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What is the derivation of the term, fellowship?
The Greek word for fellowship is koinonia, and there is no single word that is its exact equivalent. It connotes mutual sharing or joint participation since it stems from the word, koine, which means "common." Koinonia refers to that which is held in common, the sharing of the common life created by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Thus it is called the "fellowship of the Spirit. Fellowship is not something we extend or withdraw, but it is a state into which we are called. Philippians 2: 1; 2 Corinthians 13: 14; 1 Corinthians 1: 9; 1 John 1: 3
Is harmony a prerequisite of fellowship?
Harmony is a goal of those who are in fellowship. We do not seek harmony in order to be in fellowship, but because we are in fellowship we seek to achieve harmony. We are not in fellowship because we walk in peace, but we walk in peace because we are in fellowship.
Does fellowship indicate an endorsement of the views and opinions of others?
No. We endorse the views of many with whom we are not in fellowship and conversely we do not agree with some with whom we are in fellowship. Galatians 2: 9-11
Is fellowship based on unanimity of opinion?
No. The unity of the Spirit is based upon community not conformity. Consider Romans 14; there was a wide range of differences yet all were admonished to receive one another as servants of God. The only kind of unity possible to man is unity in diversity.
Is equality in spiritual knowledge and development the basis of fellowship?
No. We are born into the family of God as spiritual babes and are expected to grow in our relationship with others and God. Consequently we will find many different stages of growth and development. God recognizes these differences and has even appointed the older more mature believers to help and assist the younger, and to be examples to them.
What other factors does the fellowship share in common?
The fellowship shares a common salvation. All who through faith have been baptized into Christ share in a common salvation that is given to those that obey Him. Jude 3; Galatians 3: 26-27; Hebrews 5: 8-9
Who is the basis of the faith and the ground of unity?
Jesus Christ himself.
Is "fellowship" a euphemism for denomination?
No, it is not. We believe and claim not to be a denomination; however we do use the term as synonymous with those who identify themselves as members of "the Church of Christ". It seems to me that when we do so, it is being used incorrectly.
What factor is inimical to being in fellowship with God, Christ and the family of God?
Those who walk in darkness can not be in fellowship with God because God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 1 John 1: 5-10
What are the characteristics of those who abide in Christ, those who are in fellowship with Him?
Were the practices such as eating meat and keeping of days given in Romans 14 matters of faith or opinion?
These have always been presented and accepted as matter of opinions. But that simply is not true. Verse 2 plainly states that one has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. If the weak brother eats meat, believing it is wrong, he is sinning. These were matters of conviction. One brother eats meat because of his convictions; the other does not eat because of his convictions. Paul does not even enter into a discussion of the correctness of the convictions, which was not the point. The point is that brothers may differ on at least some matters of faith and still be acceptable to God. These brothers should accept one another, but not to argue or condemn and certainly not to put a stumbling block in the way of another.
When must brethren separate?
Division is loathsome to the Lord, but circumstances may arise when there is no other choice. If brethren persist in practices which would involve another brother in doing that which is contrary to his conscience, then in my opinion he should separate so as not to violate his conscience.
Was Paul hypocritical when in later life he purified himself according to the law, yet he taught that the law was fulfilled and ended with Christ?
No, Paul was working on the principle of being all things to all men so that he might save some.
Why did Paul permit the circumcision of Timothy yet reject the circumcision of Titus?
Paul had Timothy circumcised so that he would be more acceptable to Jewish prospects. Paul rejected the circumcision for Titus, because it was being bound upon him as a necessity to be a Christian.
Does fellowship exist between organizations?
No, fellowship exists among persons, among God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and those in the family of God. Strictly speaking we do not fellowship organizations. We are not in fellowship with Methodists, Catholics, Presbyterians, or whatever, but only with Christians. But surely we are in fellowship with all Christians, even those, "that are not of us." Luke 9: 49-50
Can individual Christians withdraw fellowship from other Christians?
Obviously people can separate from one another, but this does not mean that fellowship with God is affected. We can not excommunicate one another from fellowship with God. Only God can do that.
What puts us in fellowship with other individuals?
The same things that make us Christians, place us in fellowship with one another.
Are we in fellowship with a "brother in error"?
There are no other kinds of brother. We all stumble in many things. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. James 3: 2; 1 John 1: 8
Does not Paul in 2 Thessalonians 3: 6 command us to withdraw fellowship from every brother who walks disorderly?
Not really. He says to withdraw yourselves from such a brother. Later versions capture the meaning, "keep aloof from every brother who leads an unruly life." We should remember the context, the brother who leads an unruly life is the brother who will not work and feed himself and those who depend on him. Unfortunately, too many consider the one who walks disorderly to be one with whom they disagree over some conviction. Paul did not want the brother ran off, he wanted him to get on the stick and start working. Paul said, "and if anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that man and do not associate with him, so that he may be put to shame. And yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother."
How are those who are overtaken in a trespass (walks disorderly) to be treated?
"Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted." Galatians 6: 1
Does Paul not command that we all, "speak the same thing?"
Yes, he does. But what is the context? Some brethren were claiming to be of Paul, some of Apollos, some of Peter and others of Christ. These people were told to agree, and there be no divisions among them. I do not think he was implying that all brethren must absolutely agree on every matter. 1 Corinthians 1: 10-17
Were not the Corinthians told to withdraw from the immoral brother?
Yes, but we must look at the reason. "I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."
1 Corinthians 5:5
But does not John admonish the church to not even invite some into their house or to greet them?
Yes, but these were those who denied that Jesus had come in the flesh. These are deceivers and antichrist; they are not disciples. 2 John
Did Paul and Barnabas forfeit "fellowship" when they sharply disagreed over John Mark?
No, they went their separate ways, Barnabas with John Mark and Paul with Timothy and Silas; but both were in fellowship with God and consequently with one another. Acts 15: 36-41
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