Q: “Is there a difference between fellowship and communion?”
A: They both share the same meaning in the sense that both fellowship and communion entails agreement and sharing but there is a difference in intent or purpose. When the Bible talks about saints coming into agreement, it usually uses the word “fellowship,” but when it comes to God and the saint, the KJV uses the word “communion.” (2 Corinthians 13:14.)
Fellowship entails finding, or coming, to a place of agreement, while communion is a place of agreement. I can fellowship with anyone by finding a similar point of interest with them, but that does not mean I will have communion with them. The reason is because the place of fellowship could include fleshly, worldly, or secular subjects such as work, hobbies, or interests such as sports, etc. but when it comes to communion the right spirit must be present.
Fellowship means two people will come into a place of agreement where they can share about a matter. Such fellowship can be in the intellectual, emotional, or will arenas, but communion implies two individuals coming into complete oneness about something. For example, those who are married are to come to this place of oneness in order walk in agreement. In such communion they share about important and personal matters to make sure they are on the same page and heading in the same direction as to ensure certain results.
Through the years I have encountered this oneness with some Christians, but the oneness was present and brought about because the spirit in us was in total agreement about the message and the direction of a matter. That is why we are told in Matthew 18:20, where two are three are truly gathered in His name, He will be in their midst.
If you notice the word we use to come together to partake of the emblems of the wine and bread is “Communion,” and the reason for it is because it is a spiritual exercise that not only requires agreement about what the bread represents (Christ’s broken body) and the wine (His blood that established the new covenant), but this agreement is to bring the Body into oneness in spirit.
God does not want to simply fellowship with us, He wants to commune with us. He wants us to be in oneness with Him about matters concerning our calling and His heart towards the Church and the harvest field of the world. He wants to be able to share and entrust us with deep things that will shape our understanding of Him and refine our faith and define our walk before Him in greater measure.
“Commune” is the word He used with Moses in Exodus 25:22, “And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.”
Consider the incident in Exodus 24. Moses was told to come up unto the LORD and he was to bring Aaron, his two sons and seventy of the elders to worship from afar; but, only Moses was to come up into the mount. Since these men could not come near the mountain, the Lord came near to them. It tells us that they saw God and did eat and drink. The men fellowshipped or partook together before the Lord, but it was Moses who went up to Mount Sinai, communed with the Lord as He received the Law, and when he came down, he reflected His glory from partaking of what He had for him.
We clearly see that in fellowship we can partake together of what we agree on, but in communion we are actually to partake of Him and what He has for us. The Apostle Peter put it in this light in 2 Peter 1:4, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
As a believer, I appreciate fellowship with saints, but it is in true communion where my spirit experiences a deep satisfaction. Fellowship is pleasant, but communion is glorious. As believers, we must not settle for mere fellowship, we must seek out the Lord in Spirit and truth so that we can commune with Him and each other in a fulfilling way.