Within the 13 chapters of Second Corinthians, Paul exhorts the Church in Corinth with an epistle laced with magnificence and glory. In these chapters, the apostle articulates the “God of all consolation” who turns the world upside-down by demonstrating that true energy is present in weak point as He reconciles a sinful folks to Himself and commissions them with a message of reconciliation.
You are reading: What Does ‘Unequally Yoked’ Imply in 2 Corinthians 6?
Whereas the letter is riddled with magnificence, it’s not with out its perplexing passages. One of many chief culprits is 2 Corinthians 6:14, the place Paul states, “Don’t be unequally yoked with unbelievers.” He adopted this crucial with a collection of 5 questions used to attract a distinction, saying,
“For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness?
Or what fellowship has gentle with darkness?
What accord has Christ with Belial?
Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?
What settlement has the temple of God with idols?”
Opinions proliferate about what it means to be unequally yoked. Does it pertain to marrying or courting non-believers? Is Paul considering of enterprise partnerships? Is it in reference to religious issues solely, or does he even have social components in thoughts? What does Paul bear in mind when he exhorts believers to not be unequally yoked?
Paul builds his command on a stark piece of images. The picture of a yoke attracts to the thoughts an agricultural and farming metaphor. These hearers with an agrarian background, or these aware of the Pentateuch, wouldn’t have discovered this language stunning, as Deuteronomy 22:10 states, “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey collectively.”
What Paul and Deuteronomy 22 are involved with right here is an imbalance in energy and goal. One can simply think about the futility of pairing an ox and a donkey underneath the identical yoke which might inseparably hyperlink their actions and efforts. The ox, on account of sheer power and dimension would overpower the weaker animal, leaving the sector erratically plowed, or worse.
Paul picks up on this language and goes past agricultural realities to say that when two events with totally different passions and functions attempt to function whereas being yoked collectively—it’s a recipe for catastrophe.
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What the Picture Means
So, then, what does Paul bear in mind when utilizing the yoke imagery with unbelievers? Arguably, the most well-liked transfer to make with this passage is to interpret it as a prohibition relating to a single subject, comparable to marrying an unbeliever. Nonetheless, John Calvin accurately denounces this interpretation, saying “Many are of opinion that he [Paul] speaks of marriage, however the context clearly exhibits that they’re mistaken.” Calvin continues, “When, subsequently, he prohibits us from having partnership with unbelievers in drawing the identical yoke, he means merely this, that we shouldn’t have any fellowship with them of their air pollution.” The Reformer summarizes his view, saying that “to be yoked with unbelievers imply nothing lower than to have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, and to carry out the hand to them in token of settlement.”
I’d agree with Calvin that Paul’s major technique of utility for two Corinthians 6:14 isn’t pertaining strictly to marriages. Nor ought to we interpret it as banning different singular ideas like enterprise ventures, friendships, and the like. Somewhat, we should always perceive Paul’s instruction—as Calvin did—as a prohibition to partake in idolatrous and ungodly residing and worship that’s opposite to the gospel of Jesus Christ and forsaking any partnerships that may encourage such evil.
Why This Interpretation Matches the Context
Calvin’s understanding of the passage appears to do justice to the context of Paul’s discourse higher than a strict singular utility. In 2 Corinthians, Paul is basically coping with a disobedient church—the Corinthians—who’re tempted to observe the “super-apostles” as an alternative of Paul. This church is liable to look in the direction of worldly technique of success as validation for an genuine ministry and Paul defends his apostleship and ministry whereas demonstrating that, within the Christian life, weak point is the best way. Furthermore, Chapter six is sandwiched between Paul’s name to the Corinthians to be ambassadors on behalf of Christ and one other protection of his ministry. A piece dealing solely with marriage to non-believers could be an apart having little to do with the encircling context.
Due to this fact, a strict singular interpretation of the prohibition would appear to violate the context of Paul’s instruction towards the Corinthians and needlessly interject an crucial that’s largely off-topic from the essential correction he’s been giving these believers.
What appears extra believable is that Paul is worried that the Corinthian church is keen to associate with no matter apostle or educating that appears to offer them cultural esteem. The Corinthians desired useless success and worldly acquire, if yoking themselves to a non-believing associate might ship this promise, the Corinthians have been .
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This is a vital crucial for us to grasp immediately as this explicit temptation in not useless. In hopes of relevance, cultural capitulation, doctrinal appeasement, or worse, it’s straightforward for Christ’s church immediately to contemplate yoking herself to people who would lead her astray.
So, whereas not marrying an unbeliever or probably straying from an unbiblical enterprise enterprise is perhaps correct deductions of knowledge from this textual content, the Church wants to pay attention to the broader utility of Paul’s instruction. No cultural, numerical, or relevancy positive factors are value surrendering our Biblical conviction or gospel proclamations.
Lastly, this passage ought to take our eyes to Christ, as all Scripture does. For the imagery of “yoke” calls us to recollect the one who acknowledged, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I gives you relaxation. Take my yoke upon you, and study from me, for I’m light and lowly in coronary heart, and you’ll discover relaxation in your souls. For my yoke is simple, and my burden is gentle.”
On the finish of all issues, might we be discovered not yoked to idols however to Christ. In doing so, there shall be a gospel model of the unequally-yoked paradigm as futile of us like us are yoked to Christ. He has confirmed to be our ox of righteousness and has plowed by means of the fields of God’s legislation with no assist from us.