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FELLOWSHIP (κοινωνία, G3126, association, communion; μετοχή, G3580, sharing, participation).

The meaningful words koinōnīa and metochē are among the most powerful concepts in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures. They apply first of all to participation in a person or project and a “common” spirit. Christians share “the divine nature” (2 Pet 1:4). Fellowship in the family of God comes after the new birth (2 Cor 5:17; 1 John 3:9). Christians partake of Christ (Heb 3:14), and of the Holy Spirit (6:4).

True fellowship results in mutual love (John 13:34). A “common salvation” (Jude 3) and a “common faith” (Titus 1:4) characterize true Christians.

The significant translation “communicate” touches the heart of the Christian spirit (Gal 6:6). He that is taught in the Word is admonished to “communicate.” Fellowship exists when there is community. This was an essential strength of the early Christians. Although a minority movement, they shared the strength of belonging to each other and to God.

Where there are positive factors of “koinōnīa” there are also negative factors. These New Testament concepts are complementary. A Christian has no genuine “fellowship” with an unbeliever (2 Cor 6:14-16). Natures of unbelievers are different. They are children of the devil (1 John 3:10-12). Pagan ceremonies are not a part of true koinōnīa (1 Cor 10:20-22). Christians should have no “fellowship” with unfruitful works of darkness (Eph 5:11).

True New Testament koinōnīa is rooted in a depth of fellowship with God as Father (1 John 1:3, 6). The Fatherhood of God has significance for those who are in the family of God through the new birth.

Christians must continue to walk in the light to enjoy this fellowship. They are called to fellowship with the Son (1 Cor 1:9). The Lord’s supper is a symbol of this inner fellowship (10:16).

Fellowship with the Spirit is a blessing of Christians (2 Cor 13:14).

The true koinōnīa is not only earthly, but continues and is consummated in heaven (Eph 2:21; Rev 21:1-4).

Some have regarded the “fellowship” (κοινωνία, G3126) of Acts 2:42 as primarily a “communism” anticipating the Marxist philosophy and economy. It would, however, seem to be a healthy balance of four elements: “teaching” or doctrine; “fellowship” in social and spiritual sharing; “breaking bread,” ceremonies or rites such as the eucharist, and “prayers,” devotional sharing.

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FELLOWSHIP (Gr. koinōnia, that which is in common)

Partnership or union with others in the bonds of a business partnership, a social or fraternal organization, or just proximity. Christians are told not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers (2Cor.6.14-2Cor.6.18) because such a union, either in marriage, business, or society, is incompatible with fellowship with Christians and with God.Membership in a local Christian church or in the church. From the very beginning of the church at Pentecost, “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts.2.42).Partnership in the support of the gospel and in the charitable work of the church (2Cor.8.4).That heavenly love that fills (or should fill) the hearts of believers one for another and for God. For this love and fellowship, the Scriptures use a word, agapē, which seldom appears in classical Greek. This fellowship is deeper and more satisfying than any mere human love whether social, parental, conjugal, or other.

See also

  • Communion