Chapter 12, part 2:

When Leaders Fail, Should We Follow?

God is perfect, but men are not; so any organization using men will have some flaws. For example: in the first century some Jewish Christians began to promote social separation within the congregation because they felt Gentile Christians were impure. Left unchecked, this would have divided Christianity into Jewish and non-Jewish sects. Peter was a highly respected leading apostle, yet he weakly went along with this division. When Paul saw that "they were not walking straight according to the truth of the good news," he did not reason, ‘Peter is one of the Twelve Apostles, and these others causing division just came from James, who is also a pillar in the Governing Body. Therefore they are right, no matter what I think.’ No, he spoke out, publicly censuring Peter before them all. To his credit, Peter did not then turn and condemn Paul as impudent and presumptuous, using his authority to put Paul "in his place"; rather, he listened and accepted the correction. —Gal 2:11-14.

Although Paul had a strong personality, he too listened and accepted advice. At Galations 2:1-10 he tells of visiting Jerusalem and "laying before them the good news I am preaching among the nations." From the way this passage reads he apparently was looking for their blessing on the work he had already undertaken by divine inspiration. And they gave it (vs 9), along with a little bit of advice (vs 10), which he humbly accepted.

On another occasion, this august body of mature men gave Paul advice that was clearly mistaken. This is how it happened: Paul decided to go to Jerusalem. On his way there, God warned him that prison bonds lay ahead. Friends urged him not to go, but he would not listen. When he arrived, the governing body confronted him. There were disturbing rumors going around, they said, that he was teaching apostasy, telling Jewish Christians not to observe the customs of the Law of Moses. The local Jewish converts were all devoted to Jewish custom, and such ideas would be very distressing to them. Paul was in serious trouble! To solve the problem, they "suggested" he go to the Temple and take part in a certain ceremony according to Jewish custom. By this he could prove that the rumors were false, that he was still "walking orderly, keeping the Law."

There was one small problem with this plan. The rumors were in fact true! How did Paul handle this? He could have replied indignantly, "Have you not read my letters to the congregations in Galatia and Rome? I have been teaching quite clearly that all Christians, particularly Jews, are freed from keeping the Law. If you would read them, you would see that this is the Lord's leading!"* Instead, he kept silent. He did not try to correct them. They were trying to maintain a delicate peace with the Jewish community, which regarded Christianity as an apostate sect. Even though he knew their advice would not accomplish what they intended, he did as they asked. What happened? It provoked a mob uproar and came very close to getting Paul killed. He then spent several years in prison because of it. The governing body did not mean for any of that to happen. They were no doubt very surprised and dismayed by what came of it. (The entire account spans Acts 20-28, but key verses are 20:22-24, 21:4, 10-14, 17-36; 22:22-24; 23:11; 24:5, 6, 14-18, 23, 27; 25:8-12; 26:30-27:1; 28:16, 17, 23, 30, 31.)

So why did Paul submit to them? Why did he not argue his case? Were not the things he taught about the Law inspired of God? Could he not defend his position eloquently? In answer, we can say first that the observance they asked of him was not a sin in itself; the Law was after all from God, "holy and righteous and good." Paul himself had once said "To the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain Jews; to those under Law I became as under Law, although I am not under Law, that I might gain those under Law." So going along to get along has its place, within moral limits, at the right time. No doubt that is what the governing body was trying to do. —Rom 7:12, 1 Cor 9:20, 21.

But there was another reason why he did what they asked. His eyes were open; surely he saw that this would be the way the divine warnings would come true. In effect, the Lord had let Paul know not to argue with them over this issue. Despite Paul’s clear inspired letters, the governing body had not responded to the Lord’s leading on this, clinging instead to familiar tradition in an effort to soften persecution. They were reluctant to see the divisive effect it was having among the Christian brotherhood. The failure of their advice would correct the governing body more effectively than any words could. It would also send Paul into new territory, giving witness before Caesar and other rulers. So, even though there was a growing need for them to revise their position on this matter, Paul cooperated. Of course, we would not take this to establish as a rule "do what you're told no matter how foolish" or "close your eyes and trust that your leaders are always right." Paul did not always submit meekly to "superiors"; the incident with Peter proved that.

As in the first century, the members of the governing body today are men capable of errors in judgment or reluctance to respond to a need for change. Like Paul, we recognise and cooperate with the organization that Jehovah has given us, even if we discern flaws in its leadership. We are not obligated to regard these overseers as gods or clergymen, and any elder who would begin to call for such subservience would be committing a grave error.* We are all brothers, as Christ said. But we cannot just ignore the organization if we happen to disagree with it on some personal issue. It is established for our benefit, for the health of our faith. We do as Paul exhorts at Hebrews 13.17: “Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive, for they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will render an account; that they may do this with joy and not with sighing, for this would be damaging to you.”

If we do not understand the reason for an order or instruction, that will really put our loyalty to the test. If an order is clearly from God, we should always comply, even if it puts our life at risk. We trust His superior wisdom. If the instruction cannot be traced directly or clearly to God’s Word, then it should at least be compatible with godly principles. So we should still be humble and cooperative, even if it involves some inconvenience or risk. We seek, not our selfish advantage, but what is upbuilding to all. —see Prov 3:5-7; 1 Cor 10:23, 24, 31-33.

But, if by careful consideration we are forced to the reluctant conclusion that a directive or doctrine is gravely flawed, God has the ultimate authority. We belong to Him, not to men. He requires us to respect his duly appointed representatives, but that appointment does not trump his standards of what is right, true, or just. They are not authorized to contradict Him. These men may otherwise represent God well, and we do not demand that they be perfect to merit our respect. True loyalty will help to us see past the flaw and keep the whole in view. We are not obligated to rise up in righteous indignation and try to correct matters single-handedly. On the other hand, loyalty does not obligate us to keep our mouth shut and let God handle it; He may be looking at us to see what we will do. —study Jas 5:19, 20; 1 Cor 3:4-9, 21-23; Rom 3:4, Isaiah 59:14-16.

In this we must be guided by Paul’s words at 1 Timothy 2:8: "I desire that in every place the men carry on prayer, lifting up loyal hands, apart from wrath and debates." If there is an issue to discuss, the foremost step is prayer. Search diligently for God’s will; let Him speak first. "Lifting up hands" can have several meanings: the simplest is that the hands are lifted in supplication to God. It can also mean ‘to give support’, that is, to cooperate in working out a decision made, even if it is not quite what we personally prefer. It can also touch on the discussion itself: rather than being a free-for-all argument, communicate in an orderly and respectful manner, requesting permission to speak by lifting of hands. There should not be an angry debate. Christians must be an example to the world that there are better ways to solve differences than by war. —Nehemiah 8:6.

Loyalty would not allow us to try to slyly subvert a view or arrangement we disagreed with. If we feel compelled to act at all, we must have the courage to do so openly, approaching with appropriate deference those with the authority to make changes. A loyal one would never try to divide the congregation by building up a following of rebels. (This does happen; see Acts 20:29, 30, Titus 3:9, 10, and 2 Peter 2:1.) It is of course reasonable, in addition to researching the scriptures, to confer with others to see if our reasoning is unsound; we would do this not to win them to our view, but to seek possible correction for ourself. Humble ones remember Proverbs 18.17: "The one first to present his case is righteous [that is, may be quite convinced he is right, and sounds convincing] but his fellow comes in and certainly searches him through." —see also Proverbs 27:17 and Romans 12:3-5.

If perchance we are the one approached by a person with doubts, the first thing to do is to review the policy or doctrine that is being questioned; perhaps the person simply does not understand it correctly, as intended. We should not, however, just quote them page and line number, trying to browbeat, shame or intimidate them into compliance. We never want to be like Christendom's clergy! Keep in mind that suppressing doubts by intimidation invites rebellion and subversion. If we cannot answer their questions and assuage their doubts reasonably, perhaps we can refer them to someone more knowledgeable than we, or encourage them to let it rest for now, if that is a practical option. There are some good questions that simply cannot be fully answered at present.

One who still has a question (or feels he has an answer) is free to put it in writing, as clearly, briefly and thoroughly as he can, and send it up for consideration. Be mindful that no one, not even a humble Christlike elder, is eager to be proven wrong or have his cherished belief system shaken. Expect reluctance to see your point. Anticipate being misunderstood. Do your homework first, be prepared, be thorough. And be patient!

Occasionally there may be an elder who tries to enforce his own interpretations of organizational directives. This can be a test of our loyalty. The other elders are there to prevent this, but sometimes one will have a strong personality and cowe or co-opt his fellows for a time. What is an ordinary congregation member to do? Leaving the congregation (even if only to another nearby) is not a good choice. The holy spirit gives us the power to be long-suffering, or patient under trial. Appeal to God for wisdom. No matter what some may say, God does not tell us that silent suffering is our only option. Keeping Exodus 22:28 in mind ("You must not curse a chieftain among your people"), you could go to one of the elders that you deem most approachable. Carefully explain your concerns as one who desires to see God glorified in all things. Then, allow them some time to work it out, even if you are not impressed by the reply you receive. If after a reasonable interval there is no improvement, you may see a need to take the matter higher in the organization. Have faith that overall, this is really God's organization. He will not tolerate abuse of power indefinitely. Any leader who thinks he is getting away with anything should take warning from Proverbs 29:1, also 2 Thess 2:4, 8, Rev 3:3, Ezekiel 34:1-23, and many other similar verses in scripture. (Abuse of power has been a recurring problem throughout man's history, and there is no shortage of scripture addressing it.)

Keeping the Congregation Clean

Jehovah was very clear in his Law to Israel: He insisted first of all that they keep their worship to him pure. They could not add in the worship of any other gods (first and second of the Ten Commandments), and any other wrongdoing, such as stealing, lying and immorality, would contaminate their standing with him and render their worship unacceptable. Anyone who deliberately tried to introduce such things was to be dealt with severely. Most of the prophetic books are strong warnings from God about the impending harsh consequences of their disrespect of his Law, and the nation was eventually conquered and subjugated for that reason. Jehovah has not changed: the Christian congregation must likewise act to remain clean and faithful to what is righteous and true. —1 Peter 1:14-16.

Just as Satan urged Eve to "better" herself apart from her Creator, Satan has his world designed to urge us all to be self-centered and independent. He wants us to chafe at the submission that God’s Kingdom involves. If we listen to him, we will begin to see God’s authority as oppressively restrictive. We will be drawn to desire what offends God, and we will stop nurturing our love for what is good. Or we may be "carried away by various and strange teachings" that are of no benefit for pleasing God. —Heb 13:9; see also Colossians 2.8, 2 Tim 4:3, 4 and 1 Tim 1:3-7.

Serving God is in fact true freedom— but he does not permit wild partying and loose conduct, or divisions and deceitfulness (Gal 5:19-21). Those who veer toward such things are admonished first (1 Thess 5:12-14), then corrected severely if necessary (Titus 1:5-13; note there who is appointed to do this reproving), but as a last resort, they must be expelled (Titus 3:10, 11). Sometimes such ones are so hardened in pride that they begin an angry campaign to destroy with vicious slander those who so "humiliated" them. Others do not do that, but neither do they back down from their behavior or views at odds with scripture, continuing to seek at every opportunity to turn the congregation to following them (2 Peter 2:1-3). Those who are loyal to the Kingdom must know the truth well enough that they can identify such deviation and not give it an audience. —Prov 13.20, 1 Cor 15.12 and 32-34, Col 2:6-8, Titus 3:9.

At Romans 16:17-19 we are warned: “Keep your eye on those who cause divisions and occasions for stumbling. . . and avoid them. For men of that sort are slaves not of Christ, but of their own bellies, and by smooth talk and complimentary speech they seduce the hearts of guileless ones. . . I want you to be wise as to what is good, but innocent as to what is evil.” Those who advocate deviation from the truth are called "apostates", which means "those who stand away from". At 2 John 8-11 we read: “Look out for yourselves, that you do not lose the things we have worked to produce. . . everyone that pushes ahead (that is, does not remain in the teaching of the Christ) does not have God. . . If anyone comes to you and does not have this teaching, never receive him into your homes or say a greeting to him. For he that welcomes him is a sharer in his wicked works.” This applies to one who has left the truth and is now coming back, not humbly, but to sow doubt or dissension, to draw off disciples after himself, or to defend his error. We would not receive him to hear his message; we would not warmly greet him. We would give him no encouragement in his mission at all. In Bible times the usual greeting was "May you have peace." We could not in good conscience wish that for an apostate.

Like Satan with Eve, apostates are often devious. We tend to be fair-minded, to hear troubled people out, and they take advantage of that. We may imagine that we can turn them around if only we could reason with them, an impression they may cultivate. But bear in mind that should have already been tried, at length, by competent and caring mature shepherds before they had to be expelled. Until proven otherwise, we should loyally respect those older men as fair judges.* (see Deut 16.18-20.)

There is also no need for us to study in detail their accusations, claims and reasonings, thinking we might be able to counter them point-by-point. Quite often the accusations involve people and situations we do not know and cannot judge on the basis of their words alone. Nor do they rightly reflect on who we are personally as Christians. "Wisdom is proved righteous by its works," Jesus replied when he was falsely accused. He knew who he was, and proved it by his life course. By following him conscientiously, we can say the same. If someone else has misbehaved and ignited an angry mess, there are better ways to sort it out and solve it than trying to start a war. Those who choose that are no longer following Christ. —Matt 11:19.

Not all who leave the way of life are apostates; some just become inattentive and drift into the traps of Satan. How does the congregation deal with them? At Matthew 18:12-14 Jesus said: “What do you think? If a certain man comes to have a hundred sheep and one of them gets strayed, will he not leave the ninety-nine upon the mountains and set out on a search for the one that is straying? And if he happens to find it, I certainly tell you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that have not strayed. Likewise it is not a desirable thing with my Father who is in heaven for one of these little ones to perish.” When someone quietly strays from the path of life into a course of wrongdoing, the congregation should be concerned, search him out and help him* to recover. On the other hand, if we find we are repeatedly having to hunt him down and rescue him out of the ravine, we cannot be blind to the fact that he is not responding to the corrective admonition. He is not taking the problem seriously. (compare 2 Cor 7:10, 11) Or what if this "sheep" waves off his rescuers, preferring the wild pastures? He may even admit that his choice is not good, still, he chooses to keep on yielding to his weakness. He may not be actively advocating that others follow him, but he has chosen to go his own way.

For simplicity and consistency we refer to the wrongdoer as "he", but it applies the same to "she".

Jesus gives the congregation a procedure for handling serious problems: “If your brother commits a sin, go lay bare his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take along with you one or two more, in order that at the mouth of two or three witnesses every matter may be established. 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.” —Matt 18:15-17.

The first part of this verse applies to personal problems between Christians that can be settled privately. Sins that cannot be settled between just two persons must go directly to the congregational court. At that stage the outcome can be quite serious if the wrongdoer is unrepentant. The congregation does not execute or imprison like a government can; instead, stubborn sinners are simply put out, excluded from fellowship. He is no longer fit to be an associate, and Jesus directs us to view that one the same as a "man of the nations," a Gentile (anyone not Jewish). Not just as a stranger, who might be shown hospitality, but "as a tax collector."

The disciples who heard Jesus say this understood what he meant. At the time, persons of other nations could take an interest in Judaism and convert, and were then allowed to worship at the temple, albeit in their own separate courtyard. But unconverted Gentiles were regarded with disgust, as ones whose very touch would render one unclean before God. Pious Jews would not eat near them nor allow them into their home, nor enter their houses. Even more despised was the fellow Jew who hired on as a tax collector for the hated Roman occupiers of their sacred land. But did Jesus really mean we were to be like that as Christians? Did he not tell us to love even our enemies? Did he not break bread with tax collectors?

God’s Law for Israel required them to treat foreigners with dignity (Lev 19:33, 34, 24:22, Deut 1:16, 17) provided they respected the Law and did not introduce idolatry (Exodus 12:49, Lev 17:8, 9, 18:23-26, Num 15:29, 30, Deut 31:12). Those who broke the Law were to suffer the same penalty as an Israelite. But in Jesus’ day, the Jews were no longer in control of their land and had to endure seeing whatever ungodliness the foreigners chose to indulge in, so their anger and disgust was understandable.

In the same way, those who stubbornly turn away from God’s merciful correction are like those foreigners. At least for the present, they have proven themselves as persons not to be trusted, not to be befriended. Perhaps in time they will wake up, as the prodigal son of the parable did (Luke 15:11-23). We hope so, and we do not want to do anything to hinder that. But socializing with such a one is both unsafe and disloyal; they have already shown themselves resistant to kind spiritual counsel. When Jesus ate with tax collectors, he was offering the first shepherding back to God that they had ever received. He was not telling them "God loves you just the way you are!" Those who responded abandoned their wrongdoing. —Luke 19:2-10. See also James 4:4, Proverbs 29.1.

Before you assume that no one deserves to be treated that way, think: Do you naïvely keep trusting a liar? How do you feel about a "friend" who steals from you? What if a co-worker has seriously slandered you, causing you to lose your job? What regard do you have for the repeat drunk driver who put your wife in the hospital? How would you treat anyone who molested your daughter? Would it be any different if it was your neighbor's daughter instead? or if it was your father who was robbed, your brother who lost his job due to slander? Would you seek out the perpetrator's friendship or invite them over for dinner? Would it be right to be neutral or indifferent, as if such behavior were not serious?

Paul helps us to understand this. He says, “In my letter I wrote you to quit mixing in company with fornicators, 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. 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. For what do I have to do with judging those outside? Do you not judge those inside, while God judges those outside? Remove the wicked one from among yourselves. . . Do you not know that unrighteous persons will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be misled. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men, nor thieves, nor greedy persons, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit God’s kingdom.” —1 Cor 5:9-13; 6:9, 10.

As you can see, there is a distinction between the ungodly outsider who has never known the way of God and the one "called a brother" who turns back to the world. Neither is good association, of course (see 1 Peter 4.3-5), but the former Christian is even less so. Our dealings with both are guarded, but much more so with the one who has more clearly proven his weakness, unreliability and infidelity. Comparing 1 Corinthians 5 above with 2 John 8-11 (quoted earlier), we also discern a distinction, however slight, between one who has turned to sinful personal behavior and one who is actively promoting wrongdoing or false teaching. One is to be viewed as bad company, the other as a menace. See also Psalms 101:3-7.

What if we see an ex-brother in immediate need, such as struggling with a heavy load, or broken down by the roadside? Are we obliged to suppress human compassion and let others come to his aid, even if there is no one? In such a case we would decide the same as if he were a stranger of ill repute: we would likely help, unless we judged it too hazardous at the time. In this regard we can apply the principle of Exodus 23:4, 5: “Should you come upon your enemy’s bull or his ass going astray, you are to return it without fail to him. Should you see the ass of someone who hates you lying down under its load, then you must refrain from leaving him. With him you are without fail to get it loose.” When given, this command could not have applied to mortal enemies or to criminals, who were subject to a military or legal process that led to an outcome preventing any further conversation. This law referred to a personal antagonist, one with whom there was an ongoing serious personal issue. In our time, when those who are alienated from us usually stay alive, we take from this law the principle of humane mercy, to love even our enemies. Such compassion should not, however, be taken as an offer of friendship, while the estranging issue is unresolved.

What about those who are closely related? If the estranged one is a minor, living with faithful parents, these obviously never lose the responsibility to instruct and guide their offspring while in their care, although their recent lack of success in that regard should move them to reexamine their instructional methods. (Perhaps advice from other spiritually mature parents would help them move the rebellious one to repentance.) If it is one or even both of the parents that has turned aside to ungodliness, what should faithful minor children do? Both parents retain their parental authority, and faithful Christian minors must respect that, although they will have to filter out and reject any counsel that would cause them to disobey God. They may be too young to do this well, so wise spiritual counselors— the faithful parent first— should assist them as possible. They should reach out in earnest prayer to Jehovah as their steadfast Father. He will watch over such "fatherless children." —see Exodus 22:22-24, Psalms 27:10 and 10:13, 14, 17, 18 and 68.5.

What if an adult offender has been our close friend, even literally our brother? We may feel we know him well and surely could help him. One has to ask, then, how did things turn out as they have already? Was the failing a complete surprise? If so, were we really that close? If we saw it coming, why were we not more help in preventing the waywardness? Are we really now qualified to help? Yes, we could in time be instrumental in his recovery, but not independently of the congregation’s oversight. We may be tempted to think our friend has been misjudged and is actually innocent, but in such matters the guilt itself is usually soundly established: by incontrovertible evidence, by confession, or by two or more trustworthy witnesses; often all of the above. The judgment hinges on remorse or lack thereof, on their effort (or not) to "make straight paths for their feet" going forward. (Heb 12:11-13) If there really had been remorse, there should still really be remorse; all that is necessary is to make it so obvious that it cannot be denied. If our friend deserved his condemnation but we are offended that others seemed to be treated more leniently, is that really our business? “Each one will stand before the judgment seat of God . . . each of us will render an account for himself to God.” “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says Jehovah.” In other words, your friend does not need to be looking enviously at what another person gets or not, but where he himself stands, and what he can do about it. If any mistakes were made, trust God to sort it out. Give him time. In the meantime, stay straight yourself. —Romans 14.10, 12, 12.19, Gal 6.4.

If the one who has unrepentantly left the way of life is our life's partner, our husband or our wife, this hurts almost as if he or she has died. As his/her oath-partner, your authority to work for his/her good is not truncated by congregational action. The joyful spiritual fellowship you seemed to have before (we assume you did, anyway— you should have had) is no more, but you can still exert a positive influence, or at least try. (compare 1 Pet 3:1-4.) This may include verbal communication, provided the errant one is receptive, not trying to persuade you to their warped thinking. If they attempt that, the admonition of John's 2nd letter applies, as far as spiritual matters are concerned. Any stubborn wrongdoing or selfish attitude cannot help but cool off every aspect of the relationship, but it may not require separation.

Although you cannot read the mind of God, you certainly can read what he says he will forgive and the conditions he requires for it: see John 3:16-21, 36.

If your mate has not only been unfaithful to God but to you as well, by committing adultery, what a double betrayal that is! His/her infidelity permits you to choose to be free of him/her, to divorce. Should you? Does loyalty to God require that? No. You may assess the relationship and exigencies (such as the welfare of minor children) and choose conditional forgiveness, that is, you do not ignore and excuse the wrongdoing, but work around it. Life will not be "normal" after that, but you make choices that keep it stabilized. You cannot really forgive what God refuses to forgive*; you cannot act as if all were well. If a husband's adultery continues, an innocent wife should at least distance herself somehow (exactly how is up to her) if only for her physical and emotional health. If a wife continues in open adultery, the innocent husband, in respect of his headship, should hand her over to those whom she loves; he could keep the road home open, but not as a two-way highway. But if the adultery has not continued, you may hope to help your mate recover his/her spiritual senses, as with any other major failing. Love "hopes all things, endures all things." (Actually love is not infinite; even God’s love has limits [see Hebrews 8:9], so do not feel guilty if you have to quit trying.)

What if an ex-Christian starts to come to congregation meetings, quietly paying attention? The elders would speak to him to determine his motives. If he professes repentance and appears to be abandoning his bad way (as did the prodigal son of the parable) the elders would encourage him and arrange for due spiritual assistance— with awareness of his history, of course. They would not say, in effect, “You got yourself into this fix, so we will stand off and see how long it takes you to get yourself out of it.” In the parable, the son is immediately and enthusiastically welcomed back. In his case, he did not leave as a rebel, he took a wrong turn while away. Decades of experience teaches that restoration of fellowship should be extended cautiously; if given too quickly, it is too often taken for granted and soon thrown away again. So there will be an interval of time, determined by each case, for the wrongdoer to re-establish his standing, to prove his earnest desire to walk the true path.

The rest of the congregation are probably thrilled (depending on his history*) to see the once-expelled wrongdoer trying to return, but they should be wary even while they are hopeful. They cannot immediately accord him the warm fellowship he once rejected, but now, once his good motive is known and his earnest effort is evident, it would be merciless, unloving and cold to pretend he was not there. Loyalty does not require them to rudely turn their face away, pointedly making him feel unwanted. Without going out of their way to make contact, some might acknowledge his presence, in passing, in a restrained manner, such as by brief eye contact and a nod.* At this stage there would be no chit-chat or socializing, no hugs and handshakes. If he tried to go past those boundaries the loyal person would kindly remind him of his limited current standing. As for the details of his spiritual struggle, it is the responsibility of the elders to be privy to that; others would not insert themselves there. They would neither inquire nor allow the returning one to open up that subject to them.

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Gal 2:11-14
However, when Cephas [Peter] came to Antioch, I [Paul] resisted him face to face, because he stood condemned. For before the arrival of certain men from James, he used to eat with people of the nations; but when they arrived, he went withdrawing and separating himself, in fear of those of the circumcised class. The rest of the Jews also joined him in putting on this pretense, so that even Barnabas was led along with them in their pretense. But when I saw they were not walking straight according to the truth of the good news, I said to Cephas before them all: “If you, though you are a Jew, live as the nations do, and not as Jews do, how is it that you are compelling people of the nations to live according to Jewish practice?”

Galations 2:1-10
Then after fourteen years I again went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking also Titus along with me. But I went up as a result of a revelation. And I laid before them the good news which I am preaching among the nations, privately, however, before those who were outstanding men, for fear that somehow I was running or had run in vain. Nevertheless, not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, although he was a Greek. But because of the false brothers* brought in quietly, who sneaked in to spy upon our freedom which we have in union with Christ Jesus, that they might completely enslave us— to these we did not yield by way of submission, no, not for an hour, in order that the truth of the good news might continue with you. But on the part of those who seemed to be something**—whatever sort of men they formerly were makes no difference to me—God does not go by a man’s outward appearance—to me, in fact, those outstanding men imparted nothing new. But, on the contrary, when they saw that I had entrusted to me the good news for those who are uncircumcised, just as Peter had it for those who are circumcised— for He who gave Peter powers necessary for an apostleship to those who are circumcised gave powers also to me for those who are of the nations; 9 yes, when they came to know the undeserved kindness that was given me, James and Cephas and John, the ones who seemed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of sharing together, that we should go to the nations, but they to those who are circumcised. 10 Only, we should keep the poor in mind. This very thing I have also earnestly endeavored to do.

*this refers to those who insisted vehemently that circumcision was required for salvation, an persistent issue Paul fought as contrary to salvation by Christ alone.
**that is, in leadership positions in Jerusalem; the central governing body and those close around them.

Galatians 2:15-3:3
We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners from the nations, knowing as we do that a man is declared righteous, not due to works of law, but only through faith toward Christ Jesus, even we have put our faith in Christ Jesus, that we may be declared righteous due to faith toward Christ, and not due to works of law, because due to works of law no flesh will be declared righteous. Now if we, in seeking to be declared righteous by means of Christ, have also ourselves been found sinners, is Christ in reality sin’s minister? May that never happen! For if the very things that I once threw down I build up again, I demonstrate myself to be a transgressor. As for me, through law I died toward law, that I might become alive toward God. I am impaled along with Christ. It is no longer I that live, but it is Christ that is living in union with me. Indeed, the life that I now live in flesh I live by the faith that is toward the Son of God, who loved me and handed himself over for me. I do not shove aside the undeserved kindness of God; for if righteousness is through law, Christ actually died for nothing. O senseless Galatians, who is it that brought you under evil influence, you before whose eyes Jesus Christ was openly portrayed impaled? This alone I want to learn from you: Did you receive the spirit due to works of law or due to a hearing by faith? Are you so senseless? After starting in spirit are you now being completed in flesh?

But now that you have come to know God, or rather now that you have come to be known by God, how is it that you are turning back again to the weak and beggarly elementary things and want to slave for them over again? You are scrupulously observing days and months and seasons and years. I fear for you, that somehow I have toiled to no purpose respecting you.

Romans 3:29-31
Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of people of the nations? Yes, of people of the nations also, if truly God is one, who will declare circumcised people righteous as a result of faith and uncircumcised people righteous by means of their faith. Do we, then, abolish law by means of our faith? Never may that happen! On the contrary, we establish law.
Do not you people be owing anybody a single thing, except to love one another; for he that loves his fellowman has fulfilled law. For the Law code, “You must not commit adultery, You must not murder, You must not steal, You must not covet,” and whatever other commandment there is, is summed up in this word, namely, “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does not work evil to one’s neighbor; therefore love is the law’s fulfillment.

Acts 20-28, key verses:
20:22-24 Look! bound in the spirit, I am journeying to Jerusalem, although not knowing the things that will happen to me in it, except that from city to city the holy spirit repeatedly bears witness to me as it says that bonds and tribulations are waiting for me. Nevertheless, I do not make my soul of any account as dear to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received of the Lord Jesus, to bear thorough witness to the good news of the undeserved kindness of God.

21:4, 10-14, 17-36 By a search we found the disciples and remained here seven days. But through the spirit they repeatedly told Paul not to set foot in Jerusalem. 10 But while we were remaining quite a number of days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea, and he came to us and took up the girdle of Paul, bound his own feet and hands and said: “Thus says the holy spirit, ‘The man to whom this girdle belongs the Jews will bind in this manner in Jerusalem and deliver into the hands of people of the nations.’” Now when we heard this, both we and those of that place began entreating him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered: “What are you doing by weeping and making me weak at heart? Rest assured, I am ready not only to be bound but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” When he would not be dissuaded, we acquiesced with the words: “Let the will of Jehovah take place.”
17 When we got into Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly. But on the following day Paul went in with us to James; and all the older men were present. And he greeted them and began giving in detail an account of the things God did among the nations through his ministry. After hearing this they began to glorify God, and they said to him: “You behold, brother, how many thousands of believers there are among the Jews; and they are all zealous for the Law. But they have heard it rumored about you that you have been teaching all the Jews among the nations an apostasy from Moses, telling them neither to circumcise their children nor to walk in the solemn customs. What, then, is to be done about it? In any case they are going to hear you have arrived. Therefore do this which we tell you: We have four men with a vow upon themselves. Take these men along and cleanse yourself ceremonially with them and take care of their expenses, that they may have their heads shaved. And so everybody will know that there is nothing to the rumors they were told about you, but that you are walking orderly, you yourself also keeping the Law. As for the believers from among the nations, we have sent out, rendering our decision that they should keep themselves from what is sacrificed to idols as well as from blood and what is strangled and from fornication.” Then Paul took the men along the next day and cleansed himself ceremonially with them and went into the temple, to give notice of the days to be fulfilled for the ceremonial cleansing, until the offering should be presented for each one of them. Now when the seven days were about to be concluded, the Jews from Asia on beholding him in the temple began to throw all the crowd into confusion, and they laid their hands upon him, crying out: “Men of Israel, help! This is the man that teaches everybody everywhere against the people and the Law and this place and, what is more, he even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him, but they were imagining Paul had brought him into the temple. And the whole city was set in an uproar, and a running together of the people occurred; and they laid hold of Paul and dragged him outside the temple. And immediately the doors were closed. And while they were seeking to kill him, information came up to the commander of the band that all Jerusalem was in confusion; and he at once took soldiers and army officers and ran down to them. When they caught sight of the military commander and the soldiers, they quit beating Paul. Then the military commander came near and took hold of him and gave command for him to be bound with two chains; and he proceeded to inquire who he might be and what he had done. But some in the crowd began shouting out one thing, and others another. So, being unable himself to learn anything certain because of the tumult, he commanded him to be brought to the soldiers’ quarters. But when he got upon the stairs, the situation became such that he was being carried along by the soldiers because of the violence of the crowd; for the multitude of the people kept following, crying out: “Take him away!”

22:22-24 Now they kept listening to him down to this word, and they raised their voices, saying: “Take such a man away from the earth, for he was not fit to live!” And because they were crying out and throwing their outer garments about and tossing dust into the air, the military commander ordered him to be brought into the soldiers’ quarters and said he should be examined under scourging, that he might know fully for what cause they were shouting against him this way.

23:11 But the following night the Lord stood by him and said: “Be of good courage! For as you have been giving a thorough witness on the things about me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome.”

24:5, 6, 14-18, 23, 27 [Tertullus accuses Paul before the governor:] “For we have found this man a pestilent fellow and stirring up seditions among all the Jews throughout the inhabited earth and a spearhead of the sect of the Nazarenes, one who also tried to profane the temple and whom we seized.” 14 [Paul replies:] “But I do admit this to you, that, according to the way that they call a 'sect,' in this manner I am rendering sacred service to the God of my forefathers, as I believe all the things set forth in the Law and written in the Prophets; and I have hope toward God, which hope these men themselves also entertain, that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous. In this respect, indeed, I am exercising myself continually to have a consciousness of committing no offense against God and men. So after quite a number of years I arrived to bring gifts of mercy to my nation, and offerings. While I was at these matters they found me ceremonially cleansed in the temple, but not with a crowd or with a tumult. But there were certain Jews from the district of Asia . . .” 23 [Governor Felix decides:] he ordered the army officer that the man be kept and have some relaxation of custody, and that he forbid no one of his people to wait upon him. . . 27 But, when two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus; and because Felix desired to gain favor with the Jews, he left Paul bound.

25:8-12 But Paul said in defense [now before Governor Festus]: “Neither against the Law of the Jews nor against the temple nor against Caesar have I committed any sin.” Festus, desiring to gain favor with the Jews, said in reply to Paul: “Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and be judged there before me concerning these things?” But Paul said: “I am standing before the judgment seat of Caesar, where I ought to be judged. I have done no wrong to the Jews, as you also are finding out quite well. If, on the one hand, I am really a wrongdoer and have committed anything deserving of death, I do not beg off from dying; if, on the other hand, none of those things exists of which these men accuse me, no man can hand me over to them as a favor. I appeal to Caesar!” Then Festus, after speaking with the assembly of counselors, replied: “To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you shall go.”

26:30-27:1 And the king rose and so did the governor and Bernice and the men seated with them. But as they withdrew they began talking with one another, saying: “This man practices nothing deserving death or bonds.” Moreover, Agrippa said to Festus: “This man could have been released if he had not appealed to Caesar.” 27 Now as it was decided for us to sail away to Italy, they proceeded to hand both Paul and certain other prisoners over to an army officer named Julius of the band of Augustus.

28:16, 17, 23, 30, 31 When, finally, we entered into Rome, Paul was permitted to stay by himself with the soldier guarding him. However, three days later he called together those who were the principal men of the Jews. When they had assembled, he proceeded to say to them: “Men, brothers, although I had done nothing contrary to the people or the customs of our forefathers, I was delivered over as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. . .” 23 They now arranged for a day with him, and they came in greater numbers to him in his lodging place. And he explained the matter to them by bearing thorough witness concerning the kingdom of God and by using persuasion with them concerning Jesus from both the law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening. 30 So he remained for an entire two years in his own hired house, and he would kindly receive all those who came in to him, preaching the kingdom of God to them and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with the greatest freeness of speech, without hindrance.

Rom 7:12
On its part, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
1 Cor 9:20, 21
So to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain Jews; to those under law I became as under law, though I myself am not under law, that I might gain those under law. To those without law I became as without law, although I am not without law toward God but under law toward Christ, that I might gain those without law.

Heb 13:7
Remember those who are taking the lead among you, who have spoken the word of God to you, and as you contemplate how their conduct turns out, imitate their faith.

John 10.1-14
Most truly I say to you, “He that does not enter into the sheepfold through the door but climbs up some other place, that one is a thief and a plunderer. But he that enters through the door is shepherd of the sheep. The doorkeeper opens to this one, and the sheep listen to his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has got all his own out, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, because they know his voice. A stranger they will by no means follow but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus spoke this comparison to them; but they did not know what the things meant that he was speaking to them. Therefore Jesus said again: “Most truly I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All those that have come in place of me are thieves and plunderers; but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the door; whoever enters through me will be saved, and he will go in and out and find pasturage. The thief does not come unless it is to steal and slay and destroy. I have come that they might have life and might have it in abundance. I am the fine shepherd; the fine shepherd surrenders his soul in behalf of the sheep. The hired man, who is no shepherd and to whom the sheep do not belong as his own, beholds the wolf coming and abandons the sheep and flees—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them— because he is a hired man and does not care for the sheep. I am the fine shepherd, and I know my sheep and my sheep know me.”

John 10:24-27
Therefore the Jews encircled him and began to say to him: “How long are you to keep our souls in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us outspokenly.” Jesus answered them: “I told you, and yet you do not believe. The works that I am doing in the name of my Father, these bear witness about me. But you do not believe, because you are none of my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

Romans 14, excerpts:
5 One person judges one day as above another; another judges one day as all others; let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day observes it to Jehovah. . . 7 None of us, in fact, lives with regard to himself only, and no one dies with regard to himself only; for both if we live, we live to Jehovah, and if we die, we die to Jehovah. Therefore both if we live and if we die, we belong to Jehovah. . . 10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you also look down on your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God . . . 12 So, then, each of us will render an account for himself to God. Therefore let us not be judging one another any longer, but rather make this your decision, not to put before a brother a stumbling block or a cause for tripping. . . 17 For the kingdom of God does not mean eating and drinking, but means righteousness and peace and joy with holy spirit. For he who in this regard slaves for Christ is acceptable to God and has approval with men. So, then, let us pursue the things making for peace and the things that are upbuilding to one another. . . 22 The faith that you have, have it in accord with yourself in the sight of God. Happy is the man that does not put himself on judgment by what he approves.

Prov 3:5-7
Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he himself will make your paths straight. Do not become wise in your own eyes. Fear Jehovah and turn away from bad.
1 Cor 10:23, 24, 31-33
All things are lawful*, but not all things are advantageous. All things are lawful; but not all things build up. Let each one keep seeking, not his own advantage, but that of the other person. . . 31 Therefore, whether you are eating or drinking or doing anything else, do all things for God’s glory. Keep from becoming causes for stumbling to Jews as well as Greeks and to the congregation of God, even as I am pleasing all people in all things, not seeking my own advantage but that of the many, in order that they might get saved.
*within the context of his discussion, of course! (food and drink that some thought God forbade; he is saying such rules are no longer binding, but we should consider other's feelings anyway, even though this may inconvenience us somewhat. Obviously, there are reasonable limits on this.)

Jas 5:19, 20
My brothers, if anyone among you is misled from the truth and another turns him back, know that he who turns a sinner back from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

1 Cor 3:4-9, 21-23
For when one says: "I belong to Paul," but another says: "I to Apollos," are you not simply men? What, then, is Apollos? Yes, what is Paul? Ministers through whom you became believers, even as the Lord granted each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God makes [the seed] grow; so, he who plants is not anything, nor is he who waters, but God, who makes it grow, is. Now he that plants and he that waters are one, but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You people are God’s field under cultivation, God’s building. . . 21 So, let no one be boasting in men; for all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things now here or things to come, all things belong to you; in turn you belong to Christ; Christ, in turn, belongs to God.

Rom 3:4
Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, even as it is written: “That you might be proved righteous in your words and might win when you are being judged.”
Isaiah 59:14-16
Justice was forced to move back, and righteousness itself kept standing simply far off. For truth has stumbled even in the public square, and what is straightforward is unable to enter. The truth proves to be missing, and anyone turning away from badness is being despoiled. And Jehovah got to see, and it was bad in his eyes that there was no justice. And when he saw that there was no man, he began to show himself astonished that there was no one interposing. And his arm proceeded to save for him, and his own righteousness was the thing that supported him.

Nehemiah 8:6
Then Ezra blessed Jehovah the true God, the great One, at which all the people answered, “Amen! Amen!” with the lifting up of their hands. They then bowed low and prostrated themselves to Jehovah with their faces to the earth.

Acts 20:29, 30
I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness, and from among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.

Titus 3:9, 10
Shun foolish questionings and genealogies and strife and fights over the Law, for they are unprofitable and futile. As for a man that promotes a sect, reject him, after a first and a second admonition.

2 Peter 2:1
There also came to be false prophets among the people, as there will also be false teachers among you. These very ones will quietly bring in destructive sects and will disown even the owner that bought them, bringing speedy destruction upon themselves.

Proverbs 27:17
By iron, iron itself is sharpened. So one man sharpens the face of another.

Romans 12:3-5
For through the undeserved kindness given to me I tell everyone there among you not to think more of himself than it is necessary to think; but to think so as to have a sound mind, each one as God has distributed to him a measure of faith. For just as we have in one body many members, but the members do not all have the same function, so we, although many, are one body in union with Christ, but members belonging individually to one another.

Proverbs 29:1
A man repeatedly reproved but making his neck hard will suddenly be broken, and that without healing.

2 Thess 2:4, 8
He is set in opposition and lifts himself up over everyone who is called “god” or an object of reverence, so that he sits down in the temple of The God, publicly showing himself to be a god. . . 8 Then, indeed, the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will do away with by the spirit of his mouth and bring to nothing by the manifestation of his presence.

Rev 3:3
Continue mindful of how you have received and how you heard, and go on keeping it, and repent. Certainly unless you wake up, I shall come as a thief, and you will not know at all at what hour I shall come upon you.

Ezekiel 34:1-23
The word of Jehovah continued to occur to me, saying: Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy, and you must say to them, to the shepherds, "This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: Woe to the shepherds of Israel, who have become feeders of themselves! Is it not the flock that the shepherds ought to feed? The fat is what you eat, and with the wool you clothe your own selves. The plump animal is what you slaughter. The flock itself you do not feed. The sickened ones you have not strengthened, and the ailing one you have not healed, and the broken one you have not bandaged, and the dispersed one you have not brought back, and the lost one you have not sought to find, but with harshness you have had them in subjection, even with tyranny. And they were gradually scattered because of there being no shepherd, so that they became food for every wild beast of the field, and they continued to be scattered. My sheep kept straying on all the mountains and on every high hill; and on all the surface of the earth my sheep were scattered, with no one making a search and with no one seeking to find. Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of Jehovah, As I am alive, is the word of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, Surely for the reason that my sheep became something for plunder and my sheep continued to be food for every wild beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, and my shepherds did not search for my sheep, but the shepherds kept feeding themselves, and my own sheep they did not feed, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of Jehovah. This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, Here I am against the shepherds, and I shall certainly ask back my sheep from their hand and make them cease from feeding my sheep, and the shepherds will no longer feed themselves; and I will deliver my sheep out of their mouth, and they will not become food for them. For this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: Here I am, I myself, and I will search for my sheep and care for them. According to the care of one feeding his drove in the day of his coming to be in the midst of his sheep that have been spread abroad, that is the way that I shall care for my sheep; and I will deliver them out of all the places to which they have been scattered in the day of clouds and thick gloom. And I will bring them out from the peoples and collect them together from the lands and bring them in onto their soil and feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the streambeds and by all the dwelling places of the land. In a good pasturage I shall feed them, and on Israel’s high mountains their abiding place will come to be. There they will lie down in a good abiding place, and on a fat pasturage they will feed upon the mountains of Israel. I myself shall feed my sheep, and I myself shall make them lie down, is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. The lost one I shall search for, and the dispersed one I shall bring back, and the broken one I shall bandage and the ailing one I shall strengthen, but the fat one and the strong one I shall annihilate. I shall feed that one with judgment. And as for you my sheep, this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: Here I am judging between a sheep and a sheep, between the rams and the he-goats. Is it such a little thing for you men that on the very best pasturage you feed but the rest of your pasturages you should trample down with your feet, and that the clear waters you drink but the ones left over you should foul by stamping with your very feet? And as for my sheep, on the pasture ground trampled by your feet should they feed and the water befouled by the stamping of your feet should they drink? Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said to them: Here I am, I myself, and I shall certainly judge between a plump sheep and a lean sheep, for the reason that with flank and with shoulder you kept pushing and with your horns you kept shoving all the sickened ones until you had scattered them to the outside. And I will save my sheep, and they will no longer become something for plunder; and I will judge between a sheep and a sheep. And I will raise up over them one shepherd, and he must feed them, even my servant David. He himself will feed them, and he himself will become their shepherd."

1 Peter 1:14-16
As obedient children, quit being fashioned according to the desires you formerly had in your ignorance, but, in accord with the Holy One who called you, do you also become holy yourselves in all your conduct, because it is written: "You must be holy, because I am holy."

Colossians 2:8
Look out: perhaps there may be someone who will carry you off as his prey through the philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ.

2 Tim 4:3, 4
For there will be a period of time when they will not put up with the healthful teaching, but, in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, whereas they will be turned aside to false stories.

1 Tim 1:3-7
Just as I encouraged you to stay in Ephesus when I was about to go my way into Macedonia, so I do now, that you might command certain ones not to teach different doctrine, nor to pay attention to false stories and to genealogies, which end up in nothing, but which furnish questions for research rather than a dispensing of anything by God in connection with faith. Really the objective of this mandate is love out of a clean heart and out of a good conscience and out of faith without hypocrisy. By deviating from these things certain ones have been turned aside into idle talk, wanting to be teachers of law, but not perceiving either the things they are saying or the things about which they are making strong assertions.

Gal 5:19-21
The works of the flesh are manifest: they are fornication, disgusting filthiness, shameless insolence, idolatry, spiritism, animosity, discord, jealousies, outbursts of anger, arguments, divisions, heresies, envies, drunkenness, wild partying, and things like these. As to these things I am warning you, just as I have warned you, that those who carry on such things will not inherit God’s kingdom.

1 Thess 5:12-14
Now we request you, brothers, to have regard for those who are working hard among you and presiding over you in the Lord and admonishing you, and to give them more than extraordinary consideration in love because of their work. Be peaceable with one another. On the other hand, we exhort you, brothers, admonish the disorderly, speak consolingly to the depressed souls, support the weak, be patiently enduring toward all.

Titus 1:5-13
I left you in Crete so that you might correct the things that were defective and might make appointments of older men in city after city, as I gave you orders: if there is any man free from accusation, a husband of one wife, having believing children that are not under a charge of debauchery nor unruly. For an overseer must be free from accusation as God’s steward, not stubborn and independent, not easily angered, not an excessive drinker, not a bully, not greedy for dishonest gain, but hospitable, a lover of goodness, discreet and clear-thinking, righteous, loyal, self-controlled, holding firmly to the faithful word in his teaching, that he may be able both to exhort by the healthful teaching and to reprove those who contradict. For there are many unruly men, profitless talkers, and deceivers of the mind, especially those men who are for circumcision. It is necessary to shut the mouths of these, as these very men keep on subverting entire households by teaching things they ought not for the sake of dishonest gain. A certain one of them, their own prophet, said: “Cretans are always liars, injurious wild beasts, unemployed gluttons.” This witness is true. For this very cause keep on reproving them with severity, that they may be healthy in the faith.

Titus 3:10-11
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.

2 Peter 2:1-3
However, there also came to be false prophets among the people, as there will also be false teachers among you. These very ones will quietly bring in destructive sects and will disown even the owner that bought them, bringing speedy destruction upon themselves. Furthermore, many will follow their acts of loose conduct, and on account of these the way of the truth will be spoken of abusively. Also, desiring what you have, they will exploit you with deceptive words. But as for them, the judgment from of old is not moving slowly, and the destruction of them is not slumbering.

Prov 13.20
He that is walking with wise persons will become wise, but he that is having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.

1 Corinthians 15:12 Now if Christ is being preached that he has been raised up from the dead, how is it some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead?

1 Corinthians 15:32-34 If like a man I have fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, of what good is it to me? If the dead are not to be raised up, “let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we are to die.” Do not be misled! Bad associations spoil useful habits! Come to your senses [sober up, wake up] as to righteousness, and do not be sinning, for some are without knowledge of God. I am speaking to move you to shame.

Colossians 2:6-8 Therefore, as you have accepted Christ Jesus the Lord, go on walking in union with him, rooted and being built up in him and being stabilized in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with faith in thanksgiving. Look out: perhaps there may be someone who will carry you off as his prey through philosophy and empty deceptions according to the traditions of men, according to the elementary things of the world, and not according to Christ.

Titus 3:9 Shun foolish questionings and genealogies and strife and fights over the Law, for they are unprofitable and futile.

Deut 16.18-20
You should set judges and officers for yourself inside all your gates that Jehovah your God is giving you by your tribes, and they must judge the people with righteous judgment. You must not pervert judgment. You must not be partial or accept a bribe, for the bribe blinds the eyes of wise ones and distorts the words of righteous ones. Justice— justice you should pursue, in order that you may keep alive and may indeed take possession of the land that Jehovah your God is giving you.

Matt 11:19
The Son of man did come eating and drinking, still people say, "Look! A man gluttonous and given to drinking wine, a friend of tax collectors and sinners." All the same, wisdom is proved righteous by its works.

2 Cor 7:10, 11
Sadness in a godly way makes for repentance to salvation that is not to be regretted; but the sadness of the world produces death. For, look! this very thing, your being saddened in a godly way, what a great earnestness it produced in you, yes, clearing of yourselves, yes, indignation, yes, fear, yes, longing, yes, zeal, yes, righting of the wrong!

Leviticus 19:33, 34
In case a foreigner resides with you as an alien in your land, you must not mistreat him. The foreigner who resides as an alien with you should become to you like a native of yours; and you must love him as yourself, for you became alien residents in the land of Egypt. I am Jehovah your God.

Leviticus 24:22
One judicial decision should hold good for you. The alien resident should prove to be the same as the native, because I am Jehovah your God.

Deuteronomy 1:16, 17
I went on to command your judges at that particular time, saying, “When having a hearing between your brothers, you must judge with righteousness between a man and his brother or his alien resident. You must not be partial in judgment. You should hear the little one the same as the great one. You must not become frightened because of a man, for the judgment belongs to God; and the case that is too hard for you, you should present to me, and I must hear it.”

Exodus 12:49
One law is to exist for the native and for the foreigner who is residing as an alien in your midst.

Leviticus 17:8, 9
As for any man of the house of Israel or some foreigner who may be residing as an alien in your midst who offers up a burnt offering or a sacrifice and does not bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting to render it to Jehovah, that man must be cut off from his people.

Leviticus 18:23-26
You must not give your emission to any beast to become unclean by it, and a woman should not stand before a beast to have connection with it. It is a violation of what is natural. Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, because by all these things the nations whom I am sending out from before you have made themselves unclean. Consequently the land is unclean, and I shall bring punishment for its error upon it, and the land will vomit its inhabitants out. And you yourselves must keep my statutes and my judicial decisions, and you must not do any of all these detestable things, whether a native or a foreigner who is residing as an alien in your midst.

Numbers 15:29-30
As to the native among the sons of Israel and the foreigner who is residing as an alien in their midst, there should prove to be one law for you as respects doing something unintentionally. But the soul that does something deliberately, whether he is a native or an alien resident, he speaking abusively of Jehovah, in that case that soul must be cut off from among his people.

Deuteronomy 31:12
Congregate the people, the men and the women and the little ones and your alien resident who is within your gates, in order that they may listen and in order that they may learn, as they must fear Jehovah your God and take care to carry out all the words of this law.

Luke 19:2-10
Now here there was a man called by the name Zacchaeus; and he was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. Well, he was seeking to see who this Jesus was, but he could not for the crowd, because he was small in size. So he ran ahead to an advance position and climbed a fig-mulberry tree in order to see him, because he was about to go through that way. Now when Jesus got to the place, he looked up and said to him: “Zacchaeus, hurry and get down, for today I must stay in your house.” With that he hurried and got down and with rejoicing he received him as guest. But when they saw it, they all fell to muttering, saying: “With a man that is a sinner he went in to lodge.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord: “Look! The half of my belongings, Lord, I am giving to the poor, and whatever I extorted from anyone by false accusation I am restoring fourfold.” At this Jesus said to him: “This day salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

Luke 15:11-23
Then he said: “A certain man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the part of the property that falls to my share.’ Then he divided his means of living to them. Later, after not many days, the younger son gathered all things together and traveled abroad into a distant country, and there squandered his property by living a debauched life. When he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred throughout that country, and he started to be in need. He even went and attached himself to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to herd swine. And he used to desire to be filled with the carob pods which the swine were eating, and no one would give him anything. When he came to his senses, he said, “How many hired men of my father are abounding with bread, while I am perishing here from famine! I will rise and journey to my father and say to him: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Make me as one of your hired men.”” So he rose and went to his father. While he was yet a long way off, his father caught sight of him and was moved with pity, and he ran and fell upon his neck and tenderly kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Make me as one of your hired men.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quick! bring out a robe, the best one, and clothe him with it, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fattened young bull, slaughter it and let us eat and enjoy ourselves, because this my son was dead and came to life again; he was lost and was found.’”

James 4:4
Do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wants to be a friend of the world is making himself an enemy of God.

Proverbs 29:1
A man repeatedly reproved but making his neck hard will suddenly be broken, and that without healing.

1 Peter 4.3-5
For the time that has passed by is enough for you to have worked out the will of the nations, when you carried on in deeds of loose conduct, lusts, excesses with wine, revelries, drinking matches, and illicit idolatries. Because you do not continue running with them in this course to the same low sink of debauchery, they are puzzled and go on speaking abusively of you. But these people will render an account to the one ready to judge those living and those dead.

Psalms 101:3-7
I shall not set in front of my eyes any good-for-nothing thing.
The doing of those who fall away I have hated; it does not cling to me.
A crooked heart departs from me; nothing bad do I know.
Anyone slandering his companion in secrecy, him I silence.
Anyone of haughty eyes and of arrogant heart, him I cannot endure.
My eyes are upon the faithful ones of the earth, that they may dwell with me.
The one walking in a faultless way, he it is who will minister to me.
There will dwell inside my house no worker of trickiness.
As for anyone speaking falsehoods, he will not be firmly established in front of my eyes.

Ezekiel 33:14-16
When I say to the wicked one: “You will positively die,” and he actually turns back from his sin and carries on justice and righteousness, the wicked one returns the thing pledged, pays back the things taken by robbery, and actually walks in the statutes of life by not doing injustice, he will positively keep living. He will not die. None of his sins with which he has sinned will be remembered against him. Justice and righteousness are what he has carried on. He will positively keep living.

Exodus 22.22-24
You people must not afflict any widow or fatherless boy. If you should afflict him at all, then if he cries out to me at all, I shall unfailingly hear his outcry; and my anger will indeed blaze, and I shall certainly kill you with the sword, and your wives must become widows and your sons fatherless boys.

Psalm 27:10
In case my own father and my own mother did leave me,
Even Jehovah himself would take me up.

Psalms 10.13, 14, 17, 18
Why is it that the wicked one has disrespected God?
He has said in his heart: “You will not require an accounting.”
For you yourself have seen trouble and vexation.
You keep looking on, to get them into your hand.
To you the unfortunate one, the fatherless boy, commits himself.
You yourself have become his helper.
Psalm 68.5

A father of fatherless boys and a judge of widows
Is God in his holy dwelling.

Heb 12:11-13
True, no discipline seems for the present to be joyous, but grievous; yet afterward to those who have been trained by it it yields peaceable fruit, namely, righteousness. Hence straighten up the hands that hang down and the enfeebled knees, and keep making straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather that it may be healed.

Galatians 6:4
Let each one prove what his own work is, and then he will have cause for exultation in regard to himself alone, and not in comparison with the other person.

John 3:16-21, 36
For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life. For God sent forth his Son into the world, not for him to judge the world, but for the world to be saved through him. He that exercises faith in him is not to be judged. He that does not exercise faith has been judged already, because he has not exercised faith in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. Now this is the basis for judgment, that the light has come into the world but men have loved the darkness rather than the light, for their works were wicked. For he that practices vile things hates the light and does not come to the light, in order that his works may not be reproved. But he that does what is true comes to the light, in order that his works may be made manifest as having been worked in harmony with God. . . 36 He that exercises faith in the Son has everlasting life; he that disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.

In other words, God's forgiveness is conditional on our responding to his mercy through his Son. God requires us to forgive those who sin against us, just as He forgives us; he does not require that we do so more liberally than He does. He is forbearing even toward the unrepentant, that is, he gives them time to realize where they are and what they should do, and so should we; but that is not the same as forgiving them.

1 Pet 3:1-4
In like manner, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, in order that, if any are not obedient to the word, they may be won without a word, through the conduct of their wives, because of having been eyewitnesses of your chaste conduct together with deep respect. And do not let your adornment be merely on the outside, the braiding of the hair and the putting on of gold ornaments or the wearing of outer garments; rather let it be the secret person of the heart, in the incorruptible apparel of the quiet and mild spirit, which is of great value in the eyes of God.

Although the verse speaks to the faithful wife, a faithful husband with an unbelieving or wayward wife can apply the same principle of being a good example in moving her to reconsider the error of her ways. Unfortunately, he may have contributed to the original problem by failing to be a loving husband, so this could call for a serious reexamination of his own faults. The same can be said of a wife, if she by neglecting the relationship has contributed to her husband's fall.

Hebrews 8:9
“. . . They did not continue in my covenant, so that I stopped caring for them,” says Jehovah.

2 Thessalonians 3:14, 15
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.

The review questions are linked to the last section of multi-part chapters.

His letter to the Galatians had been written about six years earlier, that to the Romans perhaps two years earlier. At Galatians 2:15-3:3 and 4:9-11 he strongly denounces those who clung to the Law as a requirement for salvation. In Romans, see 3:31 (the context is another strong argument on this same subject) and 13:8-10. Of course, Paul did not say that Christ abolished all law or obviated obedience to God; rather, he taught that Christ ended the covenant that bound the Jews to the specific code of Law agreed to at the mountain in Sinai.
Jehovah's Witnesses are not "Watchtower zombies" as some opposers accuse, although admittedly you may find some who take the easy route and let others do all the thinking for them. (That is actually a very common human failing.) But loyalty does not require us to check our brains at the door; true Christianity is not a cult. The Bible likens the congregation to a flock of sheep, but the analogy should not be taken too strictly. We should be like sheep in being mild-mannered and cooperative, but not to the extent of trusting men blindly. That is what false religion demands of its flocks. It is very tempting for a heirarchy to press for unquestioning submission, since that makes management so much easier! If the sheep are balking, a heirarchy with Christ's spirit will first reexamine the lead they are giving, rather than blame the sheep. (Heb 13:7, John 10.1-14) Of course, there will at times be rebels no matter how excellent the leadership, as shown by Eden and by Judas. (see also John 10:24-27.)
Yes, there are rare times the older men judge improperly, but there is an appeal process available; an earnest innocent one would use it rather than fly into a rage at the congregation. And if perchance even the appeal returned an unfair judgment, then the matter goes to a yet higher Court. Do we sit on that jury? The best we can do is petition that Judge to act. If the wrongly convicted leaves the matter in His hands, he will find himself no greater Defender.

Please note that no one should be branded an apostate for having a quietly held difference of viewpoint over minor matters, things not fundamental to Christian faithfulness. Although unity and cooperation are important, the Christian congregation is not a totalitarian state or a cult that crushes individuality. In Romans 14, Paul was discussing opinions about food and special days, but the principle applies in other areas, within reason.
If the wrongdoer left a path of destruction behind, such as by stealing or defrauding, those so wronged can rightly expect some reasonably strong effort at restitution as proof of repentance. The elders should not ignore the victims in judging genuineness of repentance. God does not require us to undo all the damage we have done before He forgives us; that much is often impossible. Even so, those who seek to have the mind of Christ cannot fail to reach out to comfort those who are injured, and even the more so if they in fact had inflicted that injury. Anything less would be proof that that one does not know God. Such efforts at repair of damage done, in fact, should precede any appeal for reinstatement. —see Ezekiel 33:14-16.
That much kindness would be shown even to a known criminal, if he came with reform in mind; so a clearly repentant ex-associate, although not quite yet re-established, could be extended that limited acknowledgement. [This viewpoint is a little more nuanced than current official policy.] If your natural friendliness makes such restraint impossible for you, you may just have to avoid contact. The returning one, if genuinely humble, would simply return the acknowledgment silently, such as with a smile, but not try to enter a conversation.

The idea is, approve the effort, acknowledge the human, but let the discipline take its course. Hold off any celebration until the return is complete— it will be announced. Unless the issues involved are difficult, the probationary period should not be extremely long (a few weeks, not many months.)

Note, if a brother chooses to drop out and take up serious wrongdoing but evades being found, tried, and formally expelled, then later comes to his senses and decides to repentantly return, the elders would meet with him to determine his repentance as if he had never left. If found genuine, he would be provided spiritual help. Thereafter, opportunities of participation would be restored over time as deemed appropriate, much the same as with one who had been expelled. In such a case, there is presently no policy for any restriction of fellowship of such one with faithful members, but the congregation should be made aware that he is not yet suitable for casual socializing. Compare 2 Thessalonians 3:14, 15.