Why do we need it? Why must we not skip it for very long? A Bible study here, with the famous “one another” verses included.
Let’s start off with a quick word study.
The noun koinōnia (pronounced koi-noh-nee-ah) is defined as “fellowship, communion, participation, and sharing” (Mounce, p. 247). It means mutual sharing among believers. This noun does not describe a physical gathering necessarily, but the spirit or camaraderie or attitude in the gathering of believers. It is the spirit within a physical gathering.
1.. What is the basis of fellowship with God through Christ?
It begins in Genesis.
Gen. 2:18 says that it is not good for man to be alone, so God made a suitable helper for him. God walked with humankind and womankind in the cool of the day in the garden. We are made for fellowship with God, at our core.
Fellowship with God is seen in John 15:3-4. Jesus teaches us through the image of the vine and the branches. When the branches stay connected to the vine, they have a life-source. This is deep fellowship.
It is amazing that we are invited into relationship with God himself. And now, according to 1 Cor. 1:9, God has called us into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord.
We can enjoy fellowship in the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14).
Matt. 18:20 promises restoration of the intimate fellowship with God through Christ because he said that where two or three are gathered together in his name, he is in their midst.
In Phil 2:1 Paul writes a series of hypothetical “if’s,” with the implied answer of yes. Here is one: “If there is a common sharing of in the Spirit ….” We can share commonalities in the Spirit, with God himself and with each other.
1 John 1:3, 7 says that Christians can have fellowship when everyone has fellowship with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, because his blood purifies us from all sin. In context, this means that the proto-gnostics, who proclaimed that deliberate sin was no big deal, could not have fellowship with believers in Jesus. People must walk in God’s light, not sin’s darkness.
Another basis of our fellowship is the Word of God, common meals and prayer. The earliest church, which started in Jerusalem, gathered together for hearing the apostles’ teaching and breaking of bread and prayer (Acts 2:42).
2.. What are the expressions of fellowship?
Christ prayed for it. John 17:20-23 is profound. In his long prayer, he asks the Father to grant Christ disciples in the future to be as one, as the Father and Son are one, just as the Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father. Then they are to be in him, and he in them, so that they may be brought into complete unity. So unity is one expression of fellowship.
Unity is proclaimed in Ps. 133:1. It is “good and pleasant when God’s people live together in unity!”
Another expression of fellowship is mutual sharing. In Acts 2:44-45, the earliest believers shared everything in common, so that no one had any need. This is a small community of the few thousand of voluntary members. Be careful about imposing the sharing by government compulsion on a national scale, however.
An expression of fellowship is prayer. Before the Spirit fell in Acts 2:4, the very earliest Jesus followers constantly met together to pray, including Mary, the mother of Jesus and his brothers.
When John and Peter returned from the Sanhedrin (highest Jewish council and court), they prayed for boldness through the Holy Spirit to share the gospel. God heard their prayers and filled them, once again, with the Spirit, so that they proclaimed the gospel even more boldly (Acts 4:24-31).
In Rom. 15:30-32 Paul asks the Roman Christians to pray for him, so he can be kept safe from unbelievers in Judea, and he could deliver the money the Corinthians and other Achaeans and Macedonians gave the church in Judea. They are asked to pray that he can visit them soon.
An expression of fellowship is partaking of the Lord’s Supper. Acts 2:42-47 mentions twice that the believers shared meals together. No doubt they remembered the recent Last Supper which twelve of them shared with Jesus, when he drank from the cup and ate the bread and established the New Covenant.
Paul has to remind the Corinthians that pagans offered sacrifices to demons, so Christians could not participate in the table of the Lord and the table of demons or the cup of the Lord and cup of demons. The two must be kept separate. The essential point is that the Corinthians shared the Lord’s Supper often (1 Cor. 10:16-17).
Leaders welcomed and endorsed each other. James (the Lord’s half-brother), Peter, and John gave Paul the righthand of fellowship and recognized the grace God gave him, when he went to Jerusalem (Gal. 2:9).
3.. How do we have fellowship with one another?
These are the famous “one another” verses in the New Testament (I recall that my roommate developed them at seminary in the late 1970s and shared them with his professors, and his list went “viral” before there was a worldwide web, but I may have my chronology wrong here.) The method was to interpret the imperative verb (e.g. “Love one another”), but I added a few other “one another” ideas.
Be devoted to one another (Rom. 12:10)
Live in harmony with another (Rom. 12:16; 1 Pet. 3:8)
Accept one another (Rom. 15:7)
Instruct one another (Rom. 15:14)
Each member of the body belongs to one another (Rom. 12:5)
Use your gifts for one another (1 Cor. 12:7; 1 Pet. 4:10)
Honor one another (Rom. 12:10)
Stop passing judgment on one another (Rom. 14:13)
Share with one another (2 Cor. 8:7, 13-15)
Greet one another (2 Cor. 13:12)
Serve one another in love (Gal. 5:13)
Carry one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2)
Be kind to one another (Eph. 4:12; 1 Thess. 5:15)
Forgive one another (Eph. 4:32)
Look to interests of others (Phil. 2:3-4)
Bear with one another (Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:13)
Love one another (John 13:34; 15:12-17; Col. 3:14; 1 John 4:11-12)
Admonish one another (Col. 3:16)
Let love increase and overflow for one another (1 Thess. 3:12)
Consider others better than yourselves (Phil. 2:3)
Have equal concern for one another (1 Cor. 12:25)
Be encouraged by each other’s faith (Rom. 1:12)
Be compassionate to one another (Eph. 4:32)
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Eph. 5:21)
Encourage one another (1 Thess. 5:11; Heb. 10:25)
Build up one another (1 Thess. 5:11)
Live in peace with one another (1 Thess. 5:13)
Spur one another to good works (Heb. 10:24)
Confess your sins to each other (Jas. 5:16)
Pray for one another (Jas. 5:16)
Be hospitable to one another (1 Pet. 4:9)
Clothe yourself with humility for one another (1 Pet. 5:5)
Have fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7)
In coming together to eat, wait for one another (1 Cor. 11:33)
Let us not envy one another (Gal. 5:26)
Do not lie to one another (Col. 3:9)
How does this post help me grow in Christ?
You first must have fellowship with God through Christ. People without God cannot enjoy those relationships, but you can. And now you can share this relationship with God with others.
Second, you must avoid fellowship with the ungodly or with darkness (1 Cor. 5:1-2; 2 Cor. 6:14-16; Eph. 5:5-7, 11). This does not mean you shelter yourself from the world, but “fellowship” goes deeper than friendly conversations on the job. You cannot share in or participate in their attitudes and activities. Keep things wholesome. Invite them into the light; don’t go with them into their darkness.
Third, you must go regularly to church or fellowship. Meeting together on Sunday morning at a large, mid-sized, or small church is a good thing–is a commanded thing. .
Why do we need to meet regularly? Those “one another” verses explain the answer. We are built for relationships.