April 1, 1986 Issue
by Edwin S. Morris
In this article we are interested in a few places in the Word of God where these two words are the translation of the word "koinonia". This Greek word is used in the marriage contract where husband and wife agree to a joint-participation in the necessities of life. The key idea in the word is that of partnership, a possessing things in common, a belonging in common.
In I Cor 1:9 "God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ." The word here denotes a collective participation. In this the saints partake "with all those that call on the name of the Lord Jesus." This fellowship is a sharing in common on the part of the saints. Its content, namely, that which all the saints share in, is sonship to God, for it is a communion of His Son and this is with Christ, since He is the "First born among many brethren," and heirship with Christ, for the saints are joint-heirs with Christ.
Again in I Cor 10:16 "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" The Lord's Supper constitutes a "communion" centering in Christ. Such fellowship involves: (1) The ground of communion, the sacred object celebrated in common. (2) The association established amongst the celebrants, separating them from all others. The word "communion" denotes the fellowship of persons with persons in one and the same object. Thus in the Lord's Supper believers participate together in Christ, in recognition of His atonement on their behalf, and in remembrance of His death until He comes. I am afraid too many times we lose sight of this great fellowship or communion.
In 2 Cor 8:4 "Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints." Here the Macedonian Christians who gave the money for the saints, asked Paul to become their partner in its distribution. Thus we have the idea of sharing, a sharing in the work of supplying needy saints with money, the Macedonians, the givers, Paul, the distributor. May we remember that we all have a partnership in God's work. This is true in gospel meetings, in local church work, in foreign work, etc. I know of many congregations who have supported the Lord's work in areas other than their own. You that do this have a fellowship in the work. Many times you are not given the credit but God knows. The Macedonians wanted to be allowed to exercise the grace of liberality which God had put in their hearts, and that they might have fellowship in so worthy a work as ministering to the needs of God's people.
In Gal 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; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision." The word "fellowship" here refers to the common interest which all had in salvation of the lost, and a mutual, active participation in that interest. When these five men shook hands as equals in the work of Christ those who were trying to make a difference between Jew and Gentile were brushed aside.
In Eph 3:9 "And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ." It was given Paul "to make all men see what is the fellowship of this mystery." That is the mystery is not known only to God, but He is now sharing it with believers. The word "sharing" expressing what the word "fellowship" here means. Until Christ came man did not understand the complete will of God, but now God has given all things freely whereby we do not have to wonder.
In Phil 1:5 "For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;" Paul thanks God for the joint-participation of the Philippians in the progress of the gospel. They were joint-participants with Paul in the work of the gospel in that they helped supply his needs as he preached. They had been helping him from the first day when Lydia the purple dye seller had opened her home for the preaching of the gospel until that present moment when they had sent a gift to the great apostle in prison. They supported him with prayers and finances.
In I John 1:3 "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." Thayer says--"Which fellowship consists in the fact that Christians are partakers in common of the same mind as God and Christ, and of the blessings arising therefrom." In vs. 6-7 "If we say that we 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 with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin." God and His child have things in common. The "if" we (who profess to be Christians) say that we have fellowship with him (have things in common with Him), and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth. The things possessed in common here are a like nature, and thus the same likes and dislikes. The thing possessed in common here both by God and the saint is light. In the case of God, He is the essence, light. In the case of the believer, he lives in the sphere of the light which God is. In vs. 6 John identifies those who do not have fellowship with God. In vs. 7 John tells them who does have fellowship with God.
In conclusion dear reader let us enjoy the fellowship we have and can enjoy and dwell less on trying to figure out ways we can disfellowship on matters of opinion.
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