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What Does the Bible Say About Friendship?

The Bible’s answer

 Friendships can contribute to a happy and successful life. Good friends bring out the best in one another and enhance one another’s strengths.—Proverbs 27:17.

 However, the Bible stresses the importance of choosing one’s friends carefully. It warns of the consequences of having the wrong kind of friends. (Proverbs 13:20; 1 Corinthians 15:33) Such friends can cause a person to make foolish decisions or in other ways erode his good qualities.

In this article

 What makes a good friend?

 The Bible teaches that good friendships should be based on something deeper than similar interests or hobbies. For example, Psalm 119:63 states: “I am a friend of all who fear you a and of those who keep your orders.” Note that the Bible writer states that he chose friends who have a healthy fear of displeasing God and a desire to live by God’s standards.

 The Bible also highlights the qualities a good friend should have. For example:

  •   “A true friend shows love at all times and is a brother who is born for times of distress.”—Proverbs 17:17.

  •   “There are companions ready to crush one another, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”—Proverbs 18:24.

 These verses teach that a good friend is loyal, loving, kind, and generous. A true friend can be counted on to provide support during life’s ups and downs. A real friend will also be courageous enough to speak up if we are going down a bad path or about to make a poor decision.—Proverbs 27:6, 9.

 What are some examples of good friendships in the Bible?

 The Bible contains examples of good friendships between people of different ages, backgrounds, cultures, and positions of authority. Consider three such friendships.

  •   Ruth and Naomi. Ruth was Naomi’s daughter-in-law, and there may have been a significant difference in age between them. Furthermore, Ruth’s cultural background was different from Naomi’s. Despite these differences, they formed a very close, loving friendship.—Ruth 1:16.

  •   David and Jonathan. Although Jonathan was evidently 30 years older than David, the Bible says that David and Jonathan were “bound together in close friendship.”—1 Samuel 18:1.

  •   Jesus and his apostles. Jesus had a position of authority over his apostles, being their teacher and master. (John 13:13) But he did not view them as unworthy of his friendship. Rather, Jesus had a close bond with those who followed his teachings. He said: “I have called you friends, because I have made known to you all the things I have heard from my Father.”—John 15:14, 15.

 Can a person be God’s friend?

 Yes, it is possible for humans to be friends with God. The Bible says: “His close friendship is with the upright.” (Proverbs 3:32) In other words, God befriends those who try to be decent, honest, and respectable, and who endeavor to live up to his standards of right and wrong. For example, the faithful man Abraham is specifically called God’s friend in the Scriptures.—2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23.

a The context of this psalm shows that the “you” in this verse is referring to God.