Meaning of "koinonia"


Hello! So I know that I’ve been posting many threads related to who we should be friends with/associate with, and you all have helped me out tremendously. Thank you :smiley:

So now I know that it isn’t sinful to associate with unbelievers or even apostates, and that’s a relief for me. But Scripture does warn against having “koinonia” with unbelievers. I was wondering what this means? Some definitions say that it means “communion”, or “the sharing of intimate feelings”, but I often share intimate experiences with unbelievers about things that have happened in my life. Would that be a sin…?


Specifically, I put a lot of personal confessions and experiences in my fictional stories that I share with my unbelieving friends. Because they get to glimpse an intimate side of me, am I having “koinonia” with them…?


Which specific passages use koinonia?


I’m thinking of 2 Corinthians 6:14-16.


The RSV-CE says “do not be mismated with unbelievers”, the DRC says “bear not the yoke with unbelievers”. Sounds like it’s discouraging if not prohibiting inter-religious marriage.


I think that the Greek word is koinonia… I’m just a bit confused ahahaha


That wouldn’t be so, since Paul discusses inter-faith marriages in his first epistle to the Corinthians, and how a non-believer is consecrated through the faith of their believing spouse.


Uhm, I don’t want sound pushy, but could someone please address my question…? Sorry again if I sound rude :pray:


Sorry. I’m taking a look at it, but I wanted to make it clear that marriage isn’t what’s being discussed here.

Older threads on this seem to agree that this passage means not to become yoked to unbelievers. In other words, not to let their ways become your ways (for when two animals are yoked together, they must take the same path).


I’m just reading it at face value. What does it mean then?


I wish I had my study Bible on hand, since it would surely have an answer, but older threads on this seem to agree that it’s a warning against falliing into the sinful ways of non-believers.


Yeah… Do you think that me sharing details of intimate experiences with my unbelieving friends counts as “communion…?”


I wouldn’t say so. The Church has nothing against it.


I see… So this verse is more warning about having close ties with unbelievers that cause you to sin?


Not necessarily, but if any close ties are leading you away from God and into sin, it would certainly apply in that case.


I think koinonia signfies a much closer and more intimate association that what you are describing here. It is worth noting that the word koinonia occurs nowhere in the Gospels. Of the 19 occurrences in the NT, one is in Acts, 14 in the Pauline epistles, and four in 1 John. What follows is a section from an old Encyclopaedia Britannica article on Paul’s theology, written by Edwin Hatch, a 19th century Anglican theologian,

The Lord’s Supper.—The most significant act of the community when it met together was the common meal. Like the members of most contemporary associations, the members of the Christian communities dined together. This common meal was a sacred meal; it was “the Lord’s Supper”; it continued and commemorated the Paschal supper at which the Lord had bidden His disciples to eat the bread which was His body, and to drink of the cup which was the “new covenant in His blood,” in remembrance of Him; it thereby “proclaimed the Lord’s death till He come” (1 Cor. xi. 24-26). Possibly owing to the double sense of the word κοινωνία, viz., “partaking,” and “sharing in common,” two views seem to be mingled together in the significance which Paul attached to the rite. The one is that, as in “Israel after the flesh” “they which eat the sacrifices” had “communion with the altar,” and as those who partook of the heathen sacrifices had “communion with demons” ( i.e. , with the false gods to whom the sacrifices were offered), so to those who “partook of the table of the Lord” the “cup of blessing” was “a participation in the blood of Christ” and the “bread which we break” was “a participation in the body of Christ” (1 Cor. x. 16-21). The other view is that in thus partaking in common of the “body of Christ” the members of the community realized and consolidated their unity; “seeing that it is one bread, we who are many are one body” (1 Cor. x. 17). Both views must be regarded in relation to his conception of the mystical union of Christ with those who were baptized into His name, and of their consequent union with one another.


we must put the New Testament in its original context first. At that time there were many pagans worshipping false idols.

Those writing the letters in the New Testament were establishing the church and trying to keep the people on the straight and narrow.
it was also a time of tremendous persecution of both Jews and Jewish Christians. Although most pagans were initially very tolerant of Christians.

but the Pagan religions required certain ceremonies, and sacrifice and celebrations to the pagan gods so the entire community and society would be ok for the next year, i.e. crops,

so Christians were required to participate, as part of the overall community. When they didn’t, they were martyred.

Today things are very different. ’
we are to allow God to shine through us, to others. And we cannot do that if we just stay with our own kind.

we must go out and let others see God shining through us.

Be at peace.


…So koinonia just means “partaking” and “sharing in common”? I partake in many different things with my unbelieving friends, and we seem to have quite a bit in common. So am I having koinonia with them and therefore sinning…?


I think it means more than just sharing a cab or partnering someone in a game of bridge. Here is the passage Hatch was referring to in that article (1 Cor 10:14-22, KJV):

[14] Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. [15] I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. [16] 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? [17] For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. [18] Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? [19] What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? [20] But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. [21] Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. [22] Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?

14 διόπερ, ἀγαπητοί μου, φεύγετε ἀπὸ τῆς εἰδωλολατρίας. 15 ὡς φρονίμοις λέγω: κρίνατε ὑμεῖς ὅ φημι. 16 τὸ ποτήριον τῆς εὐλογίας ὃ εὐλογοῦμεν, οὐχὶ κοινωνία ἐστὶν τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ τὸν ἄρτον ὃν κλῶμεν, οὐχὶ κοινωνία τοῦ σώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐστιν; 17 ὅτι εἷς ἄρτος, ἓν σῶμα οἱ πολλοί ἐσμεν: οἱ γὰρ πάντες ἐκ τοῦ ἑνὸς ἄρτου μετέχομεν. 18 βλέπετε τὸν Ἰσραὴλ κατὰ σάρκα: οὐχ οἱ ἐσθίοντες τὰς θυσίας κοινωνοὶ τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου εἰσίν;19 τί οὖν φημι; ὅτι εἰδωλόθυτόν τί ἐστιν; ἢ ὅτι εἴδωλόν τί ἐστιν; 20 ἀλλ’ ὅτι ἃ θύουσιν, δαιμονίοις καὶ οὐ θεῷ θύουσιν, οὐ θέλω δὲ ὑμᾶς κοινωνοὺς τῶν δαιμονίων γίνεσθαι. 21 οὐ δύνασθε ποτήριον κυρίου πίνειν καὶ ποτήριον δαιμονίων: οὐ δύνασθε τραπέζης κυρίου μετέχειν καὶ τραπέζης δαιμονίων. 22 ἢ παραζηλοῦμεν τὸν κύριον; μὴ ἰσχυρότεροι αὐτοῦ ἐσμεν;

koinonia, the abstract noun, in v. 16 (twice)

koinonos, a sharer or partner, in vv. 18 and 20.


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