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Communion: Some Pauline Foundations

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Explorations of communion in the New Testament most frequently start with examination of the use of the koinonia word group. This paper provides a sketch of the history of such examination, including the most recent comprehensive study by N. Baumert, in order to highlight the disputed central issue about the meaning of koinonia and to expose major problems in approaching the topic of communion through a word study of koinonia. More positively, the main part of the paper attempts to address the question that studies of koinonia in Paul are presumably seeking to answer, namely, what do Paul's letters have to say about communal life among Christian believers? To that end, there follows an analysis of the ethos of communion as presented by Paul in Romans and in Philippians, with attention given to how Paul endeavours to establish and maintain harmony in the community in the midst of diverse and sometimes conflicting convictions about the gospel that he proclaimed. Some of the distinctive features of communion shaped by Paul's gospel are then summarized in conclusion.

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