Posted by: chuckbumgardner | February 10, 2009

Thesis Abstract

I noticed that although I previously posted my thesis findings, I had not set forth the abstract.  Here is that item:



The present thesis seeks to interpret 2 Thessalonians 3:6-16 in the light of a Pauline theology of church discipline and thereby to evaluate common applications of the passage. The passage is examined exegetically, engaging cultural background where appropriate. Several appendices provide material which bears upon the passage’s interpretation: proposals of a Sitz im Leben, an examination of Paul’s use of the a[taktoV word group (3:6, 7, 11), and a discussion of the apostolic tradition (3:6). Other areas highlighted in the exegetical treatment include the significance of the term “brother” (3:6, 15), the view of work and the perception of a “meddler” in Paul’s culture as brought to bear upon the behavior of the offenders (3:11), the extent of the disciplinary separation enjoined (3:6, 14-15), and the debated identity of those who “do not obey our word by this epistle” (3:14).

The thesis turns to other Pauline disciplinary texts in order to construct a brief Pauline theology of church discipline. Various aspects of Paul’s disciplinary practice are addressed: offenses warranting discipline; warrant for discipline; and purposes, procedure, and attitude in discipline. Four questions connected with 2 Thess 3:6-16 are addressed: (1) Is it likely Paul would counsel expulsion before an attempt at restoration? (2) Does Paul look to the dominical tradition of Matthew 18 as a model? (3) Would Paul allow for a probationary ostracization short of expulsion? (4) What does Paul understand to be the relationship between the congregation and offender after the final stage of discipline?

The exegetical and biblical-theological work are used to inform an evaluation of major areas of application of 2 Thess 3:6-16, which historically have included work and charity, church discipline, and ecclesiastical separation. Similarities and distinctions between church discipline and ecclesiastical separation are used to inform questions of application in the realm of the latter. Included in the discussion is the application of the passage to both church discipline and ecclesiastical separation on the basis of improper associations. Certain exegetical conclusions are used to suggest that application of the passage to ecclesiastical separation (both in general and as exercised on the basis of improper associations), while valid, are necessarily indirect in nature.



  1. This post makes me want an e-copy of the whole thing. Do you share?

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