Come out from them (2Co 6)
"What communion [koinonia] hath light with darkness?... Therefore come out from
among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing"
This passage has always been popular with separatists, but it
is even more sorely misapplied than some of the others we have considered. The
context clearly speaks of a life of unrighteousness. From such a worldly outlook
and way of life the believers are certainly prohibited, since such a joining is
an "unequal yoking with unbelievers". But it is a peculiar wresting of Scripture
which would take this passage and wield it in cutting off believers for some
minor deviation, real or imagined!
The entire passage is much richer and more detailed than one
would ever imagine from a cursory reading. Each phrase is fully expounded in a
series of articles by David Parry -- in which practical applications are
precisely drawn (Tes 46:218-220, 270-272,311-314, 341-344, 427-429, and 452-455;
Tes 47:70-74). These exhortational conclusions reveal once and for all the moral
force of the passage, in contrast to the mere legalistic approach in
"withholding fellowship" at the breaking of bread. We have certainly come to see
by now, if we had not realized it already, that "fellowship" is a much broader
and more meaningful concept for believers than the question of whom we exclude
from "our" table (which is not even ours, but Christ's). Fellowship with God is
a way of life which permeates all corners of our lives, and calls us constantly
upward to a fuller appreciation of life lived always in the presence, and in the
household, of our Heavenly Father. Those who convince themselves that their duty
in the way of "separation" is accomplished when they ruthlessly exclude some or
many of their brethren from their "fellowship" have simply not understood as yet
what "fellowship" is all about! And it just may be that, in giving undue
attention to one area of responsibility, they are on their way to ignoring
other, more far-reaching duties!
1. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers (v 14):
Only two can wear a yoke, and they must agree together in the direction they are
traveling. We are commanded to be yoked with Christ (Mat 11:28,29), and we can
be yoked with no other at the same time.
"The call of Christ is to a complete way of life -- it is all-sufficient.
Failure to realize that when Christ spoke of two ways, he meant two and no more,
has led men to try and walk in both, looking for a third. For the Christian
partnership to work, the believer must at all times try to match the example of
his Master. The only incentive is to think deeply of the work being performed
together. Unless positive reasons for a life in Christ are understood, the yoke
of Christ will chafe and the discipline be irksome" (Ibid
2. What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? (v
14): This word "fellowship" might best be translated "partnership", a joint
partaking in something. Righteousness describes the ethical standard by which
God offers men salvation. It is the pattern of life in Christ. It is impossible
that there should be any partnership between this way of living and its exact
opposite -- unrighteousness, or lawlessness.
3. What communion hath light with darkness? (v 14): This word
"communion" is the common word for "fellowship" -- koinonia. To think of
fellowship between light and darkness is an impossibility, for the two cannot in
any way exist side by side. Those who say they fellowship light and yet walk in
darkness are liars (1Jo 1:5-7). Correct beliefs are necessary, but our
fellowship in light must be proven by the actions of a new life (1Jo 2:29; 3:7;
Joh 3:19-21; 8:39; 10:37). The Bible definition of walking in darkness is not
holding false doctrine, but hating one's brother (1Jo 2:11)!
4. What concord hath Christ with Belial? (v 15): "Concord",
relating to the English word "symphony", expresses the idea of harmony in
singing or other verbal expression. In Christ's life the "symphony" has already
been composed. Each performer and each instrument should be controlled by that
original plan. We as the players bring our individual talents to bear upon the
composer's score. But we cannot "play our own tune", or else there will be
discord and not concord in the finished product. Trying to follow both Christ
and Belial (idols) is like singing two songs at once. How much easier to follow
the example set by Christ, so that there be true harmony in our lives!
5. What part hath he that believeth with an infidel? (v 15):
Here is the idea of sharing, or having a portion or an inheritance, which may be
understood against the Old Testament background of the promised possession of
the land. "Believers and unbelievers have nothing in common which they can
share. The believer cannot take part in activities and associations which are
not controlled by God. The believer cannot share his inheritance, nor allow it
to be taken away by unholy men. He can, and must, seek to share his inheritance
by converting the unbeliever; but he must take care that this work is the one
that God has described in His Word. The Lord is the portion, the Hope of Israel,
the founder of the New Jerusalem. It is His inheritance, His kingdom, His
memorial" (Ibid 429).
6. What agreement hath the temple of God with idols? (v 16):
This question involves the idea of putting together, or a joint deposit,
particularly of votes. The ecclesia is the temple of God (1Co 6:19); its members
must cast in their "votes", and their hopes and aspirations, with their brethren
-- not with the "idols", crude or sophisticated, religious or secular, around
them. The temptation to cast in one's lot and find apparent satisfaction with
the godless of today is a strong one to the modern saint. The only real antidote
is not knowledge alone but application to the example of Christ.
"Therefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith
the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you" (v 17): "The
teaching of these words as highlighted by Paul involves an equal determination
on the part of a Christian to become holy through separation from
unrighteousness, darkness, Belial, unbelievers, and idols. The far-reaching
implications of these words are now obvious and it behoves those who would apply
them in very limited circumstances to take care that in casting the first stone
they are not condemning themselves" (Ibid 72).