Fellowship: What It Is and What It Isn’t – Part II

In Part 1 last week, we noticed Biblical examples using the different terms that can be accurately translated from the Greek word for FELLOWSHIP. As a reminder, those terms are: Communion, Contribution, Communication, Participation, Partnering, and Sharing. We also pointed out that Scriptures teach that Christians MUST be in FELLOWSHIP with GOD; We MUST be in FELLOWSHIP with OTHER CHRISTIANS, and We MUST NOT be in FELLOWSHIP with the WICKED. We wrote about Our FELLOWSHIP with GOD, so please get a copy of last week’s Bulletin if you have not read it.


Two important, similar points must be made as we begin this discussion.

  1. In the N.T. FELLOWSHIP between breth-ren was always tied to both DOCTRINE and LIFESTYLE/BEHAVIOR. and
  2. N.T. FELLOWSHIP is a relationship be-tween Christians that can be EXTENDED or WITHDRAWN.

“If we say that we have FELLOWSHIP with HIM (GOD), and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the TRUTH. But if we walk in the LIGHT as He is in the LIGHT, we have FELLOWSHIP with one another, and the blood of JESUS CHRIST His SON cleanses us from all sin”. (I Jn 1:6-7). We each have FELLOWSHIP with OTHER CHRISTIANS when we practice the TRUTH (DOCTRINE of CHRIST) and walk in GOD’S LIGHT (Imitating CHRIST’ BEHAVIOR).

“Then those who gladly RECEIVED HIS WORD were BAPTIZED; and that day about 3,000 souls were added to THEM. And they continued steadfastly in the APOSTLES DOCTRINE and FELLOWSHIP, in the breaking of bread and in prayers”. (Acts 2:41-42). On Pentecost, the GOSPEL PLAN of SALVATION was preached for the first time to a huge crowd. Three thousand people heard, it, believed it, repented of their sins, and were baptized for remission of those sins. They became CHRISTIANS, they continued following the Apostles TEACHING, and they were all in FELLOWSHIP.

Based on following the DOCTRINE of Christ and LIVING CHRIST-LIKE lives, FELLOWSHIP can be EXTENDED to OTHER CHRISTIANS or WITH-DRAWN from them. When Paul and Barnabas went up to Jerusalem, Paul told the brethren there that He had been appointed to preach to the Gentiles. Some false brethren had been brought into the church and tried to stir up some strife over the Jew/Gentile issue, but to no avail. “And when James, Peter, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the GRACE that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the RIGHT HAND of FELLOWSHIP, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised” (Gal 2:9). This right hand of FELLOWSHIP was a “TREATY” or “AGREEMENT” recognizing the PARTICIPA-TION, the PARTNERING, and the SHARING the parties had with ONE ANOTHER. The church at Jerusalem EXTENDED FELLOWSHIP to Paul and
Barnabas because they followed the DOCTRINE of CHRIST and LIVED a HOLY LIFESTYLE.

That same apostle Paul wrote of instances where FELLOWSHIP should be WITHDRAWN FROM a fellow Christian. “But we COMMAND you, BRETHREN, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you WITHDRAW FROM every BROTHER who WALKS DISORDERLY and not according to the tradition which he received from us… And if anyone does NOT OBEY our WORD in this epistle, NOTE that person and DO NOT KEEP COMPANY with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but ADMONISH him as a brother”. (II Thess 3:6, 14-15). Paul tells the young evange-list Timothy the same thing. “If anyone teaches OTHERWISE and does not consent to WHOLE-SOME WORDS, even the WORDS of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, and to the DOCTRINE which accords with GODLINESS,…but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions,.. FROM such WITHDRAW YOUR-SELF”. (I TIM 6:3-5).

Our Non-FELLOWSHIP With The Wicked

Since we are commanded to EXPOSE sin, we can have no FELLOWSHIP with SIN or SINNERS. “And have no FELOWSHIP with the unfruitful WORKS of DARKNESS, but rather EXPOSE them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret”. (Eph 5:11-12). This does not mean that we completely avoid unbelievers, but it does mean that we cannot have that relationship of FELLOWSHIP with them. “Do not be UNEQUALLY YOKED to-gether with UNBELIEVERS. For what FELLOWSHIP has RIGHTEOUSNESS with LAWLESSNESS? And what COMMUNION has LIGHT with DARKNESS”? (II Cor 5:14). If there is nothing in COMMON, there can be no FELLOWSHIP.

One of the most quoted warnings in the N.T. plainly deals with this issue. “Do not be DECEIVED, BAD COMPANY CORRUPTS GOOD MORALS”. (I Cor 15:33). Paul states that EVIL COMMUNICATION/COMPANIONSHIP for a Christian is ETHICALLY CORRUPTING. This is simply a fact of the HUMAN EXPERIENCE.

Practical Points Concerning FELLOWSHIP

  • Those in FELLOWSHIP receive and obey the same GOSPEL (I Jn 1:3)

  • Those in FELLOWSHIP share the same CALLING (Heb 3:1; II Tim 1:9)

  • Those in FELLOWSHIP understand that all are EQUAL in Christ (I Cor 12:12-14)

  • Those in FELLOWSHIP SHARE the same FAITH (Philemon 6)

  • Those in FELLOWSHIP SPEAK the SAME THING, so there are No Divisions (I Cor 1:9-10)

  • Those in FELLOWSHIP WALK by the SAME RULE and are of the SAME MIND (Phil 3:16)

Christians are to speak as the “ORACLES of God” (I Pet 4:11). That means to use BIBLE terms ONLY in BIBLE ways. Like other Scriptural words, we need to keep the term “FELLOWSHIP” pure and free from outside or denominational influence. We have a weekly reminder of FELLOWSIIP’S Biblical meaning in the LORD’S SUPPER every First Day. As we observe that sacred feast, we call to mind all that we SHARE together in Christ’s sufferings, death, and resurrection. “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the COMMUNION of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the COMMUNION of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are ONE bread and ONE body; for we ALL PARTAKE of that one bread. (I Cor 10:16-17)

This is the last of our FELLOWSHIP articles, at least for now. If you have any questions, please leave it in the comments section.