Webster’s definition of fellowship is, “Companionship…a neutral sharing.” He also designated a “fellowship” as “a group of people sharing the same interests; a brotherhood.” In the Scripture, fellowship is described as, “Communion…a mutual sharing…a partnership…having common interests.” In Christian fellowship we are “bound together” in Christ. We have a “reciprocal love” for one another. We also have “common interests.” We are in “harmony” and “agreement” with each other relative to our ideals in Christ.
In some instances in Scripture, fellowship carries with it the thought of “social activity.” One of the great blessings of Christianity is the “fellowship of saints.” In Judaism no provision was made for the gathering together of the people, except on special occasions as at the annual feasts. Right at the beginning of the Christian era provision was made for the “fellowship of saints.”
In Acts 2:42 we see the fourfold purpose for the coming together of the early church:
- They met together in fellowship for the preaching and teaching of the apostles’ doctrine, especially the doctrine of the resurrection.
- They also came together “to fellowship.”
- While they were together in fellowship they broke bread (see 1 Corinthians 10:16).
- They also made use of this opportunity to engage in prayers.
Keeping “fellowship” in its immediate context, it would include these activities. Notice the omission of “and” between fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers. This would indicate that the last time activities were placed side by side with fellowship. The breaking of the bread meeting evidently consisted of a fellowship meal, which took place before the remembrance feast. Consider the love feast of 1 Corinthians 11. This same thought is also borne out in Acts 20, where the extended remembrance feast lasted until midnight.
We mentioned earlier that “fellowship” carries with it the thought of social activity. As the early church proclaimed the apostles’ teaching of the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus as the only means to man’s salvation, men of all walks of life were swept into the kingdom, and were bound together in love in one fellowship.
So real was this “fellowship,” that the wealthy believers sold their possessions to help care for the necessities of the poor (see Acts 2:44-46 and Acts 4:32-37). Acts 2:46 says that they broke bread from house to house. This closely knit “fellowship” manifested itself as they shared their houses and their food with each other. Fellowship in these days was a form of self-preservation. They separated themselves from the cruel world around them. The bulk of them were slaves. They lived in a hostile world - they were strangers there; there was nothing spiritual for the soul. (Abraham: Pilgrim – Stranger) So, at every opportunity they gathered to share, support, and encourage each other. It was an evidence of the new life when those believers desired to come together in fellowship.
Malachi 3:16 “They that feared the Lord spoke often one to another.”
Acts 1:14 “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication.”
Colossians 3:16 “Teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, making melody with all your heart unto the Lord.”
The fellowship between the Jew and Gentiles must have been particularly sweet. See also Epheisans 2.