Thursday, February 10, 2011

Real Fellowship and the Semantics of Koinonia

The next issue of Bible Study Magazine will ship soon and there is a very insightful, well-written article exploring the meaning of koinonia (often glossed "fellowship") in the New Testament. My opinion of the article is in no way biased toward the fact that I wrote it. (No, I'm not that arrogant. It's a joke.)

Here's an excerpt of what I wrote for the magazine (published with permission, of course). If you haven't already, I highly recommend subscribing if you are looking to learn more about the Bible from a Christian perspective in a clear, non-threatening way.

greek word study without greek


If you’ve been part of a church community, you may have noticed how some words acquire “churchy” meanings—like “fellowship.” When is the last time you got together with your colleagues after work for “fellowship”? Never. But in church, we have fellowship luncheons that are held in fellowship halls and we get together for fellowship in our fellowship groups. When we overuse a word, it can lose its meaning. Our overuse of “fellowship” makes an important point in 1 John fall flat.

“That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. … If we say we have fellowship with him while we 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 his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:3, 6–7).

We can determine the meaning of fellowship in this passage by examining it within a New Testament context. To do that, we have to find the Greek root word behind the English term. Using the esv English–Greek Reverse Interlinear, we find that the Greek word underlying “fellowship” is koinōnia (κοινωνία).

To read the rest of the article, check out March–April ’11 issue of Bible Study Magazine.
WHAT!!! I cut you off right before we get to the best part where I actually explain what koinonia means? Now you have to buy the magazine? Sorry about that, but thems the rules.

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