True Friendship: A Bible Study on Friends

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

The Bible says to have friends, we should show ourselves to be friendly. The proverbs contain much wisdom about both being a friend and how to find a friend. There are fewer things in life that are more valuable than a good friend and the Bible is full of stories of some of the greatest friendships in history.

To Find a Friend, Be a Friend

My oldest son once told me that he didn’t have any friends. Of course children are sometimes known to exaggerate but I told him that the Bible shows us how to make friends. As Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man that has friends must show himself friendly, and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” There is a key to having loyal friends or making friends in the first place. You have to show yourself friendly.

The Trust of a Close Friend

A friend keeps a friend’s secrets to himself as Proverbs 17:9 says, “He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or harps on a matter separates even close friends.” That is, a friend doesn’t gossip about friends faults and is quick to forgive them. A friend who repeats a matter (or gossips) can separate “even close friends.” That is a key to true friendship. If you repeat something that a friend entrusted you with, that will likely be the end of that friendship or in the least, they will never come to you in confidence again.

True Friendship Bible Study

Your true friends will not be afraid to tell you the truth even at the risk of hurting your feelings.

Friends Tell You the Truth

Your friends will tell you the truth even when it hurts. As Proverbs 27:5-6 says, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful”

It is better to hear it from a friend if you are doing something wrong because they truly care enough about you. A friend doesn’t want to see you hurt. The point is that the truth sometimes hurts, but flattery or patronizing someone in the end, usually does more harm than good.

Choose Your Friends Carefully

A person becomes more like those that they associate with. This is why it is critically important to choose your friends wisely. Proverbs 13:20 warns us that we should “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Just like we are told, “you are what you eat”, so too we are warned to “not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared” (Prov 22:24-25). Bad company corrupts good morals almost every time. You not only become “ensnared” by them but “you may learn their ways.” If you associate with hot-tempered people, you’re going to become hot-tempered yourself. Most often, we become like those we associate with.

Godly Friends Beget Godly Behavior

David understood that Jonathan was a true and loyal friend. He was a worshiper of the true God. In Psalm 119:63 it says, “I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts.” Those who fear God (which is a reverence and high respect for God) are good companions and make excellent friends. You will soon discover that their godly values will rub off on you and these types of friends can be accountability partners to each other. “The fear of the Lord – that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding” (Prov. 28:28).

Fair and Foul Weather Friends

Friends are those that stick with you during the hard times. Trials and adversity can usually separate true friends from those who are just fair-weather friends. Why? Because, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity” (Prov 17:17). Jonathan and David had one of the greatest friendships ever known. So much so that, “Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself” (I Sam. 18:3). When I married my wife, I married my best friend. In fact, it is recommend for betrothed or engaged couples to become friends first and foremost, before they get married. This type of friendship is an image of the relationship that Christ has for the church. A relationship where He literally died for His bride. In this same way, a friend loves his or her friend as they love themselves – through thick and thin, sickness and health, poverty and wealth.

A Biblical Model of Friendship

If you want to know what true friendship is, the greatest biblical model that I know of is that of David and Jonathan. Jonathan was the son of David’s enemy, King Saul. Saul was out to kill David because he was insanely jealous of him and knew that he would replace him on the throne of Israel. Saul’s son Jonathan knew this and was such a loyal friend of David that he alerted David of the danger and literally saved his life when he found out that Saul wanted to kill David. Jonathan told David that, “Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do for you” (I Sam 20:4). We can read just how loyal of a friend Jonathan was to David in I Samuel 20:

16 “So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, May the LORD call David’s enemies to account.” 17 And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.”

Jesus told us to love our neighbor as ourselves and Jonathan loved David “as he loved himself” fulfilling this Royal Edict from Christ (Mark 12:31).

Jonathan was a loyal friend to David and made a plan to warn him whether he could come to King Saul’s table or whether Saul would kill him do he devised a signal for David, “Tomorrow is the New Moon feast. You will be missed, because your seat will be empty. The day after tomorrow, toward evening, go to the place where you hid when this trouble began, and wait by the stone Ezel. I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as though I were shooting at a target. Then I will send a boy and say, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I say to him, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you; bring them here,’ then come, because, as surely as the LORD lives, you are safe; there is no danger. But if I say to the boy, ‘Look, the arrows are beyond you,’ then you must go, because the LORD has sent you away” (I Sam 20:18-22).

Jonathan risked his life for David because, “Saul’s anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, “You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don’t I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send someone to bring him to me, for he must die!” “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” Jonathan asked his father. But Saul hurled his spear at him to kill him. Then Jonathan knew that his father intended to kill David” (I Sam 20:30-33). Jonathan understood that he would be next in line for the throne if David was taken out of the way and could have easily betrayed David and had the throne of Israel for himself, but Jonathan’s love and loyalty for his friend David was evident by his selfless act of saving David’s life. Jonathan was willing to risk his own life for his friend David and with the understanding that Jonathan would sacrifice his chance to rule Israel. David’s friendship was more important that the throne of Israel to Jonathan. Jonathan loved David more than a brother and he proved it by his actions in I Samuel 20.

So Jonathon sent a messenger boy to shoot arrows for the signal that it was not safe for David to return to King Saul’s presence for he would surely be killed. What a touching show of affection that Jonathan showed David because, “After the boy had gone, David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together—but David wept the most. Jonathan said 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 descendants and my descendants forever.’” Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town” (I Sam 20:41-42). David showed such respect to Jonathan that he “bowed down three times before Jonathan“, even though David knew that God had anointed him to be the eventual king. Here is the future King of Israel; the greatest earthly kind that Israel would ever have, bowing to the son of is enemy, King Saul. And “then they kissed each other and wept together – but David wept the most” (v 42).

True Friendship Bible Study: Key Takeaway

The fact is that friends are indispensable in this life. The older a person gets the more valued their friendship becomes. Many friends are closer than brothers or sisters are to each other. There is something special about having a friend that you can confide in, tell your troubles too, and share your life with. It has been said that a sorrow shared is halved, but a joy shared is doubled. Proverbs 27:10a says, “Do not forsake your friend or a friend of your family” because you may need that friend in a day of trouble. The value of friends is one of the most important things in a person’s life: Their worth are not diminished by time, not devalued by inflation, not worn out by use, but like a fine wine, they improve with time. So are friends to those who have them; like medicine to the soul or as Proverbs 27:9 says, “Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.”

Tell us about a friend that has made a difference in your life in the comments and then share this article with them!

If you enjoyed this article and are looking for more on friendship check out this article:

5 Amazing Bible Stories About Friendship


New International Bible (NIV)
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Image: Vlado / – Pray For Me  “Michael W. Smith”

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Nathaleen Bongcaras October 7, 2016 at 6:49 pm

I have a friend and she said I’m always studying. I think she doesn’t like that. What should I do? I want my grades to be higher. I hope she’ll understand. She has another friend. 🙁 Give me advice please.


Jack Wellman October 7, 2016 at 7:00 pm

If she is your true friend, she will understand, but you can’t really be “always studying” can you? If you are always studying, you won’t ever have a break and have few friends. Your studies are more important than making friends or keeping friends. Try to find a balance.


RATHIANASAMY V October 26, 2016 at 4:39 am

Articles are very informative and very useful. praise the Lord Jesus.


jeanie October 26, 2016 at 4:34 pm

I feel like a bad friend and not a good person because I feel like its my ‘duty’ to spend time with my friend of 6 years. Shes a good person & I used to have fun w/her but past few years I feel shes gotten so draining to me emotionally & mentally – I try to guide her or give suggestions on what to do about what shes alwayscomplaining about but she always has an excuse on why none of those things will ever work. I mentioned to her 6 mnths ago that I started being healthier & going on walks w/new friend from church & she said ‘oh well i guess im replaced now by ur new friend’ & ever since shell make remarks like ‘i guess ur friend replaced me so…’ or ‘u better check with ur friend 1st since shes taken my place.’ she says shes joking but shes not nor is she laughing. I dont know what to do. Ive told her many times that friends dont replace friends & its not nice. I feel asa friends should b happy for each other when their making new friends not jealous or say not so nice remarks.


Ramez Qamar June 22, 2018 at 11:28 am

This post is so relatable. I am in almost exactly the same position as my own friend of about the same years. He is really becoming jealous and I do not exactly know what to do but pray for the Lord’s wisdom. I’m in a position where I’m really starting to be picky with who I go out with and I’m always unsure of who I can comfortably call a friend that is right for me. It feels lonely at times and I don’t know what I’m doing anymore except I know that God will take care of me. I’m curious however seeing that this post is really old, what happened with your friend if I may find out?


Marnie November 23, 2016 at 3:22 am

Do you invite her to come with you & your new friends? Do you pray for her or with her? Is she walking with The Lord?
Her joking around is really how she feels.. In the word it says, The abundance of the Heart the mouth speaks.
Pray about this, be real with God about your feelings towards her and what you should do to create healthy boundaries.. The Holy Spirit l will lead you into all truth. This maybe an unhealthy friendship And time for some healthy changes to be made for the both of you to mature and grow in Christ.. being established and rooted in His love.. As much as we need fellowship & sisters in Christ, we need to look to our saviour to satisfy all our needs. People are broken & will fail us, but God is will never leave us or forsake us, He is always faithful.


Annie February 9, 2017 at 10:48 am

I’ve had a best friend for over 2 years, we have shared dreams, memories, vacations and many good times. Recently she has had a very upsetting thing happen with one of her children. Because of this she has stopped talking to me, saying she’s too emotionally upset to talk. Days and sometimes weeks go by and I don’t hear from her. I want to be there for her as she has been there for me during difficult times I’ve been through, but she won’t let me. I feel hurt that she has shut me out. I don’t know if this is the end of our friendship, and it saddens me if it is. I just don’t know what to do. Would welcome any advice.


Jack Wellman February 9, 2017 at 10:55 am

Hello Annie. Let me say that the Bible teaches that a brother (and sister) are born for adversity (Prov 17:17), so your true friends will never leave you. All you can do is pray for them and ask God to soften their heart. Maybe you could send a greeting card. Give her space and time. It may be something in her life that’s going on and it’s not you personally. It may not be the end of your friendship, but even if it is, God knows what works out best for us in our lives (Rom 8:28), but we must trust Him in this. Talk to your pastor and see if he says something similar or gives you better advice than I have.


Cynthia February 12, 2017 at 7:59 am

I’m curious which version you found Proverbs 18:24 in. When I looked it up, my NIV version doesn’t say anything about showing yourself friendly. It says:
“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Also, the other versions I checked said basically the same as the NIV (ISV, ASV, NASB, Holman, NIRV)
Here’s the NASB version- “A man of too many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”



Jack Wellman February 12, 2017 at 8:03 am

Thank you Cynthia. I believe it is the ESV we are using. Thank you for your comment.


Ewan March 12, 2017 at 5:03 am

It’s the American KJV.


Natalie March 6, 2017 at 6:06 am

It sounds like your friend is very insecure. This can be a very off-putting character trait. You might just have to be frank with her, sit her down, and have a heart to heart. Tell her that you’d love to be friends with her, but some of these things she does weigh on you and they’re not kind practices. Let her know that it’s ultimately up to her if she wants to continue being friends.


Laudeson April 24, 2017 at 3:03 pm

Please…. I’m looking for a Christian friends…
Whatsapp number…


Jack Wellman April 24, 2017 at 4:06 pm

Hello Laudeson and thank you for commenting. It is in your best interest that we don’t publish your “Whatsapp” number because we get millions of page views, but please call your pastor as we need one another (Heb 10:24-25) and seek to do what Jesus commands us to do (Matt 25:34-39) as we do it to Him (Matt 25:40) or we do nothing for Him (Matt 25:41) and that may be the best place to find Christian friends.


Lili July 26, 2017 at 10:18 am

I have a friend.. I find it hard to get along because she is angry with me all the time. For silly cases she fights with me and avoids me shouts at me… She has a lot of family issues.. each time she fights I keep going after her to solve the issue.. I love her as a friend.. and I can’t stay angry with anyone.. now we are on a fight, if I call and talk to her the problem will be solved but this is going to happen again. When I prayed about it found the verse in proverbs not to keep company with hot tempered people. So is it that I should avoid her? Or should I call and solve the issue.


Jack Wellman July 26, 2017 at 10:45 am

Is this friend a Christian? If not, you are not to be close friends with them. I would invite her to your church, to sit with you, and to go to some of the church’s activities. Just pray about it and yes, a hot tempered person can get you into trouble. Avoid her if she is not saved, if she is saved, go to her and follow Matt 18:15-20.


Justin Celliers August 22, 2017 at 4:47 am

Hello. I have a friend whom is mature in the Lord and who is a role model in his marriage, ministry, and career. We have become close friends since having met each other in January of 2014. We live in the same townhouse complex and attend our church congregation meetings and mid-week meetings together. My friend is the Vice-leader of a Christian Motorcycle Ministry and we have breakfast runs once a month. My birthday is coming up Monday 28 August 2017 and I invited him and his wife to join my wife and I and some other friends and family for a barbeque at my place the Sunday 27 August. He immediatly accepted and said they will be there. Later on in the week he told me that he can’t come to the barbeque because there is a breakfast run on the same Sunday and that he forgot about it. I had already invited other family members and friends to my barbeque and my friend knew this. He then suggested I change my plans and fall in with his plans to attend the breakfast run. My question is this: am I wrong to be dissappointed in my friend for first accepting my invitation to my barbeque and then cancelling after he remembered the breakfast run? Surely friendship comes before ministry?


Jack Wellman August 22, 2017 at 10:43 am

Hello Justin. Yes, I would be disappointed but I would not act like it as we are to be content in all things. What your friend did was wrong, but I am not sure ministry comes after friendship. Paul and Barnabas had an argument and split up their missionary team and so rather than mend their friendship, they knew they must be on their mission because we are all commanded to be on mission. Don’t put it like friendship must come before ministry, but rather try to overlook this and don’t lose your friendship over this and the fellowship you enjoy in the townhouse and in your church. To me, it’s just not worth losing a friendship over this. Take the high road…I believe Jesus would.


Christian Tolentino September 26, 2017 at 8:43 am

hello, i had a new friend. this person serves and  worships the Lord whole-heartedly and he is a former video editor and dancer in their church. I think i made him tired of listening at me because i always said to him that  ” all of you are the same, fair-weather friend and back stabber.” but he always said,” not all”. I did not listen to him, i’m still stand on my views. 

Right now, when i read your page, I feel so bad and made myself fool. I forget to value my present friend. I did not listen to my friend’s advise and it’s ” don’t look in the past but look what is in the present. Move on.”   
God touched my heart. LORD, I am SORRY. BAI, I am SORRY.

Thanks to your page.


Sharae December 31, 2017 at 8:30 am

My best friend and I met 2000. He introduced me to his girlfriend who he eventually made his wife. I spoke to her several times over the phone and emails. I finally met her in 2007. She became my sister as he is like my brother. Well, the marriage did not work out for several reasons. She has been such a lifesaver with different trials and tribulations that I faced. He feels that I am no longer a faithful friend to him because I am still close to her. We never discuss the other PERIOD! She is one of my bridesmaids and I asked if he would speak at my wedding. I mentioned that she would be there. His response, “what does a friend or best friend mean?


Jack Wellman December 31, 2017 at 10:57 am

The husband of your best friends seems to be jealous and why? It may be a sign of his insecurity. So, what does a best friend mean? It means they are there in the good times and bad and they are bounded by love and by God’s Spirit. There are things that trouble me about this man but what can you do? I am sorry that he thinks you are “still close to her,” but every woman, even married ones, need a best friend.


Hurt and Confused January 30, 2018 at 10:23 am

I have a friend and we say we’re best friends. We play around a lot but sometimes she jokes to the point where it actually hurts my feelings. As Christians, we’re not to dwell in our feelings and the other day, I admitted that I was not mad but I was irritated abt the conversation and she got mad and hung up on me. Texted me telling me different things, saying I’m not a good friend, and a lot of other hurtful things and I ended up apologizing as usual. I can’t, rather I know, I’m not always in the wrong but she seems to flip things on me like it is. My question is, I will love her and work beside her in the minstry but outside of ministry, do I have to be her best friend? We are both ministers and I truly forgive her but I don’t want to continue to be blamed for everything in life. I do however want to do what’s right.


Jack Wellman January 30, 2018 at 11:09 am

I would sit down with your pastor and you two together and work this out. At least try to speak with your friend in private. Jesus said that others will know we are His disciples if we love one another (John 13:34-35). Perhaps your friend is hurting and something in her life is wrong, so it may be just her reaction to a lot of things in her life. Maybe she treats others in the same way, but if she is in the ministry, I would sense God will not use anyone greatly until the first humble themselves deeply. She acts is if she is prideful, and God resists the proud (James 4:6). Try to ignore her and find another friend. Maybe she’ll repent.


MUYU February 27, 2018 at 3:58 am

Thanks a lot for this post. I have a best friend whom i love so much and truly speaking i can sacrifice and take risk for her just like Jonathan . She loves me too so much. our relationship has been based on God’s love . we are all children of God our theme verse is John 15:13 , done so many things for the sake of the gospel and we share almost same thoughts about many issue in life. Many people admire our friendship and at-times use us as a reference point . She has impacted my soul in a great way , and has sacrificed a lot for me, and she is one of the persons who has really shown me real friendship . All has been well but recently or for sometime now we have been having issues with our friendship , we argue a lot even over trivial things , everyone trying to make her point heard, we easily get irritated with each other at times over small issues, whenever i meet her i feel very frightened that if i say something we might end up quarreling . At times i avoid calling or texting just because i do not want issues . The truth is i am the one always fun of making first moves to see that our friendship work but it works for sometime and after a while we pick a fight . I equally have the feelings that she hides her things from telling me , but never the less i still confine in her as usual . I believe am doing the right thing but sometimes i feel like giving up. But recently i have been praying about our friendship and i pray and hope things go back to normal the way they used to be . I truly love my friend and i pray things go back to normal.

Thanks again for your post . God bless You


Michele Kelsey July 22, 2021 at 4:42 am

I wrote a series on Christian friends on my website and found that friendship is really all about being friendly – like you said! Kids DO have it rough. There are bullies at school and everyone picks on the new kid. I had a tough time making friends as a child, but I realize now that it was easier when you had school and church events to go to – to make friends. I’m writing another piece on Christian friendship and came across this great article on spiritual friendship. Keep up the good work! I love what you said about your son. Hopefully, he is thriving now! The truth is that making friends as adults is tough because we don’t have school trips and camp to meet other people like we did when we were younger, ya know? It can be hard! What do you think?? All the Best, Michele 🙂


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