I want the whole Christ for my Savior, the whole Bible for my book, the whole Church
for my fellowship, and the whole world for my mission field.
In the fall of the year, Linda, a young woman, was traveling alone up the rutted and
rugged highway from Alberta to the Yukon. Linda didn't know you don't travel to Whitehorse
alone in a rundown Honda Civic, so she set off where only four-wheel drives normally
venture. The first evening she found a room in the mountains near a summit and asked for a
5 A.M. wakeup call so she could get an early start. She couldn't understand why the clerk
looked surprised at that request, but as she awoke to early- morning fog shrouding the
mountain tops, she understood. Not wanting to look foolish, she got up and went to
breakfast. Two truckers invited Linda to join them, and since the place was so small, she
felt obliged. "Where are you headed?" one of the truckers asked. 'Whitehorse'
"In that little Civic? No way! This pass is dangerous in weather like this."
"Well, I'm determined to try," was Linda's gutsy, if not very informed,
response. "Then I guess we're just going to have to hug you," the trucker
suggested. Linda drew back. "There's no way I'm going to let you touch me!"
"Not like THAT!" the truckers chuckled. "We'll put one truck in front of
you and one in the rear. In that way, we'll get you through the mountains." All that
foggy morning Linda followed the two red dots in front of her and had the reassurance of a
big escort behind as they made their way safely through the mountains. Caught in the fog
in our dangerous passage through life, we need to be "hugged." With fellow
Christians who know the way and can lead safely ahead of us, and with others behind,
gently encouraging us along, we, too, can pass safely.
What is meant by fellowship in this verse? Gossip? Cups of tea? Tours? No. What is
being referred to is something of a quite different order and on a quite different level.
"They met constantly to hear the apostles teach, and to share the common life, and
break bread and to pray. A sense of awe was everywhere. All whose faith had drawn them
together held everything in common. With one mind they kept up their daily attendance at
the temple, and, breaking bread in private houses, shared their meals with unaffected joy
as they praised God" (Acts 2:42-47, New English Bible). That is fellowship as the new
Testament understands it, and there is clearly a world of difference between that and mere
The Greek word for fellowship comes from a root meaning common or shared. So fellowship
means common participation in something either by giving what you have to the other person
or receiving what he or she has. Give and take is the essence of fellowship, and give and
take must be the way of fellowship in the common life of the body of Christ.
Christian fellowship is two-dimensional, and it has to be vertical before it can be
horizontal. We must know the reality of fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus
Christ before we can know the reality of fellowship with each other in our common
relationship to God (1 John 1:3). The person who is not in fellowship with the Father and
the Son is no Christian at all, and so cannot share with Christians the realities of their
Your Father Loves You by James Packer, Harold Shaw
Fellowship in the N.T. basically means sharing and self-sacrifice with other believers.
As N.T. scholar J.R. McRay has noted, "Fellowship in the early church was not based
on uniformity of thought and practice, except where limits of immorality or rejection of
the confession of Christ were involved."
Christianity Today, March 18, 1988
Nowhere in the N.T. do any of the Greek words translated "fellowship" imply
fun times. Rather, they talk of, for example, "The fellowship of the ministering to
the saints" (II Corinthians 8:4) as sacrificial service and financial aid. (See for
example, I Timothy 6:18). Elsewhere, Paul was thankful for the Philippian believers'
"fellowship in the gospel" (Philippians 1:5), for he knew that "inasmuch as
both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers
(same word as fellowship) of my grace" (Philippians 1:7). This sort of fellowship may
even bring persecution. We are to emulate Christ's humility and self-sacrificial love
(Philippians 2:5-8) through the "fellowship of the Spirit" (Phil 2:1). In some
way known only partially to us, we have the privilege of knowing "the fellowship of
His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death" (Philippians 3:10), and even
the communion (i.e. fellowship) of the blood...and body of Christ" (I Corinthians