YOKED TOGETHER


Looking at the various meanings (definitions) for the word “yoke” I have found scriptures that use the words, which are defined. As the meanings change, the scriptures will change because of the original Greek word, which was used.

NT: 2218—Zugos (dzoo-gos’); from the root of zeugnumi (to join, especially by a “yoke”); a coupling, i.e. (figuratively) servitude (a law or obligation); also (literally) the beam of the balance (as connecting the scales): KJV – pair of balances, yoke.

  • Matt 11:29-30—Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
  • Acts 15:10—Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
  • Gal 5:1—Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
  • 1 Tim 6:1—Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.

NT: 2201—Zeugos (dzyoo’-gos); from the same as NT: 2218; a couple, i.e. a team (of oxen yoked together) or brace (of birds tied together): KJV – yoke, pair.

  • Luke 14:19—And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.

NT: 4805—Suzugos (sood’-zoo-gos); from NT: 4801; co-yoked, i.e. (figuratively) as noun, a colleague; probably rather as a proper name; Syzygus, a Christian: KJV – yokefellow.

  • Phil 4:3—And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.

NT: 2086—Heterozugeo (het-er-od-zoog-eh’-o); from a compound of NT: 2087 and NT: 2218; to yoke up differently, i.e. (figuratively) to associate discordantly: KJV – unequally yoke together with.

  • 2 Cor 6:14—Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

Many doubters claim that 2 Cor. 6:14-18 does not refer to marriage but some other relationship? It may be understood that the subject is not specifically about marriage, for the subject is far broader than just one relationship. Although the specific subject is not limited to marriage, it obviously includes marriage. Consider the following in this light.

The stated problem is that the Corinthians’ hearts are not enlarged. They were straitened in their own bowels (tender mercy/affection—2 Cor. 6:11-13).

The solution was to stop being unequally yoked with unbelievers (vs. 14). Paul’s proof was that there should not be fellowship/communion/concord/agreement with those who are not of like mind (vss. 14-16).

A further argument for separating from those in darkness is that the Corinthian brethren were a part of the temple of God. As God had dwelt among the Israelites and walked among them (Exod. 25:8; Exod. 29:45-46; Num. 35:34; Deut. 23:12-14; 1 Kings 6:11-13), so he promised to dwell among the spiritual Israelites and walk among them. The Lord prophesied in Psalm 68:18 that he would dwell among His people which is quoted in Ephesians 4:8-10 proving this was a prophecy concerning the New Testament church. God dwelt among physical Israel to deliver them out of the hand of their enemies (Deut. 23:14) and did the same for the Corinthians, as they were a part of spiritual Israel.

2 Corinthians 6:17 is not an antithesis to 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 (as some have suggested) but a further description of the same solution. They should come out from among those who walk in unrighteousness, darkness or those who follow Belial, unbelievers or idols (2 Corinthians 6:17).

God offers to make a covenant. If the Corinthians will come out from among those who walk in darkness, he promises to be a Father to them. This was the major point of the first gospel sermon. The Holy Spirit inspired Peter with many words to exhort the Jews to save themselves from that untoward generation – the generation that walked in darkness and unbelief (Acts 2:40). Repentance and baptism were definitely a part of Peter’s sermon, but by no means the major part. The church is made up of those who have been called out of darkness to his marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9). If they are not unequally yoked with unbelievers, their hearts can be enlarged and they will no more be straitened.

How does all this relate to marriage? Unless marriage is an exception to the rule, all relationships of fellowship/concord/agreement, etc. are included. How could someone come out from among those who walk in darkness and that separation not include the one a person marries? The only way one could marry an unbeliever is if he had some communication with darkness.

The further discussion concerning the member who becomes unfaithful is not addressed in this passage. Obviously the command not to be unequally yoked would be for those who were not already yoked in marriage. It is possible to remove ourselves from almost all unequally yoked relationships, but marriage is an exception which is made very clear in 1 Corinthians 7:12-15, Matthew 19:9 and Matthew 5:32.

Thoughts along these lines would have to include King Solomon and his wives and concubines. 1 Kings 11:3-4 talks about how Solomon chose these wives and who they were. “And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. 4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.”

Notice that God forbade mixed marriages with those whose religion was devoted to serving idols. When God’s people show little concern for the spiritual condition of those they marry, nobody should be surprised when they are seduced away from pure religion to follow a spouse who is unfaithful to God.

  • For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods” (Exo. 34:14-16).
  • But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you (Exo. 23:32-33; Exo. 34:16; Deut. 7:3-4; Joshua 23:12-13; Ezra 9:12): for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods (Num. 25:1-3; Judges 3:6-7; 1 Kings 16:31-33; 2 Chr. 21:6): Solomon clave unto these in love” (1 Kings 11:1-2).

Solomon chose princesses—daughters of the kings from surrounding nations. Nobody has ever challenged Solomon’s political motives because politicians and monarchs understand that the best way to make peace with another nation is to marry the king’s daughter. Solomon had peace with those nations whose princesses he married, but did he have peace with God?

  • “Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin” (Neh. 13:26).

How do these Old Testament scriptures become a “schoolmaster” to help us understand God’s command to Christians today (2 Cor. 6:14-18)?

  • 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, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor. 6:14-18).

14 thoughts on “YOKED TOGETHER

  1. I appreciate this post. It is much needed. When we step back and look at things logically these things are not hard I do not think. Satan pulls our emotions into it to make it hard on us. God did not make it so.

    2 Cor. 6 tells us not to get into relationships that yoke us with unbelievers. The greek words used cover every possible yoking – from very casual acquaintance to deep relationships. Business, personal, spiritual – all covered. Get out of these relationships before being yoked. OT teaching reminds us that God warned of being married to those outside of His people. Ignoring these warnings show a stubborn and disobedient heart.

    1 Cor 7 makes it clear that any marriage that is not sinful (adulterous) is valid, even when not helpful to spiritual growth. Children from unequally yoked marriages are still born within a God recognized marriage. Paul says it is better to marry than to burn (1 Cor. 7:9). BUT he also says the preference should be to stay unmarried and serve the Lord, because this is easier especially in times of strong persecution.

    So – as a Christian we should not be seeking relationships with those who are not Christians. We should be teaching those we come in contact with about the truth. If they see their need for salvation, THEN that makes them a likely candidate for marriage to another believer.

    2 Cor 6 is also not giving an additional permission for divorce. Jesus laid the groundwork firmly in His teachings. The only right to remarry is for the innocent party when sexual immorality has occurred. Paul explains in 1 Cor 7 for people to remain as they are – if they are married when they come to the gospel, stay married. The difference between the spouses will pose a difficulty, but it is not a reason for divorce.

    Can we make a sinful choice and still be in a God recognized marriage? Yes, I believe so. The sin of choosing to be unequally yoked belongs to the believer who chooses it. It is not the sin of the unbeliever who knows no different. The believer can repent of having ignored God’s warnings, but they are still in a marriage and they must obey God with regard to it.

    Personally, we have sought to teach our daughters to be looking for young men who are obedient to God. Be friendly towards all people and share the truth with them. Maybe the one to marry rises out of those unbelieving ones – but it will be obvious when they have chosen God’s way. Try not to get your heart attached beforehand. We do choose who we fall in love with – by the choices we make along the way with who we allow to get close to us.

    This topic is one that I believe Satan has fed us the lie and we have taken the bait and therefore we are not careful. The thought process opens the door to other false concepts among God’s people. Just as two “denominations” cannot work together in service to the Lord – two people of different minds cannot make a marriage that walks smoothly in God’s will. Israel teaches us that the unbeliever will have the stronger pull most of the time. Our failure to learn from history does not make it any less true.

    Thanks for sharing this Beth!

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    • And, for sure, the church cannot work with a denomination to spread truth. It just cannot happen.

      I am glad you reminded us that the unbeliever is sanctified by the believer and that the children are sanctified because they belong to the believer. One poor brother we know has decided not to have children because they would be “confiscated” by the Catholic church through his wife. That would be a hard decision for anyone to make.

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  2. I have seen so many young people search outside the church for their spouses, and it sickens me because it will (in most cases) pull the believer away from God. The marriage relationship is, indeed, one of the closest yolks that exists here on earth. Your article was spot on, Beth!!!

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    • Martha,

      There are so many today who will be without a mate if they obey this command. I am fully sympathetic, since several young people in my own family have no hope of marrying a believer. Yet I fear the consequences if any deliberately disobey the Lord’s direction. How can a marriage be blessed if it is not according to the will of the Heavenly Father?

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  3. I appreciate this so much. We have fought this battle many times over, and just within the last year had a brother argue vehemently (as you also brought up) that 2 Cor 6 absolutely does not include marriage. Of course, this particular brother had married someone who was not a Christian, so he sought to justify himself.

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    • I have learned over the years that people usually try justify themselves when they are locked into relationships the Lord does not approve. I also wonder if they have joined the ranks of the deists, who drain the power of God’s word from most “hard” commands. I am doing research on that topic now.

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  4. Very much appreciate the clarity of your thoughts here! As you say, though nothing in this passage indicates it applies specifically to marriage, isn’t marriage the closest of all yokes?

    Fellowship: participation
    Communion: partnership
    Concord: accordance [in agreement with]
    Part: portion
    Agreement: a deposition [declaration] of sentiment in company with

    Who does a person participate with most closely, partner with, agree with, share with, and think like, more than they do with their spouse? Being yoked with someone means I’m working WITH them on the SAME WORK.

    Is it possible that a person could wear the name of “Christian,” but in actually be doing the work of the world – living for the world, working for worldly things, loving the things of the world? How high is my standard for who I choose to marry? Will I yoke myself and agree to work alongside someone for life who is going to pull me in the direction of earthly things, or things above?

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    • We want the highest standards in food and clothing. Even our water is bottled these days so we get the best. How could anyone not want the best mate? If our lives are totally given to Christianity, why would we partner with anyone not of that mind?

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  5. “How does all this relate to marriage? Unless marriage is an exception to the rule, all relationships of fellowship/concord/agreement, etc. are included. How could someone come out from among those who walk in darkness and that separation not include the one a person marries? The only way one could marry an unbeliever is if he had some communication with darkness.

    The further discussion concerning the member who becomes unfaithful is not addressed in this passage. Obviously the command not to be unequally yoked would be for those who were not already yoked in marriage. It is possible to remove ourselves from almost all unequally yoked relationships, but marriage is an exception which is made very clear in 1 Corinthians 7:12-15, Matthew 19:9 and Matthew 5:32.”

    Yes, I believe so. But some brethren use Heb. 13:4 to say God sees all marriages are honorable and God does protect all marriages and hates divorces unless for the fornication reason. I do not see how God would contradict himself by telling us to be apart from unbelievers and at the same time approves the marriage with unbelievers.

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    • Would any true Christian view Hebrews 13:4 as anything other than God approved marriage? Certainly the marriage of two divorced people would not be honorable in God’s eyes? Were Solomon’s marriages to women of the non-Jewish nations approved by God?

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