Below are handouts for eight studies based on the book “Rules for Walking in Fellowship” by the Puritan John Owen, originally published in 1647. Each contains a modernized, rearranged and slightly abridged edition of the book, interspersed with questions for discussion.

Its original title is, Eshcol; A Cluster of the Fruit of Canaan, brought to the borders for the encouragement of the saints traveling thitherward, with their faces towards Zion. The mercifully simpler subtitle is, Rules of Direction for the Walking of the Saints in Fellowship According to the Order of the Gospel. Owen’s reference to Eshcol is from Numbers 13:23-24:Then they came to the Valley of Eshcol, and there cut down a branch with one cluster of grapes; they carried it between two of them on a pole. They also brought some of the pomegranates and figs. The place was called the Valley of Eshcol, because of the cluster which the men of Israel cut down there.” Eshcol was a “sneak-peak” of life in the Promised Land. It was the place where God gave His assembled people their first taste of the sweet fruits of Canaan, to spur them on in their journey, till one day they enjoyed their inheritance in full. Owen’s point is that the local congregation is to be like Eshcol: it is here that we should get a preview of the heavenly Canaan, in the fellowship it affords. He reminds us that church fellowship in the present ought to be a foretaste of the joy of the saints in one another and their Lord in glory.

Owen drives this challenge home in twenty-two rules for fellowship: fifteen duties for fellowship between members of the congregation, and seven duties of the congregation to their pastor. Each rule is supported by several proof-texts, a brief explanation, and words of motivation to keep them. Together, they provide twenty-two marks of a healthy church. This helpful layout makes Rules for Walking in Fellowship an ideal resource for personal or small group study.


All studies are © 2014 Southside Indianapolis Reformed Presbyterian Church, and permission is hereby granted to make copies for personal or small-group study use only. The full text of Rules for Walking in Fellowship is being published by Reformation Heritage Books in summer 2014, and is available for purchase here.