Faults Versus Offenses

Faults and offenses: what are they, how are they similar and how are they significantly different?

From what I can read in scripture, "faults" are problems that people have that don't dramatically affect other people directly. They are "personal problems". Offenses are when one person offends or trespasses against another person. It's no longer a problem confined to one person. There are two or more people involved in offenses. Offenses are to be handled differently than fault. The Bible clearly describes the difference in handling things.

Example of When Fault Leads to an Offense

An example would be like drunkenness, as a fault. A person could drink to excess and become drunk at home. However, if such a person drove while drunk, and ran into another person, this would be an offense. The law of the land reflects this. You can legally be drunk at home. But let's get to when a fault turns into an offense: If you drink and drive (others are on road), you will face severe consequences for this offense. And if you kill someone while driving drunk, the consequences are enormous.

The verses below use the word "fault", but the original words in Greek are each different, and in the Greek language are more specific. I highly recommend e-sword (free download) and the KJV+ bible download (free). KJV+ means King James Version plus Strong's Concordance. www.e-sword.net


Gal_6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

Paul Points Out Faults of Corinthian Church

1Co_6:7 Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?

From what I can see, a person shouldn't be excommunicated for a fault, but rather corrected and encouraged to do what is right. And it should be done by people who won't fall into the same temptation as the person with a fault.


The Bible frequently likens the church to the body of Christ. And also, that we as believers are members of this body, just like a body has many members like: hands, eyes, ears, feet etc.

The Bible is clear about how offenses are to be dealt with, and how to go about it. Some people call this "church discipline". Please note that Jesus Christ taught that excommunications are to be done by the church, not by one individual.

Mat_5:29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

Have you known someone with cancer? Maybe they had breast cancer. Doctors may perform a masectomy to remove the cancer. They remove all or part of a breast in order to keep the cancer in the tissue from spreading to the whole body and causing death. So in the same way, it is better than one member of the church be removed than the whole body be effectively destroyed.

False doctrine is likened to leaven. It could also be likened to cancer. Here's a relevant verse:

Luk_12:1 ... he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
Gal_5:9 A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.

How God Views Offenses

Maybe you've wondered if offenses are a big deal? Perhaps you've stolen, been caught. Maybe you had to pay a $1000 fine or serve a few days in jail. Maybe you've had a traffic ticket, and it cost you a couple hundred. What's the penalty for offenses? How does God judge these?

Mat_18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Rebuked, Confronted for Offense - The Whole Process

Mat 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.


Luk_17:3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
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