Bruce Collins, Evangelist

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Fellowship, what is it?


Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.



The Strong’s dictionary defines fellowship as “partnership, that is, (literally) participation, or (social) intercourse, or (pecuniary) benefaction.  The Greek word has been translated communicate or communication, communion, distribution, fellowship.


The Vine’s dictionary defines fellowship as "communion, fellowship, sharing in common". 


Fellowship means partnership or working together to achieve common goals.  Often fellowship is the term used for financial contributions to the needs of other Christians.  The early church had “all things common.”  In Acts 4 and 5, it has been pointed out that communism (communal living) didn’t work then and it won’t work now.  That is probably true, but I suspect in the millennial kingdom, it will work.  Some have said that fellowship is best described as fellows in a ship.  In a ship, the crew has to know how to work together and each member of the crew must carry out his or her responsibilities for the ship to make a safe sure journey.  When the storms come, each member of the crew must know what to do and how to do it.  They work together to keep the ship sailing.  If they don’t work together, most likely the ship will sink.


It seems to me that in Acts 2 doctrine is mentioned first because if a group of Christians don’t agree on the basic doctrines of the Bible they are not likely to pull together in the work and worship of the congregation or church.  One of the ways that a church expresses fellowship is by remembering the Lord in the breaking of bread and by praying together.  Notice that those that continued steadfastly in this way, had received the word gladly and had shown that by identifying with the Lord in baptism. 


Are we Practicing New Testament Fellowship today?

Have we a proper understanding of what fellowship is today?  Normally we associate it with coffee and snacks between meetings.  This is a place to put visitors at ease and it is nice time to socialize with other Christians but I don’t think that is the definition of fellowship in Acts 2.  I think Christians are or at least should be  in fellowship or agreement when they partake of the Lord’s supper, when they pray, when they encourage preachers financially, and when they share their means with the poor.  Unfortunately, the Christians in 1 Corinthians 11 were partaking of the Lord’s supper without truly being “in fellowship.”  They were disorderly and were not considering one another.  The Lord considered that to be serious enough that some of them were sick and some had died.  They must have been Christians who had died since Paul says they were sleeping and that seems to describe the death of Christians. 


I personally enjoy the company of other Christians.  We entertain them in our home and we like to be entertained.  But unless those times of socialization lead to spiritual work for the Lord including times of prayer for specific needs, we are probably not experiencing true fellowship.  We cannot experience fellowship with unbelievers according to 2 Corinthians 6:14-15.  We may enjoy their friendship but we cannot work together with them to achieve spiritual objectives since we are not in agreement with them.


Fellowship is probably better associated with working and worshiping together than it is with simply socializing together.  It certainly isn’t defined by the word “fun” though working for the Lord can be fun.  Often it is not fun even though it is satisfying.  It is not simply friendship although we usually become close friends with Christians with whom we experience true fellowship. 


Fellowship is one of the Four Pillars of the New Testament Church

The pillars of a new testament church are doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers.  All are necessary to have a healthy church.  Notice that fellowship is just as important as the other three because fellowship is the grace that keeps the local church strong and vibrant.  When true fellowship is missing, often the church loses its “first love” and becomes a man –made organization rather than a Spiritual organism (that is, it is no longer a body that works together).  A church without fellowship can be proud of its heritage without realizing that it cannot live on what others have done.  The church may become so lukewarm that the Lord spews them out of His mouth.


Let those of us who are saved strive to maintain Scriptural fellowship so that the Lord can use us as part of a local congregation.   To say that we are in fellowship in a local church when we are not in agreement with its doctrines and practices and when we don’t really pray together is reason to question whether we are where the Lord would have us to be.   A church where the participants are in agreement and that is unified in its Scriptural endeavors will be the church that the Lord can commend and use for His glory.


Bruce Collins


Meditation for the week of February 4, 2018

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