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The idea of a "common unity" between all those who belong to Jesus seems to be largely ignored, in these days. It may, at times, be acknowledged in the "theological" realm, but it is grossly neglected - or even opposed - in everyday life. Even the idea of "fellowship" - one of the expressions of this common unity - has become stripped of its original meaning - and now often implies nothing more than coming together for heavy eating and shallow conversation. But gluttony and frivolous speech are a far cry from the way of life that belongs to us - and is required of us - as children of the Most High God.

This study focuses on various dimensions of community, fellowship and sharing, as found in the New Testament. It focuses both on the facts, which are to influence our perspective on the way we should live, as well as on the commands, which are to influence our actions. (The context, as always, must be taken into consideration.)

This is what we must strive for, if we want to escape the shallow, superficial, institutionalized "Christianity," which surrounds us. It may look quite impressive to people, with all its programs and activities, but it makes God want to vomit. (Compare to Revelation 3:14-22.)


A. With God

  1. "God" or "the Father"
  2. "Jesus Christ"
  3. "The Body/Blood of Jesus Christ"
  4. "The Holy Spirit"

B. With God's Blessings, Character, etc.

  1. Blessings of the Gospel ("Good News") and Salvation
  2. Grace (Undeserved Kindness)
  3. Divine Nature (God's Moral Character)
  4. Glory

C. With People - "Reciprocal" Sharing [the same type of sharing is expressed by each of those involved]

  1. Individual People Doing Things Together (examples)
  2. The Expression of Love and Community... with other believers (a general statement and two examples)
  3. The Expression of Love and Community... with those who are enduring trials/persecution
  4. The Sharing of One's Faith with Other Christians
  5. Telling Others About Jesus, So That They Also Can Have a Part in Our Fellowship
  6. COMMENT: Note that few, if any, of these verses focus on the mutual sharing of material possessions. This does not imply that such sharing is wrong, but it does show that there are many other things to share, besides mere physical objects! (Most instances of "sharing" of possessions will be found in the next section.)

D. With People - "Directional" Sharing [the sharing is initiated by one person and received by another]

  1. With Those in Need (Sharing Material Possessions With Them)
  2. The Sharing Between a Learner and a Teacher; the Sharing of Material and Spiritual Blessings/Possessions
  3. The Sharing of Formerly Unrevealed Truths about God's Salvation to the Gentiles (non-Jews)

E. With Suffering, as Well as with the Blessings That Go along with this Suffering: Patience, Encouragement, Glory, etc.

  1. 2 Corinthians 1:7 - You have shared in our sufferings... you will also [share] in our comfort/encouragement.
  2. Philippians 3:10 - I want to know Christ and... what it means to share in his sufferings... so that I may also "attain" the resurrection from the dead. [Those who share in Christ's sufferings will also share in his resurrection, and all it encompasses. (See 1 Peter 4:13, below.) Paul can attain the resurrection only because of his association/connection with Christ.]
  3. Philippians 4:14 - It was good for you to share in my troubles (emphasis probably on Paul's needs). [See also v. 15, which mentions other dimensions of this sharing.]
  4. 1 Peter 4:13 - (About painful trials...) Rejoice that you share in the sufferings of Christ. When his glory is revealed, you will be filled with joy (in contrast to their present situation). [They will receive blessings, glory, etc. At the present, they may experience pain, but the time will come that they will experience joy - and this joy will last forever.]
  5. Revelation 1:9 - John - your brother and sharer / companion in: 1) the suffering, 2) the kingdom, and 3) the patient endurance - all three of which are ours because we are in Jesus.
  6. Hebrews 10:33 - They not only endured suffering, but they were willing to associate/be a partner with others who were also suffering.
  7. SOMETHING TO CONSIDER: Many people want the blessings... but they're not willing to accept the suffering that comes first!

F. A Few Misc. Passages

  1. Participation/Sharing in What an Alter Symbolizes (if you sacrifice at that altar)
  2. Participation in Humanity - Jesus Willing to "Share" Human Nature with the Rest of us
  3. Partnership in the Gospel (Good News)

G. Things to AVOID having Fellowship/Partnership With...

  1. Note: In some of these verses, a direct prohibition against the activity will not be found. Instead, the context shows that it is wrong.
  2. Sins
  3. Darkness and its Fruits (spiritual darkness)
  4. The Wicked Work of Apostates (people who have departed from the faith)
  5. Killing People who are Righteous (example: killing the Prophets)
  6. Demons


A. Preliminary notes:

  1. The Bible uses the idea of "common" in two ways. In a "positive" sense, the Bible describes the early Christians as having many things in common. They also shared things, as the need arose. They were all part of a common bond, since they had all followed the way of Jesus.
  2. The Bible also uses the word "common" in connection with the Jewish ceremonial regulations. In this sense, the concept has a "negative" connotation. It is used in the sense of being the opposite of "special" or "set apart (for something good)," and is usually translated by words such as, unclean, unholy, or impure. Because this use of the word is so different from our present focus on "sharing" (and so different from the way most people today use the word "common"), verses that have this focus are omitted from this study.

B. Common possessions of believers

  1. Acts 2:44 - The believers ... had everything in common. [They shared with those believers who were in need.]
  2. Acts 4:32 - They shared [had in common] everything they had.

C. Common faith/salvation

  1. Titus 1:4 - Paul called Titus his "true son" in their "common faith."
  2. Jude 1:3 - Jude says we all share the same "common salvation."


PART 1: Fellowship, Community, Sharing...

- The Greek words used in this part of the outline can be divided into two subgroups: 1) koinoneo, koinonia, koinonikos, and koinonos - which carry the general idea of "sharing," and 2) sugkoinoneo and sugkoinonos - which carry the idea of "sharing together."

PART 2: Some of the Things We Have in Common...

- All the verses in this part of the outline use the Greek word: koinos.

Dennis Hinks © 1987, 2000