The word we translate “fellowship” in most Bibles has its roots in the Greek term “koinõnia.” I discussed this word in a previous blog last December. But the English term “fellowship” also holds lessons for us.
Our English word “fellowship” dates back to around the beginning of the 13th century. Back then it looked like this: “feolahschipe.” Yeah, that’s the correct spelling. It meant “companionship,” i.e. “a body of companions.”
The word referred more to the “spirit of comradeship,” the “friendliness” of being and sharing together.
When the suffix “-ship” is added to a noun, it serves to establish status or condition. In the case of the noun “fellow” the suffix takes three forms:
○ Indicating a state or a condition, e.g. to be in a friendship.
○ Indicating the qualities of a class of people, e.g. craftsmanship.
○ Indicating office or profession, e.g. ambassadorship.
All three of these also appear in Christian fellowship. Each forms an aspect of why fellowship is an essential part of discipleship, and underscores the urgency of the command as the day of Christ’s return draws nearer…
“…let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb. 10:24, 25)
We need to gather together with other believers to enjoy their friendship – as friends we do things together, go places together, share with one another and simply enjoy the good pleasure of being with good people who share in our one common faith. “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)
We need to gather together with other believers to enjoy their craftsmanship – what I have in mind here are the unique spiritual gifts God has given to each believer. No one possesses all spiritual gifts for God has assembled His Body, the Church, in such a way that we need each other. “The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” (1 Cor. 12:21)
We need to gather together with other believers to develop our ambassadorship – Paul twice uses the term “ambassador” to describe his testimony in this world (2 Cor. 5:20, Eph. 6:20). Peter reminds us that we who have made Christ our Lord are now citizens of another kingdom: “…you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Pet. 2:9). Because we represent this new kingdom to this lost world, he urges us “as foreigners and exiles… abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.” (1 Pet. 2:11). To be the best ambassadors possible for our Lord Jesus Christ we need each other to keep us accountable, walking a life of purity and power before a lost humanity.
Whether you are a believer new or seasoned do not abandon the fellowship of the family of God. You need it! You need it for pleasure, for service, for purity. As fellow Bible College alumnus of mine once stated, “We need fellowship sometimes more than we want it.” (Don Horban)
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