2Corinthians 6:11-18

Sunday Evening Bible Study

July 2, 2000


Paul has been talking about how we have been given the privilege of reconciling people to God.  We have the message of reconciliation, the message that says that God offers forgiveness freely.

Since this is what “ministry” is all about, Paul then went on to talk about ministry, describing what it’s been like for him to serve the Lord.

(2 Cor 6:4-10 NIV)  Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; {5} in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; {6} in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; {7} in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; {8} through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; {9} known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; {10} sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

Now Paul gets back to an issue he’s been struggling with, how the Corinthians feel about him.

:11 O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged.

openanoigo – to open

Paul is saying that he’s being open with what he says to the Corinthians.  He’s not holding back with them.  In comparison –

2Co 4:2  …we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

enlargedplatuno – to make broad, enlarge; be enlarged in heart, i.e. to welcome and embrace you in love

(2 Cor 6:11 NIV)  We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you.

(2 Cor 6:11 NLT)  Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you. Our hearts are open to you.

:12 Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels.

straitenedstenochoreo – to be in a narrow place; to straiten, compress, cramp, reduce to straits; to be sorely straitened in spirit

straiten (Webster) – to make narrow; to hem in; to restrict in freedom or scope; to subject to distress, privation or deficiency.  Straitjacket – what the guys in the white coats put on you when you’re crazy or might hurt yourself.

bowelssplagchnon – bowels, intestines, (the heart, lungs, liver, etc.); the bowels were regarded as the seat of the more violent passions, such as anger and love; but by the Hebrews as the seat of the tenderer affections, esp. kindness, benevolence, compassion; hence our heart (tender mercies, affections, etc.); a heart in which mercy resides

(2 Cor 6:12 NLT)  If there is a problem between us, it is not because of a lack of love on our part, but because you have withheld your love from us.

(2 Cor 6:12 NASB)  You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections.

:13 Now for a recompense in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.

recompenseantimisthia – a reward given in compensation, requital, recompense, “fair payback”.

enlargedplatuno – to make broad, enlarge; be enlarged in heart, i.e. to welcome and embrace you in love

(2 Cor 6:13 NLT)  I am talking now as I would to my own children. Open your hearts to us!

(2 Cor 6:13 NIV)  As a fair exchange--I speak as to my children--open wide your hearts also.

Warren Wiersbe:  Why were they withholding their love? Because they had divided hearts. The false teachers had stolen their hearts, and now they were cool toward Paul.

Charles Ryrie:  Because the Corinthians’ refusal to reciprocate love was making them miserable, Paul pleads with them to open their hearts to him.

Sometimes the problems you will have with people have nothing to do with you.

You can be as open and sincere and loving as possible and you are still going to have problems with some people.

That’s because the problem isn’t in you.  The problem is in the heart of the other person.

Don’t let it catch you off guard when people surprise you by saying unkind things, or by not loving you back.  Don’t let it sour you on serving the Lord.  Don’t stop loving people.

:14-18  Unequally yoked

:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers:

unequally yoked togetherheterozugeo – to come under an unequal or different yoke, to be unequally yoked

Lit. - “stop becoming unequally yoked with unconverted people”.  In other words, some were already guilty of doing it.

To be “yoked” with another person means to get under a yoke and plow with them.  To be “unequally yoked” means to be matched up with somebody different from you, making it difficult to plow.

Deuteronomy 22:10  Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.
Among other things, you'll have a tough time plowing straight furrows.  The ox will want to keep going, the ass will probably stop a lot.

Paul elaborates on this with five examples of what it's like to be unequally yoked.

:14  for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?

fellowshipmetoche – (from metecho, to partake of, share in, either by having things in common, or partaking by eating, as in communion) sharing, fellowship.

righteousness and unrightouesnessdikaiosune – righteousness, conformity to the Divine will in purpose, thought, and action.  anomia - lit. without law; lawlessness, iniquity.

Righteousness and lawlessness have totally nothing in common.  They are opposites.  They share nothing. When you become “yoked” to an unbeliever, you are trying to make righteousness have something in common with lawlessness.

:14  and what communion hath light with darkness?

fellowshipkoinonia – communion, a sharing of something in common.  Light and darkness have nothing in common.

light with darknessphoti – light.  skotos – darkness.

Light and darkness are also symbolic in scripture of Good and Evil.  They have NOTHING in common.

But when you become yoked with an unbeliever, you are trying to make light have something in common with darkness.

:15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial?

harmonysumphonesis – symphony; concord, agreement; (from sumphoneo, to agree in sound, be in harmony) 

BelialBeliar – (either from Heb. word {beliyaal} meaning "worthlessness", or Heb. word {beyl yaar} meaning "lord of the forest") Satan.  Occurs 16 times in OT, only here in NT.

Try to imagine Jesus sitting down and trying to play a duet with Satan...it's like trying to play a duet with two instruments, one playing in the key of C, the other playing in the key of F#, yeccch!

But that’s what we “attempt” to do when we become unequally yoked to an unbeliever.


The Hollywood branch of the American Cancer Society decided to hold a benefit night in conjunction with a professional tennis tournament. It turned out to be embarrassing for them, however, when they learned that a major tobacco company was sponsoring the competition. Officials of the society found out too late that they had committed themselves to selling 500 tickets to an event that was named after a well-known brand of cigarettes.  The publicity sent out by the Hollywood chapter portrayed a young woman with a tennis racket in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

:15  or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

partmeris – a part, portion.

believer...unbelieverpisto; apistou – disbeliever, not just someone who is unconverted yet interested in Christ.

The answer:  They have nothing in common.

:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God;

agreementsugkatathesis – approved by putting together the votes.  The temple of God and the temple of idols will never vote for the same person....

You are the temple of God, an unbeliever is the temple of idols.

Unequally yoked relationships (1Cor.5:9-13)

Paul has given us five more words describing what kind of relationships he's talking about:

partnership, fellowship, harmony, part, agreement

When your relationship with an unbeliever begins to be described by these six words (along with unequally yoked), you're headed for trouble.

Example of being unequally yoked.


Jehoshaphat was a good king.  He loved the Lord.
(2 Chr 18:1 KJV)  Now Jehoshaphat had riches and honour in abundance, and joined affinity with Ahab.
(2 Chr 18:1 NASB)  Now Jehoshaphat had great riches and honor; and he allied himself by marriage with Ahab.
For some reason, Jehoshaphat decided he needed to make an alliance with the northern kingdom, which was ruled by Ahab.  He made the alliance by having his son marry the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel.
Because of this alliance, Jehoshaphat ended up going to war with Ahab against Ramoth Gilead, and almost lost his own life.
(2 Chr 19:2 KJV)  And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD.
Jehoshaphat responded to this warning by cleaning up the kingdom and following God.  He had this great victory where the people praised the Lord and God brought their deliverance (2Chr. 20).  But he wasn’t finished being “unequally yoked”.
(2 Chr 20:35-37 KJV)  And after this did Jehoshaphat king of Judah join himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who did very wickedly: {36} And he joined himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish: and they made the ships in Eziongaber. {37} Then Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, Because thou hast joined thyself with Ahaziah, the LORD hath broken thy works. And the ships were broken, that they were not able to go to Tarshish.
It didn’t end there.
(2 Chr 21 KJV)  Now Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David. And Jehoram his son reigned in his stead. {2} And he had brethren the sons of Jehoshaphat, Azariah, and Jehiel, and Zechariah, and Azariah, and Michael, and Shephatiah: all these were the sons of Jehoshaphat king of Israel. {3} And their father gave them great gifts of silver, and of gold, and of precious things, with fenced cities in Judah: but the kingdom gave he to Jehoram; because he was the firstborn. {4} Now when Jehoram was risen up to the kingdom of his father, he strengthened himself, and slew all his brethren with the sword, and divers also of the princes of Israel. {5} Jehoram was thirty and two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. {6} And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, like as did the house of Ahab: for he had the daughter of Ahab to wife: and he wrought that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD.
How did Jehoram get married to the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel?  Because Daddy Jehoshaphat arranged it.  Because of Jehoshaphat’s “alliance”, his sons are all killed.
Jehoram has troubles as king, including a time when a band of Arabians came and took and killed all but one of his sons.  Jehoram eventually dies of a horrible intestinal disease…
(2 Chr 22 KJV)  And the inhabitants of Jerusalem made Ahaziah his youngest son king in his stead: for the band of men that came with the Arabians to the camp had slain all the eldest. So Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah reigned. {2} Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Athaliah the daughter of Omri. {3} He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab: for his mother was his counsellor to do wickedly. {4} Wherefore he did evil in the sight of the LORD like the house of Ahab: for they were his counsellors after the death of his father to his destruction.
Ahaziah is killed after a year …
{10} But when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal of the house of Judah. {11} But Jehoshabeath, the daughter of the king, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king's sons that were slain, and put him and his nurse in a bedchamber. So Jehoshabeath, the daughter of king Jehoram, the wife of Jehoiada the priest, (for she was the sister of Ahaziah,) hid him from Athaliah, so that she slew him not. {12} And he was with them hid in the house of God six years: and Athaliah reigned over the land.
Who is Athaliah?  The daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, married to Jehoram because of Jehoshaphat’s alliance.
Don’t be unequally yoked.

Q.  What kinds of relationships does this apply to?

Marriage?  Business partners?  Dating?

How about going out to lunch?

The balance:

I Corinthians 5:9-13 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to  company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.  But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.  For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?  But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

We can't limit our association with non-believers, otherwise, how would they come to know the Lord, and we would have to all join a commune.
But deep, commitment type of relationships should be limited.

:16  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.

:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

:18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

Paul now throws together a bunch of quotes to support his point.

Leviticus 26:11,12 And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall  not abhor you.  And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.

Isaiah 52:11  Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean [thing]; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD.

Ezekiel 20:34 And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out.

Ezekiel 37:27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

II Samuel 7:8 Now therefore so shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel:

II Samuel 7:14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: