- companionship, company
- a.) community of interest, activity, feeling, or experience
b.) the state of being a fellow or associate
- a.) company of equals or friends : association
- the quality or state of being comradely
- obsolete : membership, partnership
- a.) the position of a fellow (as of a university)
b.) the stipend of a fellow
c.) a foundation for the providing of such a stipend
- to join in fellowship especially with a church member
- to admit to fellowship (as in a church)
There are several ways we use “fellowship” today. The noun version of the word defines a group or collection of people who come together in a friendly meeting. This is typically a more formalized group than just a meeting of people. This group is usually making a point to live life together. Maybe not in the same household but as deep and close friends. It can often be used as a synonym for a church.
The verb version of “fellowship” is essentially to get to know the people in your group on a deeper level. It includes encouraging, rejoicing, weeping, counseling, confessing, rebuking, discipling, reproving, sharpening, teaching, learning, praying with/for, loving one another, etc. It is getting to know the church members on a deep level. You know what sins each other struggle with, what each other’s dreams and desires are, each other’s gifts, each other’s strengths and weaknesses, each other’s personalities, etc.
Another definition of fellowship can be used to describe our relationship with God. As we grow in our understanding and knowledge of the Word of God and spend time in prayer, we grow closer with God. This is fellowship with Him. This fellowship began in the Garden of Eden between Adam and God but it was broken when Adam sinned. When the Holy Spirit regenerates a Believer, that fellowship with God that had been broken, is healed. Those who have been adopted as a child of God now have free fellowship with Him.
Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:23-25)
Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
Iron sharpens iron,
So one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)
Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)
To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. (1 Peter 3:8-9)
So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Acts 2:41-42)
And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:44-47)
God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:9)
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)
For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)
But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-15)
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:1-12)
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16)
For it is not an enemy who reproaches me,
Then I could bear it;
Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me,
Then I could hide myself from him.
But it is you, a man my equal,
My companion and my familiar friend;
We who had sweet fellowship together
Walked in the house of God in the throng. (Psalm 55:12-14)
So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. (Galatians 6:10)
Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:11-14)
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,
“I will dwell in them and walk among them;
And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
“Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord.
“And do not touch what is unclean;
And I will welcome you.
“And I will be a father to you,
And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,”
Says the Lord Almighty (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. (Ephesians 5:15-21)
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, (Philippians 2:1-5)
Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:12-13)
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. (1 John 4:7-13)
Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. (James 5:16)
My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. (James 5:19-20)
But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. (1 Corinthians 12:18-27)
Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Peter 4:8-10)
For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. (Romans 12:3-13)
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brothers to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Coming down upon the beard,
Even Aaron’s beard,
Coming down upon the edge of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon
Coming down upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the Lord commanded the blessing—life forever. (Psalm 133)
“An ember left alone will soon grow cold, but embers set close together will continue to glow, to burn brightly, and even to set others ablaze. Christians resemble embers, for we, too, must be set close together to thrive. “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise” (Proverbs 13:20), which means that those who walk with the godly become godly.” In fact, whoever longs to be godly must walk with the godly, for God has decreed that godliness will not be attained in isolation, but in community.” ~ Tim Challies
“One of the ways we grow into conformity with Jesus Christ is by growing into conformity with those who love him most and serve him best.” ~ Tim Challies
“Be often among the godly: they are the ‘salt of the earth,’ and will help to season you. Their counsels may direct, their prayers may quicken: such holy sparks may be thrown into your breasts, as may kindle devotion in you: it is good to be among the saints to learn the trade of godliness, Prov. 13:20. ‘He that walketh with wise men shall be wise.’” ~ Thomas Watson
“For believers to fellowship with God, His Son — Jesus, had to suffer and die on the cross. After He breathed His last breath and yielded up His Spirit, ‘the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom’ (Matt. 27:51)…once the curtain was torn in half, access to God was no longer for the high priest alone, but for all believers.” ~ Kevin Struyk
“Real community forces us to die to ourselves and get over ourselves so that we might love one another as ourselves.” ~ Burk Parsons
“In any case, our union with Christ means that we share in Christ and, consequently, are united to everyone else who is also united to Christ Jesus our Head. There is a deep, eternal fellowship between all those who believe in the Savior. This fellowship even extends past our time, for we worship alongside the saints of all ages (Heb. 12:22–24). As such, our true family is our Christian family, the community with whom we will dwell before God for all eternity.” ~ Ligonier
“Christians are not only to be united—but are to exhibit their union. Their oneness of sentiment, of affection, of purpose, is to be seen. We are not only to love one another—but our love is to be known, which is impossible without membership. In its collective capacity, a church concentrates, as in a focus, the light and love that exist in her individual members. Without being combined in a visible union, its splendor would be only as the dim and scattered light which was diffused over the chaos in the twilight of creation, while the fellowship of the saints is the same light gathered up and embodied in the solar orb. We are indeed united in spirit with the church of Christ, from the moment we have believed his gospel—but our union is neither expressed nor recognized, until we have joined it in the usual way. We are citizens in feeling and intention—but not yet known from enemies, aliens, and spies. Membership, therefore, is the bond of visible union with the brethren in Christ.” ~ John Angell James
“The church universal will ever remain the one grand monument on which are recorded the praises of the living God. Of this general assembly every particular society is the miniature resemblance. By its public worship, its beautiful subordination, its mutual affection, its truth, its holiness, its peace, it is an exhibition to the world of that fellowship which has God in Christ for its head, all believers for its members, heaven for its temple, and eternity for its duration; while every time it assembles for worship, it shows forth the unity of the church, and the communion of saints.” ~ John Angell James
“The Lord’s people are all one in Christ; and as such — they are near and dear to Him. They are also one with each other, being one body, influenced by one Spirit, walking by one written rule, and traveling along one consecrated way, to one eternal home!” ~ James Smith
“What a mercy — to be one with Christ! What a mercy — to be one with the people of Christ! Building on the same foundation, encouraging the same hopes, and sharing the same privileges. As one with Christ and as one with each other — our sympathies should be deep and active, our love strong and fervent, and our fellowship sincere and abiding. As branches of the same vine, as stones in the same building, as members of the same body — our connection is close, and our fellowship should be profitable. This is variously represented and illustrated in God’s holy word; let us not pass over the representations without notice, or the illustrations without profit.” ~ James Smith
“Let us have fellowship with each other, in all things spiritual and holy; and rejoice in the thought, that though we may differ in circumstantials — we are one in essentials. Yes, being one with Christ — we are all one in Christ. We are members one of another, even as we are members of Christ. Blessed be God for our union to Christ — and fellowship with each other!” ~ James Smith
A Narrow-Minded Woman Articles
Other References and Articles
9 Marks (Drew Cunningham): Book Review: Duties of Christian Fellowship, by John Owen
9 Marks (Jamie Dunlop): Class VI: Fellowship
9 Marks (John MacArthur and Mark Dever): Fellowship in the Church (podcast)
9 Marks (Michael Lawrence): Using Small Groups to Cultivate Fellowship
David Powlison: Speaking Truth in Love: Counsel in Community (book)
Edward T. Welch: Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love (book)
Got Questions: What does it mean that iron sharpens iron?
Got Questions: What is koinonia?
Got Questions: What is the importance of Christian fellowship?
Got Questions: What is the purpose of the church?
James Smith: Christian Fellowship
Jerry Bridges: True Community (book)
John Angell James: Christian Fellowship: The Church Member’s Guide
John Angell James: Christian Fellowship: Nature and Design of Christian Fellowship
John Owen: Rules for Walking in Fellowship (book)
John Samson: The Most Important Time to Go to Church
Ligonier: Agreeing in the Lord
Ligonier: Choosing Friends Wisely
Ligonier: Exhort One Another
Ligonier: Longing for Fellowship
Ligonier: Love Earnestly
Ligonier: Loving One Another
Ligonier: Meeting Paul’s Need
Ligonier: One in Spirit
Ligonier: Strangers and Aliens No Longer
Ligonier: The Return of Epaphroditus
Ligonier: True Friendship
Ligonier: United to Christ and His Body
Ligonier: Walk in the Light
Ligonier (Carl Robbins): That They May Be One
Ligonier (Burk Parsons): The Orthodoxy of Community
Ligonier (Brian Cosby): Instruct One Another
Ligonier (David Robertson): Band of Brothers
Ligonier (Daniel Hyde): Bearing Burdens
Ligonier (Derek Thomas): The Christian Life as Pilgrimage
Ligonier (Donald Whitney): Pray for One Another
Ligonier (Donald Whitney): Public Disciplines
Ligonier (Eric Watkins): Serve One Another
Ligonier (James Harvey): Bear One Another’s Burdens
Ligonier (Jon Payne): Stir Up One Another
Ligonier (Ken Jones): Union with Christians
Ligonier (Kevin Struyk): Our Identity in Christ
Ligonier (Megan Hill): Forgive One Another
Ligonier (Nicholas Batzig): The Peril of Wandering
Ligonier (Nicholas Batzig): Welcome One Another
Ligonier (Owen Strachan): Submit to One Another
Ligonier (RC Sproul): A Pilgrim People
Ligonier (RC Sproul): What Is the Church?
Ligonier (Robert Rothwell): United in Truth and Love
Ligonier (Roger Nicole): Dealing with Differences
Ligonier (Scott Thomas): The Church Gathered
Mark Dever & Jamie Dunlop: The Compelling Community: Where God’s Power Makes a Church Attractive (book)
Tim Challies: Day Twenty – Restoring Broken Fellowship
Tim Challies: Prioritize Your Church
Tim Challies: What’s the Purpose of … the Church?
Whole Magazine (Kelly Smith): Encouraging Each Other
For additional definitions on words you may be curious about, check out our Dictionary page. This is a growing collection of words and I would love to hear what words, phrases, people, events, documents, philosophies, etc that you would like a defined here on A Narrow-Minded Woman. Please comment below or send me a private message with your ideas for future defining posts.