Koinonia

Acts 2:42 “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

As we approach the easter celebration, the events that led up to that day were like no other, Jesus taught many things while His actions revealed the elements of fellowship that were so important for His followers to know.

One of the gifts that Jesus left His disciples that fateful and yet blessed week was the reminder to continue gathering together and when they do, what that should look like.

Fellowship of Sacrifice

The term koinonia appears first in Acts 2:42 but we see a different interpretation of the word in 2 Corinthians 9:13 “Because of the proof this ministry provides, the saints will glorify God for your obedient confession of the gospel of Christ, and for the generosity of your contribution(koinonia) to them and to all the others.”

This fellowship with believers is in regards to sharing resources and in this case, liberally.

Jesus died with nothing other than the clothes on His back but He gave everything—namely Himself.

Traditionally koinonia must be kept in accordance with God so when Paul uses it in Philippians 3:10 “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share(koinonia) his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,” we see not only fellowship with other believers but fellowship with God through their new life in Jesus Christ. Jesus’ life is one his disciples share in every day, striving to exemplify Christ through their love for one another, but also giving of their lives that Jesus might be glorified.

The closer we look at how believers display the attributes of koinonia in their lives, the more we see a connectedness with not only Jesus, but the entire godhead.

Fellowship is revealed through instances with:

  • Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:9)
  • The gospel (Philippians 1:3-5)
  • The Holy Spirit (Philippians 2:1)
  • The sufferings of Jesus (Philippians 3:10) and many more.

1 John 1:3 “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

Since the term comes from a root word that means “partner” or “companion,” it partners in the idea of “sharing”—sharing possessions, sharing experiences, sharing life, sharing one’s self with another.

Fellowship of Giving

Another principle of koinonia that falls perfectly into view when this is expressed is the call to discipleship.

Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”

Discipleship is more than just sharing the gospel with others and leading them to Christ, it’s a continuation of teaching and training others in how to walk in Christ every day.

The process of encouraging others in their faith is a time of fellowship that expresses godly love to those for whom Christ has died; How better of a way for us to honor the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf than to invest that same love into others.

Fellowship of Unity

1 John 1:7 “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship [koinonia] with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

As it was important in the early church, so it is today—unity of the Spirit is essential for a church to thrive and grow. The elements of fallen humanity tend to infiltrate bodies of believers and with those a disunity is usually what follows. If the church desires to be what Christ intended for it, the focus must be maintained on the Word of God. The light of true christian fellowship is the light of Truth that must be emphasized and encouraged regularly.

Romans 12:16 “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.”

It is through harmony that believers accentuate the uniqueness of individual participation in God’s plan while strengthening one another through our differences. The gifts God gives are meant to link us together as one body, each formed separately but for one purpose, God’s purpose.

If you want to witness what a good church looks like, look for one that exemplifies the qualities of koinonia.

Fellowship in Marriage

2 Corinthians 6:14 “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”

When a husband and wife enter into a holy matrimony, they enter into koinonia with one another. The same principles of drawing together in unity with the Lord at the center is a perfect example of koinonia being expressed as a cord of three strands—not easily broken.(Ecclesiastes 4:12)

Fellowship of Believers

Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

True fellowship is among believers. I know this sounds overly simplified but the concept only works with those who share the common bond of Jesus Christ in their lives. For koinonia to work, Jesus has to be in the midst of them, otherwise it is only conversation.

The bond of fellowship extends far deeper when Christ is the reason for our union.

I heard it once said that the phrase “one another” is such an important depiction of koinonia that we see it being integral to being a member of the body of Christ:

  • Devoted to one another (Romans 12:10)
  • Honoring one another (Romans 12:10)
  • Living in harmony with one another (Rom. 12:16; 1 Peter 3:8)
  • Accepting one another (Rom. 15:7)
  • Serving one another in love (Gal. 5:13)
  • Being kind and compassionate to one another (Eph. 4:32)
  • Admonishing one another (Col. 3:16)
  • Encouraging one another (1 Thess. 5:11)
  • Spurring one another to love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24)
  • Offering hospitality (1 Peter 4:9)
  • Loving one another (1 Peter 1:22, 1 John 3:11, 3:23, 4:7, 4:11-12)

The multiple ways koinonia is expressed is a depiction of how much God has woven this concept into every aspect of our lives.

I find it helpful to focus on attributes of God’s revelation and then remind myself of how important it is in each part of my life. Not taking for granted the relationships God has formed but keeping them in light of God’s magnificent glory, the glory the Son exemplified for us with His life.

I hope you will see not just the importance of koinonia but how important your role within the church is as well. When you embrace this role, you will find yourself thriving in the Kingdom of God like never before.

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