And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits. (Mark 6:7)
From the very beginning of creation, God has had a particular focus on pairs. This runs through the entire Bible from the opposites of light and dark, night and day, and male and female. It’s well worth looking at the concept of ‘by two’ and discovering what it reveals, and how it’s a wonderful assurance of provision both for now and for the future. We see the motif emerging everywhere, from the concept of being equally yoked, through to famous friendships like that between David and Jonathan.
The spiritual significance of two by two is the multiplication power of God at work.
The first relation of two is that of opposites which, together, create balance. The concept of day and night is the most obvious – two opposites working together in perfect symmetry. Each gives meaning and relevance to the other. Without night, for example, there would be no distinction to day. In the same way, the two opposites of judgement and mercy are inseparable. There can be no mercy if there isn’t first judgement. If only mercy existed, it would no longer be mercy. It would simply be an accepted norm. Mercy is only fully defined by the recognition of our having been judged and found guilty. Two things together are more than one alone. This is an important reflection of the spiritual significance of two by two.
Another very intriguing concept tied to that of two opposites is that they create a natural cycle. One follows the other. The implication is, of course, that we need both in logical sequence, e.g. times of rest and times of activity. Life cannot exist without both sunshine and rain. Spring is the counterpoint to autumn, summer the counterpoint to winter. The moon waxes and the moon wanes, and the two activites exert two very different influences on the world, particularly the tides. Without one, the other loses value and relevance. We need winter to rid us of the dead and dry growth, to act as a kind of ‘universal pruner’ to enable to new growth to come forth. Again, we see the spiritual significance of two by two manifesting the multiplication or growth power of God.
The second and possibly most obvious purpose of pairs is that of reproduction. In Genesis, we hear God’s command that all ‘go forth and multiply.’ It’s a general principle that reproduction occurs in pairs in the natural world. Even in those instances where plants are able to pollinate themselves, there are very distinct male and female parts which together create a pair. This was His intention at the very beginning of creation when He made male and female, and He repeated this with the ark. Noah took on board pairs of every animal, male and female, to ensure the future of each species after the flood.
This principle of reproduction is extended throughout the Bible to encompass that of multiplication, something we could describe as ‘spiritual reproduction.’ This is the principle behind ‘make disciples.’ It is the principle behind the bride of Christ. It is the principle behind Christ in us and us in Christ. It is the principle behind new life, God’s children, unity, and even our individual fellowship with God. The spiritual principle of two by two is God’s way to manifest His power of multiplication.
Let’s explore that a little further. We are never saved ‘alone.’ At the moment of salvation, various pairs are at work. There is us and God. There is us and Christ. There is God and Christ in perfect eternal covenant. There is God and the Spirit. And there is Christ and the Spirit. And from that point on there is us and the Spirit. The act of salvation is essentiall one of spiritual pairing, a pairing which will find its ultimate fulfillment in the marriage of the Lamb and which fulfills God’s faithfulness in the here and now. He is God in us, the perfect pair.
There is also the pairing that comes with discipleship, and this is the critical spiritual outworking of multiplication. Everything God does is with a view to multiplication. While our relationship with Him is intensely personal, it’s purpose is always multiplication. The moment we are saved, we share Christ’s yoke. It’s a perfect partnership that is intended to produce fruit. But we are also ‘yoked’ to others. God intends, in all things, that we work in perfect pairing. That is the foundation of the concept of the church as a body – one cannot function without the other. We are dependent on God and on other believers He has placed alongside us in order to bring forth fruit.
For a brief moment, let’s look at the matter of ‘yoked’ which highlights another very interesting phenomenon connected with the concept of two by two. If we harness two matching horses together, they pull the cart faster and with less effort. Two oxen of similar, build, height, and strength will have the same effect. Pairing reduces labour but multiplies effect. That is the perfect principle behind God’s wisdom in pairing us with others who can share the workload but increase the results. Two by two always brings more for less. This is the full power of the spiritual significance of two by two at work.
The principles behind pairing are those of infinite, perfect wisdom. They provide both a warning and an ecouragement to establish relationship with strong, faithful believers. God never intended that we exist separately, nor that we work entirely alone. Eve was created as a helpmeet for Adam. Jonathan was raised up as a faithful companion for David. Alone, we are vulnerable and easily deceived. Equal godly relationships provide encouragement, exhortation, strength, and accountability. We are answerable to God first and foremost. But He has ordained that we seek out and establish two by two relationships. This working together in a God focused relationship halves our load and multiplies the harvest.
While we may each have a different calling and different personalities, and may even have entirely different ministries, this does not preclude the possibilities of strong, healthy Christian pairings. Remember, God created day and He created night, and together, they made one day. Two by two might mean only fellowship and prayer support, someone committed to watching your back and interceding while you do what you are called to do. It’s a simple, logical fact that if we have genuine, faithful help in our endeavours, we will achieve more. It’s not about me, it’s about us.
The spiritual principle of two by two remains unchanging throughout the Bible. It is this pairing, this unity, that releases the power of God. Where there is unity, God creates a blessing. My weakness are irrelevant if there is someone alongside whose strengths bring balance. My fears diminish if there is someone alongside to lend me courage when I need it. Alone is an entirely unbiblical concept. God does things two by two. If we find ourselves stuck or unproductive, weary and worn out, disappointed or disillusioned, it may be that this is the problem. We can be sure, if we reach out to God for wisdom and direction, He will bring us to those godly, faithful people that He has already raised up and prepared. Where two share a yoke, the burden of each is halved, and the harvest of each is doubled.
We give You thanks, gracious Father, for Your eternal wisdom. How wonderful are Your ways, and how beautiful Your grace. Lead us, today, to those others we can trust. Give us a heart to share Your yoke, to work alongside those You have already raised up and prepared, so that Your power for multiplication, which is the desire of Your heart, is fully released through our lives.