Be Not Unequally Yoked Together

Be not unequally

2 Corinthians 6:11-18 KJV (11) O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. (12) Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. (13) Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged. (14) Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? (15) And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? (16) And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (17) Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, (18) And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

Be not unequally yoked together

2Co_6:11-18

2Co_6:11. The apostle, having dealt at length with those who teach, preach and minister the word of God, exhorting them to fulfill their ministry, to walk in integrity of life (inwardly and outwardly), to preach the word of truth in the power of the Spirit (all of which he encourages by his own example), now addresses the whole congregation saying, ‘My mouth is open to you, to speak freely and openly to you all the counsel of God (Act_20:20; Act_20:27) and to deal with you faithfully and plainly. My heart is enlarged. I speak openly and plainly to you because I love you! This strong love for you is what opens my mouth toward you, for I desire your eternal good.’

2Co_6:12. ‘I have no difficulty finding room in my heart for all of you; the trouble is with you. Because of outside influence, doubts concerning my office and authority and the fact that I have had to rebuke and correct you for various errors, you cannot find room in your hearts to love and accept me and my words’ (Gal_4:16).

2Co_6:13. ‘Now, by way of return, grant to me the same recompense; repay me with affection; let love be returned for love. I speak to you as children.’ As a father should love his children, so children should love their father. ‘Open wide your hearts to me as I have opened my hurt to you’ (1Jn_4:7-11).

2Co_6:14. ‘Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.’ This metaphor is taken from horses or oxen which, being joined together by a common yoke, must walk and pull together in the same direction and with the same goal or have serious problems. Believers and unbelievers do not have the same principles, natures, nor goals. They cannot walk together in harmony because they are not agreed on the vital issues of life, sin, salvation, God’s glory and the gospel (Amo_3:3). Therefore, the believer is unwise who marries an unbeliever (1Co_7:39), who forms a business partnership with an unbeliever, who seeks social fellowship and companionship with unbelievers, who attempts to worship or conduct religious projects with unbelievers. This is not to be understood as forbidding any contact with unbelievers in civil society, conversation, or vocation and grade. If that were true, the believer would have to leave the world. Also, God put us in the world as salt and light (Mat_5:13-16) to witness to all men and to be an example of his grace, even to those who despise his name. But to seek an unnecessary alliance and partnership with one who does not know nor love our Master is foolish, for what fellowship, companionship and agreement can righteousness have with unrighteousness? What an absurdity to think of joining together for comfortable communion darkness and light, or fire and water! (1Co_10:20-21; Eph_5:5-11).

2Co_6:15. What harmony can there possibly be between Christ and the devil? The word ‘Belial’ is only used this one time in the New Testament but very often in the Old Testament and signifies a very wicked person. Most agree that the reference here is to Satan. Christ, who dwells in us and we in him, has no fellowship nor agreement with Satan; therefore, how can we enjoy unnecessary communion with those who manifest themselves to be children of the devil? Christ Jesus is our life, our part and portion; the infidel’s part and portion are sin, self and eternal damnation. Therefore, what do we share in common that would give us any common ground for communion?

2Co_6:16. The argument for believers to quit the company of wicked persons, to separate from them and to avoid being joined unequally with them in unnecessary communion is further enforced by asking, ‘What agreement can there be between a temple of God and idols?’ We are certainly the temple of God; for God said, ‘I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people’ (1Co_3:16; Eph_2:21-22). ‘We are the temple of the living God.’ Idols have no life but are dead things and are representatives of dead men. What agreement or place can life have with or for death? We can no more walk with the living God and find joy and comfort in communion with unbelievers than we can bring dead idols into the temple of the living God! The apostle is not just setting forth the rules and laws concerning unnecessary communion with unbelievers. He is wondering why the believer would seek such alliances and what possible agreement or communion could come of these partnerships! They have nothing in common.

2Co_6:17-18. Paul does something here that is done in other places in the New Testament. He quotes the Old Testament, not word for word but keeping to the true teaching; in the same quotation he uses another passage (Isa_52:11; Jer_31:1; Jer_31:9). Israel was a special, chosen nation (Deu_7:6-8) and so were commanded to separate themselves from idols and idol worshippers, from heathen people and their evil ways. The believer is chosen of God, loved, redeemed and called to a life of righteousness; therefore, he ought to and will separate himself from superstition and will-worship in the matters of the soul. He will separate himself from the evil customs and manners of the world, conducting himself as a child of the King. He will separate himself from wicked and immoral persons, not wishing to keep company with them in their sins nor to be exposed to their evil by association. He is not our Father because we separate ourselves from worldly associates and associations, for he is our Father by grace and adoption by his own will in Christ, but he will care for us as a father cares for his children in their every need (Mat_6:31-33). Amen !

Henry Mahan.

Commentary on John and Romans through Jude …

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2 thoughts on “Be Not Unequally Yoked Together

  1. 2 Corinthians 6:14
    Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers,…. This seems to be an allusion to the law in Deu_22:10 and to be a mystical explanation of it; and is to be understood not as forbidding civil society and converse with unbelievers; for this is impracticable, then must believers needs go out of the world; this the many natural and civil relations subsisting among men make absolutely necessary; and in many cases is both lawful and laudable, especially when there is any opportunity or likelihood of doing them any service in a spiritual way: not is it to be understood as dehorting from entering into marriage contracts with such persons; for such marriages the apostle, in his former epistle, had allowed to be lawful, and what ought to be abode by; though believers would do well carefully to avoid such an unequal yoke, since oftentimes they are hereby exposed to many snares, temptations, distresses, and sorrows, which generally more or less follow hereon: but there is nothing in the text or context that lead to such an interpretation; rather, if any particular thing is referred to, it is to joining with unbelievers in acts of idolatry; since one of the apostle’s arguments to dissuade from being unequally yoked with unbelievers is, “what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?” and from the foregoing epistle it looks as if some in this church had joined with them in such practices; see 1Co_10:14. But I rather think that these words are a dissuasive in general, from having any fellowship with unbelievers in anything sinful and criminal, whether in worship or in conversation:

    for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? This, with what is said in the following verse, and in the beginning of the next to that, contain reasons or arguments engaging believers to attend to the exhortation given not to keep company with unbelievers. By “righteousness” is meant righteous persons, who are made the righteousness of God in Christ, to whom Christ is made righteousness, or to whom the righteousness of Christ is imputed for justification; and who also have principles of grace and holiness in their hearts, or have the kingdom of God in them, which consists of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost; and who being made free from the dominion of sin, are become servants of righteousness: and by unrighteousness is designed unrighteous persons, who are destitute of a justifying righteousness, are filled with all unrighteousness, and are, as it were, a mass and lump of iniquity; now, what fellowship can there be between persons of such distant characters?

    And what communion hath light with darkness? regenerate men are made light in the Lord; they are enlightened into their state and condition by nature, to see the exceeding sinfulness of sin, to behold the glory, beauty, fulness, and suitableness of Christ, so as to be sensible of their need of him, and to be able to look unto him for life and salvation; they are enlightened more or less into the doctrines of the Gospel, and the duties of religion; and their path is a shining light, shining more and more unto the perfect day. Unregenerate persons are “darkness” itself; they are dark and ignorant of God in Christ, of the way of salvation by Christ, of the work of the Spirit of God upon the heart, and of the mysteries of grace; they know not themselves, nor the sad estate they are in; they are born, and brought up in darkness worse than Egyptian darkness; they go on in it, and if grace prevent not, will be cast into utter and eternal darkness. Now, what “communion” can there be between persons so different one from another? for what is more so than light and darkness? these the God of nature has divided from each other; and they are in nature irreconcilable to one another, and so they are in grace. (Gills commentary)

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