Word Study: Koinonia 1
As an associate pastor in Northern California a couple years ago, my wife and I experienced something which we have tried to recapture, and have come close, but have eventually been disappointed each time. That experience was genuine koinonia. We were part of a newlywed small group which met each Sunday evening at our house. Many times it was early Monday morning before people would leave, even though some members had to be at work in only a few hours. We met together frequently other times during the week and planned vacations together. With this group we truly felt vulnerable, connected and cared for.
Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary has the following to say about this kind of fellowship:
"koinonia generally means ‘fellowship, communion, participation, sharing.’ It can refer to the mutual interests and sharing of members in the community of faith, the church. This mutual sharing is seen in the description of the newly founded church in Acts 2.42, in which one of the four patterns of early discipleship is the early Christians’ continuing together in koinonia. In the context of the early church in Acts, such sharing involved not only associating with each other, but also sharing food and other necessities of life."
Our little newlywed group had these characteristics of sharing. One of the most important things for my wife and me at the time was sharing of burdens. As a pastor at a small town church, I found myself trying to keep up appearances and trying to be all things to all people. You probably know how well that works out. However, with this group, all defenses were down, and we could honestly share our frustrations, hurts and passions.
Mounce’s wraps up the article on koinonia talking about what binds this type of community of sharing together, "John uses koinonia to refer to the Christian fellowship we have with one another (1 Jn. 1.3, 7). This fellowship is centered in and based on our common fellowship with the Father and his Son, Jesus." And that was the glue that held our group together – Jesus. Each person in this group centered their life on Jesus and that was truly what made this group distinctive.
Over the next several weeks, we will be studying the word and concept of koinonia, and what the Bible has to say about it. What koinonia experience have you had (or do you have)?
Sign up complete.