By Larry White
November 11, 1984
The word translated “fellowship” in the New Covenant scriptures is the Greek word KOINONIA. It means communion, fellowship, a sharing in common. It comes from the word KOINOS or common. It carries the thought of participation in something with another person or persons. We are participants in the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ because we gain all the benefits and blessings of that sacrifice. We fully associate ourselves with his death and are made partakers of Christ even to the extent of living like him, suffering with him and dying with him. His sacrifice was because of us and for us. “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion of the blood of Christ?” - a participation? (1Cor. 10:16) We participate in his sacrificed blood and we participate in his sacrificed body.
The word fellowship is applied mostly to the joint participation of Christians in the church. The New Covenant scriptures teach that there are persons and things with which we can have fellowship and persons and things with which we are not to have fellowship. We are to have fellowship in aiding poor saints (Rom. 15:26; 2 Cor. 8:4), in the preaching of the Gospel (Phil. 1:5; 4:15‑17), in persecution (2Tim. 1:8; Rev. 1:9), and in the blessings of God (1Pet. 5:1; 2Pet. 1:4) But fellowship has limits. We are not to “have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” (Eph. 5:11) We are partakers of Christ's blessings, persecutions and glory. But we can not be partakers of sin and of things God has not authorized (iniquity) in our personal lives or in the work and worship of the church. “If we say that we have fellowship 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 one with another.” (1Jno. 1:6‑7) Being one with God is walking with him, doing the things God wants done, having the same goal that God has. Doing the same things in the same way for the same purpose through the same motive God does. Being one with him is thinking and acting like him.
“He that says he abides in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” (1Jno. 2:6) When we all are one with God and truly have that fellowship with him, we have fellowship with one another. This of course must solely be based on God's revealed word and the keeping of it. John wrote,
“That which we have seen and heard declare we
unto you, so that you also way have fellowship
with us; and truly our fellowship is with
the Father, and with his son Jesus Christ.”
(1Jno. 1: 3)
Members of a choir all sing in different parts, but all sing the same words – all blend their voices adding their individual music to the grand total with the same purpose, viz. to project that one song to the hearers. All rejoice with a feeling of accomplishment when this purpose is fulfilled. Brethren, we sing the song of redemption. Each of us must sing, and when we think as a team, our voices will blend with the harmony of Heaven and that one message will be projected to the world.
“How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” We all, brethren, are one body, because there is only one church. Our unity is the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. Each individual participates in the doing of God's commands and the keeping of his word. When each of us has that goal, we grow close together in encouragement and love. That's when we realize truly that we are brethren, when we all love the same thing and love each other. We all have the same spirit for there is only one spirit. We all have the same hope because there's only one heaven and one way to get there. We all have the same Lord for there's only one savior of mankind – Jesus Christ our Lord. We all have the same faith for there's only one religion, one Bible, one truth. We have all had the same baptism because there is only one baptism that is effective. And the reason for all of this is that we all have the same God, for there is only one God.
We are all personally involved in this unity. Yet the basis of this unity is something other than just us. Our oneness stands above us because it's IN one hope and IN one God. He's the Father of us all. He's high over us all, and through us all and in us all. Paul admonished the church to “stand fast in one spirit, with one soul, striving together for the faith of the gospel.” (Phil.1:27) Here you have the unique character of our relationship in our work. This does not mean we strive against each other, but shoulder to shoulder with one heart and soul, together, we strive for the faith of the gospel. Proclaiming it, defending it, upholding it, each one loving and being totally committed to the truth.
Our goal is both inward and outward. First, the maturing of every saint among us. That we can each stand in the strength and the power and the godly maturity of the knowledge and the faith of Jesus Christ. Second, to contact this dark world with the light of the truth. This is also done in love – speaking the truth in love. These are the things we should all participate in doing jointly, which is the ground-work of fellowship.
Some people's first thought when they hear the word fellowship is “coffee and doughnuts”, but we can see obviously that this is far short of the idea.