The relationship between Christians is called in the Bible "fellowship." The apostle John said, "if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another" (1 Jno. 1: 7). The basic idea in the Biblical word "fellowship" is a sharing. It refers to the part one has in anything.
As Christians we are partners one with another. We are not in this endeavor alone. We do not walk alone; we do not suffer alone; we do not alone enjoy the privileges and blessings of being in Christ. Ours is a joint-tenancy. Thus the Bible expresses our relationship one with another with several different terms, each of which describes our 7 fellowship in a particular realm. Thus we are:
1. FELLOW-HEIRS (Eph. 3:6) When we become God's children, we become God's heirs (Rom. 8:16, 17). That which God has reserved for his children is called an "inheritance" 11 Pet. 1:3-5) So exalted is our place as heirs of God, we are referred to as "Firstborn" ones (i. e. first choice heirs--Heb. 12:23). We are even "joint-heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:17). But among the children of God, there is no distinction. We are all first choice heirs of God. Since we share this heirship, we then are "joint-heirs of grace of life" (1 Pet. 3: 7); "fellow-of the promise" (Eph. 3:6)
2. FELLOW-MEMBERS (Eph. 3:6). Though there are many members in the body of Christ, there is but "one body" (1 Cor. 12:20). While it is true that not all the members have the same office, they are yet one body. It takes all the members to make the body which we share. This thought suggests to us that members must care one for the other. "And whether one member suffereth, all the members suffer with it; or one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it" (1 Cor. 12:26). We are so bound up together in this one body that we are mutually dependent on each other. We share the same body; we make up the one body.
3. FELLOW-CITIZENS (Eph. 3:6}. The good news of the gospel which Paul preached was that Jews and Gentiles shared alike, in Christ Jesus. "There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye all are one man in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28). We all are merely citizens. Christ Jesus is the King. He is the head over all things to the church (Eph. 1:22) All the rest of us are citizens, and fellow-citizens at that. We should recognize both our inferiority to Christ, and our equality one with the other.
4. FELLOW-WORKERS (Phil. 2:25). Among the Philippians Paul mentioned Euodia, Syntyche, and Clement as persons who "labored with me in the gospel" (Phil. 4:3) He also called them his "fellow-workers." Philemon and Luke also are honored as "fellow-workers" with Paul (Phile. 1, 24). The church of the Lord is likened unto a vineyard (1 Cor. 3: 9). All who enter the vineyard, having been hired, are expected to be workers (Matt. 20:1-16). The "work of the Lord" is a work that belongs to all the "brethren" (1 Cor. 15: 58). It does not belong only to the elders, deacons, teachers or preachers; it belongs to all of us, for we are "fellow-workers."
5. FELLOW-SOLDIERS (Phil. 2:25L Epaphroditus was the messenger of the Philippian church to Paul's need, but he also became a "fellow-worker" and a "fellow-soldier" with Paul. Archippus also is mentioned as a "fellow-soldier" (Phile. 2). To "fight the good fight of faith" is not a responsibility belonging only to a few in the church. This obligation is the duty of every soldier whom the Lord has enrolled. It is as much my duty as yours to defend the faith, to oppose false doctrine and false teachers, and to keep the faith pure.
6. FELLOW-PRISIONER (Rom. 16:7) As surely as we all engage in the fight as "fellow-soldiers," we also shall bear and share the brunt of the opposition. Paul frequently spoke of himself as a "prisoner" in behalf of Christ (Eph. 3:1; 4:1; 6:20). Those who shared with him his soldiering often shared with him his cell. Andronicus and Juntas became "fellow-prisoners" with Paul. We do not suffer opposition and persecution alone. "Yea, and all that would live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution'' ( 2 Tim. 3: 12). We must remember that "the same sufferings are accomplished in your brethren who are in the world" (1 Pet. 5:10).
There are some of us who would like to share the crown but who do not desire to share the cross. Christ requires the same degree of faithfulness from one as he does from another. He demands the same purity of life from the young as he does from the old. This matter of being a faithful Christian puts you in partnership with every other faithful Christian. It is only by "walking in the light as he is in the light" that you can maintain the "fellowship" of your spiritual fellows.
TRUTH MAGAZINE XIV; 31, pp. 3-4
June 11, 1970