The Meaning of 2 Corinthians 6:17 Explained

2 Corinthians 6:17

KJV: Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

YLT: wherefore, come ye forth out of the midst of them, and be separated, saith the Lord, and an unclean thing do not touch, and I -- I will receive you,

Darby: Wherefore come out from the midst of them, and be separated, saith the Lord, and touch not what is unclean, and I will receive you;

ASV: Wherefore Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, And touch no unclean thing; And I will receive you,

KJV Reverse Interlinear

Wherefore  come out  from  among  them,  and  be ye separate,  saith  the Lord,  and  touch  not  the unclean  [thing]; and  I will receive  you, 

What does 2 Corinthians 6:17 Mean?

Study Notes

come out from among them
Separation, Summary:
(1) Separation in Scripture is twofold: "from" whatever is contrary to the mind of God; and "unto" God Himself. The underlying principle is that in a moral universe it is impossible for God to fully bless and use His children who are in compromise or complicity with evil. The unequal yoke is anything which unites a child of God and an unbeliever in a common purpose Deuteronomy 22:10 .
(2) Separation from evil implies (a) separation in desire, motive, and act, from the world, in the ethically bad sense of this present world-system. and (b) separation from believers, especially false teachers, who are "vessels unto dishonour" 2 Timothy 2:20 ; 2 Timothy 2:21 ; 2 John 1:9-11 .
(3) Separation is not from contact with evil in the world or the church, but from complicity with and conformity to John 17:15 ; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 ; Galatians 6:1 .
(4) The reward of separation is the full manifestation of the divine fatherhood 2 Corinthians 6:17 ; 2 Corinthians 6:18 unhindered communion and worship Hebrews 13:13-15 and fruitful service 2 Timothy 2:21 as world-conformity involves the loss of these, though not of salvation. Here, as in all else, Christ is the model. He was "holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners" Hebrews 7:26 and yet in such contact with them for their salvation that the Pharisees, who illustrate the mechanical and ascetic conception of separation , judged Him as having lost His Nazarite character. Luke 7:39 Cf; 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 ; 1 Corinthians 10:27 .
Kosmos, Summary: In the sense of the present world-system, the ethically bad sense of the word, refers to the "order," "arrangement," under which Satan has organized the world of unbelieving mankind upon his cosmic principle of force, greed, selfishness, ambition, and pleasure. Matthew 4:8 ; Matthew 4:9 ; John 12:31 ; John 14:30 ; John 18:36 ; Ephesians 2:2 ; Ephesians 6:12 ; 1 John 2:15-17 . This world- system is imposing and powerful with armies and fleets; is often outwardly religious, scientific, cultured, and elegant; but, seething with national and commercial rivalries and ambitions, is upheld in any real crisis only by armed force, and is dominated by Satanic principles.
Not strictly a sect, but rather those amongst the Jews who denied the existence of angels or other spirits, and all miracles, especially the resurrection. They were the religious rationalists of the time Mark 12:18-23 ; Acts 5:15-17 ; Acts 23:8 and strongly entrenched in the Sanhedrin and priesthood; Acts 4:1 ; Acts 5:17 . They are identified with no affirmative doctrine, but were mere deniers of the supernatural.
So called from a Heb. word meaning "separate." After the ministry of the post-exilic prophets ceased, godly men called "Chasidim" (saints) arose who sought to keep alive reverence for the law amongst the descendants of the Jews who returned from the Babylonian captivity. This movement degenerated into the Pharisaism of our Lord's day-- a letter-strictness which overlaid the law with traditional interpretations held to have been communicated by Jehovah to Moses as oral explanations of equal authority with the law itself. (cf. Matthew 15:2 ; Matthew 15:3 ; Mark 7:8-13 ; Galatians 1:14 ).
The Pharisees were strictly a sect. A member was "chaber" (i.e. "knit together,") Judges 20:11 and took an obligation to remain true to the principles of Pharisaism. They were correct, moral, zealous, and self-denying, but self-righteous Luke 18:9 and destitute of the sense of sin and need Luke 7:39 . They were the foremost prosecutors of Jesus Christ and the objects of His unsparing denunciation (e.g.); Matthew 23:13-29 ; Luke 11:42 ; Luke 11:43
Not strictly a sect, but rather those amongst the Jews who denied the existence of angels or other spirits, and all miracles, especially the resurrection. They were the religious rationalists of the time Mark 12:18-23 ; Acts 5:15-17 ; Acts 23:8 and strongly entrenched in the Sanhedrin and priesthood; Acts 4:1 ; Acts 5:17 . They are identified with no affirmative doctrine, but were mere deniers of the supernatural.

Verse Meaning

Third, Paul quoted from Isaiah 52:11 where God called His people to separate (depart) from Babylon and its idolatry. He applied this to the Corinthian situation in which unbelievers practiced idolatry. The contexts both in Isaiah and here have nothing to do with separation because of doctrinal differences between Christians. Both passages are speaking about pagan idolatry. The promise of fellowship with Himself for separation ( Ezekiel 20:34; Ezekiel 20:41) should motivate us to be obedient.
"There was a grave danger that, through carelessness and compromise, the Corinthian believers would be carried away, as it were, into a Babylonian captivity of the soul." [1]

Context Summary

2 Corinthians 6:11-18 - Separate From All Uncleanness
Paul's love failed to be appreciated by his converts because the channel of receptiveness, that is, of their faith and love, was so straitened. How often is this the case between Christ and us! Let us dredge the channel. Be ye enlarged! Open your mouth wide and He will fill it.
The best method of doing this is to be only, always, and all for Him. We must not offer Him a share of our heart and devotion. There must be no division between Him and others. Whenever iniquity, darkness, Belial, and unbelievers seek to share our nature with the Holy Spirit, and we permit the partnership, He withdraws. No idols must be permitted in any hidden shrine of the heart. The whole nature-spirit (that is, the Holy of Holies) soul (that is, the seat of our individuality), and body-must be the temple of the Eternal, who rules it from the Shekinah, which is enthroned on the Ark of the Covenant. God still walks the world in those who love Him and are wholly yielded to His indwelling. The loneliest spirit finds Him to be father, mother, brother, sister, all. What an incentive to cleanliness not only of flesh but of spirit! Hebrews 10:22. The Apostle concludes by expressing his intense thankfulness that his converts had not misunderstood the urgency of his former letter. [source]

Chapter Summary: 2 Corinthians 6

1  That he has approved himself a faithful minister of Christ by his exhortations,
3  and by integrity of life,
4  and by patiently enduring all kinds of affliction and disgrace for the gospel
10  Of which he speaks the more boldly amongst them because his heart is open to them,
13  and he expects the like affection from them again;
14  exhorting them to flee the society and pollutions of idolaters,
17  as being themselves temples of the living God

Greek Commentary for 2 Corinthians 6:17

Saith the Lord [λεγει Κυριος]
Isaiah 52:5; Ezekiel 20:33. Cf. Revelation 18:4. [source]
Unclean thing [ακαταρτου]
Or unclean person. Genitive case is the same for both. [source]
Come out, etc. []
Isaiah 52:11, Isaiah 52:12, after the Septuagint, with several changes. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for 2 Corinthians 6:17

Colossians 2:21 Touch - taste - handle [ἅψῃ - γεύσῃ - θίγῃς]
Ἅπτομαι , A.V., touch, is properly to fasten one's self to or cling to. So John 20:17(note). Frequently rendered touch in the New Testament, and used in most cases of Christ's touching or being touched by the diseased. To get hands on so as to injure, 1 John 5:18. To have intercourse with, 1 Corinthians 7:1; 2 Corinthians 6:17. Thus, in every case, the contact described exerts a modifying influence, and a more permanent contact or effect of contact is often implied than is expressed by touch. “The idea of a voluntary or conscious effort is often involved.” No single English word will express all these phases of meaning. Handle comes, perhaps, as near as any other, especially in its sense of treatment, as when we say that a speaker or writer handles a subject; or that a man is roughly handled by his enemies. This wider and stronger sense does not attach to θιγγάνειν A.V., handle, though the two words are sometimes used interchangeably, as Exodus 19:12, and though θιγγάνειν also implies a modifying contact, unlike ψηλαφάω , which signifies to touch with a view of ascertaining the quality of the object; to feel after, to grope. See Luke 24:39; Acts 17:27. Thus ψηλαφίνδα is blind-man's-bluff. The contact implied by θιγγάνειν is more superficial and transitory. It lies between ἅπτομαι and ψηλαφάω . Thus we have here a climax which is lost in the A.V. Handle not, taste not, do not even touch. Rev., handle not, nor taste, nor touch. [source]

What do the individual words in 2 Corinthians 6:17 mean?

Therefore come out from the midst of them and be separate says [the] Lord unclean nothing touch and I will receive you
Διὸ ἐξέλθατε ἐκ μέσου αὐτῶν καὶ ἀφορίσθητε λέγει Κύριος ἀκαθάρτου μὴ ἅπτεσθε κἀγὼ εἰσδέξομαι ὑμᾶς

ἐξέλθατε  come  out 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Imperative Active, 2nd Person Plural
Root: ἐξέρχομαι 
Sense: to go or come forth of.
μέσου  the  midst 
Parse: Adjective, Genitive Neuter Singular
Root: μέσος  
Sense: middle.
αὐτῶν  of  them 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Genitive Masculine 3rd Person Plural
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.
ἀφορίσθητε  be  separate 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Imperative Passive, 2nd Person Plural
Root: ἀφορίζω  
Sense: to mark off from others by boundaries, to limit, to separate.
λέγει  says 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: λέγω 
Sense: to say, to speak.
Κύριος  [the]  Lord 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: κύριος  
Sense: he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding; master, lord.
ἀκαθάρτου  unclean 
Parse: Adjective, Genitive Neuter Singular
Root: ἀκάθαρτος  
Sense: not cleansed, unclean.
μὴ  nothing 
Parse: Adverb
Root: μή 
Sense: no, not lest.
ἅπτεσθε  touch 
Parse: Verb, Present Imperative Middle, 2nd Person Plural
Root: ἅπτω  
Sense: to fasten one’s self to, adhere to, cling to.
κἀγὼ  and  I 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Nominative 1st Person Singular
Root: κἀγώ  
Sense: and I.
εἰσδέξομαι  will  receive 
Parse: Verb, Future Indicative Middle, 1st Person Singular
Root: εἰσδέχομαι  
Sense: to receive kindly, to treat with favour.