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Κοινωνία 4

Posted by on Aug 4, 2006 in fellowship | 3 comments

In the first three parts of this series (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3), I have suggested that κοινωνία (koinōnia – often translated “fellowship”) is not produced by various activities, but instead represents a common bond/sharing among believers that is created by God through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit binds believers together creating κοινωνία. Also, I suggested that there are two reasons that someone may not be demonstrating κοινωνία in their lives: 1) They are not regenerate, or 2) they are quenching the work of the Spirit in their lives.

A friend pointed out that there is another reason that a person may not demonstrate κοινωνία in his or her life. If a believer is isolated from other believers, κοινωνία may not be evident. However, even in this rare instance, the Spirit would be working through the believer to bring others to God and, thereby creating κοινωνία.

There is also a fourth reason that someone may not demonstrate κοινωνία in his or her life: a lack of discipleship. In other words, many people are taught that “fellowship” is when a church meets together in a certain building under the proper authority to share food. Other activities are simply social interaction, but they are not proper forms of “fellowship.”

However, κοινωνία expresses itself in many different activities, in many different locations – as long as believers are demonstrating their care for one another and common bond with one another prompted by the Spirit of God. This could be expressed in a common meal among a large number of believers, but it could also be expressed by two believers sharing common interest. In fact, it is possible that large, organized gatherings disrupt or hinder true expressions of κοινωνία. Believers should express their common bond with one another in intimate, spontaneous, Spirit-led encounters where the “one-anothers” of Scripture are practiced – not out of duty, but out of love and concern.

If this is correct, then neither the location nor the activity is most important. Instead, Spirit-induced conern for one another leads to these expressions of κοινωνία. Perhaps more importantly, while we can teach the importance of expressing our love and concern for one another, demonstrations of κοινωνία cannot be taught. Instead, they must be modelled.

As an example, a friend of mine is a great model of hospitality. She has demonstrated κοινωνία with brothers and sisters in Christ many times by opening her home spontaneously. I have learned much about hospitality from observing her actions. However, if I simply copy her actions out of duty, there is no expression of κοινωνία. If, instead, the Spirit prompts me to demonstrate κοινωνία through hospitality, her actions become examples for me and others. In other words, she has “stir[red] up love and good works” (Heb. 10:24) in myself and other believers by her encouraging expressions of κοινωνία.

If you have anything to add to this discussion of κοινωνία, please comment. I look forward to learning from others as we study this important concept together.


3 Comments

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  1. 8-7-2006

    Alan,

    As I have read your posts on koinonia, I have been struck by a re-occuring thought. If fellowship is what you have been seeing in scripture, then I and many churches have been wrong in our thinking. Why? Because we often create programs or plan events in order to create fellowship. Whereas, biblically speaking, whereever the Spirit is at work among God’s children (unquenched / ungrieved)fellowship will occur. It even may manifest itself through the creation of a program or a planned event. All I am trying to say is that it seems that we often get it backwards, as if fellowship is something that we create and maintain in certain blocks of time.

    Thanks for the posts.

    Rob

  2. 8-7-2006

    On a slightly different note, κοινωνία begins in the home, perhaps? Most of the posts seem to be talking about fellowship outside the home (forgive me if I simply missed it — these are long posts!). I know I derive great comfort and growth from my family (and don’t have many others to devote myself to).

    I’m not sure I’d say ‘rare instance’ in regards to isolated Christians. Quite a few countries make it very difficult to meet (or even find) other believers. And who knows how many Christians here and elsewherefeel isolated and unable to join with others. This could be their own doing…but it also may not be.

  3. 8-7-2006

    Rob,
    Thank you for the comment, and the κοινωνία!

    Isabel,
    Thank you for your comments. I agree that κοινωνία begins in the home. The home should also be our first setting for service and discipleship. Perhaps ‘rare instance’ is too strong. There are certainly believers all around the world who are isolated. Thank God that we are never truly alone, because he is our primary κοινωνία, and he will never leave us nor forsake us.

    Thank you both again for your comments!

    Alan