If you’ve been in a church for a short amount of time, you have heard the word “fellowship”. It is a great word that gets used in many different ways around churches. Sometimes the word “fellowship” is a code word for “food”. People also use the word to refer to a great conversation or interaction with other fellow believers.
The Bible uses the word in a different way than the way many use it today. The Greek word for “fellowship” is the word transliterated “koinonia”. You’ll find this word in the text for today’s sermon.
The text for our sermon is Philippians 1:5. Verse 5 is a continuation of a thought started in verse 3.
(3) I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, (4) Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, (5) For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; …” Philippians 1:3-5
This word, “koinonia”, was used to describe two aspects of “fellowship”.
Aspect #1- “to have in common”
When it comes to relationships it is great to have some things in common. You may love a particular sport, hobby, or food. You may enjoy the same kind of music, or have a similar background. In today’s text, the Apostle Paul points to stronger points of commonality than these kind of temporal preferences. Their fellowship wasn’t grounded in food, sport, entertainment choice or social status.
What did Paul have in common with these Philippian believers?
The key thing that Paul had in common with them was the gospel. He thanked God for their “fellowship in the gospel.”
What is the Gospel? Paul explained it clearly and succinctly in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.
(3) For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
(4) And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
Paul had received it from the Lord and delivered it to the saints, both in Corinth and in Philippi. The Philippians had heard this message and believed it. Now they had something incredible in common. They both had experienced forgiveness of sins. They both had a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. They now had the promise of eternal life and an eternal home in heaven. Now they were a part of the same family as brothers and sisters in Christ. It was because of this faith in Christ that they now had this “fellowship”. What they had in common was Jesus Christ because of the Gospel they had believed.
This is well described in 1 John 1:3 which says,
(3) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:3
Here is a key truth: Our fellowship with each other is grounded and rooted in our relationship with God through Jesus Christ, His Son.
This word, “koinonia”, was used to describe two aspects of “fellowship”. The first aspect of “koinonea” was that it spoke of what they had in common in the gospel.
Aspect #2- “to have a partnership”
Any kind of partnership is formed so that a specific end or objective can be accomplished. In a partnership the specific end is bigger than one person can accomplish on their own, and so they need others to participate with them.
What was the partnership that Paul had with those at Philippi?
The answer is found again in that word “gospel” found in verse 5. These believers were partners with Paul in propagating the message of the gospel throughout the world. They were partners together with Paul in accomplishing the Great Commission.
What is the great commission?
(15) And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15
Jesus had commanded them to go and make disciples of all nations. This command was obviously bigger than what any one person could accomplish. Paul needed partners to accomplish this goal. He had pursued partnership with the Philippians, and was thankful for their partnership.
How were they partners with Paul?
First of all they supported him financially.
(15) Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.
(16) For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Philippians 4:15-16
Secondly, they labored together with him in evangelism.
As the church at Philippi supported Paul financially, they also continued the work that Paul had started in Philippi of making disciples where they were. He described the Corinthian church similarly when he said,
“For we are labourers together with God…” 1 Corinthians 3:9
Together with our missionaries we form a partnership to accomplish God’s incredible plan to evangelize the world with the Gospel.
Just like the Church at Philippi partnered with Paul, we are still using that same pattern today. How? We at CBT partner with missionaries all around the world who are sharing the Gospel on a regular basis. All the while we are doing all that we can to accomplish the great commission here in Stark County.
So here are some application questions:
- Are you part of the fellowship of God?
Now by that I’m asking, “Have you received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior?” By the way, that’s the only way to become a part of the fellowship or part of the family of God. We must acknowledge the fact that we are sinners in need of the Savior, repent of our sins, and by faith receive Christ into our hearts and lives. Have you personally made that life-changing decision? And if not, why not make it today?
To find out how you can receive Christ as your personal Savior go to cantonbaptist.org/compass.
- Are you willing to partner together in order that others might hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Those of us who are part of the fellowship of God should want others to be a part of the fellowship of God as well. Whether it’s those who live right here in our community or those who live somewhere else around the world, our desire should be that they have the opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s as we partner together and work as one that we are able to reach a lost world for Christ.