“Come Out and Be Ye Separate” -- By: John Ritchie

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 102:406 (Apr 1945)
Article: “Come Out and Be Ye Separate”
Author: John Ritchie

“Come Out and Be Ye Separate”

John Ritchie

Our Lord’s desire that His people might be united in one is made indisputably clear in His intercessory prayer (John 17:20, 23). Yet separatism has become an accepted condition in the Protestant churches, and indeed is spoken of at times as if it were a virtue, an evidence of a purer life and faith. And this separatism which is at once the debility and the disgrace of Protestant Christianity, has been given Scriptural authority in these words from Paul’s second Epistle to the Corinthians : “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor 6:14–7:1 ).

In his translation of the Bible, Dr. James Moffatt expresses the view that this paragraph belongs to some other part of Paul’s correspondence with the Corinthian church. Prof. James Denney in the Expositors Bible is more cautious. He says: “This is one of the most peculiar passages in the New Testament. Even a careless reader must feel that there is something abrupt and unexpected in it; it jolts the mind as a stone on the road does a carriage wheel. Paul has been begging the Corinthians to treat him with the same love and confidence which he has always shown to them, and he urges this claim upon them up to ver. 13. Then comes this passage about the relation of Christians to the world. Then again, at chap. vii.2 —’Open your hearts

to us; we wronged no man, we corrupted no man, we took advantage of no man’—he returns to the old subject without the least mark of transition. If everything were omitted from chap. vi.14 to chap. vii.1 inclusive, the continuity both of thought and feeling would be much more striking. This consideration alone has induced many scholars to believe that these verses do not occupy their original pl...

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