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).