Biblical Fellowship (koinonia)


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Many people claim that any gathering of Christians is called biblical fellowship...but is it? Let's look at what 'biblical fellowship' truly is.

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Biblical Fellowship (koinonia)

  1. 1. BIBLICAL FELLOWSHIP (Koinonia) Fellowship is a loosely used term in the Christian vocabulary and is sadly, quite often used in an unbiblical manner. The greek word for fellowship is: nia koy-nohn-ee'-ah “fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse” It describes the state of “association” or “joint participation.” Koinoniabelongs to a family of words used in the New Testament which describe such “joint participation.” Other in this family are koinoneo, the verb meaning - “to fellowship”; koinonos, a noun describing - “One who fellowships”; koinonikos, an adjective describing - “the willingness to fellowship,” and koinos, an adjective meaning - “common.” Koinonia is basically a bond or union for a united purpose. The nature of the bond or union varies upon the nature of the purpose. For example in Luke 5:10 we are shown where James and John were partners ( nos) with Simon in the fishing business. Therefore their common bond/union was for the purpose of fishing. - nos) in the blood of their ancestors but instead are considered children of those who killed them. Both are examples of fellowship (bond/union/joint participation/communion for a united purpose) yet the first is fellowship in fishing and the second in fellowship of persecution. So we see that the word fellowship (koinonia) is not just a biblical term but a term that can be used for any bond or union for a united purpose. A Christian man helping his unbelieving neighbor fix his car is having fellowship in auto mechanics. The two are united in the purpose of repairing a vehicle. Two unbelieving women cooking dinner together are having fellowship in cooking; both being united for the purpose of cooking a meal. Let‟s look at what is biblical fellowship according to God‟s Word. Philippians 1:5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now
  2. 2. (Believers are clearly shown that our fellowship is to be: in the gospel.) 1 John 1:3 shows us how this came to be: That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. Fellowship between believers is to be in the gospel with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. Acts 2 shows us an example of this: And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. In doctrine, in breaking of bread (Lord‟s Supper) and prayers. All their activities were obedient to God‟s Word and their actions were all about spiritual participation unto the Father. (Today, the word fellowship is often refers to the eating of a common meal. While we see that early Christians ate with one another as a result of the love they shared (Acts 2:46), nowhere in the New Testament is the word fellowship used to refer to a social, common meal.) More examples of biblical fellowship: 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion ( nia) of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion ( nia) of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. (We see how believers share in fellowship of the body of Christ through the breaking of bread-Lord‟s Supper.) Romans 15:26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution ( nia) for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. 2 Corinthians 9:13 Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution (( nia) unto them, and unto all men
  3. 3. (Christians in fellowship in the spiritual work of benevolence.) 2 Corinthians 8:4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship ( nia) of the ministering (attending to, serving, aiding, teaching) to the saints. (Christians praying for those who have given their lives in serving the saints such as the apostles and those appointed by them and those who do so today.) Galatians 2:9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship ( nia); that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. (Joint agreement in the participation in the preaching of the gospel.) Philippians 2:1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship( nia) of the Spirit (Fellowship in the Spirit.) Hebrews 13:16 But to do good and to communicate ( nia) forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. (This shows a bond/union of sacrifice of which a benevolent attitude is one of God‟s desires.) 1 John 1:6-7 If we say that we have fellowship ( nia) with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship ( nia) one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (Here we see that we cannot walk in darkness and also be in fellowship (bond/union) with Christ. But if we walk in the light we will have that bond/union with Him and other believers who are in fellowship with Him.) Koinoneo (fellowship) involves a person‟s faith and relationship with God and the person who is in fellowship with God, is in fellowship with all others who are truly in fellowship with Him (I John 1:3). 1 Corinthians 1:9 refers to this as “the fellowship (koinonia) of His Son” and 2 Corinthians 13:14 shows it as “the
  4. 4. communion (koinonia) of the Holy Spirit.” Those in Christ are said to be “partakers (koinonos) of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). The picture of true fellowship ( nia) we see in God‟s Word is when we participate together with other born again believers in what we are taught in God’s Word. We are then “partakers” of the gospel of Christ and therefore engaged in “fellowship in the gospel”. Unfortunately we see the abuse of the term „biblical fellowship‟ to generally mean; any activity of which people who call themselves believers, participate or partake of together. At any given time you will find professed Christian bodies claiming fellowship to mean potluck suppers, coffee and pie socials, clean up day in the park, volleyball games, fishing/hunting trips, shopping or cooking groups, sewing clubs or quilting parties, hiking trips or picnics etc. From what is advertised all over online, on bulletin boards, sign boards outside religious denominational buildings, fliers etc…any social gathering of any sort is considered biblical fellowship. Oftentimes they are advertising such activities/recreation in order to invite the world to participate with them. Koinoniamust not unite with those who (I John 1:6) “walk in darkness”, or who practice (2 Corinthians 10:20)“lawlessness”. The Christian must not have (I Corinthians 10:20) “fellowship (koinonia) with demons”nor (I Timothy 5:22) “share (koinoneo) in other people’s sins”. We also see that someone who greets the one who transgresses the doctrine of Christ “shares (koinoneo) in his evil deeds” (2 John 11). Many religious organizations go so far as to deem fellowship as a group of professed believers participating in carnal, sinful worldly activities such as football/ super bowl parties, beach and waterpark gatherings, fashion shows, watching Hollywood movies together, engaging in absurd and silly antics of tug-o-war games or face painting etc. These such activities are certainly fellowship because those participating in them are all joining (bonding and uniting) in the activities but it is NOT BIBLICAL fellowship. Professed believers coming together for a volleyball game are fellowshipping in entertainment of volleyball. Those coming together for fishing or hunting are fellowshipping in recreation of fishing or hunting. The ladies in the sewing club are fellowshipping in sewing and the coffee and pie group are fellowshipping in consuming coffee and pie.
  5. 5. Many well-meaning born again believers will claim that as long as the conversation is centered around Jesus Christ, the activity doesn‟t matter as long as it isn‟t sinful. Quite often this is just an excuse for women to run off to some activity with other sisters or men to partake in the activities they enjoy, therefore labelling it biblical fellowship because they will make sure that while they are entertaining their flesh, they speak well of the Lord. Realistically we see that the activity is the center and focus of attention. How effective is it to be hitting a volleyball and running after it while proclaiming God‟s Word in a soberminded way? Or reeling in a big fish while discussing the crucifixion? Pulling the trigger at the trap shoot while discussing gentleness? Or discussing the traits of a godly woman while out shopping for cutlery? Let‟s be honest, these are simply activities that people want to do and although people can participate in some of these, it is not called biblical fellowship. (God’s Word informs us to redeem the time because the days are evil- Ephesians 5:16-so let us not get swept away in extra curricularactivites when evangelizing, preaching, learning and teaching the Word of God is of utmost importance!) Biblical fellowship is for true born again believers who have been regenerated in Jesus Christ, who are obediently following after Him in Word and deed, denying the desires of the flesh and are walking in truth and spirit after their Savior. These believers are then living their lives as a sacrifice (Romans 12:2) and coming together (fellowshipping) with like-minded believers in participation of such things as the Lord’s Supper, prayer, edification in God’s Word, exhorting one another to stand strong in Truth; evangelizing, discipling, serving, aiding, teaching with benevolent actions etc. These actions are those of biblical fellowship as defined in God's Word. Defining biblical fellowship is very important as we see from scripture the actions that accompany fellowship are ALL defined in God‟s Word. Any activity not from the Word of God is simply fellowship of that activity. Why is this so important? Everything from the Word of God is important of course, but that one inconsistent teaching can result in a lot of misled people. Quite often we see the damaging results of this in the religious denominational organizations as people will gather for biblical fellowship on Sunday and Wednesday (praying, teaching, hymns etc.) with all actions, thoughts and words centered around God for a total of a couple hours a week but those same people will walk away from or shun a brother/sister seeking to come together with them for biblical fellowship outside those Sunday and Wednesday meetings. Yet when it comes to an extracurricular activity that someone calls fellowship (examples as listed above), they are the first to invite everyone they know. Why? Because those fellowship gatherings tantalize the flesh and fulfill the lusts of their desires, whereas continuous TRUE biblical fellowship with other believers as seen in the New Testament writings where they met house to house, daily, breaking bread and scouring over the scriptures….is not as enticing to the carnal flesh.
  6. 6. That shows a gross spiritual problem in such a person professing Christ. True biblical fellowship is not centered on fleshly carnal activities but instead on spiritual communion with our Father and His Son, uniting with like minded brothers and sisters and encouraging spiritual growth in order to stand strong (1 Corinthians 16:13), fight the good fight (1 Timothy 6:12) and endure until the end (Matthew 24:13) We encourage you to seek biblical truth, understand what God‟s Word says and be obedient to it. James 1 says if we ask God for wisdom, He will give it. Email us anytime