The set apart fellowship of believers

It’s not where we meet but how we walk.

1 John 1:3 – “what we have seen and heard we also declare to you, so that you may also have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Yeshua the Anointed One.”

The apostle John makes it clear that the purpose of his epistle was to encourage faith in Yeshua and like-mindedness among those who would read and hear its message. He uses the word translated as fellowship four times in just this first chapter, so it must be important. Three times it is used in the context of having unity or like-mindedness with other believers, and once for unity of purpose with God.

We typically view fellowship as the common assembly of individuals in a congregation; the local fellowship of believers gathered together. But seeing how John uses the term here in these instances brings out this other aspect of meaning: unity of purpose and understanding.

The Greek word koinonia which is translated as fellowship can mean a shared contribution or participation (such as giving to the poor), or it can mean the specific share or portion that one has among a shared ideal (such as the sufferings or Messiah or the holy Spirit), or it can mean a shared unity around a common idea or purpose. This is the intent that John uses here in the opening verses of this epistle: the shared unity of purpose that believers have relating to a common understanding of God as the Father and Yeshua as the Anointed One of God.

This shared unity is what John is seeking to enjoin with those who were to hear the message of his epistle. Those who have a common understanding of God as a Father, of Yeshua as the Anointed Son of God, and who walk in the teachings of Yeshua have a common purpose; i.e., fellowship with one another. This does not mean that these believers have to all be in one location, just one mindset.

1 John 1:7 – If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Yeshua his Son cleanses us from all sin.

This singular mindset is what creates the unity that allows believers to “walk in the light,” that is, to walk obediently according to the commands of God as communicated through the Anointed Yeshua. This is where our true fellowship lies, not just in a building once or twice a week. As we walk with God our purpose transcends any local assembly and we become participants in the set apart group known as the Kingdom of God in this world.

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