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Fellowship and Romans 14

Lesson 1: The Use of the Greek Term "Koinonia"
in the New Testament Scriptures
Stan Cox

Quick definitions of the term

Strongs (QuickVerse), 2842. koinonia, koy-nohn-ee'-ah; from G2844; partnership, i.e. (lit.) participation, or (social) intercourse, or (pecuniary) benefaction:--(to) communicate (-ation), communion, (contri-), distribution, fellowship.

NASC Dictionary, G2842. koinwnia, from G2844; fellowship:-- contribution(2), fellowship(12), participation(2), sharing(3).

  • We must recognize that the word koinonia, is used exclusively regarding spiritual matters in the New Testament

Importance of the physical/spiritual distinction.

  • Jesus made the distinction himself

      Matthew 26:6-13
      John 6:22-66

Verses in New Testament that include Greek Term - Koinonia

Acts 2:42, "they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship,"

  • (Spiritual participation)

Romans 15:26, "For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem."

  • (Sharing with Christians in spiritual work of benevolence. {Note: Statement of Bradley Chance from Holman's Bible Dictionary... "Though it is not translated "fellowship" in English versions, Paul actually used the term koinonia to denote the financial contribution which he was collecting from Gentile believers to take to Jerusalem for the relief of the saints who lived there (Rom. 15:26; 2 Cor. 8:4; 9:13). The reason he could refer to a financial gift as koinonia is explained by Romans 15:27: "If the Gentiles have come to share in their [the Jewish Christians'] spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material things" (NRSV). In this case, each offered what they were able to offer to benefit others: Jewish Christians their spiritual blessings, Gentile Christians their material blessings. Such mutual sharing of one's blessings is a clear and profound expression of Christian fellowship."})

1 Cor. 1:9, " were called into the fellowship of His Son,"

  • (Our fellowship with Christ is, of course, a spiritual relationship)

1 Cor. 10:16, "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?

  • (No joint participation is of a more spiritual nature than jointly sharing in Christ's death through the observance of His supper)

2 Cor. 6:14, "And what communion has light with darkness?"

  • (Once again, spiritual communion. Not to be unequally yoked together. [Note: A passage which bears on subject is 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, which refers to those who must be withdrawn from. Not to eat with such a one. Paul states that obviously he is speaking of Christians for to refuse to have contact with anyone evil is impossible, as we must live in the world. Hence, it is possible for us to have assocation with the world, (eating with, working with, being in presence of),

2 Cor. 8:4, "we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints."

  • (The support of evangelism constitutes this spiritual fellowship)

2 Cor. 9:13, "they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men,"

  • (Once again the work of benevolence indicated, a spiritual work.)

2 Cor. 13:14, "the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all."

  • (References the spiritual relationship we have with the Holy Spirit.)

Gal. 2:9, "me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised."

  • (References the agreement to participate jointly in the preaching of the gospel. Paul and Barnabas to the Gentiles, and Peter, James and John to the Jews.)

Eph. 3:9, "and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery,"

  • (References the joint participation we have in the spiritual blessings of Christ. Made known in the establishment of the New Covenant.)

Phi. 1:5, "I thank my God... for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,"

  • (Philippians support of Paul as he preached the gospel. Obviously a spiritual work.)

Phi. 2:1, "Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit,..."

  • (Can't be more obvious as a reference to spiritual participation)

Phi. 3:10, "that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings,"

  • (Participation in the suffering of Christ, a spiritual participation.)

Philemon 6, "that the sharing of your faith may become effective..."

  • (The sharing of our faith with others is a spiritual blessing which edifies them.)

Hebrews 13:16, "But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."

  • (This sharing stated as being a pleasing sacrifice to God. A benevolent attitude is part of the Christian relationship.)

1 John 1:3, "that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

  • (Obviously references our spiritual relationship)

1 John 1:6-7, "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice 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 His Son cleanses us from all sin.

  • (Again, the spiritual relationship in Christ.)