THE RIGHT HANDS OF FELLOWSHIP NO. 5

By

Shelby G. Floyd

And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.-Galatians 2:9 KJV

LESSON FIVE

FELLOWSHIP WITH DARKNESS

“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 9-11).

Today, some are saying that after one has obeyed the gospel, and has entered into fellowship with God, what he teaches in the way of doctrine has nothing to do with his fellowship with God; and therefore, we should not withdraw fellowship or draw the line on a person regardless of what he might teach. This is obviously false, for according to the apostle John, doctrine is very important. In fact, one who does not abide in the doctrine of Christ and goes beyond the doctrine of Christ does not possess God, meaning, he does not have fellowship with him.

The word transgresseth is a present active participle, and comes from a word which means to go forward and is used in this verse in a bad sense, to go further than is right or proper, to transgress the limits of true doctrine (Cf. Thayer, p. 537). The word abideth is also a present active participle and means to be kept continually, not to depart, not to leave, to continue to be present and is used of him who cleaves or holds fast to a thing (Cf. Thayer, p. 399).

One must cleave and hold fast to the doctrine of Christ. Those who do not abide in the doctrine of Christ, but transgress and go beyond do not have God. The phrase, “doctrine of Christ” means the doctrine or teaching taught by Christ and his inspired apostles. It is equivalent to “the apostles’ doctrine.” Those who were baptized on the day of Pentecost “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2: 42).

A Christian is obligated to hold to the truth regarding the character, work and precepts of Jesus Christ. The doctrine of Christ is, “the doctrine which has God, Christ the Lord, for its author and supporter” (Cf. Thayer, p. 144). That which was taught by either Christ or his inspired apostles is the doctrine of Christ (Cf. Mark 4: 2; Acts 13: 12).

Our duty and obligation toward those who bring not the doctrine of Christ is very clear: “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Romans 16: 17). Instead of encouraging, aiding and abetting false teachers, our obligation is to mark and avoid them, and therefore not to have fellowship with them.

After Paul left the area of Galatia, false teachers came to some of the churches, which he had helped to establish, bringing a doctrine other than the doctrine of Christ, bringing a gospel which was not the gospel preached by Paul. Paul emphatically stated to the Galatians,

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1: 8-9).

Those then who go beyond the doctrine of Christ do not own and possess God, and therefore, their fellowship with God is broken.

In contradistinction, those who do remain and abide in the doctrine of Christ, they have both the Father and the Son. The relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is so close and intimate that to have fellowship with one is to have fellowship with the others. Therefore, in the first epistle, John said, “Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: but he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also” (1 John 2:23). By abiding in the doctrine of Christ, one may truly have fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ and with the apostles of Jesus Christ (Cf. 1 John 1:3).

John further said if one comes to you bringing not the doctrine of Christ; receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed. This is not a hypothetical situation, which John considers, but he is looking at it from a point of a reality. In effect, he is saying, when one comes to you not announcing the doctrine of Christ with the intention of using you, your influence and your house to further his false teaching, receive him not with open arms into your house, and greet him not with the wish that he may be successful in the work that he is undertaking. There are some today, regardless of what doctrine a man might teach, who will receive him with open arms, being happy and glad to help him in any way they can to further his false doctrines. This is absolutely what John prohibits.

The reason why we should not receive such a one or bid him God speed is because he that bids him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. The word partaker is from koinoneo, a present indicative verb, and meaning, “to enter into fellowship, join one’s self as an associate, make one’s self a sharer or partner” (Thayer, p. 351-352). In 2 John 11, the word partaker is used with the dative of the thing in which one partakes, which is in this instance his evil deeds.

Those who encourage and aid men not bringing the doctrine of Christ have fellowship, but not with God. Their fellowship is with evil, and no person having fellowship with evil can at the same time have fellowship with God. To have fellowship with evil deeds is to have fellowship with darkness, and if we walk in darkness and say we have fellowship with God, we lie and tell not the truth (Cf. 1 John 1:6). Instead of having fellowship with darkness or evil deeds, we are commanded not to have fellowship with such works, but we are rather to reprove them (Ephesians 5:11).

In his second letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul said, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness”(2 Corinthians 6:14)? In the context Paul appeals to his readers, as a father would to his children that they might repay his love for them by obeying his commandments and separating themselves from every improper alliance with unbelievers. This, he emphatically enjoins when he says, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” This is a figure of speech drawn from the Law of Moses, “Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together” (Deuteronomy 22:10). Under the law, the ox was a clean animal, and an ass an unclean animal, and doubtless typified the impropriety and unlawfulness of a Christian being yoked together with unbelievers in matters forbidden by God. Amos once said, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed” (Amos 3: 3)?

Believers have nothing in common religiously with unbelievers, and therefore they are not to be heterogeneously yoked together. Believers and unbelievers are so dissimilar that it would be highly improper for them to be united together, as it would be to yoke animals of different species. Believers cannot be united with unbelievers without suffering and being injured. This injunction doubtless condemns any and all connections with unbelievers which would identify the child of God with them. Those who are yoked together are in fellowship with each other, but unbelievers are not in fellowship with God; therefore, if a believer is in fellowship with an unbeliever he breaks his fellowship with God and has fellowship with darkness.

QUESTIONS ON THE LESSON

1. What are some teaching concerning doctrine and fellowship?

2. Does one have fellowship with God when he goes beyond the doctrine of Christ?

3. What is the meaning of the word “transgresseth” as used in 2 John 9?

4. Discuss the meaning of abiding in the “doctrine of Christ.”

5. Define the content and nature of the “doctrine of Christ.”

6. What is our obligation concerning those who come not bringing the doctrine of Christ?

7. What did Paul say about those who would preach a gospel differing from the gospel he preached?

8. Can one have fellowship with one member of the Godhead without having fellowship with the others? Discuss.

9. How does one fellowship a false teacher by bringing him into his house and bidding him God speed?

10. Can one have fellowship with evil deeds and also have fellowship with God?

LESSON TEXTS

2 John 9-11
9Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.
NKJV

Acts 2:42-43
42And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
NKJV

Romans 16:17
17Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.
NKJV

Galatians 1:8-9
8But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
NKJV

1 John 2:23
23No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
NIV

1 John 1:3, 6
3that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

6If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
NKJV

MEMORY VERSE

Ephesians 5:11-12
11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.
NKJV

Copyright © 2002, 2018 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved

Shelby G. Floyd
Heartland Church of Christ
1693 West Main Street
Greenwood, Indiana 46142

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