2 Corinthians 6

This devotional is written by Matt Coombs.

2 Corinthians 6

As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 For he says,

‘In the time of my favour I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you.’

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation.

Paul’s hardships
3 We put no stumbling-block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonour, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

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.

Warning against idolatry
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.’


Here Paul defends various charges made against him. He lists his hardships and provides the Corinthians with a defence of his credentials as an ambassador of Christ. (3-10). We see again that this letter, despite its often strong tone, is also written affectionately to the Corinthians. Paul loves this church and longs to be in right relationship with his spiritual children, and hopes they will respond to him in the same way. (10)

Paul then speaks about being mismatched with unbelievers, or unequally yoked with them (14). A yoke is what is put around an animals neck to pull a plough or carriage. If you had an ox and a donkey yoked together, the donkey wouldn’t be pulling its weight in the arrangement. It simply doesn’t work!

You may have heard this verse thrown about warning Christians not to date (and then marry) non-Christians. But I think we should be discerning with this interpretation or application of this verse for several reasons.

  1. Paul isn’t speaking about marriage in this chapter, or the previous chapter, or even in the next chapter. To infer that this is about marriage, I believe, is to take the principle and the verse out of context and misapply it.
  2. This section specifically states that Christians are to break off and separate from unbelievers (17). But in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians he encouraged believers who were married to unbelievers to remain married to them as long as possible (1 Corinthians 7:12-16).

So I’m not convinced this is about marriage. That’s not to say that I don’t think we should be extremely careful about who we choose to marry and part of that careful decision is discerning whether they will truly help us grow and follow Jesus.

This verse I think is warning Christians not to enter into any contract, social arrangement or business that would require them to break God’s commands. For example, imagine you were going to open a coffee shop and your business partner (an unbeliever) wanted customers to pay only in cash so they could fudge the taxes. Paul would say that Christian was unequally yoked, being pulled into lawlessness and error.

What should Christians do in this situation?

Come out from them. (17)

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