There are a variety of Christian traditions that involve some level of separation from the world - monasticism, the Mennonites, Amish, Shakers, Quakers, etc.

We are told in the New Testament to be "separate from the world" and to be "unstained by the world".

We are also told to "go and make disciples".

I know that the Bible does not contradict itself.

How do the "separation traditions" (for lack of a better phrase) support their [sometimes full] separation from the world with the other (sometimes apparently contradictory) commands given to Christ's followers?


2 Answers 2


It comes from the idea of sanctification. Sanctification is from the Latin sanctificio, which means "set apart".

This concept is also reflected in the Bible.

John 17:16-17 (NIV)
They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

These groups take this (along with other verses) as an indication that they should separate themselves from the world.

One other verses supports this concept:

Romans 12:2
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will

John 15:19
If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

  • that aspect I did not know - thanks. How does it jive with the "go and make disciples" bit of the Great Commission, though? It seems to contradict it to some greater or lesser extent. I am truly curious on that half of the issue, too :)
    – warren
    Oct 6, 2011 at 1:48

Satan is the god of this world, so if you are of this world then you place yourself under Satan. Jesus talked about the wealth we gain in Heaven, and how what we have on Earth is rust, turn to dust, etc, so material wealth to a Christian should be of a very low priority.

To get an idea of the importance you can look at the first 4 chapters or so of Acts, and see how the early church members gave up their material wealth, to help each other.

You can also look at how the one rich man walked away sad when Jesus told him to give up what he had and follow Jesus, as he couldn't separate himself from this world.


Adding some Scriptural references, but you may want to read the verses around these for more context.

John 12:31 (ESV) 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.

2 Corinthians 4:4 (ESV) 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Mark 10: 21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. 22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

Acts 4:32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.

Acts 2:45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.


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