STUDY EIGHT: THE ROLE OF FELLOWSHIP IN THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY
© Rosemary Bardsley 2005, 2013
A. THE CONCEPT OF FELLOWSHIP - KOINONIA
The concept of fellowship comes from the word koinonia which conveys the idea of sharing together, participation, partnering, communication and is built on the root koinos – ‘common’ with the meaning: ‘shared by all’.
The New Testament usage of the word is listed below, showing the various contexts in which the word is used in reference to Christian believers.
We have fellowship with Jesus Christ [or God]
1 Corinthians 1:9: ‘God … has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.’
1 Corinthians 10:16: ‘And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?’
Philippians 3:10: ‘I want to know Christ … and the fellowship of his sufferings’
1 John 1:3: ‘our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.’
1 John 1:6: ‘If we claim we have fellowship with him …’
We have fellowship with the Holy Spirit
2 Corinthians 13:14: ‘… and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit’
Philippians 2:1: ‘… if any fellowship with the Spirit …’
We have fellowship with other believers
Acts 2:42: ‘They devoted themselves to … the fellowship’
Ephesians 3:9: ‘and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery …’
1 John 1:3‘: so that you also may have fellowship with us’
1 John 1:7: ‘’… we have fellowship with one another’
There is fellowship/partnership in Christian ministry
Galatians 2:9: ‘James, Peter and John …gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me.’
Philippians 1:5: ‘because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now’
Fellowship as sharing financially
2 Corinthians 8:4: ‘they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints’
1 Corinthians 10:20: ‘I do not want you to be participants with demons’
2 Corinthians 6:14,15: ‘do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
Ephesians 5:11: ‘Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness …’
Task #1: Discuss each of the aspects of fellowship listed above.
B. OTHER NEW TESTAMENT EXPRESSIONS OF FELLOWSHIP
In addition to these verses which use the actual word koinonia or its relatives, are the following verses, in which the concept of togetherness or shared activity or identity is mentioned.
Task #2: Check out these verses.
What do they say about Christians doing things together?
Discuss to what extent this is true of Christians today
2 Corinthians 1:11
1 Corinthians 1:10
1 Corinthians 3:9
2 Corinthians 6:1
1 Corinthians 5:4-5
1 Corinthians 11:18ff
1 Thessalonians 5:11
C. FELLOWSHIP IN THE CONTEMPORARY LOCAL CHURCH
Task #3: Discussion:
Discuss the importance of Christians sharing together in formal and informal opportunities for fellowship. Base your discussion on  the Biblical expressions of fellowship looked at in points A and B above; and  the negative impacts of not interacting with other believers can have on individual believers.
Task #4: Your local church
 Make a list of formal opportunities for fellowship in your local church
 Make a list of informal opportunities for fellowship in your local church
 Discuss and list ways in which your local church could encourage more formal and informal fellowship among believers.