Even though there are many examples/models of community in the Bible, as far as I can tell there is no one word that actually means "community". The word we use comes from the Latin communitas, which is derived from the root word communis or "common". The closest word in the New Testament stems from the Greek root word koin and its most basic meaning which also means "common".
There are five words in the New Testament that contain the root koin. Two are adjectives, two are verbs and one is the noun, koinonea. And while I have always thought koinonea to mean "fellowship" (which it does), it can mean much more. It is also used to denote communion, communication, contribution and, my favorite, participation.
I think this concept of koinonea/participation is getting close to what is stirring in my heart about community. The fact that we "participate" in the Kingdom of God when we come alongside those who are hungry, suffering, persecuted and oppressed and stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. As in Hebrews 10:33, we choose to stand "side by side" (read "koinonea") with "those so treated." And just as Jesus "participated" in our lives by becoming flesh, the God incarnate, we too are called to "participate" in "the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires." (2 Peter 1:4). Moreover, this "participation" with His divine nature thrusts us into action, to participate with with a lost and dying world. And this lost and dying world is composed of the lost, the last (unreached) and, don't forget, the least (those overlooked and marginalized by the world).
Well, I promised a couple of posts back to begin talking about the six models of community which I find in the Bible and I will do so beginning with the next post. I will discuss them in reverse order (number 6 to number 1) in which they occur in the Bible. I will save the reason for doing so until later.