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2 Corinthians 6:14 - What does "Unequally Yoked" mean?

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( 2 Corinthians 6:14 ) King James Bible

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

( 2 Corinthians 6:14 ) New King James Version

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

( 2 Corinthians 6:14 ) New American Standard Bible

Do not be mismatched with unbelievers; for what do righteousness and lawlessness share together, or what does light have in common with darkness?

( 2 Corinthians 6:14 ) NASB 1995

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?

( 2 Corinthians 6:14 ) Weymouth New Testament

Do not come into close association with unbelievers, like oxen yoked with asses. For what is there in common between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what partnership has light with darkness?

There is No contextual aspects around the ( 2 Corinthians 6:14 ) bible verse that Directly indicate that said verse is referring to marriage, however, how can we infer/induce/deduce that ( 2 Corinthians 6:14 ) bible verse does refer to marriage?

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  • We cannot because it refers mingling and fellowship, company.
    – Michael16
    May 26 at 5:11
  • @Michael16 The comments sections dialog between me & Dottard gives some really good arguments so please read the comments section under hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/a/76464/19810
    – crazyTech
    May 26 at 11:17
  • That's obvious that it would include marriage if it forbids even friendship. It is not even a question about it. Marriage is the closest relation. It doesn't forbid employment relation which is professional.
    – Michael16
    May 26 at 12:25
  • @Michael16 My argument was that we can definitely infer/deduce/induce that ( 2 Corinthians 6:14 ) refers to all marriages involving a Christian, but all other Nonmarriage relationships need to analyzed on an individual case-by-case basis based on degree of intimacy, seriousness, length, intensity, etc., to determine if ( 2 Corinthians 6:14 ) refers to said Nonmarriage relationships.
    – crazyTech
    May 26 at 13:00
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    You should formulate it as Can we infer that it also applies to marriage. Your question seems to suggest it simply refers to marriage.
    – Michael16
    May 26 at 13:07

2 Answers 2

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The verb in 2 Cor 6:14 is ἑτεροζυγέω (heterozugeó) is a hapex legomenon. In this verse, according to BDAG, it means:

draft animals that need different kinds of yokes because they are different species [eg, an ox and a donkey] ... generally, "not belonging together" ... be unevenly yoked, be mismatched, with someone ...

Thus, the metaphor of unevenly yoked here is applied, according to the same verse to μετοχή (metoche, another hapex legomenon) = a sharing partnership = a close relation between partners, i.e. people sharing something held in common. Such a close relationship/partnership might be any of the following:

  • marriage
  • close, long-term business relationship
  • any other such partnership involving a significant amount of shared decisions which necessarily includes the sharing of personal values, morals and ethics.

Therefore, I would not limit this verse to merely marriage, but any other such close relationship as described above. This is confirmed by the repeated (six-fold) parallel statements that compose 2 Cor 6:14-16 as follows:

  • Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.
  • For what partnership can righteousness have with wickedness?
  • Or what fellowship does light have with darkness?
  • What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?
  • Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
  • What agreement can exist between the temple of God and idols?
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  • Thanks. But, Would you also agree with my answer post ( hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/a/76463/19810 ) that states that Marriage is the strongest type of human-to-human relationship that can definitely be associated with terms like "yoked"/ "bound" / "close association"? (In other words, we can infer/induct/deduce that 2 Corinthians 6:14 can certainly at the very least be referring to marriage because marriage is the most "yoked" / "bounded" / "closely associated" human-to-human relationship in this world. But, other relationships like manager-employee, etc, are less intimate
    – crazyTech
    May 24 at 13:18
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    @crazyTech - I fully agree that marriage is the closest hum relationship possible. That is why the metaphor of "yoked" is so obviously aimed at marriage and others as well.
    – Dottard
    May 24 at 21:01
  • In my answer post, I was trying to emphasize that (2 Corinthians 6:14) would certainly at the very least be referring to marriage because that is most "yoked" / "bounded" / "closely associated" human-to-human relationship in this world while the other relationships like manager-employee, business partner-to-business partner, president-to-nation, etc., are relatively less intimate, less serious than marriage therefore depending on how intimate & serious these other relationships are. A particular formal distant business partner-to-business partner would Not be relevant to (2 Corinthians 6:14)
    – crazyTech
    May 24 at 21:28
  • In other words, (2 Corinthians 6:14) definitely via inference/induction/deduction applies to all marriages that a Christian would be in, but for all other Nonmarriage relationships it really depends on case-by-case as as to whether (2 Corinthians 6:14) is relevant( thus debatable) because all other Nonmarriage relationship really vary in terms of how intimate & serious they are.
    – crazyTech
    May 24 at 21:32
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    @crazyTech - agreed - I would hate to be accused of suggesting Christian exclusivity (having to completely separate from the world) - even Paul admonished us NOT to do this.
    – Dottard
    May 24 at 21:46
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By inference/induction/deduction, we could definitely know that ( 2 Corinthians 6:14 )'s use of "yoked"/ "bound" / "close association" certainly at the very least refers to marriage. Let's just reason it out:

-If a Christian person has a professional business relationship with a NonChristian, he/she can say that it's debatable if one tries to characterize said relationship with terms like "yoked"/ "bound" / "close association" because it's merely a professional work-related business transaction for making money.

-If a Christan person participates in a team-based sports game(i.e football, basketball, etc.) with NonChristian team members, he/she can say that it's debatable if one tries to characterize said relationship with terms like "yoked"/ "bound" / "close association" because it's merely an event involving jovial/recreational activities.

-However, The strongest type of human-to-human relationship that can definitely be associated with terms like "yoked"/ "bound" / "close association" is marriage. The reason being is that we can infer/induce/deduce that marriage involves the closest & most intimate human-to-human relationship between a man and woman because they are so "yoked"/"bound" spiritually, mentally, emotionally,etc., to each other. Furthermore, we can even say that the man and woman become one in marriage based on the following verses by employing "scripture interprets scripture" hermeneutic which definitely can be characterized as "yoked"/ "bound" / "close association" relationship.

Genesis 2:24 New American Standard Bible 1995

24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

Matthew 19:5 New American Standard Bible 1995

5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?

Mark 10:8 New American Standard Bible 1995

8 and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.

Ephesians 5:31 New American Standard Bible 1995

31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.

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