2 Corinthians 6:14
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
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(14) Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.—We seem at first to enter, by an abrupt transition, upon a new line of exhortation. The under-current of thought is, however, not difficult to trace. There was a false latitude as well as a true. The baser party at Corinth might think it a matter of indifference whether they married a heathen or a Christian, whether they chose their intimate friends among the worshippers of Aphrodite or of Christ. Against that “enlargement” 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 is, however, determined by the use of the cognate noun in Leviticus 19:19 (“Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender 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 so when they have no common bond of faith in God. Another explanation refers the image to the yoke of a balance, or pair of scales, and so sees in the precept a warning against partiality in judgment; but this rests on very slender ground, or rather, no ground at all.

2 Corinthians 6:14-16. Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers — Christians with Jews or heathen, godly persons with the ungodly, spiritual with such as are carnal. The apostle particularly speaks of marriage; but the reasons he urges equally hold against any needless intimacy or society with them. Of the five questions that follow, the three former contain the argument, the two latter the conclusion. For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness — The righteous can have no profitable, agreeable, or comfortable society or converse with the unrighteous. What communion hath light — That is, the state of light and knowledge, into which you are brought by divine mercy; with darkness — That deplorable state of ignorance and folly, vice and misery, in which they continue to be lost? And what concord hath Christ — Whom you serve; with Belial — To whom they belong, and who reigns in all the children of disobedience? Or what part — In time or in eternity; hath he that believeth — In Christ and his gospel, and who is a true, genuine disciple of Christ; with an infidel

Or an infidel with a believer? The union is surely, at the first view of it, too unnatural to be either agreeable, safe, or lasting. And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols — Which would by this means be, as it were, erected in it? If God would not endure idols in any part of the land where he dwelt, how much less under his own roof? He does not say, with the temple of idols; for idols do not dwell in their worshippers. This is a proper question, and a just view in which to place the matter; for ye — As a church, and as individuals; are the temple of the living God. See on Romans 8:9. As God hath said — To his ancient Church, and in them to all his Israel, in all ages; I will dwell in them — The force of the original expression cannot easily be equalled in any translation; ενοικησω εν αυτοις. The words, I will inhabit in them, or I will take up my indwelling in them, would nearly, though inelegantly, express the sense: and walk in them — The former expression signifies his perpetual presence; this latter, his operation. And I will be their God — In the fullest sense; manifesting my favour to them, communicating my Spirit, stamping them with mine image, and vouchsafing them communion with myself, in time and in eternity. And they shall be my people — Whom I will direct and govern, protect and save, here and hereafter. The sum this of the whole gospel covenant.

6:11-18 It is wrong for believers to join with the wicked and profane. The word unbeliever applies to all destitute of true faith. True pastors will caution their beloved children in the gospel, not to be unequally yoked. The fatal effects of neglecting Scripture precepts as to marriages clearly appear. Instead of a help meet, the union brings a snare. Those whose cross it is to be unequally united, without their wilful fault, may expect consolation under it; but when believers enter into such unions, against the express warnings of God's word, they must expect must distress. The caution also extends to common conversation. We should not join in friendship and acquaintance with wicked men and unbelievers. Though we cannot wholly avoid seeing and hearing, and being with such, yet we should never choose them for friends. We must not defile ourselves by converse with those who defile themselves with sin. Come out from the workers of iniquity, and separate from their vain and sinful pleasures and pursuits; from all conformity to the corruptions of this present evil world. If it be an envied privilege to be the son or daughter of an earthly prince, who can express the dignity and happiness of being sons and daughters of the Almighty?Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers - This is closely connected in sense with the previous verse. The apostle is there stating the nature of the remuneration or recompence which he asks for all the love which he had shown to them. He here says, that one mode of remuneration would be to yield obedience to his commands, and to separate themselves from all improper alliance with unbelievers. "Make me this return for my love. Love me as a proof of your affection, be not improperly united with unbelievers. Listen to me as a father addressing his children, and secure your own happiness and piety by not being unequally yoked with those who are not Christians." The word which is used here (ἑτεροζυγέω heterozugeō) means properly, to bear a different yoke, to be yoked heterogeneously - Robinson (Lexicon). It is applied to the custom of yoking animals of different kinds together (Passow); and as used here means not to mingle together, or be united with unbelievers.

It is implied in the use of the word that there is a dissimilarity between believers and unbelievers so great that it is as improper for them to mingle together as it is to yoke animals of different kinds and species. The ground of the injunction is, that there is a difference between Christians and those who are not, so great as to render such unions improper and injurious. The direction here refers doubtless to all kinds of improper connections with those who were unbelievers. It has been usually supposed by commentators to refer particularly to marriage. But there is no reason for confining it to marriage. It doubtless includes that, but it may as well refer to any other intimate connection, or to intimate friendships, or to participation in their amusements and employments, as to marriage. The radical idea is, that they were to abstain from all connections with unbelievers - with infidels, and pagans, and those who were not Christians, which would identify them with them; or they were to have no connection with them in anything as unbelievers, pagans, or infidels; they were to partake with them in nothing that was special to them as such.

They were to have no part with them in their paganism unbelief, and idolatry, and infidelity; they were not to be united with them in any way or sense where it would necessarily be understood that they were partakers with them in those things. This is evidently the principle here laid down, and this principle is as applicable now as it was then. In the remainder of this verse and the following verses 2 Corinthians 6:15-16, he states reasons why they should have no such contact. There is no principle of Christianity that is more important than that which is here stated by the apostle; and none in which Christians are more in danger of erring, or in which they have more difficulty in determining the exact rule which they are to follow. The questions which arise are very important. Are we to have no contact with the people of the world? Are we cut loose from all our friends who are not Christians? Are we to become monks, and live a recluse and unsocial life? Are we never to mingle with the people of the world in business, in innocent recreation, or in the duties of citizens, and as neighbors and friends? It is important, therefore, in the highest degree, to endeavor to ascertain what are the principles on which the New Testament requires us to act in this matter. And in order to a correct understanding of this, the following principles may be suggested:

I. There is a large field of action, pursuit, principle, and thought, over which infidelity, sin, paganism, and the world as such, have the entire control. It is wholly without the range of Christian law, and stands opposed to Christian law. It pertains to a different kingdom; is conducted by different principles, and tends to destroy and annihilate the kingdom of Christ. It cannot be reconciled with Christian principle, and cannot be conformed to but in entire violation of the influence of religion. Here the prohibition of the New Testament is absolute and entire. Christians are not to mingle with the people of the world in these things; and are not to partake of them. This prohibition, it is supposed, extends to the following, among other things:

(1) To idolatry. This was plain. On no account or pretence were the early Christians to partake of that, or to countenance it. In primitive times, during the Roman persecutions, all that was asked was that they should cast a little incense on the altar of a pagan god. They refused to do it, and because they refused to do it, thousands perished as martyrs. They judged rightly; and the world has approved their cause.

(2) sin, vice, licentiousness. This is also plain. Christians are in no way to patronise them, or to lend their influence to them, or to promote them by their name, their presence, or their property. "Neither be partakers of other people's sins;" 1 Timothy 5:22; 2 John 1:11.

(3) arts and acts of dishonesty, deception, and fraud in traffic and trade. Here the prohibition also must be absolute. No Christian can have a right to enter into partnership with another where the business is to be conducted on dishonest and unchristian principles, or where it shall lead to the violation of any of the laws of God. If it involves deception and fraud in the principles on which it is conducted; if it spreads ruin and poverty - as the distilling and vending of ardent spirits does; if it leads to the necessary violation of the Christian Sabbath, then the case is plain. A Christian is to have no "fellowship with such unfruitful works of darkness, but is rather to reprove them;" Ephesians 5:11.

(4) the amusements and pleasures that are entirely worldly, and sinful in their nature; that are wholly under worldly influence, and which cannot be brought under Christian principles. Nearly all amusements are of this description. The true principle here seems to be, that if a Christian in such a place is expected to lay aside his Christian principles, and if it would be deemed indecorous and improper for him to introduce the subject of religion, or if religion would be regarded is entirely inconsistent with the nature of the amusement then he is not to be found there. The world reigns there, and if the principles of his Lord and Master would be excluded, he should not be there. This applies of course to the theater, the circus, the ballroom, and to large and splendid parties of pleasure. We are not to associate with idolaters in their idolatry; nor with the licentious in their licentiousness; nor with the infidel in his infidelity; nor with the proud in their pride; nor with the frivolous in their gaiety; nor with the friends of the theater, or the ballroom, or the circus in their attachment to these places and pursuits. And whatever other connection we are to have with them as neighbors, citizens, or members of our families, we are not to participate with them in these things. Thus far all seems to be clear; and the rule is a plain one whether it applies to marriage, or to business, or to religion, or to pleasure; compare note, 1 Corinthians 5:10.

II. There is a large field of action, thought, and plan which may be said to be common with the Christian and the world; that is, where the Christian is not expected to abandon his own principles, and where there will be, or need be, no compromise of the sternest views of truth, or the most upright, serious, and holy conduct. He may carry his principles with him; may always manifest them if necessary; and may even commend them to others. A few of these may be referred to.

(1) Commercial transactions and professional engagements that are conducted on honest and upright principles, even when those with whom we act are not Christians.

(2) Literary and scientific pursuits, which never, when pursued with a right spirit, interfere with the principles of Christianity, and never are contrary to it.

(3) the love and affection which are due to relatives and friends. Nothing in the Bible assuredly will prohibit a pious son from uniting with one who is not pious in supporting an aged and infirm parent, or a much loved and affectionate sister. The same remark is true also respecting the duty which a wife owes to a husband, a husband to a wife, or a parent to a child, though one of them should not be a Christian. And the same observation is true also of neighbors, who are not to be prohibited from uniting as neighbors in social contact, and in acts of common kindness and charity, though all not Christians.

(4) as citizens. We owe duties to our country, and a Christian need not refuse to act with others in the elective franchise, or in making or administering the laws. Here, however, it is clear that he is not at liberty to violate the laws and the principles of the Bible. He cannot be at liberty to unite with them in political schemes that are contrary to the Law of God, or in elevating to office people whom he cannot vote for with a good conscience as qualified for the station.

(5) in plans of public improvement, in schemes that go to the advancement of the public welfare, when the schemes do not violate the laws of God. But if they involve the necessity of violating the Sabbath, or any of the laws of God, assuredly he cannot consistently participate in them.


14. Be not—Greek, "Become not."

unequally yoked—"yoked with one alien in spirit." The image is from the symbolical precept of the law (Le 19:19), "Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind"; or the precept (De 22:10), "Thou shalt not plough with an ox and an ass together." Compare De 7:3, forbidding marriages with the heathen; also 1Co 7:39. The believer and unbeliever are utterly heterogeneous. Too close intercourse with unbelievers in other relations also is included (2Co 6:16; 1Co 8:10; 10:14).

fellowship—literally, "share," or "participation."

righteousness—the state of the believer, justified by faith.

unrighteousness—rather, as always translated elsewhere, "iniquity"; the state of the unbeliever, the fruit of unbelief.

light—of which believers are the children (1Th 5:5).

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: they too much restrain the sense of this general precept, who either limit it to religious communion with idolaters, or to civil communion in marriages. The precept is delivered in a term of more general significancy, than to be limited by either of these, though both of them, questionless, be comprehended in it: mh ginesye eterozugountev, do not become such as in the same yoke draw another way. It is a metaphor drawn from horses or oxen; which should draw together, being in the same yoke, neither standing still, nor yet holding back. It is a general precept, prohibitive of all unnecessary communion and intimate fellowship with such, as either in matters of faith or worship, or in their lives and conversations, declare themselves to be unbelievers; for why we should expound apistoiv of infidels merely, I cannot tell, especially considering that the apostle, 1 Corinthians 5:9-11, seems to allow a further communion with a heathen, than with a notoriously scandalous Christian. So as this precept may reasonably be interpreted by those in the former Epistle, of marrying with such, eating with them at idol feasts, or at the Lord’s table, {as 2 Corinthians 5:1-21} maintaining intimate communion with them, &c.

For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? The reason he giveth, is, because they could have no comfortable communion with such; they were righteousness, those persons were unrighteousness; they were light, such persons were darkness, that is, full of the darkness of sin and ignorance. In the mean time, this precept ought not to be extended to a total avoiding of commerce with, or being in the company of, either heathens, or scandalous persons; for as to that, the same apostle had before determined it lawful, 1 Corinthians 5:11. Whatever communion with such persons is either necessary from the law of God or nature, or for the support and upholding of human life and society, is lawful even with such persons; but all other is unlawful.

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers,.... This seems to be an allusion to the law in Deuteronomy 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 1 Corinthians 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.

{7} Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

(7) Now he rebukes them boldly, because they became fellows with infidels in outward idolatry, as though it were an indifferent thing. And this is the fourth part of this epistle, the conclusion of which is, that those whom the Lord has condescended to in calling them his children, must keep themselves pure, not only in mind, but also in body, that they may be completely holy to the Lord.

2 Corinthians 6:14. As a contrast to the desired πλατύν., Paul now forbids their making common cause with the heathen, and so has come to the point of stating what was said generally at 2 Corinthians 6:1 (μὴ εἰς κενὸν τ. χ. τ. θεοῦ δέξασθαι) more precisely, in a form needful for the special circumstances of the Corinthians, in order to warn them more urgently and effectually of the danger of losing their salvatio.

μὴ γίνεσθε ἑτεροζυγ.] Bengel: “ne fiatis, molliter pro: ne sitis.” He does not forbid all intercourse with the heathen whatever (see 1 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 10:27; 1 Corinthians 7:12), but the making common cause with heathen efforts and aims, the entering into the heathen element of life. There is no ground for assuming exclusively special references (such as to sacrificial banquets or to mixed marriages), any more than for excluding such reference.

ἑτεροζυγοῦντες] see, in general, Wetstein. It means here: bearing another (a different kind of) yoke. Comp. ἑτερόζυγος, Leviticus 19:19; Schleusner, Thesaur. II. p. 557. Paul undoubtedly has in mind the figurative conception of two different animals (as ox and ass) which are yoked together in violation of the law (Deuteronomy 22:9),—a conception, in which the heterogeneous fellowship of Christians with heathen is aptly portrayed: drawing a yoke strange to you. In this verse the dative ἀπίστοις denotes a fellowship, in which the unbelieving partner forms the standard which determines the mode of thought and action of the Christian partner. For this dative cannot mean “with unbelievers” (the usual explanation), as if συζυγοῦντες had been used; but it is not so much dativus commodi (Hofmann: for the pleasure of unbelievers), a thought which Paul would have doubtless expressed with more precision, as the dativus ethicus (Krüger, § 48. 6); so that the words mean: do not draw for unbelievers a strange yoke. The yoke meant is that drawn by unbelievers, one of a kind strange to Christians (ἑτεροῖον), and the latter are not to put themselves at the disposal of unbelievers by sharing the drawing it. The great danger of the relation against which Paul warns them, lies in this dative expression. According to Theophylact (comp. Chrysostom), the sense is: μὴ ἀδικεῖτε τὸ δίκαιον ἐπικλινόμενοι καὶ προσκείμενοι οἷς οὐ θέμις, so that the figurative expression is taken from the unequal balance (Phocylides, 13 : σταθμὸν μὴ κρούεις ἑτερόζυγον, ἀλλʼ ἴσον ἕλκειν). But apart from the circumstance that Paul would in that case have expressed himself at least very strangely, the reminiscence from the O. T., which the common view assumes, must still be considered as the most natural for the apostle.[250]

] for how utterly incompatible is the Christian with the heathen character! Observe the impressiveness of the accumulated questions, and of the accumulated contrasts in these questions. The first four questions are joined in two pairs; the fifth, mounting to the highest designation of Christian holiness, stands alone, and to it are attached, as a forcible conclusion of the discourse, the testimony and injunction of God which confirm it.[251]

δικαιοσύνῃ κ. ἀνομίᾳ] For the Christian is justified by faith (2 Corinthians 5:21, 2 Corinthians 6:7), and this condition excludes immoral conduct (ἀνομία, 1 John 3:4), which is the element of heathen life (Romans 6:19). The two life-elements have nothing in common with each other, Romans 8:1 ff.; Galatians 2:15 ff.

In the second question the Christian life-element appears as Φῶς, and the heathen as ΣΚΌΤΟς. Comp. Ephesians 5:8; Ephesians 5:11 f.; Colossians 1:12 f. In the latter is implied Ἡ ἌΓΝΟΙΑ ΚΑῚ Ἡ ἉΜΑΡΤΊΑ, and in Φῶς: Ἡ ΓΝῶΣΙς ΚΑῚ Ὁ ΒΊΟς Ὁ ἜΝΘΕΟς (in both, the intellectual and the ethical element are to be thought of together), Gregory Naz. Or. 36.

Regarding the two datives, of which the second is expressed in Latin by cum, see Matthiae, p. 883; and the ποός, in the second clause, is the expression of social relation, like our with. See Bernhardy, p. 265. Comp. Plato, Conv. p. 209 C: κοινωνίανπρὸς ἀλλήλους, Stobaeus, S. 28: εἰ δέ τις ἔστι κοινωνία πρὸς θεοὺς ἡμῖν, Philo, Leg. ad Cai. p. 1007 C: τίς οὖν κοινωνία πρὸς Ἀπόλλωνα τῷ μηδὲν οἰκεῖον ἐπιτετηδευκότι, Sir 13:2.

[250] Hence our view (comp. Vulgate) is to be preferred also to that of Theodoret: μὴ μιμήσησθε τοὺς ἐτέρως ἐννεύσντας βόας καὶ τὸν ζυγὸν κλίνοντας, τὴν τῶν ἀπίστων ἀπάτην τῆς ἡμετέρας προτιμῶντες διδασκαλίας.

[251] Hofmann brings the second and third questions, as well as the fourth and fifth, into closer relation. Neither the particles and δέ, nor the prepositions πρός and μετά, nor yet the contents of the questions, are decisive. But it is in favour of our division, which Lachmann has also, that only to the fifth question is there specially added the great and important scriptural testimony, vv. 16–18, which is quite in keeping with its isolated and distinctive position.

2 Corinthians 6:14. Μὴ γίνεσθε ἑτεροζυγοῦντες κ.τ.λ.: be not (mark that the pres. tense γίνεσθε indicates the beginning of a state, sc., “do not become”) unequally yoked with unbelievers, the constr. being “be not unequally yoked, as you would be if you were yoked with unbelievers”. The most obvious application of such a prohibition would be to intermarriage with the heathen, which was continually forbidden to the chosen people (see Deuteronomy 7:3, Joshua 23:12, Ezra 9:2, Nehemiah 13:25), and this is probably the main thought here (see ref. Lev. for ἑτερόζυγος); but to indulge in any excessive familiarity of intercourse would be “to be enlarged in heart” in a way which the Apostle strongly deprecates (cf. 1Ma 1:15). He enforces this by five contrasts which illustrate the incongruity between Christianity and heathendom.—τίς γὰρ μετοχὴ κ.τ.λ.: for what fellowship have righteousness and lawlessness? or what communion has light with darkness? Cf. Ephesians 5:7, μὴ οὖν γίνεσθε συμμέτοχοι αὐτῶν· ἦτε γάρ ποτε σκότος, νῦν δὲ φῶς ἐν Κυρίῳ, and cf., for the same image, Acts 26:18, Romans 13:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:5 and chap. 2 Corinthians 4:6, 2 Corinthians 11:14.

2 Corinthians 6:14 to 2 Corinthians 7:1. PARENTHETICAL.—HE WARNS THEM AGAINST TOO FAMILIAR ASSOCIATION WITH THEIR HEATHEN NEIGHBOURS. These verses are somewhat perplexing, inasmuch as they seem to interrupt the appeal of 2 Corinthians 6:11-13 by the introduction of an irrelevant warning. If they be omitted, the argument is quite consecutive, 2 Corinthians 7:2 f. being in close and evident connexion with 2 Corinthians 6:11-13. And it has been supposed that the whole section is an interpolation either (a) added by St. Paul after the arrival of Titus, in consequence of the news he had received as to the state of the Corinthian Church; or (b) belonging to another Pauline letter (possibly the Lost Epistle of 1 Corinthians 5:9), and inserted here at a later date when a collection of Pauline letters began to be made; or (c) it has been regarded (e.g., by Heinrici) as a fragment of an ancient homily, not by St. Paul, which has found a resting place here. It is urged in favour of the non-Pauline authorship of the section that (α) it contains a considerable number of words which do not occur elsewhere in St. Paul. To this it may be replied that ἑτεροζυγεῖν and βελίαρ have their origin in O.T. phraseology, while μολυσμός is a LXX word (see reff.); and that, as to the words μετοχή, συμφώνησις, συγκατάθεσις, it is not surprising that some of the synonyms which are found in this section should be comparatively rare. It is not easy to find (as has here been done, with no small skill) five distinct terms to convey almost the same idea. (β) Schmiedel urges that the phrase μολυσμός σαρκός (2 Corinthians 7:1) is quite un-Pauline, and that it is inconsistent with St. Paul’s psychology to speak of being “cleansed” from it, inasmuch as for him the σάρξ is always tainted by sin. But there is no thought here of the taint of sin which remains in fallen man; μολυσμός is always used in the LXX (see reff.) of a too intimate association of the chosen people with heathen nations, and such “contamination” is exactly what it stands for in this place. As an argument on the other side, there occur in this section several quite common Pauline ideas and phrases, e.g., the contrast of Christianity and heathendom as light and darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14), the description of Christians as God’s temple (2 Corinthians 6:16), the phrases “the living God” (2 Corinthians 6:16) and “the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1), the introduction of the term ἀγαπητοί (2 Corinthians 7:1), etc. We regard, therefore, the section as undoubtedly Pauline; and, further, its connexion with what precedes reveals itself on a close inspection of the phraseology. The Apostle has bidden the Corinthians “Be ye enlarged in heart”. But he is reminded that this phrase has a bad meaning in the Law (Deuteronomy 11:16; see Chase, Classical Review, 1890, p. 151), where it is applied to that excessive tolerance which should permit the worship of other gods beside Jehovah; and so he hastens to give a warning (parenthetically introduced) to the Corinthians that he does not mean by enlargement of heart any undue tolerance of or contaminating association with their heathen neighbours (see on 2 Corinthians 4:4 above for ἄπιστος).

14. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers] Dean Stanley observes on the “remarkable dislocation of the argument here.” But the connection of thought is not difficult to trace. The only reward (see last verse) St Paul sought from the Corinthians was conduct in accordance with the Gospel of Christ. This was the best form their sympathy with him could take. Therefore he touches on some of the points on which they were in the habit of doing most violence to their Christian profession. They did not keep sufficiently aloof from unbelievers, but even went so far as to ‘sit at meat’ with them ‘in the idol-temple’ (see 1 Corinthians 8, 10, and notes) and thus become partakers with them in their idolatry, whereby they were the cause of infinite mischief to the souls of their brethren. The reference in the words ‘unequally yoked together’ is to the precept in Deuteronomy 22:10, a precept, like many similar ones in the same chapter (2 Corinthians 6:9; 2 Corinthians 6:11-12) and elsewhere in the Mosaic laws, manifestly figurative in its character. The Apostle’s words must not be confined to intermarriages with the heathen, though of course it includes them in the prohibition. It refers to all kinds of close and intimate relations. “They are yoked together with unbelievers, who enter into close companionship with them.” Estius.

what fellowship] The word thus rendered here is not the same as that rendered communion below, a word which (see notes on 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 10:16) is itself rendered indifferently by communion and fellowship in the N. T., but is derived from the word signifying to partake (partynge, Wiclif), e.g. in 1 Corinthians 10:17. See Ephesians 5:7; also 1Ma 1:13-15 and 2 John 1:11.

unrighteousness] Literally, lawlessness, the normal condition of the heathen man, Romans 6:19, while the Christian is endowed with ‘God’s righteousness,’ ch. 2 Corinthians 5:21.

light with darkness] Cf. John 1:5; John 3:19, the one signifying the condition of man in Christ, the other his condition without Christ. See also Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:5; and ch. 2 Corinthians 4:4.

2 Corinthians 6:14. Μὴ γίνεσθε, do not become) a soft expression for be not.—ἑτεροζυγοῦντες, yoked with an alien party [one alien in spirit]) [unequally yoked], Leviticus 19:19, LXX. τὰ κτήνη σου οὐ κατοχεύσεις ἑτεροζύγῳ, thou shalt not let thy cattle engender with a diverse kind. The believer and the unbeliever are utterly heterogeneous. The notion of slavery approaches to that of a yoke. The word הנצמדים, Numbers 25:5. The apostle strongly dissuades the Corinthians from marriages with unbelievers; comp. 1 Corinthians 7:39, only in the Lord. He however uses such reasons, as may deter them from too close intercourse with unbelievers even in other relations [besides marriage]: comp. 2 Corinthians 5:16; 1 Corinthians 8:10; 1 Corinthians 10:14.—ἀπίστοις, to unbelievers) heathens. He pulls up all the fibres of the foreign root [of foreign and alien connections].—τίς, what?) Five questions, of which the first three have the force of an argument; the fourth, or what, and the fifth, have at the same time also the force of a conclusion.—δικαιοσύνῃ καὶ ἀνομίᾳ, what fellowship is there between righteousness and unrighteousness) The state of believers and unbelievers is altogether different.

Verse 14. - Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers. Ewald, followed by Dean Stanley, Holsten, and others, thinks that here there is a sudden dislocation of the argument, and some have even supposed that the section, 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1, is either an after thought written by the apostle on the margin of the Epistle after it was finished; or even an interpolation. The latter view has arisen from the unusual expressions of the section, and the use of the word "Belial," and the command of Greek shown by the varied expressions. There is no adequate ground for these conjectures. Every writer is conscious of moods in which words come to him more fluently than at other times, and all writers of deep feeling, like St. Paul, abound in sudden transitions which correspond to the lightning-like rapidity of their thoughts. It is doubtful whether the readers would not have seen at once the sequence of thought, which depends on circumstances which we can only conjecture. Probably the alienation from St. Paul had its root in some tampering with unbelievers. Such might at any rate have been the case among the Gentile members of the Church, some of whom were even willing to go to sacrificial feasts in heathen temples (1 Corinthians 8-10.). "Unequally yoked" is a metaphor derived from Leviticus 19:19 and Deuteronomy 22:10, and is the opposite of "true yoke fellow" (Philippians 4:3). What fellowship; literally, participation (Ephesians 5:6-11). Unrighteousness; literally, lawlessness (1 John 3:4). It was a special mark of heathen life (Romans 7:19). Light with darkness. This antithesis is specially prominent in Ephesians 5:9-11 and Colossians 1:12, 13, and in the writings of St. John (John 1:5; John 3:19; 1 John, passim). 2 Corinthians 6:14Unequally yoked (ἑτεροζυγοῦντες)

Only here in the New Testament. Not in classical Greek, nor in Septuagint, though the kindred adjective ἑτερόζυγος of a diverse kind, occurs Leviticus 19:19. Unequally gives an ambiguous sense. It is not inequality, but difference in kind, as is shown by the succeeding words. The suggestion was doubtless due to the prohibition in Deuteronomy 22:9, against yoking together two different animals. The reference is general, covering all forms of intimacy with the heathen, and not limited to marriage or to idolfeasts. The different shades of fellowship expressed by five different words in this and the two following verses are to be noted.

Fellowship (μετοχὴ)

Only here in the New Testament. The kindred verb μετέχω to be partaker is found only in Paul's epistles and in Hebrews: μέτοχος partner, partaker, only in Hebrews and Luke 5:7. Having part with is the corresponding English expression.

Righteousness - unrighteousness (δικαιοσύνη - ἀνομίᾳ)

Lit., what sharing is there unto righteousness and lawlessness? Δικαιοσύνῃ righteousness, though the distinctively Pauline sense of righteousness by faith underlies it, is used in the general sense of rightness according to God's standard.

Communion (κοινωνία)

See on Luke 5:10; see on Acts 2:42.

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