Concept

Right Hand of Fellowship

Summary
The Right Hand of Fellowship is a ritual intended to welcome a new member into the fellowship of a congregation or welcoming a new minister into the fellowship of ministers. It is based on Paul's letter to the Galatians, chapter 2 verse 9, where Paul says that three disciples of Jesus "gave me and Barnabas their right hands of fellowship" (Greek: δεξὰς ἔδωκαν ἐμοὶ καὶ Βαρναβᾷ κοινωνίας), bonding them together as members of the new Christian church. John Stott follows the New English Bible in suggesting that the phrase means the other apostles "accepted Barnabas and myself as partners, and shook hands upon it." Herman Ridderbos, however, believes that the "giving of right hands represents more than a reciprocal acknowledgment or testimony of friendship: it suggests rather a covenant." Interpreters reading Galatians 2:9 from a social-scientific perspective, thus considering the text in its 1st Century Mediterranean context, understand the gesture of James, Cephas, and John "extending th
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