The Journal of Biblical Accuracy

About Friendship (PDF) PDF version

About Friendship

Do you have friends? Who are they? How did the friendships begin? What makes them your friends? What is friendship? Many questions that one can have when thinking about this vital subject. In this article I will try to answer some of those questions.

When you browse the Bible in your mind, who pops up first when you think of “a friend” or “friendship”? I first thought of God and Moses:

Exodus 33: 11a
“And the Lord spoke unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.”

When I read this verse I was wondering how a friendship comes to pass. Every time you move to a new town/city/state or join another church you go through the same thing again – making friends. You see new people, observe what they do, how they speak, look for the things that you highly estimate in a friend then meet them to find out that they are maybe not even keen on going out for a coffee with you. How can this happen after you selected this person so carefully?

In the Bible, the only reference that I found for how friendship comes to pass is in 1 Samuel 18: 1:

“And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.”

When I look at the friendships in my life I must say that it was just that way – looking at the relationship after some time I realized that we had become friends. I had not chosen that friend, something was just there that I hadn’t found with all the others, a mutual liking.

I met my best friend Maria in a home fellowship, invited her for a breakfast the first evening for the following weekend and she said that she wouldn’t accept my invitation because on a weekend it would take her too much time to get to another city using public transport. I didn’t have a car either and thus suggested that she could come the day before which would be a weekday, and public transport would be more readily available. She agreed. When she came we had such a great time that she stayed for the whole weekend.

Before I had invited her for breakfast I didn’t even think of what kind of person she was, if she was up to my standards, if she was “spiritual” enough, if she was behaving all right, etc. I just invited her.

What is friendship, how does it manifest, what should a friend be like? My husband has a stunning answer to “What should a friend be like?” – “Friendly”. At first I was shocked with the simplicity of his answer. But I must say that this is really the gist of it.

The Bible gives a manifold answer to this question and I will put down the verses and let them speak for themselves:

Give of your own belongings

1 Samuel 18: 4
“And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.”

Trust, even in danger

1 Samuel 20: 1
“And David fled from Naioth in Ramah, and came and said before Jonathan, What have I done? what is mine iniquity? and what is my sin before thy father, that he seeketh my life? ”

Be willing to help

1 Samuel 20: 4
“Then said Jonathan unto David, Whatsoever thy soul desireth, I will even do it for thee.”

Love your friend as yourself

1 Samuel 20: 17
“And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him: for he loved him as he loved his own soul.”

Impart faith, point towards God

1 Samuel 23: 16, 18
“And Jonathan Saul's son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God. And they two made a covenant before the Lord: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house.”

Show compassion in affliction

Job 6: 14a
“To him that is afflicted pity should be showed from his friend”

Love at all times

Proverbs 17:17
“A friend loveth at all times”

Be friendly and closer than a brother

Proverbs 18: 24
“A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”

Give good advice

Proverbs 27: 9
“Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel.”

Shape and be shaped

Proverbs 27:17
“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”

Can be a mirror

Proverbs 27: 19
“As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.”

Help each other

Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10a
“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow”

Help even if you don’t feel like it

Lucas 11: 8
“I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.”

In the Bible we find an outstanding personality, someone who goes to the extreme of friendship and even lays down his life:

John 15:13
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Of course we know that it was our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who laid down His life for us. He calls us His friends. What does this mean for us?

John 15: 14-15
“Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.”

This verse is the link between God speaking to Moses “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” and Jesus Christ being our friend – speaking openly, being frank, friendly, trusting, devoted, committed, being closer than a brother, loving the friend even if it means to give the life.

James 2:23
“And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called theFriend of God.”

God gave us a free will. It’s up to us who we are friends with:

James 4:4
“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”

We choose to spend time with God or not, speak with Him and listen or not. I shared the same flat with my best friend Maria for 6 ½ years until I got married. Our friendship rests upon a good foundation which cannot be shaken easily. Maria taught me that relationships are about love and forgiveness. Many things we learned while going through them rather than avoiding them. We chose to be friends no matter if each of us gets married because we realized that it is very difficult to keep up a friendship from a distance. God knows that too:

James 4: 8a
“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” Or as the The Message puts it, more “friendly”: “Say a quiet yes to God and he'll be there in no time.”

Abraham is also called a friend of God and it is written about him that he walked with God. He didn’t walk before Him or was miles behind Him but with Him and that made the difference.

My mom taught me to treat my friends the way that I wish they would treat me. I know that not every friendship is like the one of David and Jonathan or Andrea and Maria. But I encourage you and me to be a genuine (same inside as outside) friend without expecting anything back, loving unconditionally and forgiving one another, walking in the steps of our friend and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Andrea Kioulachoglou