‘Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: if one falls down, his friend can help him up . . . Also, if two lie down together they will keep warm . . . Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves’ ~ Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
When God created man, He said that, ‘It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’ (Genesis 2:18). Before the Flood, God told Noah to ‘bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you’ (6:v19). When Jesus sent out the seventy-two disciples, He sent them ‘two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go’ (Luke 10:1). When God discharges people in pairs, it signals work He wants to do through them, ‘For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them’ (Matthew 18:20). It is God who appoints, establishes, and discharges mankind to participate in His work because we are ‘God’s fellow workers’ (1 Corinthians 3:9). While God works through individuals, He discharges two for a work that reflects His Unity. The Oneness of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is made plain. While two are brought together for His work, His presence brings completion as in the Trinity because ‘A cord of three strands is not quickly broken’ (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
The primary reason that God discharges two is for His work. When God presented Eve to Adam, and they were eventually banished, their mission remained. ‘So the Lord God banished him from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken’ (Genesis 3:23). The directive, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it’ (1:v28), still remained. When the Flood ceased, God directed Noah to, ‘Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you . . . so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number upon it’ (8:v17). When Jesus sent out the seventy-two, He told them, ‘Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore to send workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves . . . When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell then, ‘The Kingdom of God is near you’ (Luke 10:8).
This commission still stands to every Believer. Like to the Twelve, Jesus’s words to all Believers is, ‘Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned’ (Mark 16:15). Unlike the first work which became cursed after the fall of man so that, ‘By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground’ (Genesis 3:19), the last work given to man, the Great Commission, requires no human effort and is not cursed. God remarks, ‘How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”’ (Isaiah 52:7).
The work of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ dispensed to all Believers is no work at all. Jesus says, ‘I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labour’ (John 4:38). Jesus the ‘Chief Cornerstone’ (Ephesians 2:20) and foundation of the Church already laboured for the harvest and thus said ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30). With the harvest ready, what Believers do in sharing the Gospel is not ripening the fruit, but acting in obedience to God. For the Holy Spirit, ‘will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgement’ (16:v9). So when Believers share the Gospel, the Holy Spirit does the work (and not we ourselves) in bringing conviction to an individual at His own set time and discretion. Paul remarks, ‘I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow’ (1 Corinthians 3:6).
However, as we go about sharing the Gospel, God may partner us with people for a period of time to carry out His mission effectively. When Paul began his ministry, he began fulfilling the Commission solo. After a while, ‘the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work which I have called them’’ (Acts 13:2). Through their partnership, God also used Barnabas to give company and fellowship to Paul after his conversion because, when Paul tried to join the community of the twelve disciples on his own, ‘they were all afraid of him, not believing he was a disciple’ (Acts 9:26). But through his partnership with Barnabas, God worked through them to do many miracles and wonders. As they proclaimed the Gospel in places where the Light of Christ had not yet come, the Holy Spirit working in them was so effective that people shouted, ‘The gods have come down to us in human form!’ (14:v11). They were greatly astonished by the men that, ‘Barnabas they called Zeus and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker’ (v12). These were names of their gods. Little did they know that the Spirit working in them was that of the only true God- the Maker of heaven and earth and all that is in it.
When God brings two together, it is usually for a set purpose. Once that purpose is fulfilled, then they may proceed with their individual missions. After Paul and Barnabas had completed their Commission, they ‘parted company’ (15:v39). When God sent Jonathan along David’s way, ‘Jonathan became one in spirit with David and loved him as himself’ (1 Samuel 18:1). In the midst of trying times, Jonathan was appointed by God to be a friend and confidant to David. He also played a key role in helping David secure his life from Saul who wanted to kill him. Jonathan says to David, ‘Whatever you want me to do. I’ll do for you’ (20:v4). When Jonathan managed to save David’s life and later died, David laments, ‘I grieve for you Jonathan, my brother, you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women’ (2 Samuel 1:26). When God put Rachael across Jacob’s path, he ‘kissed Rachael and began to weep aloud’ (Genesis 29:11). Jacob found respite during a difficult time of fleeing from his brother. God brought him and Rachael together during this trying time not just for love sakes, but for Kingdom sakes for she gave birth to Joseph, ‘a fruitful vine’ (49:v22).
When God brings our way a companion, friend, spouse, or anyone who we become one in spirit with, they may appear to initially bring relief and joy to our lives. God uses them to bring His comfort to us for, ‘Blessed be God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God’ (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). While they may be a breath of fresh air, what truly marks the people who God brings into our lives is their aid in advancing us towards the Light of Christ, or their help in assisting us in spreading the Good News of Christ. The power of two is divinely recognized so much that ‘A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses’ (Deuteronomy 19:15).
‘Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?’ ~ Amos 3:3