The Fellowship Of Worship (Koinonia)

There are six words found in Acts Chapter 2 that focus on acts of worship in the church. One of those words is koinonia.

Koinonia is used 20 times in the New Testament, and its definition and translation vary throughout scripture. Consistently, the description shapes through the explanation of fellowship, committed, nurturing relationships among believers through each scriptural use.

Koinonia appears in Acts 2:42–47 [English Standard Version]; these passages are the church ministry's Biblical model's backbone. As you read these passages, you can see the phrase koinonia's use in the bolded passages — in each of these places; the word denotes fellowship:

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day, those who were being saved.

Koinonia is also frequently referenced in 2 Corinthians 9:13, with the interpretation connecting to the word contribution. "They will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ and the generosity of your contribution (koinonia) for them and all others." While in Philippians 3:10, we find another definition of the word. "That I may know him and the power of his resurrection and share (koinonia) his sufferings, becoming like him in his death."

Other scripture references are:
Romans 15:26, 1 Corinthians 1:9, 1 Corinthians 10:16, 1 Corinthians 10:16, 2 Corinthians 6:14, 2 Corinthians 8:4, 2 Corinthians 13:14, Galatians 2:9, Ephesians 3:9, Philippians 1:5, Philippians 2:1, Philemon 1:6, Hebrews 13:16, 1 John 1:3 and 1 John 1:6.

In 1994, the World Council of Churches released a full report on koinonia in worship¹. One of their points states:

So it is, we believe, about our koinonia in worship. There are many strong, distinctive aspects of varied backgrounds. We are not all the same, nor are we made to be, except that what we are is part of an infinitely greater wholeness than our monochrome singularity. We need each other to reflect that, and we need to be together for God’s glory to shine fully in the world. For, like the rainbow, we too are called to reflect the light.

Photo by Matt Botsford on Unsplash

In our modern worship gatherings, koinonia should be the focus of every meeting. We have things common among us to share, and Christ taught us the community's values on many occasions. In worship gatherings, koinonia is essential. Through reading the New Testament, we learn multiple ways and places where this fellowship can happen within a community of people. These places of connection can be outside and within the church's walls. For instance, when we partake of the bread and wine at the Lord's Table, we recognize and celebrate our unity and fellowship with God and one another. Koinonia is about our communion, our company, and our participation in the life of God by the Holy Spirit. When we celebrate the act of Baptism, we build a community inspired by Christ's teaching — our rejoicing over the lost, becoming found, and being raised from death to life through the power of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Koinonia also is revealed through honored Holy tradition and even in the simplest of conversations. In small groups, classes, coffee shops in lobbies, meet and greet times in service, and corporate prayer, we find the presence of Christ when we connect one with another. Jesus taught us these concepts by example. We choose to integrate fellowship into our worship communities through honor and covenant.

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