 16:22 Galatians 5:12 1 Timothy 1:20 Titus 3:10. The offender, found guilty and incorrigible, was to be excluded from the Lord's supper and cut off from the body of believers. This excision from Christian fellowship does not release one from any obligation to obey the law of God and the gospel of Christ; nor exempt him from any relative duties, as a man or a citizen. The censure of the church, on the other hand, is not to be accompanied, as among papists, with enmity, curses, and persecution. Our Savior directs that such an offender be regarded "as heathen man and a publican;" and the apostles charge the church to "withdraw from" those who trouble them, and "keep no company with them," "no, not to eat;" but this is to be understood of those offices of civility and fraternity which a man is at liberty to pay or to withhold, and not of the indispensable duties of humanity, founded on nature, the law of nations, and the spirit of Christianity, 2 Thessalonians 3:6,15 2 John 1:10-11.

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
(n.) The act of communicating or ejecting; esp., an ecclesiastical censure whereby the person against whom it is pronounced is, for the time, cast out of the communication of the church; exclusion from fellowship in things spiritual.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia


Exclusion from church fellowship as a means of personal discipline, or church purification, or both. Its germs have been found in (1) the Mosaic "ban" or "curse" (cherem, "devoted"), given over entirely to God's use or to destruction (Leviticus 27:29); (2) the "cutting off," usually by death, stoning of certain offenders, breakers of the Sabbath (Exodus 31:14) and others (Leviticus 17:4 Exodus 30:22-38); (3) the exclusion of the leprous from the camp (Leviticus 13:46 Numbers 12:14). At the restoration (Ezra 10:7, 8), the penalty of disobedience to Ezra's reforming movements was that "all his substance should be forfeited (cherem), and himself separated from the assembly of the captivity." Nehemiah's similar dealing with the husbands of heathen women helped to fix the principle. The New Testament finds a well-developed synagogal system of excommunication, in two, possibly three, varieties or stages. nidduy, for the first offense, forbade the bath, the razor, the convivial table, and restricted social intercourse and the frequenting of the temple. It lasted thirty, sixty, or ninety days. If the offender still remained obstinate, the "curse," cherem, was formally pronounced upon him by a council of ten, and he was shut out from the intellectual, religious and social life of the community, completely severed from the congregation. shammatha', supposed by some to be a third and final stage, is probably a general term applied to both nidduy and cherem. We meet the system in John 9:22: "If any man should confess him to be Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue" (aposunagogos); John 12:42: "did not confess. lest they should be put out of the s."; and John 16:2: "put you out of the synagogue." In Luke 6:22 Christ may refer to the three stages: "separate you from their company (aphorisosin), and reproach you (oneidisosin = cherem, "malediction"), and cast out your name as evil (ekbalosin)."

It is doubtful whether an express prescription of excommunication is found in our Lord's words (Matthew 18:15-19). The offense and the penalty also seem purely personal: "And if he refuse to hear the church also, let him be unto thee as the Gentile and the publican," out of the pale of association and converse. Yet the next verse might imply that the church also is to act: "Verily I say unto you, What things soever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven," etc. But this latter, like Matthew 16:19, seems to refer to the general enunciations of principles and policies rather than to specific ecclesiastical enactments. On the whole, Jesus seems here to be laying down the principle of dignified personal avoidance of the obstinate offender, rather than prescribing ecclesiastical action. Still, personal avoidance may logically correspond in proper cases to excommunication by the church. 2 Thessalonians 3:14: "Note that man, that ye have no company with him"; Titus 3:10: "A factious man. avoid" (American Revised Version margin); 2 John 1:10: "Receive him not into your house," etc., all inculcate discreet and faithful avoidance but not necessarily excommunication, though that might come to be the logical result. Paul's "anathemas" are not to be understood as excommunications, since the first is for an offense no ecclesiastical tribunal could well investigate: 1 Corinthians 16:22, "If any man loveth not the Lord, let him be anathema"; the second touches Paul's deep relationship to his Lord: Romans 9:3, "I myself. anathema from Christ"; while the third would subject the apostle or an angel to ecclesiastical censure: Galatians 1:8, 9, "Though we, or an angel. let him be anathema."

Clear, specific instances of excommunication or directions regarding it, however, are found in the Pauline and Johannine writings. In the case of the incestuous man (1 Corinthians 5:1-12), at the instance of the apostle ("I verily, being absent in body but present in spirit"), the church, in a formal meeting ("In the name of our Lord Jesus, ye being gathered together"), carrying out the apostle's desire and will ("and my spirit"), and using the power and authority conferred by Christ ("and with the power of our Lord Jesus"), formally cut off the offender from its fellowship, consigning (relinquishing?) him to the power of the prince of this world ("to deliver such a one unto Satan"). Further, such action is enjoined in other cases: "Put away the wicked man from among yourselves." 2 Corinthians 2:5-11 probably refers to the same case, terminated by the repentance and restoration of the offender. `Delivering over to Satan' must also include some physical ill, perhaps culminating in death; as with Simon Magus (Acts 8:20), Elymas (Acts 13:11), Ananias (Acts 5:5). 1 Timothy 1:20: "Hymenaeus and Alexander. that they might be taught not to blaspheme," is a similar case of excommunication accompanied by judicial and disciplinary physical ill. In 3 John 1:9, 10 we have a case of excommunication by a faction in control: "Diotrephes. neither doth he himself receive. and them that would he. casteth out of the church."

Excommunication in the New Testament church was not a fully developed system. The New Testament does not clearly define its causes, methods, scope or duration. It seems to have been incurred by heretical teaching (1 Timothy 1:20) or by factiousness (Titus 3:10 (?)); but the most of the clear undoubted cases in the New Testament are for immoral or un-Christian conduct (1 Corinthians 5:1, 11, 13; perhaps also 1 Timothy 1:20). It separated from church fellowship but not necessarily from the love and care of the church (2 Thessalonians 3:15 (?)). It excluded from church privileges, and often, perhaps usually, perhaps always, from social intercourse (1 Corinthians 5:11). When pronounced by the apostle it might be accompanied by miraculous and punitive or disciplinary physical consequences (1 Corinthians 5:5 1 Timothy 1:20). It was the act of the local church, either with (1 Corinthians 5:4) or without (1 Corinthians 5:13; 1 Corinthians 3John 1:10) the concurrence of an apostle. It might possibly be pronounced by an apostle alone (1 Timothy 1:20), but perhaps not without the concurrence and as the mouthpiece of the church. Its purpose was the amendment of the offender: "That the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (1 Corinthians 5:5); and the preservative purification of the church: "Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, even as ye are unleavened" (1 Corinthians 5:7). It might, as appears, be terminated by repentance and restoration (2 Corinthians 2:5-11). It was not a complex and rigid ecclesiastical engine, held in terrorem over the soul, but the last resort of faithful love, over which hope and prayer still hovered.


Arts. in HDB, DB, Jew Eric, DCG; Martensen, Christian Ethics, III, 330; Nowack, Benzinger, Heb Archaeol.; Commentary in the place cited.

Philip Wendell Crannell


Whether Excommunication is Suitably Defined as Separation from the ...
excommunication is suitably defined as separation from the communion of the ...
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Whether a Person Incurs Excommunication for Communicating with one ...
excommunication for communicating with one who is excommunicated? ...
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Of the Definition, Congruity and Cause of Excommunication (Four ...
We must now treat of excommunication: we shall consider ...
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Of Absolution from Excommunication (Three Articles)
from excommunication: under which head there are three points of inquiry: ...
/.../aquinas/summa theologica/of absolution from excommunication three.htm

Whether a Sentence of Excommunication Can be Passed on a Body of ...
a sentence of excommunication can be passed on a body of men? ...
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Whether an Excommunication Unjustly Pronounced Has any Effect?
an excommunication unjustly pronounced has any effect? ...
/.../aquinas/summa theologica/whether an excommunication unjustly pronounced.htm

Whether any Priest Can Absolve his Subject from Excommunication?
can absolve his subject from excommunication? Objection 1 ...
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Whether a Man Can be Absolved from one Excommunication Without ...
from one excommunication without being absolved from all? ...
//christianbookshelf.org/aquinas/summa theologica/whether a man can be 3.htm

Whether a Man Can be Excommunicated who is Already under Sentence ...
can be excommunicated who is already under sentence of excommunication? ...
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Whether it is Right that Schismatics Should be Punished with ...
... OF SCHISM (FOUR ARTICLES) Whether it is right that schismatics should be
punished with excommunication? Objection 1: It would seem ...
//christianbookshelf.org/aquinas/summa theologica/whether it is right that.htm

...EXCOMMUNICATION. ... The New Testament finds a well-developed synagogal system of
excommunication, in two, possibly three, varieties or stages. ...
/e/excommunication.htm - 15k

Anathema (6 Occurrences)
... 2. (n.) A ban or curse pronounced with religious solemnity by ecclesiastical
authority, and accompanied by excommunication. Hence ...
/a/anathema.htm - 13k

Excrement (3 Occurrences)

/e/excrement.htm - 7k

Excommunicated (1 Occurrence)

/e/excommunicated.htm - 7k

... 4. (n.) An absolving from ecclesiastical penalties, -- for example, excommunication.
5. (n.) The form of words by which a penitent is absolved. ...
/a/absolution.htm - 8k

Punishments (31 Occurrences)
... It may signify excommunication or death, and occurs in connection with the following
offenses: (1) breach of morals, such as willful sin in general (Numbers 15 ...
/p/punishments.htm - 36k

Hymenaeus (2 Occurrences)
... Some understand it to mean simple excommunication from the church. But this seems
quite inadequate to exhaust the meaning of the words employed by Paul. ...
/h/hymenaeus.htm - 13k

Circumcision (98 Occurrences)
... who had attached himself as a slave to a Hebrew household had to undergo the
rite-the punishment for its non-fulfilment being death or perhaps excommunication. ...
/c/circumcision.htm - 53k

... These enactments forbade "upon pain of the greater excommunication the unauthorized
translation of any text of the Scriptures into English or any other tongue ...
/e/english.htm - 38k

... with the Vatican edition, so that "not even the smallest particle should be altered,
added or removed" under pain of the "greater excommunication." Sixtus died ...
/v/vulgate.htm - 38k

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