The Agora
Bible Articles and Lessons: C

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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" (2Co 6:14,17).
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 220).
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).

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