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Fellowship vs. Relationship

aymon de albatrus

“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luk 14:26)

“You adulterers and adulteresses, know you not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” (Jam 4:4)

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1Jo 2:15)

Generally there is not a clear understanding between what Fellowship is and what Relationship is.  The Dictionary definition is as follows:



  • The condition of sharing similar interests, ideals, or experiences, as by reason of profession, religion, or nationality

  • The companionship of individuals in a congenial atmosphere and on equal terms.

  • Close association of friends or equals sharing similar interests

  • Deep friendship; comradeship, companionship to the point of giving own life for the other

  • The state of sharing mutual interests or activities

  • A company of equals or friends

  • Share common beliefs or activities

  • The quality or state of being comradely

  • Having deep affection for each other

  • Having strong desire to be together as much as possible

  • Practically being one in affection


  • The condition or fact of being related

  • Connection by blood or marriage

  • The dealings that exist between people or groups in a civilized manner

  • A state involving mutual dealings between people

  • persons connected by consanguinity

  • do good to others without having deep affection

  • Not looking for each other but always being courteous and gentle and kind with each other

  • Adequate in courtesy and politeness

  • Not rude

  • "even if he didn't like them he should have been civil"

Fellowship is a strong desire to be with that person and sharing all of life with deep affections. It also a witness for Christ: "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another." (Joh 13:35)

Relationship (civil, civilized) is being kind to people without having any real affection for them.

Jesus had Fellowship with His disciples and Civil Relationship with all others.

So we Christians have Fellowship with Christ and our brothers and sisters in Christ, but have civil Relationship with all others, we are friendly and behave civilly with them, but we have NO Friendship with the world, for as Jam 4:4 says, friendship with the world makes us enemies of God.

This does not mean we do not mix with them for then how can we witness of Christ to the lost world and indeed to do so we would have to leave this world: “I wrote to you in an letter not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortionists, or with idolaters; for then must you needs go out of the world.” (1Co 5:9-10). We can mix with the world, but in the sense as Jesus did, to witness to them of God and the Saviour, without having friendship with them or love for the things of the world, for if we do the love of the Father is not in us.

Jesus did mix with the people of this world even in taverns, and for this he was accused of being a drunkard: “The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and you say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a drunkard, a friend of publicans and sinners!” (Luk 7:34)

But to be a true disciple for Christ, even though we have relationship with others of the world for the purpose of witnessing, we must forsake all others (including members of our family that are not in Christ) and all our affection have to have as the first highest absolute priority Christ and Him alone as the Lord testifies: “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Mat 10:34-37)

and hate not his father, and mother .. etc  The word "hate", here, is intended to love less as it is explained in the corresponding passage of Mat 10:37  "he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me".

The fifth commandment command us to honour father and mother with heavy penalty for those who do not (Deu 21:20-21 also Eph 6:1-3 Col 3:20). Thus here our Lord is not literally telling us to hate our parents, but it is a hyperbolae used by Jesus to make the point very clear. But we are to love them less than we love Christ as explained in Matthews; that is, the love we have for them when compared to the deep love we should have for Christ it would appear almost as hate. We are to obey Christ rather than them; we are to be willing to forsake them if He calls us to go and preach His gospel; and we are to submit, without a murmur, to Him when He takes them away from us. This is not an uncommon meaning of the word hate in the Scriptures. (see Mal 1:2,3 Gen 29:30,31 Deu 21:15-17).

These are to be neglected and forsaken, and turned from with indignation and resentment, when they stand in the way of the honour and interest of Christ, and dissuade us from His service: such who would be accounted the disciples of Christ, should be ready to part with our dearest relations and friends, with the greatest enjoyment of life, and with life itself, when Christ calls for it; or otherwise we are not worthy to be called His disciples.

This also means that with believers and brothers in Christ we are to have Fellowship with them for we are all one in Christ with the same destiny; but, if not, then a respectful civil Relationship as we have with all other unbelievers.

The people of the world are divided in two camps, those who belong to Christ and those who belong to Satan and the believers must not have fellowship with the unbelievers as Scripture clearly warns us: “And what agreement is there between Christ and the Evil One (Belial)? or what part has one who has faith with one who has not (infidel)?” (2Co 6:15)

We must not have fellowship with unbelievers, of any kind even our own kin: "Be you not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion has light with darkness?" (2Co 6:14)

Christ has no fellowship with the devil, therefore we ought to have no unnecessary communion with such who manifest themselves to be of their father the devil, by their doing his works; nor has Christ any communion with the sons of Belial. Or what part (agreement) has a believer with an infidel? What has he to do with him? And this refers to this life an the one to come. In which sense it teaches us, that we should maintain intimate and elective communion in this life only with such as we would gladly have our portion with in another life i.e. have fellowship only with our Brethren in Christ.

Our fellowship is only with Christ and His own: "God is faithful, by whom you were called to the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord." (1Co 1:9) (1Jo 1:7)

The believer’s part and portion are God and His Christ as his eternal inheritance; whilst the unbeliever’s part and portion will be in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, with Satan and his angels (demons); and therefore what part, society, or communion, or fellowship can the two have with one another?  Absolutely - NONE.

The idea here is, that there cannot be any union or fellowship between the two for there is nothing in common; no participation in anything at all. The unbelievers are governed by different principles than the believers; have different feelings; are looking to different rewards; and have a different destiny. The believer, therefore, should select his chosen companions and friends to have fellowship from the class of Christ, those with a same eternal destiny, which are those who belong to the family of God. Fellowship with the opposite camp is NOT possible, only a “civil” Relationship for the sake of witnessing Christ, and Him crucified. (1Co 2:2)


There is a difference between Fellowship and Relationship

Fellowship is a deep association with people with the same destiny and beliefs with deep affection for the family of God.

Relationship to any people can be due to family ties or just simply a friendly association for the sake of living together in peace, civilly, and above all, for witnessing the beauty of Christ Jesus.