What are some good examples of friendship? Check out these five Bible stories about friendship and friends.
God and Abraham
The Bible says that Abraham was God’s friend (2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23). They had a relationship of respect and obedience. This does not mean that Abraham was sinless, but he trusted God to lead where he was supposed to go. When God spoke to Abraham he immediately obeyed. Even though he was obedient to God, Romans 4 makes it clear that his salvation was not earned by works, but through faith in the promise of God for a Savior.
Jonathan and David
One of the most famous stories about friendship in the Bible is the story of Jonathan and David (1 Samuel 18-20). Saul was the first king of Israel and Jonathan was his son. Jonathan would have been the next king in Israel, but his father Saul had disobeyed God to the point of having the kingdom taken away from him. God had already chosen David to be the next king of Israel.
Even though Jonathan knew that David would be the next king, he befriended the young man. Jonathan was willing to trust God’s decision in the choice of the next king, while accepting that this meant Jonathan would never be king.
Saul tried to kill David but Jonathan helped him escape. When it was clear that King Saul would not allow David to live, Jonathan put himself at risk to protect David. Jonathan confronted Saul concerning David at which time Saul’s anger was turned toward Jonathan.
They eventually parted out of necessity. David was heartbroken to learn of his friend’s death.
Ruth and Naomi
Ruth’s late husband was Naomi’s son. While they were connected by a marriage relationship, they were also dear friends. Ruth insisted on returning with Naomi to her home country of Israel. Though Ruth had lost her husband to death, she did not want to lose her friend. They returned to Israel together grieving deeply for their mutual loss.
They were faithful to one another. One of Naomi’s relatives fell in love with Ruth. Their marriage brought peace and joy to the two ladies.
Jesus and Peter
Jesus had a strong bond and friendship with all the disciples. Each one had their own relationship with the Lord. Some of the disciples we don’t know much about while others seem to take up the bulk of the Lord’s time. One of the men who was prominent during the life of Jesus and for many years after was the disciple named Peter. During Jesus’ life Peter was prominent, more often than not, because of his mistakes. Yet Jesus forgave him over and over.
Peter said that he would stand by Jesus’ side until death (Matthew 26:31-35). Jesus knew that Peter would deny Him. All four of the gospels record Peter’s denial. But before the Lord returned to Heaven He went to Peter in John 21 and showed compassion and forgiveness to him. Though Peter had denied Jesus, Jesus knew that he would be a man who would boldly proclaim the saving grace of God to the world.
Barnabas and Paul
Many people remember that Paul and Barnabas had an argument which separated them from working together. However, it should also be remembered that these two men spent many years together as friends and partners in ministry.
After Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus he went to Arabia for three years (Galatians 1:15-18). When he returned to Jerusalem the people only remembered who he had previously been—Saul, the persecutor of the Christian church. Barnabas was willing to accept Paul as a friend and student (Acts 9:26-30).
Early in their relationship it is obvious that Barnabas was the leader of the team. Barnabas was training Paul to be the great evangelist that he ultimately became. Later in the book of Acts, Paul is seen as the leader of the team. There is a change in the language. When they first worked together the Bible talked about “Barnabas and Paul.” Later they were known as “Paul and Barnabas.” At some point the student became the leader of their group of ministers.
The two men worked for many years together. Assuming that they separated, as many believe, over their relationship with John Mark, Paul speaks with respect to Barnabas’ decision. Early in their traveling ministry, John Mark went back home (Acts 13:13-16). But later Paul said that the young man had become profitable for the ministry (2 Timothy 4:11). Paul benefited from the stance that Barnabas took in choosing to train John Mark.
Though they did not always agree it appears that these two friends continued to have a respect for each other and their decisions.
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