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Essays by KT

Koinonia

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9/11

September 17, 2010

TY 240 – St. Paul

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” (ρτη).  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” (κοινωνα, G2842).  After searching for “κοινωνα”, I found that Paul uses the word more than any other author in the New Testament.

The root word for koinonia is koinonos (κοινωνς, 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. 

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