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What Does the Bible Say about Friendships?

All true friends do their best to encourage us to seek our highest good. Loving our friends as Christ does is a huge calling. Friendship is a responsibility that none should take lightly, but that all should reflect Christ in.

Contributing Writer
Jul 15, 2021
What Does the Bible Say about Friendships?

Everyone needs a friend, and most of us have at least one good friend. Knowing how to be a good friend is not something you just know how to do, but you learn over time. Christians have plenty of direction in Scripture regarding friendship.

Worldly Friendships

Most of us have attempted to befriend someone as children, whom our parents forbade us to spend time with. I remember when I started hanging out with a guy who was in the Punk scene, my parents were certainly not happy about it and made it clear they did not trust him.

I assured them he was a nice guy and that he would never influence me to become a Punk myself. Well, a few weeks later I had a mohawk that was hair-sprayed straight up like a blade and had the tips dyed red.

I went from wearing the average clothing of the other kids in my neighborhood to wearing Doc Marten boots, a leather jacket with a very foul expletive on the back, and looking like something straight out of a Sex Pistols show.

My mother cried and my father just rolled his eyes. My “friend’s” influence did not end there. He also introduced me to LSD. Rarely did a day go by that we were not tripping.

Despite my assurances to my parents that he would not influence me, he certainly did, and not for the good. I had no objective concept of what a friend was, and so I thought this guy was my best friend.

Eventually, we stopped hanging out because he was growing increasingly erratic, developing severe psychiatric issues. That did not stop me from finding others in the Punk scene to hang out with and who I called friends.

Most were decent and well-meaning, but some were very bad influences. Some of them have gone on to do well in life, while others developed addictions, went to prison, and led broken lives. What all of us had in common was an ignorance of what it really meant to be a friend.

While we thought we were good friends, we actually helped move each other in directions that were negative for us. The Apostle Paul’s statement rings true (1 Corinthians 15:33). If we associate with people who encourage us to sin, our character suffers tremendously.

How do we recognize those who can be good friends, and how can we be good friends in return? Let’s see what Scripture has to say.

Biblical Friendships

The Bible provides plenty of guidance on this topic, which we should do our best to study and apply to our lives. The following are just some of the characteristics of a true friend:

The Church Fathers and many influential theologians of antiquity wrote on this topic as well. Maximus the Confessor wrote, “A true friend is one who in times of trial calmly and imperturbably suffers with his neighbor the ensuing afflictions, privations, and disasters as if they were his own.” Justin Martyr, in a similar way, writes:

“Though you should name infinite treasures, none of them is comparable to a genuine friend. And first let us speak of the great delight of friendship itself. A friend rejoices at seeing his friend, and his heart expands with joy. He is tied to him with an union of soul that affords unspeakable pleasure. I speak of genuine friends, men of one soul, who would even die for each other, who love each other fervently.” 

With all of this in mind, you can see how rare a truly good friend can be. 

Our Best Friend

The fact of the matter is, friendship is at the very core of the gospel, and at the heart of any real evangelism efforts. Christ is the very best friend we can possibly have. Even if people in our lives fail to meet this criterion, we have one friend who will never fail.

Jesus Christ is the best friend you will ever have. He loves you so much He gave His life for your sake (John 3:16). He suffered tortures, humiliation, false accusations, and ultimately death all because He loves you more than you can ever possibly fully comprehend (John 15:13; Ephesians 5:2).

The love of Jesus Christ comes with a commandment for those of us who would call ourselves His disciples.

That commandment is that we love others the way He loves us (John 13:34-35; 1 Peter 4:8; Ephesians 5:2; John 15:12; Colossians 3:14; 1 John 4:7; 2 Timothy 1:7; 1 John 4:8; John 15:9; 1 Corinthians 16:14; Romans 13:8; 1 John 3:16).

All true friends do their best to encourage us to seek our highest good, even if that means correcting us, warning us, suffering with us, and supporting us in good times and bad. Sadly, true friends like this are very rare to find, because it requires selflessness, and that isn’t an easy thing to cultivate.

Loving our friends as Christ does is a huge calling. Friendship is a responsibility that none should take lightly, but that all should reflect Christ in. So be a true friend and choose your friends wisely.

For further reading:

Prayer for Friends: Pray for Strength and Healing of Friends

Will We Recognize Friends in Heaven?

What Is the Biblical Way to Confess to One Another?

Should All We Do Be Done in Love?

The Excitement of Fellowship

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Priscilla Du Preez

J. Davila-Ashcraft is an Anglican priest, Theologian, and Apologist, and holds a B.A. in Biblical Studies and Theology from God’s Bible College in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is a recognized authority on the topic of exorcism, and in that capacity has contributed to and/or appeared on programming for The National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, and CNN. He is the host of Expedition Truth, a one-hour apologetics radio talk show.

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