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Dictionary of Bible Themes – 7025 church, unity and fellowship of
7025 church, unity and fellowship of

7025 church, unity and fellowship of

The church is one in essence, because it is founded on one gospel, united to one Lord and indwelt by one Spirit. Its unity is under constant threat because of the tendency to division that is inherent in fallen humanity, and needs to be continually maintained and actively expressed in fellowship.

The unity of the church

The church is one Ro 12:5 See also 1Co 12:12,20; Eph 4:25

The church transcends all barriers Col 3:11 See also Jn 10:16; Ac 10:28-29,47; Ac 15:8-9; Gal 3:28; Eph 2:14-16; Eph 3:6 The great divide threatening the first Christians was between Jew and Gentile, but the church was able to unite the two into one body in Christ.

The church’s unity reflects the unity within the Trinity Eph 4:4-6 The unity of the church is built around the persons of the Trinity: one Spirit, one Lord, one Father. See also Jn 17:11; Ro 3:29-30; Ro 10:12-13; Gal 3:27-28

The church’s unity is the work of the Trinity Eph 2:16-18 See also Jn 11:52; Ac 10:45-47; 1Co 12:13; Eph 2:22; Eph 4:3

The purpose of the church’s unity

To lead others to faith Jn 17:23 See also Jn 17:21

To lead believers to maturity Eph 4:13

The nature of the church’s unity

Php 2:1-2 Emphasis is placed on an inner unity of mind and spirit rather than external uniformity. See also 2Co 13:11; Php 1:27; Col 2:2

Appeals for unity in the church

Eph 4:3 See also Ro 12:10; Ro 15:5,7; 1Co 12:25; Col 3:14; 1Pe 3:8

The church’s unity is expressed in fellowship

Fellowship with God 1Co 1:9 See also 2Co 13:14; Php 2:1; 2Pe 1:4; 1Jn 1:3,6-7

Fellowship expressed by meeting together Ac 2:46 See also Ac 2:1,42; Ac 5:12; Ac 6:2; 1Co 14:26; Heb 10:25

Fellowship expressed through sharing resources Ac 2:44-45 See also Ac 4:32,34-37; Ac 11:27-30; Ro 15:26; 1Co 16:1-2; 2Co 8:2-5,13-14; 2Co 9:13; Php 4:14-18

Fellowship through suffering Rev 1:9 See also Ro 8:17; 2Co 1:7; Php 3:10; Php 4:14; Heb 10:33-34; Heb 13:3

Fellowship through shared spiritual blessings 1Co 9:23 See also Ro 11:17; Php 1:7; 2Th 2:14; 1Pe 5:1; Jude 3

Specific actions which express fellowship and unity in the church

Sharing in the Lord’s Supper 1Co 10:16-17 See also Ac 2:46; Ac 20:7; 1Co 11:33

Baptism as an expression of unity Eph 4:4-6 See also 1Co 12:13

Extending hospitality Ac 28:7; Ro 12:13; Ro 16:23; 1Ti 5:10; Tit 1:8; 1Pe 4:9; 3Jn 8

Greeting one another Ac 18:27; Ro 16:3-16; 1Co 16:19-20; Col 4:10; Phm 17

Welcoming former opponents Ac 9:26-27; Gal 2:9; 2Co 2:5-8

Divisions in the church

Causes of division in the NT church Personal ambition: Mk 9:34; Mk 10:35-41 pp Mt 20:20-24 Ethnic tension: Ac 6:1 Differences of opinion: Ac 15:37-40; Php 4:2 Troublesome heretical leaders: Ro 16:17; Jude 19 Partisan spirit: 1Co 1:11-12; 1Co 3:3-4
1Co 6:1-6 litigation and disputes Greed: 1Co 11:18,20-21; Jas 4:1-3

Warnings against divisions in the church 1Co 1:10 See also Ro 12:16; Ro 16:17; 2Co 12:20; Eph 4:31; Jas 4:11

Acceptable differences in the church In secondary matters of conscience, Christians are to respect rather than judge each other. These things need not impair the essential unity that is in Christ: Ro 14:1-3,5-6; 1Co 8:9-13 In varieties of spiritual gifts: 1Co 12:4-6,14-25; Gal 2:7

Necessary divisions in the church Between the true gospel and heretical alternatives: 2Co 11:2-6,13-15; Gal 1:6-9; Col 2:8,16-19; 1Ti 4:1-6; 1Jn 2:18-19; 2Jn 9-11; Jude 18-20 Between those truly committed to Jesus Christ, and those apparently part of the church but living sinful lives: 1Co 5:9-10; 2Th 3:6; 1Ti 6:3-5; 2Ti 3:2-9; 2Pe 1:20-21; 2Pe 2:1-3; Rev 2:20,24; Rev 3:1,4 Over essential gospel principles: Ac 15:2,5-6,19; Gal 2:11

See also

1170God, unity of
6754union with Christ
8210commitment to God’s people

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