Questions From Readers
● At 2 Thessalonians 3:14, 15, was the apostle Paul discussing disfellowshiping?—P.W., U.S.A.
Apparently not. He was telling the congregation how to deal with professed Christians who, although they did not deserve to be completely cut off from the congregation, were not good company. This is borne out by the context.
In 2Th 3 verse 6 he says: “Now we are giving you orders, brothers, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to withdraw from every brother walking disorderly and not according to the tradition you received from us.” Of what did that disorderliness consist? The apostle Paul said that they were ‘not working at all but were meddling with what did not concern them.’ He urged them as members of the congregation not to be lazy, expecting other people to supply their physical needs and using their time to meddle in affairs that did not concern them, but to show that they were willing to work and to provide their own necessities.
Then to the faithful ones in Thessalonica he said: “For your part, brothers, do not give up in doing right. But if anyone is not obedient to our word through this letter, keep this one marked, stop associating with him, that he may become ashamed. And yet do not be considering him as an enemy, but continue admonishing him as a brother.” (2 Thess. 3:13-15) If one who professed to be a Christian was not obedient to the teachings of the Christian congregation, but preferred to hold to his own personal ideas and to conduct himself in a way that promoted his own selfish purposes, the responsible ones in the congregation should take note of that person, they should “keep this one marked.” He should not be given assignments that would put him before the congregation as a teacher or as an example for others to follow.
Such a person would not be one that a spiritually-minded Christian would choose as his close companion. Listening to the ideas of one who had such an outlook would not be upbuilding, and spending time with him might lead to picking up his habits. So the apostle urged the brothers to avoid his company, both for their own protection and so that he might come to realize that the faithful ones did not approve of his course.
Yet Paul did not say, as did the apostle John of persons who forsook Christian teachings, that they should not even say a greeting to him. (2 John 9-11) No, he was still their brother, and they were to “continue admonishing him as a brother,” urging him to make his mind over in harmony with God’s Word.
However, if that person insisted on spreading his ideas in the congregation, so causing disunity, then what? When writing to Titus the apostle Paul gave this counsel: “As for a man that promotes a sect, reject him after a first and a second admonition; knowing that such a man has been turned out of the way and is sinning, he being self-condemned.”—Titus 3:10, 11.
So the congregation is not anxious to expel individuals from its midst. It endeavors to help them, if possible; but when they persist in a course specifically condemned by the Scriptures, then, out of respect for Jehovah God and for the protection of His people, the responsible servants must take action to keep the organization clean.
● Since millions of persons in China and other places have never heard the Kingdom message, will these people be preserved through the destruction of Babylon the Great and the war of Armageddon, or perhaps be resurrected later?—H.S., U.S.A.
It is important to understand what the Bible says about the destruction to come at the end of this system of things. In his illustration of the sheep and the goats Jesus indicated that a separating work would be done “when the Son of man arrives in his glory,” and that persons would be classed as either “sheep” or “goats.” (Matt. 25:31-46) In part, the basis for the separation would be the reaction of people to the preaching of the good news of the established kingdom. That preaching work is now being done by Jehovah’s witnesses. Jesus explained that those on earth who favorably responded to that message and treated kindly its bearers would be classed as “sheep” and would enter into “everlasting life.” The rest of mankind who did not respond favorably to the preaching work and offered no aid to those who carried the Kingdom message would be classed as “goats” and would go, not into a temporary death, but into “everlasting cutting-off” at the time when judgment is executed.
But some persons, appreciating that millions of people are to be resurrected and given an opportunity to serve God, wonder if the millions of individuals living today who apparently have never heard the Kingdom message preached will be everlastingly destroyed without ever having had a witness about God’s purposes. It is true that at present it appears that there are vast numbers of mankind who have not heard the Kingdom preaching. Also, from what the Bible says and from conditions in the world, we know that we are in the “last days.” But we do not know just how much more will be accomplished in preaching the Kingdom message before the end comes. (2 Tim. 3:1-5; Matt. 24:3-13) If at the end of the second world war someone had said that the Kingdom preaching would be carried out, by more than a million publishers, in over 190 lands, including communistic countries, many might have found that hard to believe. Yet, Jehovah has blessed his people, and that is exactly what is being accomplished. So, if it is Jehovah’s will to have this message personally carried to the millions on earth who seemingly have not yet heard it, that will be accomplished. If he chooses, he could see to it that this message is spread in ways that we cannot yet imagine. Jesus did foretell that “this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14) We can rest assured that God will see that the preaching work is done to his satisfaction. After that “the end” comes.
Then those who correspond with “goats,” whether in China or elsewhere, will be pronounced “cursed” and will not be permitted to survive that “end” into God’s new order of things. Since these go into symbolic “fire” (like the Devil and his angels), their punishment will be everlasting. They will never be resurrected.—Matt. 25:41-46.
“Just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more; and you will certainly give attention to his place, and he will not be. But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”—Ps. 37:10, 11.