By Mike Riley

One of the Greek words for fellowship is the verb, “sunkoinoneo”. According to Vine’s Expository dictionary, Pg. 90, the meaning of this word is “to have fellowship with or in”, is used in Ephesians 5:11; Philippians 4:14, R.V., “ye had fellowship,” for A.V., “ye did communicate”. E.W. Bullinger in his Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek NT, Pg. 282, translates “sunkoinoneo” as one “to be a joint-partaker with others, to share with others in anything”. We see the proper usage of this word in Philippians 4:14 in the phrase, “ye did communicate with my affliction”. The NASV renders this phrase, “you have done well to share with me in my affliction.” The apostle Paul had previously expressed this same sentiment to the Philippian brethren in Philippians 1:3-7.

Today, in many congregations, brethren are no longer engaging in “fellowship” (communicating; sharing; joint participating) with one another. Since our plea is to restore the New Testament church (and it is a valid plea), then shouldn’t we be concerned with restoring the type and degree of “fellowship” that Christians enjoyed in the Bible? Acts 2:46 indicates that faithful members of the Lord’s body were (1) meeting every day in the temple; (2) were breaking bread in their homes; and (3) shared a common meal together. Additionally, the first century church “knew” about the needs of fellow members in that they “shared” their possessions with other members less fortunate. How could that have been possible unless members “communicated” or “shared” what their needs were to one another?

Some Questions

(1) Why are we lacking this “fellowship” today?; (2) Why are we satisfied to greet one another on Sunday morning, engage in all the acts of worship, say “good-bye” and not say another word to brothers and sisters in Christ until the following Wednesday evening or Sunday morning?; (3) Are Sundays and Wednesdays the only days that Christians can gather together for Bible study or fellowship meals?

(4) Is it any wonder why elders aren’t visiting with and studying with the weak Christians to assist them in growing strong in the Lord and His Word?; (5) Is it any wonder why preachers and elders aren’t rebuking the erring brother?; (6) Is it any wonder why all the preaching and teaching has to be only on a “positive” basis?

An Example Of Fellowship

All members of the Lord’s church need to be setting aside specific times to visit other members, to pray and study with them and to get a better understanding of their spiritual needs. The strong or spiritually mature Christian should develop a relationship with the new or weak Christian (Romans 15:1; Gal. 6:1-2; Titus 2:2-4). As an example, in one congregation of which this writer was a member, the congregation was divided into groups of twelve to fifteen members. We assembled together once a week for a covered dish dinner and Bible study in a members’ home (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 2). After sharing a common meal and choosing a moderator to guide our study, we would then study the Bible for sometimes up to two hours! Everyone participated in the sharing of thoughts concerning the Holy Scriptures and we made practical application of them in our lives! For new converts (and old ones as well) we studied Bible “basics” so newer members could be allowed the opportunity to “grow” on the milk and meat of the Word (1 Corinthians 3:1-2). Our elders and preacher promoted and were active participants in this “sharing” and thus our Bible study was successful in bringing the congregation closer together in doing the Lord’s work.


It all goes back to proper “fellowship”. We are allowing the world and its influence to prevent us from getting to know and share with one another. We aren’t spending enough quality and quantity time together. The erring brother and the weak sister slip through the proverbial “crack” and no one notices. When a brother or sister has been missing for a month, a few notice, but the opportunity to rescue has passed. Let’s ask ourselves this question: What are we doing this Friday or Saturday night that is more important than engaging in “fellowship” with other Christians?

Brethren, getting back to the New Testament example of “fellowship” is just as important as restoring the worship “pattern” and “plan” of salvation. Members of the first century church spent time together – not just at “designated” times.