UNEQUALLY YOKED

Many have read the passage in the Bible where Paul admonishes: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers," and have then assumed from it deals with the marriage relationship.

Ironically, in spite of this popular religious view of this verse, it is not referring to "marriage" at all.

Here is how it reads: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 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. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty" (II Cor. 6:14-18).

The phrase "unequally yoked together" is the translation of just one Greek word, heterozugeo, which is a compound word that means, "to yoke up differently; to associate discordantly; unequally yoke together," and this is the only time it is used in the bible.

The word "yoke" means a coupling together as when two oxen are coupled or yoked together by a pulling beam to do work together to get work done more efficiently.

Paul is telling the Corinthians congregation which was steeped in paganism and their cities peppered with pagan temples, that they should not be "unequally" yoked with those that practiced paganism or any works of darkness. They were to avoid: "unbelievers, unrighteousness, darkness, Belial, infidels, and idols." There it is. That's the list Paul gave them, exactly as we read above. Nothing is mentioned about marriage.

Often the most familiar passages in Scripture become commonly applied in the church without consideration for their contexts. The scripture above is a prime example, “be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” which is widely used to forbid Christians from marrying outside of the Christian faith. Though many would agree with the thought, it is not the context of the scripture setting,

What does Paul means by “yoked together”. It reminds me of his statement to the Galatians:
Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Paul’s letter to the churches of Galatia was a stern admonition that they not abandon the gospel of Christ for “another gospel” which was a perversion infiltrating their community (Galatians 1:7). This “other gospel” was being propagated by “false brethren” whose intent was to bring God’s people into bondage:

Galatians 2:4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:
It is clear the yoke of bondage to which Paul refers is the bondage to which those who sought justification from the law subjected themselves:

Galatians 4: 9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
Paul’s sternest warning against returning to this yoke of bondage is this statement that it is incompatible with Christ:

Galatians 5:2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

It is therefore reasonable to conclude that those seeking justification from the law, the Judaizers who have not believed the gospel of God's Grace over Law Keeping, and seek to impose their yoke of bondage on those who have believed, are the “unbelievers” to whom Paul refers in 2 Corinthians 6, when he warns against being “unequally yoked.” It also becomes apparent that Paul is not warning against “mixed marriages” but against mixing the law of Christ (the gospel) with the law of sin and death from which Christ has made us free.

It is the mixing of the pre-cross Law Gospel, by believers of the Grace Gospel "but"...with the post-cross Grace Gospel plus nothing...that yokes us together with the evil of unbelief that causes us to be "unequally yoked".

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