Evening Bible Study
Paul had spent nearly three years in Ephesus, during which he wrote his first
letter to the Corinthians.
Paul’s stay in Ephesus ended abruptly when a riot broke out in the city
because of how the Christian revival was affecting the business of those who
After the riot, Paul headed up north to Macedonia.
The year is AD 56, almost a year after Paul had written his first letter to
We’ve talked about how Paul is dealing with the issue of “authority” with
the Corinthians. Some of them questioned
his role in their church.
We ended last week with Paul putting his finger on one of the very real
behind-the-scenes issues when it comes to their struggles with him:
(2 Corinthians 6:12
NKJV) You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own
Their real problem started in their own heart.
And just maybe, there’s a reason why their hearts have turned against Paul…
6:14-16 Unhealthy relationships
:14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.
:14 Do not be
The verb is a present tense, which can better be translated,
Lit. - “stop becoming
In other words, some were
already guilty of doing it.
:14 unequally yoked together – heterozugeo
(“other of a different kind” + “yoke”) – to come under an unequal or
different yoke, to be unequally yoked
A yoke was a tool to harness the strength of an animal.
To be “yoked” paints a farming picture of two animals being harnessed together
to do a specific job, whether it’s pulling a cart or plowing a field.
To be “unequally yoked” carries the idea that you are mismatched with the
person you are “yoked” to.
The Law of Moses even speaks of this principle.
NKJV) “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.
If you are going to plow a field with an ox yoked to a
donkey, you are going to have difficulty.
The two animals will pull differently.
You’ll probably end up plowing in circles rather than in a
Paul takes this principle and applies it to human relationships.
Paul will give five short phrases to elaborate on what he means by being
“yoked” with unbelievers.
:14 For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?
:14 fellowship – metoche –
a sharing, communion, fellowship
from metecho, to “have with”
lawlessness have totally nothing in common.
They are complete opposites.
Righteousness is about
doing the right things.
Lawlessness is about
doing the wrong things.
They share nothing.
When you have a
connection of sorts with an unbeliever, you may tell yourself that you have
lots of things in common (we like the same movies), but at the very core, you
:14 And what communion has light with darkness?
:14 communion – koinonia (“common”)
– fellowship, association, community, communion
Light and darkness are
also symbolic in scripture of Good and Evil.
Where’s the common ground between light and darkness?
But when you become yoked
with an unbeliever, you are pretending to yourself that “light” has something
in common with “darkness”.
:15 And what accord has Christ with Belial?
:15 Belial – Belial –
“worthless or wicked”; a name of Satan
:15 accord – sumphonesis –
Does this word sound like something?
A symphony orchestra is a group of different instruments learning to play
together, in harmony, time, and rhythm.
I like the word “harmony” describing this.
Imagine Jesus and Satan trying to play a duet together.
Do they make good music? Nope.
Paul describes Satan’s influence on us before we came to believe:
NKJV) —1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,
2 in which you
once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of
the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom
also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the
desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath,
just as the others.
Yet now, our lives are different. We
have a different master.
Years ago, 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 has a believer with an unbeliever?
:15 part – meris – a part
as distinct from the whole; an assigned part, a portion, share
Does a believer have any parts in common with an unbeliever?
Not at their core.
:16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the
temple of the living God.
:16 agreement – sugkatathesis –
a putting together (of votes); hence approval, assent, agreement
It’s an agreement that has been made by taking a vote.
To me this seems to describe a relationship where both parties have a
Does the temple of God ever vote for the same candidate as the idol temple?
(Amos 3:3 AV) Can two walk
together, except they be agreed?
:14 unequally yoked
What kind of relationships could be considered “yokes”?
It’s a relationship that can be described with the words fellowship, communion, harmony, part,
If you are locked into a relationship with an unbeliever that can be
described this way, you’re heading for trouble.
It’s got to be a deep connection relationship, one that affects the course
of your life.
You have to go where that person goes because you are connected by the
These kinds of “yoke” relationships are going to affect your relationship
It could possibly include a business relationship.
But it would have to be the kind of business relationship that you are unable
to get out of.
It definitely describes marriage
Marriage is supposed to be the union of two people at such a level that it
affects you to the core.
Marriage will affect your relationship with God.
Jehoshaphat was a good
king. He loved the Lord.
But he made the mistake
of becoming “unequally yoked” with a bad man.
Chronicles 18:1 NKJV) Jehoshaphat had riches and honor in abundance; and by marriage he
allied himself with Ahab.
For some reason,
Jehoshaphat decided he needed to make an alliance with the northern kingdom,
which was ruled by wicked Ahab. He made
the alliance by having his son marry the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel.
Because of this alliance,
Jehoshaphat was drawn into a war at Ramoth Gilead. Ahab ended up dying, and Jehoshaphat almost
lost his own life.
Jehoshaphat was rebuked
Chronicles 19:2 NKJV) And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said
to King Jehoshaphat, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Therefore the wrath of the Lord is upon you.
responded by cleaning up much of the bad stuff in his kingdom, he was still
“yoked” to the northern kingdom because of his son’s marriage to Ahab’s
daughter. It would drag him into bad business
transactions with Ahab’s son, and a prophet spoke…
Chronicles 20:37b NKJV) … “Because you have allied yourself with Ahaziah, the Lord has destroyed your works.” Then
the ships were wrecked, so that they were not able to go to Tarshish.
The messy “yoke” with the
northern kingdom got even messier after Jehoshaphat died.
Chronicles 21:4 NKJV) Now when Jehoram was established over the kingdom of his father, he
strengthened himself and killed all his brothers with the sword, and also others
of the princes of Israel.
the family resulted.
Even after Jehoram died,
his wife, the daughter of Ahab, would eventually…
Chronicles 22:10b NKJV) …she arose and destroyed all the royal heirs of the house of Judah.
All this trouble because
Jehoshaphat was unequally yoked with unbelieving Ahab.
The ultimate “yoke” relationship is marriage.
If you are not married, the FIRST thing you should find out about someone
you’re interested in is their walk with the Lord.
Don’t wait until you’re too involved in the relationship to find out.
Life with unbelievers
Does this mean we shouldn’t ever be friends with unbelievers?
5:9–13 NKJV) —9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually
immoral people. 10
I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people
of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then
you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named
a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler,
or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. 12 For what have
I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those
who are inside? 13
those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the
God doesn’t want us to go live on a mountain top that is
only populated by Christians.
God wants us to be in the world, loving the world, reaching
Jesus set the example for us. He was
known as the “friend of sinners”.
NKJV) —10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that
behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His
disciples. 11 And when the
Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat
with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well
have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and
learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I
did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
want to stop hanging out with “sinners”, we need to love on them.
the same time, we do need to be careful about developing deep, committed types
of relationships with unbelievers.
:14 yoked together
One of the most important of “yokes” is marriage.
Look at the five different “yoke” descriptions that Paul uses, and think
about them in the context of marriage.
The best idea of that word was “sharing”.
Marriage is all about “sharing”.
You share time together.
You share “stuff” together.
Be careful about having too much “mine” and “yours” stuff.
koinonia is about having things
As believers we have Jesus in common.
We think of “communion” as what we share with Jesus, all sharing the same
piece of bread, the same cup of wine.
Marriage ought to be about enjoying our relationship with Jesus together.
Jesus needs to be an active participant in your marriage.
This was that “symphony” word. It
was all about “harmony”.
Harmony is about blending different notes, different tones.
A good marriage doesn’t require that both people be
exactly the same.
In fact, in every marriage, there are two different people
Video: Weird Things Couples Fight
Marriage is about learning to “harmonize” your differences, celebrate your
differences, enjoy your differences.
Just as koinonia is about having things in common, this word is about
having “parts” of our lives in common.
As husband and wife, we need to explore and discover those sometimes few things
we have in common, the things we both like.
There is great value in “studying” your spouse. Earn your doctorate in your spouse. Learn all about them…
Video: Tim Hawkins – Study your
The word had to do with “voting”.
Marriage should not be a dictatorship where one partner makes all the
I know that sometimes one person’s personality is more dominant in the
relationship than the other – and I’m not talking about men being the head and
the wife submitting.
I’m talking about your personalities and the fact that one
person may tend to make all the decisions.
Sometimes the less dominant one just gives in so they
don’t rock the boat.
In marriage you need to work towards both parties having an equal voice, an
Paul explains his previous statement that they are the temple of God by
:16 As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them.
I will be their God, And they shall be My people.”
:16 I will dwell in them
This is the classic definition of a temple – a place where a “god” dwells.
If God dwells in us, then we are His Temple.
Paul is quoting from,
NKJV) —11 I will set My tabernacle among you, and My soul shall not abhor
you. 12 I will walk
among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.
This is taking us back to the days of the Exodus, where the people lived in
tents, and God literally lived among the people.
Another strange passage that talks about God walking among the people has a
strange but practical twist to it:
23:12–14 NLT) —12 “You must have a designated area outside the camp where you can go
to relieve yourself. 13 Each of you must have a spade as part of your equipment. Whenever
you relieve yourself, dig a hole with the spade and cover the excrement. 14 The camp
must be holy, for the Lord your
God moves around in your camp to protect you and to defeat your enemies. He must
not see any shameful thing among you, or he will turn away from you.
Even though God is dealing with literal waste management, there is a
graphic picture painted about what is “holy” and what isn’t.
Our sinful ways are like poor hygiene, leaving a stinky, yucky mess.
God wants to “walk” in a clean place.
Yet sometimes our actions, or even the relationships we
enter into a yoke with, result in us creating an “unclean” place.
God doesn’t enjoy us living in filth.
:17 Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the
Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.”
:18 “I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons
and daughters, Says the Lord
:17 Come out from among them
Paul is quoting from bits and pieces of several Old Testament passages (Is.
52:11; 2Sam. 7:14) including
(Isaiah 52:11 NKJV)
Depart! Go out from there, Touch no unclean thing; Go out from the midst of her, Be clean, You who bear the vessels of the Lord.
Clean the poop
His point is that since God dwells among us, and we are His Temple, we need
to learn what “holiness” is all about.
God is holy.
He is different than us.
He is separate from sin. He is
He wants us to be more like Him and less like the world.
We don’t deal with the poop like the Israelite camp did by burying it.
Our cleansing starts with admitting our sin.
John 1:9 NKJV) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our
sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
After admitting our problem, we may need to make some changes. (“come
7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves
from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of
:1 all filthiness of the flesh and spirit
Paul mentions both flesh
and spirit, both the inner and the outer man.
Sometimes when we try to “clean up our act”, we only concern ourselves
with the outer man, with just our actions.
Paul is saying here to clean up your inside as well. It’s your thoughts that lead to your sinful
:1 having these promises
In 6:17, God promises that if we would be “separate” from the world, He
would “receive” us.
In 6:18, He promises to be a Father to us.
Obedience and Intimacy
Our relationship with God is based on His grace.
He loved us enough to send Jesus.
We only have to believe to be saved.
Yet there is a principle in Scripture that our level of intimacy with God
is tied to how we obey Him.
NKJV) —21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.
And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and
manifest Myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will
manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If
anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will
come to him and make Our home with him.
God is holy, and He desires that we learn to be holy,
pure, clean as well.
7:2-3 Corinthian relationship
:2 Open your hearts to us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted
no one, we have cheated no one.
:3 I do not say this to condemn; for I have said before that you are
in our hearts, to die together and to live together.
:2 Open your hearts to us
Walk affects relationships
We go back to the Corinthians’ struggle with Paul and his role in their
Paul cares for them.
His heart is very much open towards them, though their hearts have been
closed towards him.
Could it be that some of the Corinthians had developed unhealthy
relationships with unbelievers, and those relationships had not only affected
their relationship with God, it has affected their relationship with Paul?