Go Deep—Gift Of Koinonia

John uses the word “fellowship” four times in 1 John 1:3, 6-7. This is the Greek word koinonia, which means intimacy of relationship. The whole purpose of the motivational gifts, the operational gifts, and the leadership gifts is to bring maturity and unity to the Body of Christ. This maturity brings out the fruit of the Spirit. 

All of these gifts of the Holy Spirit are intended to help us demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit in ways that make the Kingdom of God visible and desirable. A key component is our koinonia that draws us together as one Body. Two key phrases that appear generously throughout the New Testament Church are one another and each other. 

Download the participant’s guide for this lesson here → Gift of koinonia handout

Here’s how koinonia is supposed to be demonstrated—

  1. Loving one another—John 13:34-35; 15:12, 17; Romans 13:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22, 3:8; 1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11-12
  2. Sharing in each other’s practical needs—Acts 2:44-45, 4:32-35 
  3. Devoted to one another—Romans 12:10
  4. Honoring one another—Romans 12:10; Philippians 2:3 (AMP); 1 Peter 5:5
  5. Living in harmony with each other—Romans 12:16 
  6. Not judging one another—Romans 14:13 
  7. Building each other up—Romans 14:19 NLT 
  8. Empathizing with each other—Romans 15:5 AMP; 1 Corinthians 12:25 AMP; 1 Peter 3:8 TLB 
  9. Accepting each other—Romans 15:7 
  10. Instructing one another—Acts 2:42; Romans 15:14; Colossians 3:16 
  11. Agreeing with one another—1 Corinthians 1:10 
  12. Encouraging one another—2 Corinthians 13:11; Ephesians 5:19; 1 Thessalonians 4:18, 5:11; Hebrews 3:13, 10:25
  13. Serving each other—Galatians 5:13 
  14. Patiently bearing with one another—Ephesians 4:2; Ephesians 4:3 TLB 
  15. Speaking the truth in love to one another—Ephesians 4:15; Colossians 3:9
  16. Forgiving one another—Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13 
  17. Submitting to one another—Ephesians 5:21 
  18. Acting like Jesus toward each other—Philippians 2:5 
  19. Doing what is good for one another—1 Thessalonians 5:15 
  20. Spurring one another on—Hebrews 10:24 
  21. Regularly meeting with one another—Acts 2:46; Hebrews 10:25 
  22. Looking after each other—Hebrews 12:15 AMP 
  23. Confessing sins to one another—James 5:16 
  24. Showing hospitality to each other—1 Peter 4:9 
  25. Doing the hard work of getting along with each other—James 3:17-18 MSG

Those things lead to #26, which starts the cycle over again at #1. 

  1. Increasing our love for one another—1 Thessalonians 3:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; Hebrews 13:1; 1 Peter 4:8 

Our koinonia in the church is encouraging for the saints and it is a blessing for the unsaved because of all of the good things a unified, strong, loving church can do. Koinonia ultimately becomes one of the greatest witnessing tools. Jesus prayed—

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. (John 17:20-21)

Links & Quotes

“…and let us all hasten to approach to perfect manhood, to the measure of the completed growth of the fullness of Jesus Christ, in Whom let us love one another, praise one another, correct one another, encourage one another, pray for one another, that with Him in one another we may reign and triumph.” —Columbanus, Letter to Certain Bishops, Irish, early 7th century

This is pretty cool: Mastodon bones were discovered in our community. It is cool to think that these amazing creatures were wandering around in our neighborhood.

Have you ever wondered how the laws of the Old Testament era should be applied to New Testament Christians? Theologian T.M. Moore has an excellent series of articles on this, but I think his post The Church is not Ancient Israel is especially informative.

Here is one way the Holy Spirit can speak to us—

“It is not the body of truth that enlightens; it is the Spirit of truth who enlightens. If you are willing to obey the Lord Jesus, He will illuminate your spirit. He will inwardly enlighten you. The truth you have known intellectually will now be known spiritually. Power will begin to flow up and out, and you will find yourself changed—marvelously changed.” —A.W. Tozer

“The greatest tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer, but unoffered prayer.” —F.B. Meyer

This is pretty cool: some fossilized human footprints in the salt flats of Utah. “Both creationist and uniformitarian scientists agree that these tracks were made during the Ice Age, although they disagree about when the Ice Age occurred. Creationists think these footprints are just a few thousand years old. However, evolutionists think the tracks are more than 10,000 years old, because they believe the wet conditions needed to form and preserve the footprints have been absent from the Great Salt Lake area for at least that long. … wet Ice Age deserts are extremely difficult for evolutionary scientists to convincingly explain. However, the Bible’s real history makes much better sense of both these wet deserts and preserved Ice Age footprints.”

Don’t cut corners to get more. Instead, be faithful, do your best work, and the “more” will follow at the right time—

“With-ness”

…fellowship… (four times in 1 John 1:3, 6, 7)

The word “fellowship” is the Greek word koinonia. It means intimacy of relationship.

All of the apostle John’s books carry this key theme: Jesus loves us so this is how we should live differently because of that love. 

Koinonia means giving all I’ve got to someone else, and graciously receiving all they have to give to me. This creates a… 

  • … oneness
  • … togetherness
  • … with-ness

Our with-ness creates a visible witness of God’s love. 

John says that fellowship with God can’t help but be expressed in fellowship with others. And then fellowship with others stimulates us to a deeper relationship with God. This love dance is itself a picture of the Ultimate Koinonia of the Trinity—“I am in You, Father, and You are in Me. These followers of Us are in Me and I in them,” said Jesus.

Don’t try to pursue a relationship with Jesus on your own, but find people that you can be in fellowship with and then watch how that deepens your fellowship with God!

Koinonia

All inIn 2007, Dave Kinnaman & Gabe Lyons published a book called unChristian. In it they reported the cultural view of Christians: haters, judgmental, hypocritical, too involved in politics, out of touch, insensitive, boring.

Do any of these words fit Jesus? No, I’ve never heard anyone—whether in the Bible or in the history of that day—call Jesus a hypocrite, or boring, or a hater. Do any of these words fit the apostles who began to spread the message of Jesus Christ after His ascension? No! Again, I’ve never read anywhere where the early Christians were called judgmental, or too political, or out of touch.

But if these labels are thrown at Christians today—Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you (1 John 3:13)—the Bible tells us how to reverse them: By living counter culture, by living according to God’s Word. In a word, by living in koinonia.

This is a Greek word that isn’t used in the Gospels, but shows up just after the first Church is born on the day of Pentecost. It’s a word and a concept that simply won’t work in a pragmatic culture, but works powerfully in a biblical counter culture. The word is usually translated fellowship in English.

Koinonia is how the Trinity operates (see 2 Corinthians 13:14). All three Persons of the Godhead are mentioned in fellowship with each other. There is no rivalry in the Trinity, but if any part of it is diminished, so is its total effectiveness and glory.

trinity of koinoniaChristians are called to be part of a trinity of koinonia as well.

  • When I worship God, I am energized to be in fellowship with others.
  • My fellowship with others that flows from my love for God empowers them to worship God for themselves.
  • The overflow of that relationship with God encourages others to be in fellowship with me.
  • And that fellowship energizes me to worship God even more deeply, which encourages my fellowship with others, which empowers them for deeper worship… and on and on and on it goes!

Koinonia is an ALL IN relationship. It’s not something I can dabble in, or be involved with occasionally. I’m either in koinonia, or I’m not.

To see a great example, look at the Christians the very first time the word koinonia is used in Scripture. Acts 2:42-47 shows us how the Christians were not only all in (the Bible uses the word devoted), but how others in the community responded: they were in awe and viewed the Christians with favor. And as a result, lives were being changed every single day.

Yes! That’s what I want to be a part of! How about you?

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