koinónia – Fellowship of the Saints        

koinónia – Fellowship of the Saints        

Wrtten by Rev.Zheng 

        Fellowship is part of church life (Acts 2:42). The Greek word for fellowship is koinónia, which has broad and rich meanings that cannot be expressed by one single word in the Chinese and English language. For example, koinónia in Philippians 1:5 refers to the partnership on the spreading of the Gospel; in 1Peter 4:13 Koinonia refers to the participation of Christ’s suffering. In Acts 2:42 it refers to the sharing of life of the early church. In 1John 1:3 it refers to the sharing of life:

        “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us” i.e to share in a common life with us.

        The Lord Jesus illustrated the life-sharing of Koinonia with the analogy of the vine and the branch. A broken branch may be reattached firmly back to the vine using glue, but it will not be able to receive nourishment from the vine because it is no longer a living part of the vine.

        The Apostle Paul, on the hand, used the analogy of a body to illustrate koinónia. Christ is the head and each of us is a member part of the body. It does not hurt to take off my shoe because my shoe is not attached to my body through life. But to ‘take off’ my foot will definitely hurt!

        It is clear from the Scripture that saints can enjoy koinónia only through sharing the life of Jesus, this is stated unmistakably in the 2nd half of the verse 1John 1:3: “and indeed our fellowship – that life which we share – is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” This is the theological notion of ‘Union with Christ’ – Christ is in the Father, we are in Christ and Christ is in us (John 14:20).  Paul coined a term for it: ‘in Christ’.

        How could we be in Christ? It is through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit at the point of one’s conversion. That means that non-believers may join our activities but they are unable to enjoy koinonia with us because they are not in Christ.

        koinónia between Saints is clearly based on the koinónia of saints and the Triune God. In other words, whether we are having meal fellowship, bible study fellowship, prayer fellowship…etc, Koinonia does not happen simply because we are conducting some activities. Only when there is the sharing of Christ’s love, engagement of Christ’s thoughts, participation of suffering for Christ, sharing of joy, and intimacy of the souls.


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