I first looked for the word “excellence” as used in Philippians 4:8 in the New American
Bible. The King James Version uses the word “virtue”. Using theWord, I found that the Greek word used in this context is “arete” (ἀρέτη). I searched for
this word in the Greek New Testament (TR) and found that “arete” is found only once in Paul’s letters (Philippians
4:8). After searching for “excellen*” and “virtu*”, I
found no other use of the word “arete”.
The second search I conducted was on the word “communion”.
Using theWord, I found four times this word was used in Paul’s genuine letters.
Each time, Strong’s numbers pointed toward the Greek word “koinonia” (κοινωνία, G2842). After searching for “κοινωνία”, I found that Paul uses the word more than any other author in the New Testament.
The root word for koinonia is koinonos (κοινωνός, G2844). So,
I did another search for κοινων*. There are thirty-six uses of the words
with the root of “koinonos” throughout the New Testament. Twenty
of these uses were by Paul in six of his genuine letters: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, and Philemon. One of the uses is found in Ephesians, a Deutero-Pauline text. It is found twice in 1 Timothy, one of the Pastorals. It is
also found in Acts once. The word is not limited to one part of the letters;
rather it is used in the introduction, the body, and the conclusion.
The English translation of this word varies throughout the New Testament. “Koinonia” is used to describe
ones “participation in the Gospel” (NET: Phil 1:5). It describes
in many places the fellowship of one with another, and with the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. It describes the sharing of the supper of the body and blood of Christ (NET: 1 Cor 10:13). It refers also to the communication of the faith (KJV: Phlm 1:6).
The word “koinonia” is used the most (four times) in the book of 2 Corinthians, all in
different contexts. Verse 6:14 talks about how there is no communion between
light and darkness. Verse 8:4 uses the context of being in fellowship with the
saints. Verse 9:13 talks about sharing the faith with others. Verse 13:14 uses the word to express our communion with the Holy Spirit.
The usage of “koinonia” that stood out to me the most was in 1 Corinthians 10:16. The word is used twice in this verse, both times to describe our communion with Christ
in the meal. The root word is used twice, later in the chapter. Once, it is used to say that those who eat the sacrifice are “partners in the altar” (10:18,
NET). The last time it is used in this chapter, it is used to say that we should
not have “fellowship with devils” (10:20, KJV). The usage of this
word so often in 1 and 2 Corinthians makes sense because they are Paul’s letters to the church of
Corinth and the Church ought to be a community.
Words coming from the root of “koinonos” appeared more often in the New Testament than
I thought they would. Its usage was also more varied than I thought it would
be. However, the general meaning of the word matched up to what my original thoughts
were: community, sharing, participation.