1 Peter 5:1

FELLOWSHIP – κοινωνία  – KOINONIA  

September 13, 2021) Dr Jim McClure, noted theologian, shares…

‘Fellowship’ is a word that Christians often use. It is one of the great New Testament words but is has been used so much to describe such a variety of ‘church meetings’ that it has become devalued. 

What is ‘fellowship?’  Is it just a term given to differentiate Christian groups from non-Christian groups – Men’s Fellowship, Women’s Fellowship, Youth Fellowship and so on? 

Or, does the New Testament use the word in a different way? That is what we are going to explore.

The Greek words κοινωνία and κοινωνέω
In the KJV the Greek noun κοινωνία (koinonia) has been translated by the words…

  • Fellowship (12 times),
  • Communion (4 times),
  • Communication (once),
  • Contribution (once), and
  • Distribution (once).

The verb κοινωνέω, ‘to share’, has been translated to partaker of, communicate and distribute. It is clear that it is a much more significant word than is suggested by the way we frequently use it.

Before it became a New Testament word, it was used in secular Classical Greek generally as a business word to indicate, for example, partnership in a business. 

It was also used in the Greek version of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, to translate the Hebrew word חבר (chaber), which means to bind or join together in any context.

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