A Greek Word You Need to Know: κοινωνία

I hope that our series of posts on Greek words has been helpful to you. I also hope it has whet your appetite for the New Testament’s original language. The goal, once more, is not to be exhaustive with these posts, but simple and concise. The hope is that you will use these as springboards for further study.

In this post, we will look at the word κοινωνία.

1. κοινωνία – koinonia. You pronounce it “koi-nō-nee-ah.” The second “o” is a long “o,” as in the word “hope.” The word means: fellowship, participation, contribution. The word, too, connotes the idea of a “give-and-take relationship,” a communion of people.

2κοινωνία is found in various places. For example, in describing the early church, Acts 2:42 says, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship (κοινωνία), to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (ESV). Other places include: Rom 15:26; 1 Cor 1:9, 10:16; Gal 2:9; Phil 1:5.

3. Why should you know this word? Because it’s a fairly multi-dimensional word (at least that’s how I see it.) For instance, I think it’s safe to say that κοινωνία implies more than just a gathering of various people into one place; it’s more than just a gaggle. Rather, it conveys the image of a group of people who are meeting for the benefit of one another. Christians have the great privilege of gathering together every week—we call this time “Sunday worship.” A great question for each of us to ask ourselves is, When we gather together is it for the purpose of anything other than κοινωνία? That is, do we go to church just to go to church, or do we go so that we can benefit and encourage one another? Is your presence in church more of a cantankerous presence or is it a glorious service to others? The New Testament calls you to the latter, to κοινωνία. So, next time you go to church, keep in mind that you are there not just to receive and, as we say, “be fed.” (Make no mistake, you should expect to receive and find spiritual nourishment.) But you are also there to participate in giving and sharing love.

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