The Greek word for fellowship used repeatedly in the New Testament is the word “koinonia,” which has a greater richness of meaning than its English counterpart. Koinonia means having communion by intimate participation. Therefore, when the Scriptures speak of having fellowship with God, they literally mean a participatory intimate relationship with God himself.
What is being offered isn’t left in the realm of intellectual adherence to a system of faith statements by which you gain entrance to an exclusive club of like-minded individuals. It cannot be left to such an interpretation. The Bible is either speaking of something real that can be known intimately as reality by the form of God fellowshipping with believers, or there is nothing to it at all.
Fellowship with Jesus
I Corinthians 1:9 tells readers that they can have this kind of fellowship with Jesus. I John 1:3 further explains that just as believers have intimate real relational fellowship one with another, they also have it with God. The Church then is made up of people having fellowship, koinonia, one with another and with God, individually and corporately. This creates a real spiritual bond. Marriage is the same way, with each spouse having fellowship with the other and with God making the covenant bond secure.
Parents are often concerned about the friends their kids keep because they know the ways of the friends will rub off on the children. People who are in a relationship one with another begin to take on the characteristics of those they surround themselves with. This is why it is written in 1 John 1:6 that if people claim to have fellowship with God and yet live in darkness their claims are false. For when one has an intimate participatory fellowship with a holy and good God, one begins to reflect the characteristics of the one with whom they have fellowship. 1 John 1:7 then reads that when believers do indeed walk in the light along with those who are also walking in him, all are purified from their sins.
The key is never behavior, but intimacy with God. When you have that participatory intimacy with God, your character will begin to take on his characteristics, and it will be evident by your life that you know him. Scripture gives this promise. Notice, though, that such a fellowship flows both ways; God is also intimately participatory in your life. It isn’t a one-way road where people do the work to earn God’s acceptance. Believers already have his acceptance by the finished work of Christ, and it is your free access to him that enables you to be transformed to that reality. You are supernaturally made righteous when you come into fellowship with Jesus, but that reality on the outside is a process worked out by continual intimacy with him. He teaches you how to walk it out. Believers were never designed to live life alone, but with the community and with God.
God created Eve to bring community and fellowship to Adam, as man is not meant to be alone.
But that community one with another was to be under the Lordship of the Creator, who makes koinonia possible. Koinonia first existed in eternity as the triune God fellowshipped together. Man, being made after the image of God, has the capacity for this intimate fellowship that the Father has with the Son through the Spirit.
When that fellowship is broken people are broken and need it restored. It was broken in the Garden between Adam and Eve and God. It was broken at the same time among men, as was evidenced when Cain and Able were at odds, resulting in the death of Abel. The harmony of koinonia needed restoration, and God promised right then and there in the beginning that the seed of the woman (Mary) would soon crush the head of the serpent (Satan). This would then bring about the restoration for which all of creation is travailing.
The restoration was made a reality when Jesus rose from the dead and sent his Spirit to lead believers into all truth. That participatory fellowship with God is the way to see that restoration manifested in the world today. Man uniting with God in koinonia and then with each other can do amazing things the world has never yet beheld. Could it be that Jesus was trying to tell people this when he said that loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself were the two greatest commandments that fulfilled all the law? Could it all be rooted in relational fellowship one with another under God?
It seems very simple, yet unimaginable, but God works in mysterious ways that are the best of all possible ways. It is an incredible God, indeed, that brings all things together through his creation instead of independent of his creation. He allows believers to share in the glory of the restoration as heirs to the Kingdom as they work with him in koinonia to establish the glorious Kingdom of God.