Nothing makes me happier than to see you restored, and that you are being joined with the few who have figured out what true fellowship is. I cannot tell you how much I was affected to hear of the warmth and mutual fellowship you enjoyed with Dan and Carol. They are among very few that I can say I feel one in heart, mind, and soul with. There is no pretense there, no religiosity, and just genuine friendship. Like you they are very amiable and endearing, and they make you feel comfortable to be around them.
· Psalm 133:1 A Song of degrees of David. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! KJV
It is interesting to look at the Hebrew meaning of the phrase, "A Song of degrees of David." The Hebrew word for "Song" means to travel or sojourn singing; hence it means that our everyday joy stems from our dwelling together in unity.
Even more interesting is the Hebrew definitions of the words translated, "degrees" and "David." Literally, David means, "loving" and stems from a root word meaning, "to boil; fervent."
The word "degrees" means literally, "a journey to a higher place" and figuratively means, "a thought arising," or "climatic progression."
In reference to brethren sharing true fellowship, the real McCoy if you will, is intended to be a joyous journey to a higher place of loving. This happens through a well grounded, truth-based, honest, approachable, sharing amongst friends whose desire is to strengthen and love.
After reading your email over a few times, and reflecting on all you said, I felt compelled to do a bit of research and study, and to ascertain what God means in the scripture when He speaks of communion in the church.
The concept of what is commonly called "fellowship" or "communion" has been inserted surreptitiously, wrongfully, or without warrant into the lingo of Christianity. To most, this means going to "church" (they mean church services). I have always been deeply opposed to the common 'ritual' practiced in the churches where the members of the assembly munch on a piece of unsalted, half broken piece of Wheat Thin cracker, and then gulp down a thimble-full of grape juice (they don't even give you real wine most of the time!) from a small plastic or paper cup, reverencing the practice as "holy communion."
How can anyone in good conscience believe this is what Jesus meant when he said the words, "Take, eat, this is my body" or "Take, drink, this is the blood of my new covenant?"
· Matthew 26:26-29 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread and, praising God, gave thanks and asked Him to bless it to their use, and when he had broken it, he gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And e took a cup, and when e had given thanks, e gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the new covenant, which ratifies the agreement and is being poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. [Exodus 24:6-8.] I say to you, I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it with you new and of superior quality in my Father's kingdom.” Amplified Bible
Is not the kingdom of God more than eating and drinking? Do we celebrate our Lord’s death with Welch’s and Wheat Thins, or by partaking of each other’s sufferings, and sharing our lives and love in Jesus?
· Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (From New International Version)
Christ’s body is made up of people…the body of Jesus Christ, not a piece of unleavened bread! Eating is a metaphor for sharing, and partaking of each other's lives, thoughts, feelings, needs, etc. The fruit of the vine was not wine, but it was something "superior." It speaks of the blood of a new covenant, but also it refers to the cup of his sufferings. When we drink of this cup, we are sharing in each other’s suffering, not swallowing grape juice.
· 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 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? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. KJV
Note that Paul speaks figuratively; he likens US to being "one bread" and also "partakers of that one bread." Well answer this question for me: How can you BE “one bread,” and also be a "partaker" of that same bread (if it is not a metaphor)? This is only one technical reason I am against the ritual of communion. But more important, I am interested in what God intended us to be, and to partake of what He INTENDED us to eat in this metaphor.
I studied the Greek word translated in the KJV as "communion" and below have provided the word and its cognates. I have accented the words that impacted my heart as I considered what true sharing, and true fellowship is:
"Communion" = NT: 2842 koinonia (koy-nohn-ee'-ah); from NT: 2844; partnership, i.e. (literally) participation, or (social) intercourse, or (pecuniary) benefaction
· NT: 2844 koinonos (koy-no-nos'); from NT: 2839; a sharer, i.e. associate
· NT: 2839 koinos (koy-nos'); probably from NT: 4862; common, i.e. (literally) shared by all or several, or (cer.) profane
NT: 4862 sun (soon); a primary preposition denoting
union; with or together (but much closer than NT:3326 or NT:3844),
i.e. by association, companionship, process, resemblance,
possession, instrumentality, addition, etc
(Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.)
Consider all of the definitions above in linear form:
· Social intercourse
· A sharer
· Associate (and association)
· Denoting union (with or together)
Does this sound ANYTHING like church services, or does it connote anything to do with organized religion, in any form?
When we have "social intercourse" we become "sharers" of the intimate parts of one another's hearts. We share the "union" of "companionship."
James Strong wrote his dictionary of Greek words in the 19th century, and so I consulted Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary to ascertain the intended meaning of some of these words Mr. Strong used to definite koinonia and its cognates. I used only the definitions that pertain to our interaction with each other in the body of Christ:
· P`ARTNER, n. [from part.] One who partakes or shares with another; a partaker; an associate; as, she is partner of my life, of my joys, of my grief.
· Partnerships may be and usually are associations of private persons, not incorporated.
Being "partakers" of one loaf is our private association with one another and also the sharing of both grief and joy together. This is that, which being established solely by God, excludes altogether any requirement for approval by "incorporated" churches (the 501C3 variety, and others). Paul mentions this at the beginning of his epistle to the Galatians:
· Galatians 1:1-3 Paul, an apostle--special messenger appointed and commissioned and sent out, not from any body of men, nor by or through any man, but by and through Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and God the Father, Who raised Him from among the dead--and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia: Grace and spiritual blessing be to you and soul peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah). Amplified Bible
SO'CIAL, a. [L. socialis, from socius,
1. Pertaining to society; relating to men living in society or to the publice as an aggregate body; as social interests or concerns; social pleasures; social benefits; social happiness; social duties. True self-love and social are the same.
2. Ready or disposed to mix in friendly converse; companionable. Withers, adieu? yet not with thee remove thy martial spirit or thy social love.
3. Consisting in union or mutual converse.
4. Disposed to unite in society. Man is a social being.
SO'CIABLE, a. [L. sociabilis, from socius, a
companion, probably from sequor, to follow. See Seek.]
1. That may be conjoined; fit to be united in one body or company; as sociable parts united in one body.
2. Ready or disposed to unite in a general interest. To make man mild, and sociable to man.
3. Ready and inclined to join in company or society; or frequently meeting for conversation; as sociable neighbors.
4. Inclined to converse when in company; disposed to freedom in conversation; opposed to reserved and taciturn.
5. Free in conversation; conversing much or familiarly. The guests were very sociable.
· SO'CIABLENESS, n. Disposition to associate; inclination to company and converse; or actual frequent union in society or free converse. This word may signify either the disposition to associate, or the disposition to enter into familiar conversation, or the actual practice of associating and conversing.
· SO'CIABLY, adv. In a sociable manner; with free intercourse; conversably; familiarly; as a companion.
· IN'TERCOURSE, n. [L. intercursus, intercurro; inter and curro, to run.] Literally, a running or passing between. 1. Communication; commerce; connection by reciprocal dealings between persons or nations, either in common affairs and civilities, in trade, or correspondence by letters. We have an intercourse with neighbors and friends in mutual visits and in social concerns. 2. Silent communications or exchange. This sweet intercourse…Of looks and smiles.
ASSO'CIATE, v.t. assoshate. [L.
associo, of ad and socio, to join.]
1. To join in company, as a friend, companion, partner or confederate; as, to associate others with us in business, or in an enterprise. It conveys the idea of intimate union.
1. To unite in company; to keep company, implying intimacy; as, congenial minds are disposed to associate.
2. To unite in action, or be affected by the action of a different part of the body.
1. A companion; one frequently in company with another, implying intimacy or equality; a mate; a fellow.
1. The act of associating; union; connection of persons.
2. Union of persons in a company; a society formed for transacting or carrying on some business for mutual advantage; a partnership. It is often applied to a union of states or a confederacy.
3. Union of things; apposition, as of particles of matter.
4. Union or connection of ideas. An association of ideas is where two or more ideas constantly or naturally follow each other in the mind, so that one almost infallibly produces the other.
5. An exertion or change of some extreme part of the sensory residing in the muscles or organs of sense, in consequence of some antecedent or attendant fibrous contractions.
6. In ecclesiastical affairs, a society of the clergy, consisting of a number of pastors of neighboring churches, united for promoting the interests of religion and the harmony of the churches.
U'NION, n. [L. unio, to unite, from unus,
1. The act of joining two or more things into one, and thus forming a compound body or a mixture; or the junction or coalition of things thus united. Union differs from connection, as it implies the bodies to be in contact, without an intervening body; whereas things may be connected by the intervention of a third body, as by a cord or chain; for example, ‘One kingdom, joy and union without end.’
2. Concord; agreement and conjunction of mind, will, affections or interest. Happy is the family where perfect union subsists between all its members.
3. The junction or united existence of spirit and matter; as the union of soul and body.
1. One who keeps company with another; one with whom a person frequently associates, and converses. It differs from friend, says Johnson, as acquaintance from confidence. The word does not necessarily imply friendship; but a companion is often or generally a friend.
A companion of fools shall be destroyed. Proverbs 13.
2. One who accompanies another; as two persons meeting casually and traveling together are called companions. So soldiers are called companions in arms.
3. A partner; an associate.
Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labor, and fellow soldier. Philippians 2.
4. A fellow; a mate.
· COMPANIONABLE, a. Fit for good fellowship; qualified to be agreeable in company; sociable; agreeable as a companion.
· COMPANIONABLY, adv. In a companionable manner.
1. Fellowship; association.
Don't you find it fascinating to read these
definitions? Isn't this what we experience when we simply meet together
and share our lives, our hearts, our feelings, our laughter and joy, our tears
One who partakes or shares with another experiences “communion.”
· 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 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? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. KJV
As I mentioned to you earlier, the Greek word for “communion” is “koinonia” and connotes the following:
· Social intercourse
· A sharer
· Associate (and association)
· Denoting union (with or together)
From above, let me demonstrate for you, from the scripture, how each description furnished by the use of Strong’s New Testament Greek Dictionary in concert with Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary is validated. Further, we have much to learn about the sharing God describes in His word, and we have much to UN-learn from decades of having a bogus concept of what Christianity calls fellowship foisted upon us.
· Galatians 1:1-2 Paul, an apostle (not sent from men, nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia. NAS
· Acts 7:48-50 "However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says: 'Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? Says the LORD, or what is the place of My rest? Has My hand not made all these things?'” NKJV
· Acts 17:24-31 “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.' Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead." NKJV
This statement regarding “self-love” must be understood in the context of how Noah Webster framed it in the 1800’s. It is a far cry from what society and the churches in America have defined it as, with their broad sweeping motions of selfish motivation.
There is how a self-love woefully lacking in just about every single Christian life. It is the love of one's own person or happiness. It is not some new mantra people verbalize to achieve it by saying, “I love myself, I love myself.”
Loving one’s own self is the basic foundation needed to truly love others. In other words, if a person has absolutely no regard for their own well-being, it is most likely they will reflect the same toward others, albeit unintentionally for the most part.
The best way to explain what true self-love is can be done by giving specific examples of how it is manifest. One who has self-love takes care of their physical body, feeding it, bathing it, getting adequate exercise, and sufficient sleep. Of course all of these are within the parameters of one’s ability or inability to actually supply themselves with these requirements of the body. However, to neglect any of these, and more, in a chronic manner is to decrease one’s own happiness and well-being.
Any number of excuses will do to justify neglecting one’s self, “I don’t have time to sleep,” or, “I don’t have time to eat properly,” or, “Exercise is out of the question with my busy schedule.” I am only using examples that are limited to the maintenance of the human body, but they help demonstrate areas where self-love is lacking. You may not think you are important enough to care for the vessel God created for you to dwell in, and so, in other areas of life, you may be doing the same.
In the context of sharing and social interaction, the person who fails to care for their own needs will likely do a poor job of meeting the needs of others. This can even happen when someone’s motives seem right and proper. Many a minister has burnt him or her self out in the name of “ministry” or the guise of “helping others.” I am not saying there isn’t an amount of sacrifice involved in giving, sharing, and the like, just speaking in generalities my friend.
The scripture teaches us love your neighbor as you love yourself, and you do well. (James 2:8) Why does God inspire this commandment to be worded in such a way? Is He trying to get our attention, and show us HOW to love our neighbor? (See Leviticus 19:18) Perhaps if I phrase it differently it will become clearer.
If we treat others harshly, and judge them the same way, what does that say about the way we treat ourselves inside? Maybe we beat ourselves up inside more than we should, and this causes us to come across in like fashion to others.
· Luke 6:31 And as you would like and desire that men would do to you, do exactly so to them. AMP
· 1 Peter 3:15 But in your hearts set Christ apart as holy and acknowledge Him as Lord. Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully. [Isaiah 8:12,13.] AMP
· 1 Corinthians 1:9-10 God is faithful (reliable, trustworthy, and therefore ever true to His promise, and He can be depended on); by Him you were called into companionship and participation with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. But I urge and entreat you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in perfect harmony and full agreement in what you say, and that there be no dissensions or factions or divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in your common understanding and in your opinions and judgments. AMP
· Romans 15:5-7 Now may the God Who gives the power of patient endurance (steadfastness) and Who supplies encouragement, grant you to live in such mutual harmony and such full sympathy with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may unanimously with united hearts and one voice, praise and glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah). Welcome and receive to your hearts one another, then, even as Christ has welcomed and received you, for the glory of God. AMP
· Romans 14:19 So let us then definitely aim for and eagerly pursue what makes for harmony and for mutual upbuilding (edification and development) of one another. AMP
· 1 Corinthians 12:25-27 So that there should be no division or discord or lack of adaptation of the parts of the body to each other, but the members all alike should have a mutual interest in and care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the parts [share] the suffering; if one member is honored, all the members share in the enjoyment of it. Now you collectively are Christ's body and individually you are members of it, each part severally and distinct each with his own place and function. AMP
· Romans 12:4-5 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. (From New International Version)
· 1 Peter 2:4-5 And coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. NAS
· Ephesians 4:15-16 But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. NAS
· Philippians 2:1-4 If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. NAS
· Acts 2:46 And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart. NAS
· Philippians 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. KJV
· 1 Timothy 4:12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. KJV
· James 3:13-14 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. KJV
· Philippians 1:27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel. KJV
· Romans 8:32 He who did not withhold or spare even His own Son but gave Him up for us all, will He not also with Him freely and graciously give us all other things? AMP
· 2 Corinthians 6:11-15 Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians, our heart is opened wide. You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections. Now in a like exchange--I speak as to children--open wide to us also. Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? NASU
· James 2:12-13 So speak and so act, as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. NAS
· Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities. AMP
· Galatians 5:1 In this freedom Christ has made us free and completely liberated us; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery, which you have once put off. AMP
· Philippians 2:25-26 However, I thought it necessary to send Epaphroditus back to you. He has been my brother and companion in labor and my fellow soldier, as well as having come as your special messenger (apostle) and minister to my need. For he has been homesick longing for you all and has been distressed because you had heard that he was ill. AMP
· 2 Corinthians 8:18-19 But we are sending along with him that brother Luke whose praise in the Gospel ministry is spread throughout all the churches; and more than that, he has been appointed by the churches to travel as our companion in regard to this bountiful contribution which we are administering for the glory of the Lord Himself and to show our eager readiness as Christians to help one another. AMP
· Psalm 119:63 I am a companion of all those who fear, revere, and worship You, and of those who observe and give heed to Your precepts. AMP
· John 8:36 So if the Son liberates you makes you free men, then you are really and unquestionably free. AMP
· 1 Corinthians 9:19 For although I am free in every way from anyone's control, I have made myself a bond servant to everyone, so that I might gain the more for Christ. AMP
· 1 Peter 2:16 Live as free people, yet without employing your freedom as a pretext for wickedness; but live at all times as servants of God. AMP
· Romans 16:6 Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. NAS
· Romans 16:12 Salute those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet my dear Persis, who has worked so hard in the Lord. AMP
· Romans 16:22-23 I, Tertius, the writer of this letter, greet you in the Lord. Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church here, greets you. So do Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus. AMP
· Acts 9:36 Now in Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity, which she continually did. NAS
· Romans 12:9-13 Let your love be sincere (a real thing); hate what is evil loathe all ungodliness, turn in horror from wickedness, but hold fast to that which is good. Love one another with brotherly affection as members of one family, giving precedence and showing honor to one another. Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord. Rejoice and exult in hope; be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation; be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of God's people sharing in the necessities of the saints; pursue the practice of hospitality. AMP
· 2 Corinthians 10:11 Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when absent, such persons we are also in deed when present. NAS
· Colossians 3:16-17 Let the word spoken by Christ (the Messiah) have its home in your hearts and minds and dwell in you in all its richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom in spiritual things, and as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with His grace in your hearts. And whatever you do no matter what it is in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in dependence upon His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him. AMP
· 1 John 3:16-19 By this we come to know (progressively to recognize, to perceive, to understand) the essential love: that He laid down His own life for us; and we ought to lay our lives down for those who are our brothers in Him. But if anyone has this world's goods (resources for sustaining life) and sees his brother and fellow believer in need, yet closes his heart of compassion against him, how can the love of God live and remain in him? Little children, let us not love merely in theory or in speech but in deed and in truth (in practice and in sincerity). By this we shall come to know (perceive, recognize, and understand) that we are of the Truth, and can reassure (quiet, conciliate, and pacify) our hearts in His presence. AMP
· Romans 16:16 Greet one another with a holy (consecrated) kiss. All the churches of Christ (the Messiah) wish to be remembered to you. AMP
· Proverbs 11:12-14 He who belittles and despises his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding keeps silent. He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy and faithful in spirit keeps the matter hidden. Where no wise guidance is, the people fall, but in the multitude of counselors there is safety. AMP
· Proverbs 17:27-28 He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding has a cool spirit. Even a fool when he holds his peace is considered wise; when he closes his lips he is esteemed a man of understanding. AMP
· James 1:19 Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear a ready listener, slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry. AMP
· Ecclesiastes 3:1, 5, 7 There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven…A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing…A time to be silent and a time to speak. NASU
· Acts 15:12-14 All the people kept silent, and they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were relating what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. After they had stopped speaking, James answered, saying, "Brethren, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name.” NASU
· 1 Corinthians 14:26-28 What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. NASU
· Philippians 4:5 Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near. AMP
· Ephesians 4:11-16 And His gifts were varied; He Himself appointed and gave men to us some to be apostles (special messengers), some prophets (inspired preachers and expounders), some evangelists (preachers of the Gospel, traveling missionaries), some pastors (shepherds of His flock) and teachers. His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), that they should do the work of ministering toward building up Christ's body (the church), that it might develop until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the full and accurate knowledge of the Son of God, that we might arrive at really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ's own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him. So then, we may no longer be children, tossed like ships to and fro between chance gusts of teaching and wavering with every changing wind of doctrine, the prey of the cunning and cleverness of unscrupulous men, gamblers engaged in every shifting form of trickery in inventing errors to mislead. Rather, let our lives lovingly express truth in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head, even Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed one). For because of Him the whole body (the church, in all its various parts), closely joined and firmly knit together by the joints and ligaments with which it is supplied, when each part with power adapted to its need is working properly in all its functions, grows to full maturity, building itself up in love. AMP
· Proverbs 19:1 The man of many friends will prove himself a bad friend, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. AMP
· 1 Samuel 18:1 Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself. NASU
· Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. NAS
· Romans 12:1-11 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. NASU
· 1 Corinthians 2:6-7, 11-16 Yet when we are among the full-grown (spiritually mature Christians who are ripe in understanding), we do impart a higher wisdom (the knowledge of the divine plan previously hidden); but it is indeed not a wisdom of this present age or of this world nor of the leaders and rulers of this age, who are being brought to nothing and are doomed to pass away. But rather what we are setting forth is a wisdom of God once hidden from the human understanding and now revealed to us by God--that wisdom which God devised and decreed before the ages for our glorification to lift us into the glory of His presence...For what person perceives (knows and understands) what passes through a man's thoughts except the man's own spirit within him? Just so no one discerns (comes to know and comprehend) the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have not received the spirit that belongs to the world, but the Holy Spirit Who is from God, given to us that we might realize and comprehend and appreciate the gifts of divine favor and blessing so freely and lavishly bestowed on us by God. And we are setting these truths forth in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Holy Spirit, combining and interpreting spiritual truths with spiritual language to those who possess the Holy Spirit. But the natural, non-spiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated. But the spiritual man tries all things he examines, investigates, inquires into, questions, and discerns all things, yet is himself to be put on trial and judged by no one he can read the meaning of everything, but no one can properly discern or appraise or get an insight into him. For who has known or understood the mind (the counsels and purposes) of the Lord so as to guide and instruct Him and give Him knowledge? But we have the mind of Christ (the Messiah) and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart. [Isaiah 40:13.] AMP
· Romans 16:5 Greet Epaenetus, my beloved, who is the first convert to Christ from Asia. NAS
*NOTE: This never works of course, because it is a product of the flesh. It is an Ishmael and not an Isaac. Contrary to the scriptural idea of being united together, churches today unite to promote the interests of a particular denomination, or religious philosophy, such as the “prosperity movement.” An example would be men like Kenneth Copeland and Casey Treat uniting together by holding a so-called “Christian Conference” and promoting it through the media. The purpose of such a conference is to promote their philosophy of wealth and prosperity, which ultimately means these greedy men will become the ones who gain wealth and prosperity from the exorbitant fees they charge for admission, offerings collected, books, tapes, CD’s and other memorabilia they sell.
· 1 Corinthians 3:3-4 For you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not mere men? NAS
· Mark 7:6-13 And He said to them, "Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, 'This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.' Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men." He was also saying to them, "You nicely set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death'; but you say, 'If a man says to his father or his mother, anything of mine you might have been helped by is Corban (that is to say, given to God),' you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that." NAS
· Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you yourselves captive by his so-called philosophy and intellectualism and vain deceit (idle fancies and plain nonsense), following human tradition (men's ideas of the material rather than the spiritual world), just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe and disregarding the teachings of Christ (the Messiah). AMP
· Philippians 2:20-21 For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. NAS
· Romans 16:17-18 I appeal to you, brethren, to be on your guard concerning those who create dissensions and difficulties and cause divisions, in opposition to the doctrine (the teaching) which you have been taught. I warn you to turn aside from them, to avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites and base desires, and by ingratiating and flattering speech, they beguile the hearts of the unsuspecting and simpleminded people. AMP
· Matthew 19:4-6 He replied, “Have you never read that He Who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be united firmly (joined inseparably) to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’ [Genesis 1:27; 2:24.] So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder (separate).” AMP
· Ephesians 5:28-33 Even so husbands should love their wives as being in a sense their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself. For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and carefully protects and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members (parts) of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. [Genesis 2:24.] This mystery is very great, but I speak concerning the relation of Christ and the church. However, let each man of you without exception love his wife as [being in a sense] his very own self; and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband. [1 Peter 3:2.] AMP
· 1 Corinthians 12:11-27 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; or again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body, which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our unseemly members come to have more abundant seemliness, whereas our seemly members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it. NAS
· Romans 16:13-14 Remember me to Rufus, eminent in the Lord, also to his mother who has been a mother to me as well. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brethren who are with them. AMP
· Mark 3:31-35 Then His mother and His brothers arrived, and standing outside they sent word to Him and called Him. A crowd was sitting around Him, and they said to Him, "Behold, Your mother and your brothers are outside looking for you." Answering them, He said, "Who are my mother and my brothers?" Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He said, "Behold my mother and my brothers! "For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother." NASU
· 2 Corinthians 2:12-13 Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord, I had no rest for my spirit, not finding Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I went on to Macedonia. NASU
· Ephesians 6:21-23 But that you also may know about my circumstances, how I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make everything known to you. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know about us, and that he may comfort your hearts. Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. NASU
· Colossians 1:1-2 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. NASU
· Colossians 4:7-15 As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information. For I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts, and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of your number. They will inform you about the whole situation here. Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends you his greetings; and also Barnabas’s cousin Mark (about whom you received instructions; if he comes to you, welcome him); and also Jesus who is called Justus; these are the only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are from the circumcision, and they have proved to be an encouragement to me. Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. For I testify for him that he has a deep concern for you and for those who are in Laodicea and Hierapolis. Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings, and also Demas. Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the church that is in her house. NASU
· 1 John 4:20-21 If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also. NASU
· John 19:25-27 Therefore the soldiers did these things. But there were standing by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold, your son!" Then He said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her into his own household. NAS
· Romans 16:1-2 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea; 2 that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well. NASU
· Romans 16:7 Remember me to Andronicus and Junias, my tribal kinsmen and once my fellow prisoners. They are men held in high esteem among the apostles, who also were in Christ before I was. AMP
· Romans 16:8 Remember me to Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. AMP
· Romans 16:10-11 Greet Apelles, that one tried and approved in Christ (the Messiah). Remember me to those who belong to the household of Aristobulus. Greet my tribal kinsman Herodion, and those in the Lord who belong to the household of Narcissus. AMP
· Romans 16:15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. AMP
· 1 Thessalonians 3:1-8 Therefore when we could endure it no longer, we thought it best to be left behind at Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and God's fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith, so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this. For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know. For this reason, when I could endure it no longer, I also sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter might have tempted you, and our labor would be in vain. But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always think kindly of us, longing to see us just as we also long to see you, for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith; for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord. NASU
· Philippians 2:25 But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need. NASU
· 2 Corinthians 8:22-23 Moreover, along with them we are sending our brother, whom we have often put to the test and have found him zealous (devoted and earnest) in many matters, but who is now more eagerly earnest than ever because of his absolute confidence in you. As for Titus, he is my colleague and shares my work in your service; and as for the other two brethren, they are the special messengers of the churches, a credit and glory to Christ (the Messiah). AMP
· Philemon 1-7 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our beloved brother and fellow worker, and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints; and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ's sake. For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother. NASU
· Romans 16:3-5 Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles; also greet the church that is in their house. NAS
· Romans 16:9 Salute Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my dear Stachys. AMP
· Romans 16:21 Timothy, my fellow worker, wishes to be remembered to you, as do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my tribal kinsmen. AMP
· Philippians 2:19-30 But I hope and trust in the Lord Jesus soon to send Timothy to you, so that I may also be encouraged and cheered by learning news of you. For I have no one like him no one of so kindred a spirit who will be so genuinely interested in your welfare and devoted to your interests. For the others all seek to advance their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ (the Messiah). But Timothy's tested worth you know, how as a son with his father he has toiled with me zealously in serving and helping to advance the good news (the Gospel). I hope therefore to send him promptly, just as soon as I know how my case is going to turn out. But really I am confident and fully trusting in the Lord that shortly I myself shall come to you also. However, I thought it necessary to send Epaphroditus back to you. He has been my brother and companion in labor and my fellow soldier, as well as having come as your special messenger (apostle) and minister to my need. For he has been homesick longing for you all and has been distressed because you had heard that he was ill. He certainly was ill too, near to death. But God had compassion on him, and not only on him but also on me, lest I should have sorrow over him coming upon sorrow. So I have sent him the more willingly and eagerly, that you may be gladdened at seeing him again, and that I may be the less disquieted. Welcome him home then in the Lord with all joy, and honor and highly appreciate men like him, for it was through working for Christ that he came so near death, risking his very life to complete the deficiencies in your service to me which distance prevented you yourselves from rendering. AMP
So you see my friend, that true fellowship is a sharing of our lives in many ways. It is a joining together of people, yes, and even God’s people! It is the sharing of our lives as His children, and as members of the same spiritual family, or as members of the same spiritual body. I have so much more to share, but I have waxed long and I know there is much here to read, and re-read, and contemplate, and put into practice.
Thank you for sharing your life with me, and for our friendship, and for caring. My prayer is that we will grow in the knowledge of Him who saved and established us in love, and that together we become one in Him through His only begotten son Jesus.
Love always in Him,