Harmonizing Matthew 18:15–17, 1 Corinthians 5:1–13, and 2 Thessalonians 3:6–15
From Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal (DBSJ), Volume 20: 2015. Used with permission.
Within the larger discussion on church discipline, two questions that go to the heart of the issue continue to resist consensus. The first question concerns the spiritual status of those being disciplined. Are they to be viewed by the church as true believers caught up in some transgression and, thus, to be corrected and restored? Or, are they to be viewed as those who have made a profession of faith but who are, in fact, not saved and who need to be confronted and removed? Or, does the New Testament allow for either of these two options, depending on the nature of the disobedience?
The second question, related to the first, addresses the type of discipline meted out to the disobedient. Does church discipline invariably involve excommunication, that is, the removal of the disobedient from the membership of the local church with a loss of all rights and privileges? In other words, does the New Testament teach that excommunication is the only option when exercising church discipline of the unrepentant? Or, does the New Testament allow for a level of church discipline that stops short of that? And, if that be the case, what does this level look like?