“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:3
The word ‘communion’ comes from the ancient Greek word koinonia (κοινωνία) meaning ‘fellowship’, which stems from the word koinos (κοινός) meaning ‘common’. Koinonia bears witness to what we have in common and what we share as Christian men and women. It bears witness to two complimentary truths:
Firstly, koinonia expresses what we share in together, what we have received together, and what we participate in together. That is the grace of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. So, at the beginning of his first letter, the apostle John says, “Our fellowship (koinonia) is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”
Secondly, Koinonia bears witness to what we share outwardly together. It’s not only what we receive together, but also what we give together. And the adjective ‘koinonikos’ (koinwnikovß) can mean ‘generous’, or its direct translation: “ready to impact”. We as the common fellowship are to come together in faith, love, and encouragement and use them to make an impact!
Our koinonia with each other is based on our common koinonia with Jesus Christ. Romans 12 reminds us to be devoted to one another, to honour one another, to live in harmony with one another, and to accept, serve and love one another. Together, all these things are true koinonia.
Nowadays, people can be quite cynical about this idea of fellowship, but fellowship is much more than listening to some guy preach before having party pies and vegemite sandwiches together! The NIRV translation of 1 John 1:3 says, “We announce to you what we have seen and heard. We do it so you can share life together with us. And we share life with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.”
When I think of fellowship in the Church, I think of a family of believers doing life together. I think of my time on mission trip in Thailand and the fellowship within our group, and it reminds me of the early church in Acts and how they used to do koinonia:
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day the continued to meet together in temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47
The essence of koinonia? Common fellowship, ready to make an impact!
By Armand van Schalkwyk