Communion (religion)

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The bond uniting Christians as individuals and groups with each other and with Jesus is described as communion.

Jesus Central figure of Christianity

Jesus, also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianity, and is widely described as the most influential person in history. Most Christians believe he is the incarnation of God the Son and the awaited Messiah (Christ) prophesied in the Old Testament.

Contents

Origin

The term is derived from Latin communio (sharing in common). [1]

This basic meaning of the word predates its Christian uses. In Ancient Greek, κοινωνία could apply to a business partnership, to fellowship of life in marriage, to a spiritual relationship with divinity, to comradely fellowship between friends, to a community or society. [2]

Ancient Greek Version of the Greek language used from roughly the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE

The Ancient Greek language includes the forms of Greek used in Ancient Greece and the ancient world from around the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE. It is often roughly divided into the Archaic period, Classical period, and Hellenistic period. It is antedated in the second millennium BCE by Mycenaean Greek and succeeded by medieval Greek.

New Testament

In religious contexts, "communion" is the usual English translation of the Greek term κοινωνία (koinonia), which appears in the New Testament, but nowhere in the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint, and which sometimes has a secular significance, as in the case of the partnership between fishermen spoken of in Luke 5:7-10. As a noun, or in its adjectival or verbal forms, it is found in 43 verses of the New Testament. In addition, the noun is found in some manuscripts (used for producing the English translation known as the King James Version, but not for more recent translations) in Ephesians 3:9.

New Testament Second division of the Christian biblical canon

The New Testament is the second part of the Christian biblical canon, the first part being the Old Testament, based on the Hebrew Bible. The New Testament discusses the teachings and person of Jesus, as well as events in first-century Christianity. Christians regard both the Old and New Testaments together as sacred scripture. The New Testament has frequently accompanied the spread of Christianity around the world. It reflects and serves as a source for Christian theology and morality. Extended readings and phrases directly from the New Testament are incorporated into the various Christian liturgies. The New Testament has influenced religious, philosophical, and political movements in Christendom and left an indelible mark on literature, art, and music.

Old Testament First part of Christian Bibles based on the Hebrew Bible

The Old Testament is the first part of Christian Bibles, based primarily upon the Hebrew Bible, a collection of ancient religious writings by the Israelites believed by most Christians and religious Jews to be the sacred Word of God. The second part of the Christian Bible is the New Testament.

Septuagint Greek translation of Hebrew scriptures

The Septuagint is the earliest extant Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures from the original Hebrew. It is estimated that the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, known as the Torah or Pentateuch, were translated in the mid-3rd century BCE and the remaining texts were translated in the 2nd century BCE. Considered the primary Greek translation of the Old Testament, it is quoted a number of times in the New Testament,particularly in the Pauline epistles,by the Apostolic Fathers, and later by the Greek Church Fathers.

In the New Testament the word is applied, according to the context, to communion, sharing or fellowship with:

Of these usages, Bromiley's International Standard Bible Encyclopedia selects as especially significant the following meanings:

I. Common life in general (only in Acts 2:42)
II. Communion between particular groups, the most remarkable instance of which was that between Jews and Gentiles
III. Communion in the Body and Blood of Christ
IV. Sharing in divine revelation and with God himself (1 John 1:1-7). [3]

Aspects

Between churches

The Eucharist has been a key theme in the depictions of the Last Supper in Christian art, as in this 16th-century Juan de Juanes painting. Ultima Cena - Juan de Juanes.jpg
The Eucharist has been a key theme in the depictions of the Last Supper in Christian art, as in this 16th-century Juan de Juanes painting.

By metonymy, the term is used of a group of Christian churches that have this close relationship of communion with each other. An example is the Anglican Communion.

Metonymy figure of speech in which a thing or concept is referred to by the name of something closely associated with that thing or concept

Metonymy is a figure of speech in which a thing or concept is referred to by the name of something closely associated with that thing or concept.

Anglican Communion International association of churches

The Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian communion. Founded in 1867 in London, England, the communion currently has 85 million members within the Church of England and other national and regional churches in full communion. The traditional origins of Anglican doctrines are summarised in the Thirty-nine Articles (1571). The Archbishop of Canterbury in England acts as a focus of unity, recognised as primus inter pares, but does not exercise authority in Anglican provinces outside of the Church of England.

If the relationship between the churches is complete, involving fullness of "those bonds of communion – faith, sacraments and pastoral governance – that permit the Faithful to receive the life of grace within the Church", [5] it is called full communion. However, the term "full communion" is frequently used in a broader sense, to refer instead to a relationship between Christian churches that are not united, but have only entered into an arrangement whereby members of each church have certain rights within the other.

If a church recognizes that another church, with which it lacks bonds of pastoral governance, shares with it some of the beliefs and essential practices of Christianity, it may speak of "partial communion" between it and the other church.

Communion of saints

The communion of saints is the relationship that, according to the belief of Christians, exists between them as people made holy by their link with Christ. That this relationship extends not only to those still in earthly life, but also to those who have gone past death to be "away from the body and at home with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8) is a general belief among Christians. [6] Their communion is believed to be "a vital fellowship between all the redeemed, on earth and in the next life, that is based on the common possession of the divine life of grace that comes to us through the risen Christ". [7]

Since the word rendered in English as "saints" can mean not only "holy people" but also "holy things", "communion of saints" also applies to the sharing by members of the church in the holy things of faith, sacraments (especially the Eucharist), and the other spiritual graces and gifts that they have in common.

The term "communion" is applied to sharing in the Eucharist by partaking of the consecrated bread and wine, an action seen as entering into a particularly close relationship with Christ. Sometimes the term is applied not only to this partaking but to the whole of the rite or to the consecrated elements.

See also

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References

  1. American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language Archived 2005-09-02 at the Wayback Machine
  2. Robert Porter Lynch & Ninon Prozonic Papanicolas: How the Greeks Created the First Age of Innovation
  3. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: A-D (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995 ISBN   0-8028-3781-6)
  4. Gospel Figures in Art by Stefano Zuffi 2003 ISBN   978-0-89236-727-6 p. 252
  5. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original on 2009-03-19. Retrieved 2016-04-15.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  6. John Henry Hobart, A Companion for the Festivals and Fasts of the Protestant Episcopal Church (Swords, Stanford & Company, 1840), p. 258
  7. Kenneth Baker, Fundamentals of Catholicism (Ignatius Press 1983 ISBN   978-0-89870027-5), p. 149

Bibliography