Vol.XIII No.IV Pg.7
June 1976

You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

What is meant by unwillingly yoked in 2 Cor, 6:14? Does this refer to the marriage relation? H.T.


Unequally yoked is translated from heterodzugeo — the latter part of that word meaning yoke and the former part (hetero) meaning different with some hint of difference that is for the worse. (Trench, Sym. of N.T. has a fine discussion of this.)

The yoked is figurative, and does not refer to intercourse or the marriage relation. (In Lev. 19:19 the word is used (LXX) re. mixed breeding of cattle, but is translated diverse kind; and another word altogether is used for gender with.)

A yoke is the bar placed across the necks of draft animals, binding them, so that they may be worked together. They are yoked for the accomplishment of the job — pulling stumps, plowing, or whatever. To yoke an oxen to some smaller, weaker, or cantankerous animal would hinder the accomplishment of the task. But if both animals would work toward the same goal, the yoke would assist them in working as a team, and contribute to the desired end.

Now the end or goal under consideration in 2 Cor. 6: is the fellowship and service of God. Christians are reminded that it is possible to fail — to receive Gods grace in vain. The goal requires patience, sacrifice, pureness, etc. (vs. 1-13). Paul says, Do not accept, as a yoke-fellow, one who has a different goal who will not pull with you to the same end — who will hinder your efforts to serve and have true fellowship with God.

As already noted, the yoke does not refer to marriage of itself; it refers to any teaming up with. Any sharing relationship which keeps one from serving God faithfully must be abandoned. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, (v. 17). The marriage itself is not the yoke under consideration, for a believer is told to remain with an unbeliever (1 Cor. 7:10, 13), accepting separation only when the unbeliever departs. However, marriage can be an unequal yoking. If a choice must be made between a marriage relation and God, true disciples will love God more — (Lu. 14:26-33).

Not all association with people of the world is forbidden (1 Cor. 5:9-l0). But if you are yoked to a business partner who is dishonest, and your yoking is such that you must be a party to his dishonesty —come out. If you are a member of some civic or social order that functions contrary to the will of God, and your yoking is such that you must jointly participate in the error — come on out. If you are a member of some church whose work or worship is not in accord with true service of God, and your contributions and influence are yoked to that digression —come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord (2 Cor. 6:17).

Unequally yoked is also defined by its opposite —My yoke-fellow with Paul (Phil. 4:3), and in the final analysis, with God (1 Cor. 3:9).