STUDY II Corinthians
6:11-18 (click here for
We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts toyou. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange-I speak as to my children-open wide your hearts also.
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."
"Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you."
"I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." (NIV)
A Vulnerable Heart
Chapter six is a personal plea from Paul to the young church at Corinth to stay focussed on the truth and to regard him with the same vulnerable affection with which he regards them. Since he preached the gospel to them and nurtured them as they gave up paganism and became Christ-followers, he fears that their belief in the false apostles' lies about him will mean that they will reject the pure gospel as they turn away from him. He has just reminded them that he is not trying to protect himself; rather, he is risking his life and his health in order to stay true to the call of God on his life and to the people God puts in his life.
1. The false apostles are trying to convince the Corinthians that Paul doesn't really love them because he changed his plans to visit them. (see 2 Corinthians 1:15-2:4) Given this context, what point is Paul making when he says he has always "spoken freely" to them? (see 1 Corinthians 1:12-14; 4:2)
2. Paul sets an example of the vulnerability a minister of reconciliation feels for the people to whom he ministers if he is truly allowing God to love others through him. What does he mean when he says he has opened wide his heart to the Corinthians? (see 7:2-4; Philippians 1:7)
3. Paul exposes the depth of his hurt to the Corinthians as he says, "We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from usopen wide your hearts also." He makes this appeal as though speaking to his children. How can Paul claim to have the selflessness and vulnerability of a parent toward the people among whom he ministered? (See 1 Thessalonians 2:6-12)
4. Why is it so important that the Corinthians open their hearts to Paul and be vulnerable to him? (see 7:10; 1 John 1:6-7; 2:10-11, 29; 4:16; James 1:16-18)
"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers," Paul writes in 6:14; "for what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?"
5. What OT precedents are there for avoiding unequal yoking? (see Genesis 24:3; Deuteronomy 22:10)
6. Why did God forbid Israel to intermarry or even to negotiate politically with the Canaanites? (see Deuteronomy 7:1-6; Exodus 34:15-16)
7. What was God's point in forbidding the Israelites to yoke an ox to a donkey?
8. What other New Testament advice does Paul give on this same topic? (see 1 Corinthians 5:9-11; 6:1, 6)
9. What is an "unbeliever" as opposed to a "believer"? (see Acts15:14; 6:31; James 2:1; 1 Peter 2:17; 1 Corinthians 6:6; 1 Timothy 5:8)
Defining Unequal Yokes
10. Given the circumstances of the Corinthians church and the context of this letter, what particular unequal yoking was Paul addressing? (see 2 Corinthians 11:13-14)
11. Although the deceitful teachers and apostles in the Corinthians church appeared spiritual and their teaching was convincing, what can we conclude about them based on Paul's warnings?
12. What would unequal yoking look like today, and why must we not forge these relationships? (see Ephesians 5:6-14; 1 John 1:5-7; 1 Corinthians 7:12-16; 10:21)
Temple of God
13. Paul contrasts Jesus with Belial, or Satan, and emphasizes that Christ-followers comprise the temple of God. What exactly does it mean that we are the temple of the living God? (see 1 Peter 2:4-5; 1:15; Acts 2:33; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 4:1-2; Ephesians 2:19-22; Romans 12:1; Hebrews 13:15-16; John 14:15-18)
14. As the temple of God, Christ-followers are not to compromise with evil. What sorts of compromise were the early Christians tempted to make? (see 1 Corinthians 3:3; 5:1; 6:7-11; 10:21; Galatians 4:8-11; Colossians 2:20-23; James 3:13-16; 1 Peter 1:14-15)
15. Christ-followers' being the temple of the Living God fulfills (or partially fulfills) or foreshadows what promises of God? (see Leviticus 26:12; Deuteronomy 32:21; Isaiah 65:1; Jeremiah 31:33; 32:38; Ezekiel 38:27; Hosea 1:9-10; 2:23; Romans 9:22-26; 10:19-20; Hebrews 8:10-11; 1 Peter 2:9-10; Revelation 21:3-4)
16. In the context of not being unequally yoked, why do you think Paul, the primary expositor of the new covenant, quotes the OT passages about coming "out from them" and being separate, touching no unclean thing, and being received by God who will be our Father? (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 15-17; Matthew 12:25-27; 48-50)
17. How does the teaching contained in this passage of 2 Corinthians differ from the way you were taught about being unequally yoked?
18. If you have been an Adventist or a member of another cultic denomination, how does this passage apply (or does it?) to your relationship with that church? Why?
19. What unequal yokes do you have (or have you had) in your life?
20. In what areas of your life are you experiencing pressure to forge unequal yokes?
21. What lingering alliance(s) do you have from your past that compromise(s) you?
22. What do you most fear about severing your unequal alliances?
23. With what is God asking you to trust him, allowing him to be all you need and all those in your life need, in order to let go of those compromising relationships?
24. Ask God to reveal to you the truth about your alliances. Ask him to show you which ones he wants you to give to him and be willing to release. Ask Jesus to fill the place in your heart those relationships have held. Ask him to be everything you need and to reassure you with his love and comfort and peace.
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CA USA. All rights reserved. Posted June 26, 2002.