Summary: The only reward Paul wanted from the Corinthians was conduct in accordance with the Gospel of Christ.

July 25, 2014

Tom Lowe

The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians

Lesson II.C.1.b: Separation from the world. (6:14–7:4)

2nd Corinthians 6:11-13 (NKJV)

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?

16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people."

17 Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you."

18 "I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty."

1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

2 Open your hearts to us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have cheated no one.

3 I do not say this to condemn; for I have said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together.

4 Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation.


14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers

This seems to be an allusion to the law in Deuteronomy 22:10—“You shall not plow with an ox and an ass together.” It is not meant to forbid associating and conversing with unbelievers, since this is impractical and would require believers to go out of the world. There are many natural and civil relationships existing among men that are absolutely necessary; and in many cases they are both lawful and commendable, especially when there is any opportunity or likelihood of doing them any service in a spiritual way.

This is not to be understood as a command to avoid entering into marriage with unbelievers; since the apostle had conceded such marriages to be lawful in his first epistle. They may be lawful, but are certainly not recommended; believers would do well to avoid such an unequal yoke, since many times such a union will expose the believer to many snares, temptations, distresses, and sorrows, which generally occur, more or less, in such marriages. 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? (v. 16)” And from the first epistle it looks as if some in this church had joined with idolaters in such practices—“Why, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14). There is evidence that some among the Gentile members of the Church, were even willing to go to sacrificial feasts in heathen temples (1 Corinthians 8-10.). But it is probable that these words are meant to discourage Christians from having any fellowship with unbelievers in anything sinful and criminal, whether in worship or in conversation.

Evidentially, there were some at Corinth who might have been indifferent about whether they married a heathen or a Christian, whether they chose their intimate friends among the worshippers of Aphrodite or of Christ. Against that “attitude” the Apostle feels bound to protest. The Greek word for “unequally yoked together” is not found elsewhere, and was probably coined by St. Paul to give expression to his thoughts. Its meaning, however, is derived from Leviticus 19:19—“You shall not let your cattle engender (propagate) with a diverse kind.” Cattle were unequally yoked together when ox and ass were drawing the same plough (Deuteronomy 22:10). Men and women are unequally yoked when they have no common bond of faith in God: for example; Christians with Jews or heathen, godly persons with the ungodly, spiritual with the carnal. The apostle particularly speaks of marriage; but the reasons he gives equally hold against any needless closeness or involvement with them.

The Christian is justified by faith—“For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21)—and this condition excludes immoral conduct—“Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4)—which is an element of heathen life—“I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as you have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity to iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness to holiness” (Romans 6:19). The two elements, faith and immoral conduct, have nothing in common with each other—“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1).

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