In preparation for this series on community, I did a word study on fellowship. I learned something new. As you may already know, the word for “community” in the Bible is the word “fellowship.” Fellowship is what we are focusing on for our 40 Day Spiritual Adventure. The word “fellowship” in the Bible is the Greek word koinonia. Koinonia is an important word and it’s translated many different ways because, like a diamond that has multiple facets to it. In the Bible, koinonia is translated as not just “fellowship” but it’s translated as “community.” It’s translated as “participation.” Koinonia is translated as “contribution” and koinonia is translated as “generosity.” I find that last one very interesting and it was a new thought for me. It does not seem to belong with the word group in the way that I would have anticipated.
Upon thinking about it more, I guess community can only happen if people are acting generously. We have to be generous with our time and our energy and our money, with our resources, with all the different parts of our lives. So you really can’t enjoy community without these things – participation, contribution, and generosity. At least for me, this moves me beyond my typical one-dimensional view of the idea of fellowship in the church.
Here are a few examples from the Bible of how the word is translated in reference to being generous. I would love to hear from you and your experiences or thoughts on these verses.
Philippians 4:14 “You have done well to share with me.” That phase “share with me” is one word in the Greek. It’s the word koinonia. “Share with me” is the same word as “fellowship.”
Hebrews 13:16 “Don’t forget to do good and share with those in need.” Again that phrase “sharing with those in need” is the word for “community” or “fellowship” – koinonia.
1 Timothy 6:18 “They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others.” That phrase “ready to share” is just one word in the original language. It’s the word koinonia.
What do you think about these verses? Have you ever thought about the relationship of generosity and fellowship?
In your experience has generosity been a key component of fellowship?
Yes, that is a good way to remember the basic meaning of the word. I had forgotten it but thanks for the reminder.
Have you heard the simple idea of fellowship as “fellows in a ship”? To get anywhere, you have to row together! Plus, you can’t escape the need to get along with others since you can’t survive outside of the boat.
I love having a common purpose and direction with other believers at Westheights. Giving and sharing in our local community at Christmas, at the carnival and kids clubs are highlights of how we “row together” in contribution and generosity.