2 Corinthians 6 v 14-18

Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
In the Purgatorial thread on Romantic relationships between Christians and non-Christians, Zoe posted this.
I've been a Shippie long enough to have expected the majority of replies to my OP to be as they were. Nevertheless, I am surprised that even those posters who I believe self-identify as evangelical (namely Lamb Chopped, cliffdweller and B62) have not suggested that 2 Corinthians 6 should be taken at face value as a scriptural direction for Christians not to have romantic relationships with non-Christians. What do you guys specifically think is being said in v 14 - 18?

And here is what those scriptures say - NIV translation
14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 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.”
17 Therefore,
“Come out from them
and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you.”
18 And,
“I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”

So I'm creating this thread in Kerygmania for some detailed consideration of those scriptures.

«1

Comments

  • As always with any of the epistles, one has to understand the context in which Paul wrote this. Corinth was known for a rather... cosmopolitan lifestyle and various practices, including religious prostitution were common. There was a real concern among the elders of the church in Corinth that new converts would easily stray. Hence this advice.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    edited March 2018
    I think I'll divide my comments into at least three posts.

    1. Textual position.
    2. Eschatology
    3. Relationship to Ephesians 5

    Dealing with textual position, I'm going to quote from my Peake's Commentary on the bible, which summarises a generally held view of this text.

    "The section from 2 Corinthians 6 v 14 to 7 v1 has been interpolated into its present context and if it is excised it leaves a continuous argument in 6v13 and 7v2. "

    That is best illustrated by quotation, starting at 6v11 and then adding 7v2-4

    "11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. 12 We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. 13 As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also. 7v 2 Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one. 3 I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. 4 I have spoken to you with great frankness; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds."

    That is so clearly a continous portion of text that the argument for an interpolation by a scribe is conclusive. It is part of a general argument that 2 Corinthians is made up of at least 4 fragments of letters to the Corinthian church, again a common scholarly view of the text.

    What that means is that we do not know what the original context of 2 Corinthians 6 v 14 -7 v1 actually was. And that is significant for interpretation of its meaning. The second observation from Peake is also relevant.

    "The section is different in tone from its environment, teaching a baptised Pharisaism, a complete separation of Christians from a pagan way of life". It is very much in contrast with the portion I have quoted above (cutting out the interpolated passage) which is full of grace.

    And that is further evidence that we do not really know what the wider context of these verses was. And therefore, in coming to a balanced view of the teaching on marriage we must not rely on this text alone, but look further afield. We must weigh scripture with scripture.

    Zoey, I will be very surprised if anyone has ever pointed out this textual issue to you before.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    PS I'm going to leave this for 24 hours for any comments folks may have, before posting part 2 on Eschatology.
  • Very helpful perspective, Barnabus. I would add that a challenge in most of Paul's epistles, and particularly Corinthians, is that Paul often seems to be responding to a letter or word he has rec'd from the Corinthians with specific questions. See, for example, 1 Cor. 7:1: " Now for the matters you wrote about..." which, interestingly, is followed by "... It is good for a man not to marry."

    So we have Paul's answer, but not their question-- the specific problem he's asking them to respond to.

    As with 2 Cor. 6 seems rather similar to 1 Cor. 7, where Paul is more explicitly talking in terms of overall "wisdom" rather than specific prohibitions. To the original question on the OP on the old ship, Paul seems here to me to be at best saying something along the lines of "marrying a non-believer is going to lead to some problems..." as opposed to "marrying a non-believer is a sin." It's one factor to consider among the myriad of others one has to weigh when making such a monumental decision.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    Yes. The other early Pauline scriptures need to be weighed in to the debate.

    BTW Zoe, sorry about the 'y'!
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    That's another massive loop of cognitive dissonance B. Is nothing sacred?! Even if Paul did write it, which I'd never questioned before, it just doesn't apply in contemporary relationships where the only difference between people isn't ethical, moral or behavioural in any meaningful way, just in arbitrary beliefs and rituals.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    You have to look honestly at what's there and take it from there, Martin54. The textual analysis doesn't produce cognitive dissonance in me. It is what it is. And has been known for a long time.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    Apologies for double post. The language of 2 Cor 6 v 14 ff looks Pauline. How it got in an inappropriate place is anyone's guess. Same for the original context of that portion.
  • I think that there are a number of questions which we could ask about this.
      Did Paul write it or was it a later interpolation? If a later interpolation, does this matter? If so, why? If Paul wrote it, does it mean that we have to accept it as "right"? In other words, even if we think that this is a Pauline command and that it DOES mean that Paul thought that relationships between believer and un-believer were wrong, are we forced to conclude that this is binding on all Christians?

    FWIW, I can quite believe that Paul didn't think much of Christians getting married to non-Christians. He wasn't that keen on Christians getting married at all. But that doesn't mean that we need to accept this restraint today, although it definitely sensible for a Christian to ask themselves seriously what impact such a relationship will have on the practice of their faith.
  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    edited March 2018
    'Yoke' in English (and Latin) is a common (albeit old-fashioned) metaphor for marriage. Does it have that sense in Greek? Surely St Paul meant marriage, he would say 'with an unbeliever' rather than 'with unbelievers'?

    It's quite clear that St Paul did accept the possibility of a happy marriage between a Christian and a non-Christian, because 1 Corinthians 7 says:
    To the rest I say—I and not the Lord—that if any believer has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13And if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. It is to peace that God has called you. 16Wife, for all you know, you might save your husband. Husband, for all you know, you might save your wife.
    When I was a fundie, we assumed this referred to the situation in which the believer had converted after getting married, but there isn't any reason to suppose that from the text that I can see.

    Also, my New Jerusalem Bible translates 2 Corinthians 6:14 as 'Do not harness yourself in an unequal team with unbelievers'. The obvious implication of this that an equal team would be OK, but is that actually a valid reading of the Greek, or just an artifact of what is presumably quite a paraphrased translation?
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    edited March 2018
    Some very helpful views here. I'll get an opportunity to refer to them in this and the final post.

    Eschatology - Expectation of the Lord's return and the end of the age.

    I will be concentrating on the content of 1 Corinthians 7 which contains various views from Paul about marriage and the responsibilities of both single people and marriage partners.

    The entire chapter needs to be read in the context of this defining comment.
    26 Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is.
    (snip)
    29 What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; 30 those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31 those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

    (Italics are mine of course)

    A few significant points.

    1. The Corinthian letters were written in the early to mid AD50s and it is clear, not just from these verses but others, that Paul has at that time an imminent expectation of the Lord's return and the coming judgment at the end of the era. He therefore sees mission and evangelism as an urgent priority.
    2. So his guidelines on marriage are for the time that is left.
    3. He knew he was writing to a church in with many new converts, some from a specifically immoral background, many gentiles and many very young in the faith
    4. As cliffdweller points out, he was responding to questions from the local leaders - so we have his answers, but not the questions!

    Taking all these factors into account, this part of the letter is essentially about what is best for now (the times are short) in the context of a specific church. For his considered thoughts about marriage and the mutual responsibilities of life partners, it may be better to look at the later letter (Ephesians) which in any case is an encyclical (addressed to many churches, not just one. Paul's thoughts may have moved on by then, addressing the issue of marriage as a long term commitment. He may also have been thinking that the end-times are further away than he believed in the mid 50's AD.

    These thoughts explain better why he believes celibacy is better than the married state, since it frees folks to concentrate on mission. Nevertheless, people should behave responsibly in their existing marriages, whether these were between believers or mixed. And if marriages do come to an end, folks should not remarry but concentrate on the Lord's work. He also recognises in the letter that some of his ideas may be his, not the Lord's, which is pretty remarkable!

    There is no harm in looking for underlying principles in what he says, but given the end-times emphasis and the fact that these ideas were addressing the problems of a specific church with specific challenges, I think we have to be cautious in applying them to marriage long term in our own time. That would not be paying full attention to the text and context. As cliffdweller and Rufus T Firefly observe and imply, it is sensible to see warnings in 1 Cor 7 for folks contemplating marrying an unbeliever, but not necessarily prohibitions.

    Looking back at 2 Cor 6 v 14ff, a couple of further points.

    1. People who now better than me and have studied the language and style, think the text is probably Pauline, not some addition by a later editor, but that possibility is not ruled out. If you take the "probably Pauline, probably part of another letter to the Corinthians", it does seem likely that the fragment was written in the early to mid-50s, when eschatology was clearly a major influence on Paul's thinking. So it probably pre-dates Ephesians 5, which I'll get onto in my next post.
    2. As a result, some folks argue that the text applies more to who you work with on missions. That's speculative, but not unreasonable, given that we don't really know the exact context of 2 Cor 6 v 14ff.

    Quite enough to be going on with! I could say a lot more, but probably best to leave this for responses over the next day or two, before looking at Ephesians 5.


  • Very interesting Barnabas62 - I've not much to add - in my relatively short time listening to high level scripture analysis there seems always an axe to grind - understandable as confirmation bias is hard to avoid.

    But the depth and humility of this analysis seems very good to me.

    I believe complex problems / interpretations rarely have any simple answers. Extreme positions on either side of a debate can just muddy waters.

    Looking forward to further exploration!

  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    edited March 2018
    Siegfried wrote: »
    As always with any of the epistles, one has to understand the context in which Paul wrote this. Corinth was known for a rather... cosmopolitan lifestyle and various practices, including religious prostitution were common.
    Siegfried

    I used this excellent point, meant to acknowledge it came from you, but forgot! Sorry.

    Little_jon

    Thanks. I'm not just doing this for Zoe. IME a lot of folks have been badly hurt by over-directional advice on this issue.

  • I just put together a presentation on preaching Paul for a group of Anglican clergy and theology students. I find the OP baffling. That is not remotely what the text means "at face value" - whatever that means. That interpretation only works if it is removed completely from its context.
  • BroJamesBroJames Shipmate
    I think because the word Paul uses for 'unequally yoked' occurs only once in the NT, I feel reluctant to be too definite about what it means. The direction of the section is towards the conclusion in 7.1
    Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holinessc out of reverence for God.
    To me that seems to point away from a narrow focus on specific issues (e.g. romantic relationship between Christian and non-Christian), and towards a wider question about the impact of a particular decision on my discipleship overall. In the Brethren tradition, for example, the injunction could be interpreted very literally and strictly, such that a business partnership with a non-Christian would be caught by this verse.

    To me, I suppose, there is something not only about how it might affect my inner integrity, but also what kind of witness it might be. Sometimes refraining from a connection with a non-believer might be more damaging than joining with them.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    I just put together a presentation on preaching Paul for a group of Anglican clergy and theology students. I find the OP baffling. That is not remotely what the text means "at face value" - whatever that means. That interpretation only works if it is removed completely from its context.

    Of course I think you are right. It is an issue for another Shipmate that she sees things that way. What I've been trying to do is to demonstrate the importance of context in this particular case.
  • I'm enjoying this as a kind of lecture series :) I don't have anything to add, but thanks for all the effort to type this up.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Superb B. I'm surprised that you appear surprised by my cognitive dissonance? My ignorance of the historical-critical analysis of this 'epistle' was total until this thread. It changes nearly everything again. Which is absurd, as I'm very aware of the deconstruction of the gospels to Matthew, Mark, Luke and Q. It doesn't change the fact of Jesus. It just massively reinforces the fact that we made it all up apart from the limited, distorted reportage. The Holy Spirit's involvement is utterly, undetectably minimal.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    Sometimes you have to dig through the human to get to the Holy. (I think that's a Rob Bell phrase, but I reckon it's pretty good.)
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    tangent/

    Martin54

    Given your background, I wondered if you'd read Rob Bell's "What is the Bible?". Fascinating, provocative, book. I got it as a birthday present, thoroughly enjoyed it. I think it's a stimulating read for anyone struggling to make sense of scripture.

    /tangent
  • You are doing a great job, Barnabas!

    One slight niggle though -
    That is so clearly a continous portion of text that the argument for an interpolation by a scribe is conclusive.

    Hmm. I think that form criticism would suggest that to apply this decision without regard to other anaytical constraints could be dangerous. It effectively airbrushes away the concept of inclusio, which is definitely a thing in both OT and NT.

    (You may well be right but I think the argument needs more work).
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    There was a Christian community in the US, known as The Shakers, that took Paul's comments on not marrying because we are at the end times literally. They grew because they took in orphans; but, as our state laws changed in regards to adoption--encouraging it, the number of orphans available decreased and the community stopped growing.

    While Paul does seem to discourage marrying outside the faith, he does say if you are yoked with a non-believer you should not divorce her (or him).

    I include an overview of what the rest of the Bible says about interreligious marriages: http://www.religioustolerance.org/ifm_bibl.htm

    (Sorry, I can't link this like we were able to on the old Message Boards.)
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    You are doing a great job, Barnabas!

    One slight niggle though -
    That is so clearly a continous portion of text that the argument for an interpolation by a scribe is conclusive.

    Hmm. I think that form criticism would suggest that to apply this decision without regard to other anaytical constraints could be dangerous. It effectively airbrushes away the concept of inclusio, which is definitely a thing in both OT and NT.

    (You may well be right but I think the argument needs more work).

    The inclusion argument looks very weak in this case because of the extreme differences in style and content. That's the Peake form critical view on which I commented in the second post to the thread. Paul is appealing for reconciliation then suddenly switches into judgmentally directive mode. Then switches back to reconciliation?

    I just don't buy it! An inappropriate inclusion of a fragment from a different source is by far the best explanation. As Peake observes. And Peake is hardly a liberal radical commentary.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    Should have said third post in the thread, Honest Ron. And missed the edit window

    Here's the Peake observation from that post.
    What that means is that we do not know what the original context of 2 Corinthians 6 v 14 -7 v1 actually was. And that is significant for interpretation of its meaning. The second observation from Peake is also relevant.

    "The section is different in tone from its environment, teaching a baptised Pharisaism, a complete separation of Christians from a pagan way of life". It is very much in contrast with the portion I have quoted above (cutting out the interpolated passage) which is full of grace.

    Maybe I said conclusive too early? But I think that clinches it.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    There was a Christian community in the US, known as The Shakers, that took Paul's comments on not marrying because we are at the end times literally. They grew because they took in orphans; but, as our state laws changed in regards to adoption--encouraging it, the number of orphans available decreased and the community stopped growing.

    While Paul does seem to discourage marrying outside the faith, he does say if you are yoked with a non-believer you should not divorce her (or him).

    I include an overview of what the rest of the Bible says about interreligious marriages:

    Religious tolerance link

    (Sorry, I can't link this like we were able to on the old Message Boards.)

    (Note re links. Yes you can! The second post in the BB thread in the Styx tells you how. And I've just demonstrated that you can. Just tapped in a few BBCode characters)

    Thanks for the post Gramps. The OT perspective is important as the link shows, and I'll pick up on that in my next long post.

  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited March 2018
    First class dialectic, HRB, B. And no, I've not read the book. Read the early blog. Gave up with Brian McLaren, who gives depth to the emergent, as he seems non-inclusive of conservatism. Which affects me partaking of Rob. Just discovered Jonathan Haight on moral psychology and that speaks to me where I live. Leicester! A Muslim city. My boss and colleagues are now 90% Muslim. I want to include. Which therefore means the other. Brexiteers and Trump supporters. Know what I mean? It's all in there. It's not enough to be merely liberal. Where did that come from? Later.
  • Barnabas62 wrote: »
    I think I'll divide my comments into at least three posts.

    1. Textual position.
    2. Eschatology
    3. Relationship to Ephesians 5

    Dealing with textual position, I'm going to quote from my Peake's Commentary on the bible, which summarises a generally held view of this text.

    "The section from 2 Corinthians 6 v 14 to 7 v1 has been interpolated into its present context and if it is excised it leaves a continuous argument in 6v13 and 7v2. "

    That is best illustrated by quotation, starting at 6v11 and then adding 7v2-4

    "11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. 12 We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. 13 As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also. 7v 2 Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one. 3 I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. 4 I have spoken to you with great frankness; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds."

    That is so clearly a continous portion of text that the argument for an interpolation by a scribe is conclusive. It is part of a general argument that 2 Corinthians is made up of at least 4 fragments of letters to the Corinthian church, again a common scholarly view of the text.

    Barnabas, do you know if there is any manuscript support for the interpolation idea? My impression of Paul is that he's just the kind of fellow to go haring off on a different trail of thought, thrash it to death, and then return (possibly with a recap like "Make room for us in your hearts") to his original train of thought. I'm afraid I can't be comfortable saying this is an inclusion without some manuscript evidence.

    (Yes, I really ought to do the research myself, but my stuff is at work, and I've got a colb in the haed (sniff, snork) and am lazy in consequence...)
    Barnabas62 wrote: »
    What that means is that we do not know what the original context of 2 Corinthians 6 v 14 -7 v1 actually was. And that is significant for interpretation of its meaning. ... And therefore, in coming to a balanced view of the teaching on marriage we must not rely on this text alone, but look further afield. We must weigh scripture with scripture.

    This I agree with. Though the context I'm wanting most is the original letter from the Corinthians. But in the meantime, I'd not look at it as baptized Pharisaism so much as as a statement of a general principle of ... ethical wisdom? which can be applied to a lot of different areas of a Christian's life.
  • Ugghh. Just realized I got "inclusion" and "interpolation" mixed up. Never mind. You know what I mean. [blushes and retreats]
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    Lamb Chopped.

    There is generally some evidence of textual variation in the letters of the early church fathers, but I'm pretty sure the earliest MS - which are pretty late - show the text in the order we've got. The analysis of chapter 6 and 7 which leads to the interpolation view - a very commonly held view - is drawn from the evidence of content.

    You are right of course that Paul would sometimes interrupt his own argument with some expressive tangential thought, but that's not what is going on here. There is zero tangential connection between the reconciling pleading text which wraps around 6:14 to 7.1 and that text itself. I find the interpolation explanation much better, purely on the grounds of internal evidence. YMMV and that's fine. But leaving presuppositions aside I hope you can see it is a very plausible view.

    In any case, I think we may be quite close to agreement about a possibly more general view of that text than specific guidance on prospective marriage partners. I'm probably less comfortable about reading too much into 6:14 ff because I don't have anything to go on about its original context.
  • Oh, I certainly see it as plausible; but my background, both as a writer and as an extremely minor textual scholar leads me to be extremely conservative about arguments from content, style, etc. when there is no variant manuscript evidence to support interpolation etc. (Did you mean to say there IS evidence in the fathers? That would be very interesting.)

    Truthfully, I'm not sure what level of style/content difference it would take to convince me of a textual rearrangement in the absence of manuscript variation. It's my prejudice, I suppose; but I did my doctorate digging in the basements of textual criticism (the "lower criticism," they call it!) and the view from down there is maybe less trusting of conclusions drawn from style/content. It wasn't NT criticism, but the methods are much the same.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    How do you cancel a post when you decide against it? Probably should look in the styx
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    Gramps49. You can't once you've posted it. You can edit it down to a "." Provided you don't exceed the 6 minutes grace.

    Lamb Chopped

    2 Cor verses are quoted a fair bit in the letters of the 2nd and 3rd century father's , but normally single verses or short excerpts. And as is normal they don't quote verse or chapter numbers so you can't really be sure what ms or order of text they were using.

    I don't think there is any evidence of whole letter ms before the 4th century.

    One thing I did find digging is no evidence of the church fathers using the unequally yoked text to refer specifically to prospective marriage partners. The comments are much more general.

    Since we're unlikely to agree on arguments from form criticism, probably best if we just recognise what we do agree on. Whether the text is an interpolation or a digression, it's pretty hard to see what wider context it belongs to! It just sits there, as an interruption to the main flow of the letter at that point. It doesn't connect. So we have to make of that what we can.
  • One thing I did find digging is no evidence of the church fathers using the unequally yoked text to refer specifically to prospective marriage partners. The comments are much more general.

    That's really interesting. Thanks! And yes, whether it's an interpolation or a digression, we still have the same lack of context, and have to get on with figuring it out some other way.


  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    Lamb Chopped

    You may also be interested in this.
  • Like it seems everyone else in this discussion I first came across this as a teenager with our adult mentors concentrating on the implications for marriage and ipso facto for girlfriend/boyfriend relationships in the meantime. I tended to just accept that as the primary meaning.

    More recently my changed views, to and therefore from a more-or-less 'Anabaptist' position, have led me to query quite a few interpretations that were the norm as I grew up; and this is one of them. I think this is NOT a text about marriage and romantic relationships, but a text about relations between Christians and the world generally. There is nothing in the surrounding context to limit the meaning to marriage.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    edited March 2018
    Yes, that's my understanding - and the same goes for Dark Knight, Lamb Chopped, BroJames and maybe a few others. And the significance of that for today also needs to take into account the fact that 2 Cor 6:14ff (whether an interpolation from another letter or a massive digression by Paul) was addressed to a church dealing with special problems, converts from immoral backgrounds, the prevailing immorality of the area, lots of immaturity in the faith. Plus Paul's view of the imminence of the end times and the urgent necessities of mission.

    Oh, and by the way, welcome Steve, see you navigated your way across "the great divide"!
  • Thanks for the welcome, B62. Though I'm going to need to change the avatar I've been allocated!

    Having made the basic point, I do think that the text includes issues around marriage where there is a choice - which at time of writing, with most marriages arranged, might not always apply to women or indeed younger men. But it's primary reference is surely simply Jesus' point that His Kingdom is 'not of this world' in general.

    I was a bit concerned by the suggestion above that Paul was advocating 'Pharisaic separation'. That's at least too simplistic a view.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    I think it might actually be better to leave this thread for further discussion for another day, rather than throw Ephesians 5 into the mix..
  • Wasn't intending to drag Eph 5 into it! Just registering that if Christians are to 'come out and be separate' (II Cor 6; 17) marriage would potentially be part of it. You might realise I'd be more interested myself in discussing the other aspects of that separation.... And the ways the societal background for interpreting the text has changed over the centuries.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    You've overlooked this
    I think I'll divide my comments into at least three posts.

    1. Textual position.
    2. Eschatology
    3. Relationship to Ephesians 5

    and this
    Quite enough to be going on with! I could say a lot more, but probably best to leave this for responses over the next day or two, before looking at Ephesians 5.

    from my earlier posts, Steve. I'm on a promise.
  • Sorry B62. Had temporarily forgotten that earlier post.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    Taking a look at Ephesians, I note there is a question of authorship. Traditionally it is assumed that Paul wrote it while in Rome, and the two earliest New Testament canons do attribute it to Paul. However modern criticism raises the issue that it may have been written after Paul had died by a Pauline disciple. So, rather than someone taking the passage on being yoked to an unbeliever from Ephesians and being inserted into 1 Corinthians, it could also be a Pauline disciple taking a quote from his master and including it in the piece he wrote.

    Several reasons why Ephesians may have been written by someone else

    1) No mention of specific persons at the beginning of the letter or at the end of the letter
    2) The syntax if the Greek is more sophisticated than the earlier known Pauline letters
    3) The vocabulary is different than the undisputed letters of Paul
    4) No mention of an immediate return of Christ (the writer is saying we are in it for the long hall).
    5 In Ephesians, the believers have already been saved and resurrected in Christ (imagery of the baptism)>
    6) The social order outlined in Ephesians is more sophisticated
    7) The claim that Paul is a holy man among the apostles--something Paul declines to accept in other Pauline letters
    8) Ephesians borrows heavily from Colosians, and most contemporary Bible scholars do not think Colosians was written by Paul
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    edited March 2018
    That's one of the issues I was intending to address, Gramps49. Short version. The later the letter the more it is likely to consider long term issues. Authorship is a good topic in that context. More later.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    Real Life constraints mean that I'm going to be unable to produce the promised further contribution for a few days. Middle of next week should be OK.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    Ricardus wrote: 'Yoke' in English (and Latin) is a common (albeit old-fashioned) metaphor for marriage. Does it have that sense in Greek? Surely St Paul meant marriage, he would say 'with an unbeliever' rather than 'with unbelievers'?

    Following on from Ricardus, is it established that this passage is a reference to marriage? I've heard it suggested that the injunction might apply to business activities, trade associations and the like, where pagan religious practices played a role.
  • Although often used in the context of marriage/romantic relationships, and to some extent applicable in that context, I've long regarded it as much wider with marriage etc as a secondary issue. This was mentioned earlier in the thread as well....
  • Just bumping this back up - been sort of looking forward a bit of Ephesians 5 analysis!
  • According to the passage under consideration Paul seems to be firmly opposed to mixed marriages. Marriages that is between believers and nonbelievers. This was a distinctly OT view where it was considered the polluting of the believer's faith far more likely that the possibility of the nonbeliever being influenced by the 'believer'.

    This of course makes this section of text a blunt contradiction of 1 Cor.7:12-16.

    "But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy." 1 Cor.7:12-16.

    The 2 Cor. passage goes on to cite lots of OT texts supposedly in support of the 'harsh negative command' and the following rhetorical question, "For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?".

    This passage is, to my mind, and that of many others, a fake, written and inserted by someone other than St Paul. Either that or the other passage in 1 Cor. is a fake, and I do not have any reason whatever to believe 1 Cor.7:12-16 to be anything other than genuine Paul.

    The fact that this interpolation is supported by loose quotations in the Pharisaic manner, from Lev.26:12; Ezek.37:27; Isa.52:11; Ezek.20:34,41; Jer.31:1; Isa.52:11, 43:6 betrays the Pharisaical obsession for cleansing oneself from contamination by separating oneself from those who are considered unclean by nature. i.e. in OT times all Gentiles, in NT times all 'non-Christians' or those that 'believeth-not'.

    We know that if we take the suspect interpolation out, between 2 Cor.6:13 - 7:2, what remains fits together perfectly as a continuous argument.

    "We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return (I speak as to children) [widen your hearts also]. . . . . [Make room in your hearts for us]. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy". 2Cor.6:13, - 7:2-4.

    This interpolated passage has the same hectoring style as 1 Cor.11:3-16 and 14:34-35. It also raises similar problems of contradiction as do the other two possibly interpolated passages, not from the words of St Paul.

    Yet another example of the Corinthian copy scribe or a "Corinthian super apostle", up to his anti Paul dirty tricks again, I think.

    ____________________________________
    In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 2 Cor. 5:19. Love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Pet. 4:8.
  • Has it been mentioned up thread that the passage is likely to be referring to marriage as the particular kind of mismatching the author had in mind?

    It is interesting that the word translated here, "yoked together" or (better "mis-yoked", hetero-zygeo), has essentially the same root as the word Jesus used when, speaking of marriage, he said "That which God yoked together [sy-zeugnymi] no person must break apart" (Mk.10:9.) So it is correct to see marriage as at least one kind of mismatching that the author, (whoever he was), had in mind.

    Paul's actual position on the matter of mixed marriages seems to be a general opinion, in view of an imminent parousia, that the responsibilities and divided loyalties inevitably associated with marriage generally, it would be on the whole better that believers did not marry at all but remained celibate, in anticipation of the Lord's return. His opinion would probably have changed over the course of time as it became obvious that the Second Coming was not going to be as immediate as at first expected.

    In spite of Paul's personal advice not to get entangled in marriage however, he concedes that it is better to get married than to have unholy sexual relationships outside of the union of marriage. It is also probably thought by Paul that it is better for children to be brought up within marriage than outside it. Also that if already married there is less danger that the believing partner will have their faith 'polluted' than that their partner will be won over by the believers example. In any case the marriage union itself is in principle 'holy' because God respects the faith of the believer 'first and foremost', not the unbelief of the unbelieving partner, when it comes to the covenant status of the children.

    It is unclear whether Paul accepted entering a marriage with an unbelieving partner, but he certainly had no objection to continuing in an already existing marriage with one. Though he makes provision for the believing partner to allow the unbelieving one to annul the relationship if they so desire, without any stigma attaching to the believing partner.

    It is very likely that there was a movement within the Corinthian Church which was advocating, even trying to enforce, an "aesthetic purity ethic", by demanding that believers "get rid" or "put away" unbelieving partners, in the same way as Ezra had demanded Ez.10:10-11, 18-44. It is also likely that they had written to Paul trying to get his official approval for their "purity drive". Paul wrote back with a more liberal and therefore much less attractive alternative policy, with which they disagreed, hence the 'super apostles' and all the hostile opposition Paul got from the Corinthian Church. Hence also the crude, often contradictory, interpolations which mar 1 and 2 Corinthians and have caused such confusion and restriction on church praxis.
    ____________________________________
    In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 2 Cor. 5:19. Love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Pet. 4:8.
  • BroJamesBroJames Shipmate
    “Mis-yoked” is an over/translation of the Greek in that it could mean that, but does not necessarily, nor does the context demand that translation.

    Likewise the “yoke” too has a wide range of uses, often not connected with marriage (1 Tim 6:1; Mt. 11:29, 30; Acts 15:10; Gal. 5:1 [sorry, url links for these are too difficult from a phone]) I think Paul had different kinds of ‘yoking’ in mind, including but not limited to marriage. I think the grounds for treating it as non-Pauline are very weak. It is just too easy to trim chunks out of texts and leave something still looking sensible and reasonable, but the text-critical evidence doesn’t support it.
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