And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove [them].
Note 19 at Eph 5:11: The Greek word that was translated "fellowship" here is "SUGKOINONEO." This is a rare Greek word for "fellowship" and was only used three times in the New Testament (this verse, Php 4:14, and Re 18:4). This is the only time of the three where it was translated "fellowship." The more common Greek word for "fellowship" ("KOINONIA") was used twenty times in the N.T.
The Greek word used in this verse is denoting the actual partaking of others' ungodly deeds, as can be seen by the way it was translated in Re 18:4. There, the Lord told His people to separate themselves from the ungodly religious system lest they become partakers (SUGKOINONEO) of her sins and receive of her plagues.
The instruction in this verse is not to shun unbelievers, but rather not to participate in their ungodly deeds. In fact, it is important to notice that the "works of darkness" are what we are to avoid, not the people who are doing these acts. Of course, there are many arguments for having godly associations (see note 6 at 1Co 15:33), but it is not following the example of Christ to totally avoid contact with the lost. We are to reject the sin, not the sinner.
Eph 5:11-13 gives us a simple way of judging whether or not our contact with the lost is in a godly fashion. We are supposed to reprove (see note 20 at this verse) their actions. If we can do that and still maintain relationship, then we are probably relating to them in the proper way. If we are not exposing their deeds to the light, we should question whether the relationship is really God's will. Care has to be taken that we are the ones ministering righteousness to them, and not the other way around, where they are ministering ungodliness to us.
Note 20 at Eph 5:11: This English word "reprove" was translated from the Greek word "ELEGCHO." It was translated "rebuke" (1Ti 5:20), "tell [him] his fault" (Mt 18:15, brackets mine), and "convince" (Tit 1:9). These uses, combined with Eph 5:12-13, leave no doubt that this is speaking of shining the light of God's righteousness on the ungodly darkness of the lost. We must take a stand against ungodliness.
Yet there is a right and wrong way of letting our light shine. The Pharisees were hypocritical in their proclamation of what was light. They also missed the issues of the heart and only dealt with the external. They totally omitted love and were self-serving in their rebukes. The truth without love is like a club (see note 29 at Eph 4:15), and tradition ministered in a judgmental attitude is even worse.
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