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Holy Scripture

“Bear not the yoke with unbelievers. For what participation hath justice with injustice? Or what fellowship hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath the faithful with the unbeliever? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God; as God saith: I will dwell in them, and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore, Go out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing: And I will receive you; and I will be a Father to you; and you shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (II Cor. 6:14-18)

Haydock’s Commentary

Ver. 14. Bear not the yoke together with unbelievers. He does not mean, that they must wholly avoid their company, which could not be done, but not to have too intimate a friendship with them, not to marry with them, to avoid their vices. Be ye separate….touch not the unclean thing. He does not speak of meats, clean and unclean, according to the law of Moses, nor of legal uncleannesses, but what is sinful under the new law of Christ, and would defile the soul, as idolatry, fornication, &c. (Witham)

Ver. 15. Such as have cast off the yoke of God are called children of Belial. (John viii. 44.) Belial, in its radical signification, means without yoke. (Bible de Vence)

Ver. 16. The apostle here blames the too great affection the Corinthians had for the Gentiles, who sometimes invited them to their religious feasts, at which were eaten meats which had been offered to idols, and which gave scandal both to the Christians and Gentiles. To draw them from these feasts he tells them, that they are the temples of the Holy Ghost, and that consequently they ought not to make themselves the temples of devils, by eating of the sacrifices of devils. (Calmet) — St. Paul, in this and the foregoing verses, clearly shews that the faithful ought not to frequent, on any account, the tabernacles of those who have left the Church. In the old law, Moses was ordered to command the ancients of Israel, on the part of God, to depart from the tents of those wicked men, lest they be involved in their sins. (Numbers xvi. 27.)

The Great Biblical Commentary of Cornelius À Lapide

Ver. 14.—Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers. Do not have so close fellowship with them in matters of religion as to be gradually led away to share in their unbelief, as, e.g., in marriage. Separate yourselves from the unbelievers’ assemblies, temples, sacrifices, feasts; do not intermarry with them, for all commerce with them is either wicked and unrighteous in itself, or is dangerous to those who hold it, and a cause of offence to others. Do not imitate the Jews, whose laxity is recorded in PS. cvi. 35 (Chrysostom, Ambrose, Theophylact).  S. Jerome (contra Jovin. lib. i.) understands S. Paul to warn against intermarriage with unbelievers. There seems to be an allusion to Ps. cvi. 28, “They joined themselves unto Baal-peor,” which refers to the fornication committed by the Israelites in honour of Baal-peor. So, whoever marries with an unbeliever may be said to join himself to Baal-peor, i.e., the devil, the ruler of unbelievers. Anselm again supposes that by “unbelievers” is meant the Judaising false apostles, who were attempting to eviscerate the faith of Christ by making the ceremonies of the law of Moses binding on Christians. Such men are more dangerous to Christians, and more to be shunned than unbelieving Gentiles, and therefore S. Paul warns his readers against them. This sense is good but defective, for the Apostle wishes the fellowship of all unbelievers whatsoever to be avoided

The Apostle is here passing on, as is usual in letters, to discuss another point of importance just then to the Corinthians, viz., the duty of avoiding unbelievers. It is in vain, therefore, for any one to seek for connecting links with what has gone before.

Erasmus observes that the Latin version is happy in its translation here; it renders the passage: “Do not be joined in the same yoke with unbelievers.” For if a Christian marry a heathen wife, or a Christian magistrate have a Gentile as colleague, he is called έτεροζυγω̃ν. Marriages of this kind S. Jerome calls unequal.

Observe upon this that έτερος signifies sometimes one of two, sometimes an object that is diverse, whether from some one other or from several others. Thus the word occurs in a compound word, to denote one who lacks an eye, and again to denote one who is of a different opinion (έτεροφθάλμος and έτερόδοξος). And hence it is uncertain whether S. Paul here means one who bears one-half of a yoke, or one who bears a yoke in company with one of a different condition.

Budæus takes the former of these two, and understands S. Paul to exhort the Corinthians not to bear one part of a yoke with unbelievers, just as in Campania two oxen bear the same yoke, one on each side.

Others more properly take the latter meaning, and understand the warning to be against such an alliance as that of an ox and an ass would be in the same yoke (Deut. xxii. 10). This interpretation is rendered more probable from the words that follow—“what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?”

Theophylact again thinks that the warning is against accommodating one’s principles to those of our partner in wedlock. He says that the allusion here is not to a yoke but to the beam of a balance, and one especially that is unequally weighted, so that one side is lower than the other. We are not to be like such a balance, and lean towards an unrighteous or unbelieving partner.

For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteous? The just with the unjust, believers with unbelievers.

It was hard for the Corinthians, while Christians were so few, to be forbidden to have commerce and intermarriage with unbelievers. Many amongst them would find a difficulty in obtaining partners of equal rank, or wealth, or position; and hence they would either be obliged to abstain from marriage, or else marry an inferior. Moreover, by natural and Divine law there was nothing simply and absolutely to prohibit them from allying themselves with unbelievers; still such alliance would be unbecoming and full of danger, and hence it is forbidden by the Apostle. But to reconcile them to so severe a precept he puts before them five contrasts drawn from the inherent opposition between Christianity and heathenism.

(1.) Unequal wedlock is a heavy yoke, burdensome to both parties, even as it would be if a horse and an ox were yoked together. (2.) Light and darkness cannot cohere in the same subject or be in the same place at once; therefore one of the faithful, who has the light of faith, cannot well enter into the same yoke with one who is full of the darkness of unbelief. (3.) There is no concord between Christ and Belial: believers belong to Christ, unbelievers to Belial; therefore they cannot agree. (4.) The believer has no part or communion with the unbeliever, but differs from him as widely as belief from unbelief, heaven from hell; therefore they cannot be joined together. (5.) The temple of God cannot be associated with the idols and temples of devils; neither, therefore, can a believer with an unbeliever. For each of the faithful is a temple of God, and the unbeliever is a temple and image of the devil.

Ver. 15.—What concord hath Christ with Belial? What harmony can there be between Him who is the Author of all knowledge, obedience, and righteousness and the devil with his followers?

The Hebrew Belial denotes (1.) disobedience, rebellion, ungodliness; (2.) those who have these qualities; and (3.) the devil, as the first apostate, the first to shake of the yoke of obedience to God and His law. Hence apostates are called “sons of Belial,” i.e., children of the devil, or children of disobedience, rebellion ungodliness

What part hath he that believeth with an infidel? What is there common to both, to be shared by both? So, in 1 Kings xii. 16, we find: “What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse.” This antithesis explains the three preceding ones. It is not right for a believer to be joined with an unbeliever, even as it is not possible for righteousness to be joined to unrighteousness, light to darkness, Christ to Belial, the temple of God with idols.

Ver. 16.—Ye are the temple of the living God. By faith, grace, and holiness.  S. Cyprian (de Orat. Domin.) says beautifully: “Let us show ourselves in our lives as the temples of God, that all may see that God indwells within us, so that we who have begun to be heavenly and spiritual, may think and do nothing but what is spiritual and heavenly.” The Hebrew word for “temple” connotes power and majesty. Hence Chrysostom (Hom. 17 in Ep. ad Heb.) says that God ordered Solomon’s Temple to be made exceeding magnifical, that the Jews, who were naturally attracted by outward things, might be led to know something of the majesty of God. Why, then, should not Christians ornament their temples, as the houses of God, and show honour to God, and especially to the body of Christ present with them, and so excite others to reverence and love God? Such a temple, such a royal, nay, such a Divine palace, is the Church allegorically, and each faithful soul tropologically, as the Apostle here declares. In this temple God shows His great glory and majesty, by His exceeding great grace, by magnificent and glorious works of virtue, and by the power of His sacraments.

Villalpando (in Ezek. vol. ii. p. 256) sees a further reference in the Hebrew word for temple to motion or walking. The tabernacle was a movable temple in which God dwelt and walked with the Hebrews through the wilderness into their promised land. It is to this that S. Paul alludes in the words that follow.

I will walk in them. I will be their guardian, and will spiritually walk in them through the powers and virtues of the soul. Anselm points out that S. Paul quotes Ezek. xxxvii. 27 literally, and Lev. xxvi. 12 tropologically. What is said in the latter passage of the literal tabernacle of witness is to be understood of God’s protecting presence in each one of the faithful.

Allegorically this tabernacle signified the Church of Christ, as is explained in Ezek. xxvii. 27, and tropologically each holy soul, which is a temple of God moving through the wilderness of this world to its resting-place in heaven.

(i.) God walks in the soul as in His tabernacle when, through acts of faith, hope, and charity, He passes from the memory to the understanding, and thence to the will. For the faithful soul is as the temple of heaven: its sun is the understanding, or zeal for righteousness, its moon is faith and continence; its stars the other virtues, as S. Bernard says (Serm. 27 in Cantic.). (2.) God walks in the soul, inasmuch as He makes it by His grace go from virtue to virtue (Anselm and Theophylact). In the same way that in the tabernacle the way to the Holy of Holies through the Holy Place was by the altar of incense, the table of shew-bread, and the candle-stick, does God enable us to pass into heaven through holiness of life by prayer, almsgiving, chastity, and purity of soul. The altar of incense was a symbol of prayer, the table of almsgiving, the candle-stick of purity and brightness of life. (3.) God walks in the soul by way of contemplation. He causes us to follow in our minds His temples, as He passed from the temple of heaven to that of the Virgin’s womb, thence to that of Calvary, thence to hell, and finally back again to heaven. (4.) God walks in us corporally, says S. Ambrose, for the Word was made flesh and dwelt and walked amongst us, and daily by Holy Communion He dwells in us and walks with us.

Ver. 17.—Come out from among them. Isa. lii. 11, which is here quoted, taken literally ordered the Apostles and the faithful generally to come out, not from the unbelieving and unclean city of Babylon, but from Jerusalem, to be laid waste by Titus. But the Apostle, either tropologically or by parity of reasoning, applies it as an injunction to the faithful to avoid too great intimacy with unbelievers, and not to touch the unclean thing, that is unclean unbelievers; not to live with them, lest they stain themselves with their uncleannesses, such as drunkenness, lust, pride, ungodliness, and unrighteousness (Jerome, Cyril in Isa. lii., Chrysostom, Ambrose, Anselm).

Holy Scripture

“If any man come to you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house nor say to him, God speed you.” (II John 1:10)

Haydock’s Commentary

Ver. 10. Nor say to him, Hail; or peace be to you, God speed you, all hail; or use any form of saluting him, as you would a friend, much less receive or entertain him in your house: this admonition is in general to forewarn persons of the dangers which may arise from a familiarity with heretics, and such as teach evil doctrine. But by this is not forbidden civility, kindness, and a sincere charity for all men, by which we ought to wish and pray for the eternal salvation of every one. I translate Ave by peace be to you, because this was the usual salutation among the Jews, and in those times, as we see in Luke xxiv. and John xx.

The Great Biblical Commentary of Cornelius À Lapide

Ver. 10.—lf any one come to you, and bring not this doctrine, &c. S. John in this place not only advises, as some think, but also commands Electa and all the rest of the faithful not to receive to hospitality, nor say Hail, to any one who brings another doctrine, i.e. one which is contrary to the orthodox faith of Christ. For he who saith hail to such is partaker of their evil deeds. That is, he seems to favour and applaud the heretical teacher.

Observe, not only by human and canon laws, as since the time of S. John they have been enacted by Pontiffs and Councils, heretics are to be avoided in three cases. The first is, when there is danger lest you or yours should be perverted by them, which is a thing which ordinarily happens. For, as S. Paul saith, “Their word doth creep as doth a cancer.” (2 Tim. ii. 17.)

2d. When, by receiving, you would seem to favour his heresy, and tacitly profess or encourage it. As, for example, if you were to receive to your house and table a recognised Calvinistic minister, who came for the purpose of propagating his heresy. In the same way it would be wrong to be present at his preaching, or eucharists, or to communicate with him in sacris.

3d. When you give scandal to others, so that they, thinking you to be a host and patron of heretics, should be by your example emboldened to do the same.

These cases being excepted, intercourse with heretics is not forbidden by the Divine and natural law, especially if necessity, or mercy, or grave benefit counsels it.

What S, John here teaches by way of precept he enforced by his example. For having entered into a bath, as soon as he saw Cerinthus there, he sprang out, crying, “Let us flee quickly lest the bath in which is Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, should fall upon us!”

S. John’s disciple, S. Polycarp, followed his master, saying in his Epistle to the Philippians, in allusion to these words of S. John, “Abstain,” he says, “from scandals, and from false brethren, who bear the name of the Lord in vain, who cause foolish men to go astray. For every one who confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, he is antichrist: and he who confesses not the mystery of the Cross is a devil.” Thus wrote holy Polycarp, and he acted accordingly. For meeting the heretic Marcion, and being asked by him if he knew him, he answered, “I know thee to be the devil’s first-born.”

Thus S. Hermenegild was slain by command of his father, Levvigild, king of the Goths, because he would not receive the Eucharist at Easter from an Arian bishop. This is related by S. Gregory (3 Dial. 31), who calls him a martyr of the Church.

Eusebius of Vercelli, being taken by the Arians, preferred to die of hunger rather than take food from those heretics.

S. Paphnutius took Maximus Bishop of Jerusalem by the hand when he was through simplicity associating with heretics, and led him away from them, saying, “I cannot suffer so venerable a bishop to sit in the seat of pestilence, and to communicate with unclean heretics even by a word.”

When S. Martin communicated with the Bishops of the Ithacian sect, in the hope of saving them, he was warned by an angel not to do so. And although he repeated, he experienced a diminution of grace, so that he did not work so many miracles as he had previously wrought. (Sulp. Sever. lib. 3 Dial)

Still more are heretical books to be avoided. For these pestilent productions conceal their heresy like a plague under an appearance of elegance and wisdom, and instil it into the minds of the readers. In this present age the heresy of Luther and Calvin has been dispersed through so many kingdoms by means of their books. If you wish to take away their heresy, take away their books and their ministers. In truth you will have taken it away as soon as you have substituted pious and learned priests and preachers.

Neither say godspeed (ave) to him. The Syriac has, ye shall not say either hail to him or farewell. The ancient Romans said ave, or salve at coming in, vale at going out. Ave then here means the same as the Greek χαὶζειν, rejoice.

For he who saith to him Ave (Syriac rejoice) is a partaker in his evil deeds. For he who salutes a heretical teacher seems to approve his heresy. Some Latin copies add here, Lo, I have told you beforehand, that ye may not be confounded in the day of the Lord.



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