Intersection of Life and Faith

10 Friendships of the Bible to Learn From

  • Meg Bucher Contributing Writer
  • 2019 8 Mar
10 Friendships of the Bible to Learn From

“A friend loves at all times.” Proverbs 17:17

God’s intention of friendship is love. Friendship should be less about what we get out of it and more about how we can serve God through it. 1 Corinthians 13:13 reminds us that out of “faith, hope, and love... the greatest of these is love.”

Jesus reiterated the importance of love when he reminded His followers to love God first with all their heart and soul (Matthew 22:37) and then love our neighbor as ourselves. (Matthew 22:39)

These ten friendships put God first and I believe when we model ours after these examples, we will experience friendship the way God intended us to.

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  • 1. Jonathan and David

    1. Jonathan and David

    The friendship of Jonathan and David is a shining example of sacrificial love and loyalty. The events of 1 Samuel 20 begin with David running to Jonathan to find out why his father is trying to kill him. To honor his father, Jonathan takes an oath to test Saul’s intentions, confirming David’s suspicions. They do not get to become inseparable BFF’s after revelation of Saul’s true intentions. The end, 1 Samuel 20 ,cuts to the scene of these two friends’ farewell, at which“they wept together- but David wept the most.”

    Jonathan bravely followed God’s will, but went back to serve at his father’s side, saying to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord, saying ‘The Lord is witness between you and me, and between your descendant and my descendants forever.” 1 Samuel 20: 42

    Perhaps the sweetest piece of loyalty is revealed to us after Jonathan’s death alongside his father, when a piece of the oath he and David swore is fulfilled (1 Samuel 20:15), as David takes in Jonathan’s crippled son as one of his own. (2 Samuel 9)

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  • 1. Jonathan and David

    2. Elijah and Elisha

    Elisha had the privilege of training and serving alongside the great prophet Elijah. When it was time for Elijah to move on to the next town, he instructed his servant to stay behind. “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you,”Elisha replied. (2 Kings 2:2) He knew what was about to happen, but though Elijah asked him twice more to stay behind, he kept going. (2 Kings 2:3)

    Had Elisha stayed behind, he never would have witnessed the miracles that followed. Elijah rolled up his cloak, hit the Jordan river, and it parted for the two to walk across. (2 Kings 2:7-8) As they chatted as two old friends, chariots of fire separated them, and Elijah was taken up in a whirlwind to be with God. (2 Kings 2:9-12)

    Friendship is filled with hard moments that make us question whether or not the other person is worth the outpouring of our loyalty. If we follow God’s leading, we will experience the miracle of selfless love on this earth and what He can do through it.

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  • 1. Jonathan and David

    3. Paul and Timothy

    Paul was Timothy’s mentor.  The very definition of a mentor is a “wise and trusted counselor or teacher; an influential senior sponsor or supporter.” Their friendship thrived because of the mutual respect they had for each other. Confident in Christ, they were both determined to spread the gospel.“I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” 2 Timothy 1:6-7

    Jesus can bond two friends together tighter than two molecules of water. Paul referred to Timothy as a son (1 Corinthians 4:17). God calls us to look up to godly wisdom, and then turn around and pass it down. God spreads His Gospel truth by the way we live our lives individually, and how we operate in the realms of our friendships, as well. 

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  • 1. Jonathan and David

    4. Ruth and Naomi

    The world around us can be crushing sometimes, and in the most desperate spaces of our lives, we are tempted to entertain what anyone other than God says about us. Naomi was having a crushing moment such as this. First, her husband died. Within ten years, both of her sons died, too. (Ruth 1:3-5) Desperate and done, she left her land and set off towards Judah,“where she heard the Lord had come to the aid of his people.” (Ruth 1:6-7) She sent her daughters-in-law back to their mothers’ homes (Ruth 1:8-9) but “Ruth clung to her.” (Ruth 1:14)

    “Clung,” in Hebrew means “to cling, stick, stay close, cleave, keep close, stick to, stick with, follow closely, join to, overtake, catch…” but what defines the faithful attribute God assigns to friendship is this: to be joined together. Ruth joined with Naomi. Their friendship illustrates God’s faithfulness to those who will serve each other when placed together as an extension of His love here on earth. 

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  • 1. Jonathan and David

    5. Mark and Paul

    Mark and Paul’s friendship teaches us never to count someone out as a friend. Mark had proven himself unreliable to Paul. In Acts 15, Paul and Barnabas, who had been incredible friends thus far, parted ways over their disagreement about Mark’s character. Paul was ready to write him off, but Barnabas saw something in him to be developed. (Acts 15:39-40)

    Both Paul and Barnabas proved to be right about Mark. Paul was right, in that Mark was not to come on the mission that caused them to separate. Barnabas saw the potential that eventually would develop, and over time, Mark joined the group of Christ-driven friends. “Do your best to come to me quickly,” Paul says, “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:11) Mark eventually wrote one of the four gospel accounts.

    Christ never counts us out. Though some friendships are fast and fleeting, they can still have wonderful meaning in our lives, and just might come around again.

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  • 1. Jonathan and David

    6. John and Jesus

    John was the self-proclaimed favorite of the twelve. “One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him,” John writes of himself in John 13:23 as part of the account of the Last Supper. He was so comfortable with Jesus! If only we could all understand how that friendship is to be mirrored in our own lives.

    He didn’t just talk about being the favorite, for at the foot of the cross, John was the only one of the twelve that remained. “The disciple whom he loved standing nearby,” he writes, “Dear woman,” Jesus said to His mother, “here is your son, and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.” John showed up when no one else did. Self-proclaimed favorite, on the scene.“From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”(John 19:26-27)

    Friendship bypasses convenience for calling. Loyalty and trust are important factors in friendship. The more trustworthy we are, the more we are trusted with.

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  • 1. Jonathan and David

    7. Moses and Aaron

    God spoke to Moses through the burning bush in  Exodus 3and provided three miracles in order for Moses to overcome his fear to speak in front of Pharaoh. (Exodus 4:2-9) Still, he begged the Lord send someone else to do it. (Exodus 4:13) ...“What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak…” Exodus 4:14-16

    God give us friends to help us accomplish what we are too frozen in fear to accomplish on our own. Two friends operating in faith to their Father are far from perfect, but pretty unstoppable. The Lord equips them both, allowing Aaron to perform miracles. (Exodus 7)  More than they could have asked for or imagined possible happened, as they confronted Pharaoh, and eventually led their people out of Egypt.

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  • 1. Jonathan and David

    8. Abraham and Lot

    Conflict within the close confines of family can confuse our perception of God’s intention for these relationships. Abraham and Lot had accumulated too much stuff and their servants were fighting over whose herds were going to graze on what land. (Genesis 13:5-7). “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers.” (Genesis 13:8) At Abraham’s suggestion, they parted ways and Lot chose to plant himself on the plains of the Jordan, near Sodom.(Genesis 13:10-12)

    When the infamous fall of Sodom and Gomorrah happened, “The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah …they also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot.” (Genesis 14:11-12) Abraham’s heartfelt and loyal reaction was to take action to rescue his nephew. (Genesis 14:14-16) Abraham put his life on the line for Lot to restore his friend’s freedom. Now, that sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it--a selfless, serving, sacrificial love?

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  • 1. Jonathan and David

    9. Paul, Philemon, and Onesiumus

    Onesiumus was a slave of Philemon who had stolen from him and then fled. The NIV's notes section of my Bible state this was a crime punishable by death. But, in his running away, Onesimus met Paul and became a Christian. The two became such close friends that Paul refers to Onesimus as “my very heart.” (Philemon 1:12) A friend of Philemon, Paul writes to one friend on another’s behalf, to restore what had been broken. “If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.” (Philemon 1:18) Paul lets Onesimus go, sending him back to Philemon. So often, we clutch seasonal friendships too close and choke what God intended to free.

    Let us pray that the Holy Spirit it nudges us when we have the opportunity to mend a broken bridge such as this. Instead of looking selfishly at what our friends can do for us, let us look to what God’s purpose is for placing them in our proximity. Listen to the effect Paul had on this man’s life: “Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good- no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother.” Philemon 1:15-16

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  • 1. Jonathan and David

    10. Jesus and You

    “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

    There is no greater friendship than the one between Jesus and you. Before your cries broke through this earthly air, He knew you--what you looked like, the unique make-up of your personality, and the wonderful things you have and will experience and accomplish. Jesus knew every sin you would ever lay down at the foot of that cross before He bore all of them on it. The compassion He has for you in the silent struggles and strongholds that you face in this life is impenetrable.  

    “You are my friends.” John 15:14

    Jesus came to save you, His friend. He loves you enough to go through the excruciating pain of being human on earth and dying a horrific death. We get very caught up in stipulations and expectations because of our flawed reality. Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6) Belief in Him saves us. (John 3:16)

    “You did not choose me, I choose you.” John 15:16

    Megswrites about everyday life within the love of Christ on her blog, passion is to encourage others to seek Him first. A stay-at-home mom, freelance writer and blogger, Bible study teacher, and children’s worship team leader, faith in action is an important priority. She resides in Ohio with her husband of ten years, two dancing daughters, and their Golden-doodle.

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