THE RIGHT HANDS OF FELLOWSHIP NO. 6

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

THE RIGHT HANDS OF FELLOWSHIP

PART THREE

FELLOWSHIP WITH CHRISTIANS

 

LESSON SIX

FELLOWSHIP WITH CHRISTIANS

It is the object of this essay to discuss the fellowship of Christians one with another. It is to be understood, that when one hears, believes and obeys the gospel by being baptized, that one has fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28: 18-19). All those who have come into fellowship with God, by the new birth, have fellowship with every other child of God who has been born into that family. That fellowship continues with every child of God, who is born into that family, so long as they abide in the teaching or the doctrine of Jesus Christ.

On the great and notable day of the Lord, the day of Pentecost, the day on which the church began, a great multitude heard Peter and the other apostles preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, and were convicted of their sins. Having asked what they must do to be saved, they were instructed to repent and to be baptized: upon which we are advised 3,000 complied with those commands, and were added to the church (Acts 2:36-47). Therefore, they entered into fellowship with God and all of his children.

That fellowship must be maintained by faithful and steadfast adherence to the doctrine of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the author of the book of Acts says, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2: 42). The word fellowship in this verse is from koinonia and is “used of the intimate bond of fellowship which unites Christians” (Thayer, p. 352).

Today, some are saying that doctrine has nothing to do with the state of fellowship with God and his children, but it certainly was a very important duty incumbent upon these early Christians: for they persevered, they adhered and continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, giving constant and strict attention to learn what the apostles further instructed them. We read in Acts 2:42, the 3,000 who obeyed the gospel on the day of Pentecost, continued in doctrine and fellowship. Their continuing in fellowship was coextensive with continuing in the apostles’ doctrine. Had they not continued in the apostles’ doctrine, it is most certain they would not have continued in the fellowship of those who were.

The apostles’ doctrine is simply the teaching of the apostles or objectively, that which is taught. It is, “the doctrine which has God, Christ the Lord, for its author and supporter” (Cf. Thayer, p. 144). When these 3,000 Christians continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine they were abiding in the doctrine of Christ, and therefore they had both the Father and the Son (Cf. 2 John 9). That is, they were in fellowship with both the Father and the Son by continuing to abide in the doctrine of Christ.

Had they not continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine or in the doctrine of Christ, they would not have had God; meaning, they would not have had fellowship with God. By abiding in the apostles’ doctrine they were abiding or walking in the light, and everyone who walks in the light has fellowship with every other person who walks in the light. Those who are not abiding in the apostles’ doctrine are walking in darkness, and it is impossible for one who is walking in darkness to have fellowship with those who are walking in the light.

The apostle John said, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). In this verse the word fellowship is also from koinonia and in this particular context it is used, of the fellowship of Christians with God and Christ, which fellowship according to John’s teaching consists in the fact that Christians are partakers in common of the same mind as God and Christ, and of the blessings arising there from” (Cf. Thayer, p. 352).

The three thousand who were baptized on the day of Pentecost continued steadfastly to abide in the apostles’ doctrine; therefore, they continued steadfastly to walk in the light, and by virtue of their walking in the light, they had fellowship one with another. In what did their fellowship one with another consist? It most definitely consisted of studying and learning the instructions of the apostles. By coming together to study the Bible that we might show ourselves approved unto God, and that we might be workmen not put to shame, we are having fellowship one with another (2 Timothy 2:15). We have fellowship then in the joint participation of studying God’s word. They also had fellowship one with another in coming together upon the first day of every week to break bread or to observe the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7). Concerning the Lord’s Supper the apostle Paul said, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread, which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:16)? They also had fellowship one with another by coming together in public worship and jointly offering up their prayers before the throne of grace (Compare Acts 20:1-7).

A wonderful exhibition of the fellowship and common bond which united these early members of the church together, is found also in the second chapter of Acts. Luke says,

“And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart” (Acts 2:44-46).

Their love and their fellowship one with another was founded upon their common bond in following the apostles’ instructions, observing all of the ordinances and commandments of the Lord (Cf. 1 John 5:3). The basis and foundation of all our acts of fellowship one with another, is built upon our common bond in walking, abiding and steadfastly adhering to the apostles’ doctrine.

QUESTIONS ON THE LESSON

1. What are the acts required in order for one to have fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Discuss.

2. How does one enter into fellowship with the children of God and on what condition does this fellowship continue?

3. Upon what conditions did 3,000 persons on the day of Pentecost enter into fellowship with God and his children? Discuss.

4. What specific ways does the teaching of Acts 2:42 tell us how to maintain our fellowship with each other?

5. Must one continue in the doctrine of the apostles in order to continue in the fellowship? Note Acts 2:42.

6. Define the “apostles’ doctrine.” Is this doctrine identical with the “doctrine of Christ?” If so, can one go beyond this doctrine and continue in fellowship with God?

7. Since 1 John 1:7 teaches that we have fellowship with one another when we walk in the light,’’ what does this mean?

8. In what particulars did the fellowship of the 3,000 on the day of Pentecost consist?

9. Is the Lord’s Supper part of the fellowship? If so, how often was it observed?

10. How did benevolence exhibit the fellowship of the Jerusalem church?

11. What is the foundation of all our fellowship one with another?

SCRIPTURE TEXTS

Matthew 28:18-20
18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
NIV

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

2 John 8-11
9 Whoever 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

1 John 1:6-7
6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
ESV

2 Timothy 2:15-16
15 Be diligent to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth. 16 Avoid irreverent and empty speech, since those who engage in it will produce even more godlessness,
CSB

Acts 20:7
7Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.
NKJV

1 Corinthians 10:16
16Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?
NIV

Acts 2:44-47
44 And all who believed were in the same place, and had everything in common. 45 And they began selling their possessions and property, and distributing these things to all, to the degree that anyone had need. 46 And every day, devoting themselves to meeting with one purpose in the temple courts and breaking bread from house to house, they were eating their food with joy and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding every day to the total of those who were being saved.
LEB

1 John 5:3-4
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
NKJV

MEMORY VERSE

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