Matt. 19:6; Mark 10:9 -- ὁ θεὸς συνέζευξεν "what God has yoked together"

2 Cor. 6:14 - ἑτεροζυγοῦντες "unequally yoked" lit. "yoke to another of a different kind"

These are the only occurrences of these words in the New Testament.

Other verses with yoke

Take my yoke (τὸν ζυγόν) upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke (ὁ ... ζυγός) is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:29–30, ESV)

Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke (ζυγὸν) on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? (Acts 15:10, ESV)

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke (ζυγῷ) of slavery. (Gal. 5:1, ESV)

Let all who are under a yoke (ζυγὸν) as bondservants regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. (1 Tim. 6:1, ESV)

1 Answer 1


A yoke was made of wood with two hollowed-out sections on the bottom portion that rested on the necks of oxen that were used to plow or to draw a cart. Figuratively, a yoke symbolized servitude or submission. In the Matthew/Mark passages (i.e. the gospels) Jesus, in using the ‘picture’ of a ‘yoke’, was admonishing us to submit ourselves to Him, for true rest comes from serving Him, not ourselves

A ‘yoke’ is designed to bring equal loads of responsibility, and work to a team (Matthew 11:29). The Greek word that was translated “unequally yoked together” is “HETEROZUGEO,” and it means “to yoke up differently, i.e. (figuratively) to associate discordantly” (Strong’s Concordance). This pictures a team of animals that are unmatched and therefore unsuited for the task.

In Corinthians, Paul was saying that it is an abnormal situation to yoke a believer, who has the Spirit of Christ within, to an unbeliever, who is motivated by the spirit of the world. It’s like trying to mix water with oil; it cannot be done.

The emphasis in 2 Corinthians 6:14 is on the word “unequally.” It is not God’s will for His people to live monastic lifestyles. That certainly was not the example of Jesus or any of His followers. Therefore, we have to have dealings with the world’s system and those in it, but we need to be careful to maintain the proper balance. Marriage is one area where this principle is especially true. There is no closer union in life than the marriage relationship.

Paul made it very clear by his comparisons that being unequally yoked with unbelievers is unlikely to ‘work’.

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