The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary notes that in Greek culture, “The supreme duty of a friend was to sacrifice himself for his friend”, and examples of sacrifice are highly extolled in Greek literature (Stählin, “philos,” Kittel, 9:151-152). Cicero gave several qualities of a friend.
- First, friendship could only exist between good men, men who lived pure lives, free from greed, lust, and violence.
- Friends had complete agreement on all subjects and good will toward one another.
- Friendship was based on love.
- Friends would not ask one another to do what was wrong and only did good to one another.
- Permanence and stability in friendship were the product of mutual loyalty.
- The golden rule for a friend was to put himself on the same level as his friend (De Amicitia 5, 6, 8, 12, 13, 18, 19).
Greeks believed that “a man could have only a few real friends and that a pair of friends was the true ideal.”
Etymology – Word Study:
PHILOS – φίλος is a primary adjective translated “friend(s) that means, “beloved, dear, friendly or friend(s).” It is a term of endearment. Although it is primarily an adjective with the meaning of “beloved, friendly,” or “dear,” PHILOS came to be used as a noun meaning “friend.” Neither Greek nor Hebrew tradition requires a distinction between a relative and a friend; a PHILOS may also be a relative.
Thayer defines its use in Scripture as, “friend, to be friendly to one, wish him well, a friend, an associate, he who associates familiarly with one, a companion, one of the bridegroom’s friends who on his behalf asked the hand of the bride and rendered him various services in closing the marriage and celebrating the nuptials.”
Liddell and Scott define PHILOS in the Passive Voice as, “loved, beloved, dear,” which is equivalent to the Latin AMICUS, CARUS. In early Greek writings, it was used for, “a friend, a dear one, an object of love, one’s nearest and dearest, (such as wife and children).” Of things it was used as, “dear, pleasant, or welcome.” In Poets, PHILOS is used of, “one’s own limbs, life, etc.” And finally, in the active sense it meant, “loving, friendly, or kindly.”
BAGD defines it as having two primary definitions:
- Pertaining to having a special interest in someone. It was used this way in Greek writings to mean in the Passive Voice: Beloved or dear, and in the Active Voice: Loving, kindly, disposed or devoted.
- One who is on intimate terms or in close association with another. In Greek writings is meant friend.
HETAIROS – ἑταῖρος (het-ah’ee-ros), from HETESETES that means, “clansman or cousin,” and is another Greek word translated friend(s). HETAIROS means, “a comrade, mate, partner, fellow, friend, (my good friend), or even a concubine.” It is used as a kindly address. It contrasts PHILOS that was used as a term of endearment. HETAIROS is used in Mat 22:12; 20:13; 26:50.
The Hebrew equivalents to PHILOS include:
ĀHĒB – אָהַב: In the Qal stem: “friend, loved one,” (Esther 5:10; Psa 38:11; Jer 20:4). In the Piel stem: “lover” (Jer 30:14).
ALLÛPH – אַלּוּף: “Close friend, intimate friend,” (Prov 16:28; 17:9).
YĀDHA- יָדַע: “Know;” in the Pual stem: “Intimate friend,” (Job 19:14).
MĒRĒA – מֵרֵעֵ֣הוּ: “Neighbor,” (Prov 12:26).
MODA – מוֹדַע: “Kinsmen, intimate friend,” (Prov 7:4).
RĒA – רֵ֫עַ: “Friend, neighbor,” (Job 2:11; Prov 6:3; Micah 7:5).
SHĀLÔM – שָׁלוֹם: “Peace, prosperity; friend,” (Jer 20:10).
Friendship. Friendship is the word PHILIA – φιλία in the Greek that comes from PHILOS and is a hapaxlegomena, (That is, it is used only once in the New Testament and that is in James 4:4.). The Hebrew equivalent is SOD – סוֹד that means, “counsel,” and is only used for “friendship” in Job 29:4.
Corporate Friendship with God:
This means that friendship with God is the same between true Israel (Jewish dispensation believers who are Jews) and the Church, John 3:29.
John 3:29, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So, this joy of mine has been made full.”
John the Baptist is calling himself a friend of the Lord Jesus Christ who is the bridegroom of the Church, His bride, (compare with Eph 5:24-28, 33; with Rev 19:7). Therefore, John the Baptist, a Jewish dispensation believer, is calling himself out as different from the Bride of Christ, the Church. Therefore, we see a difference between believers of the Age of Israel and Church Age believers, yet both groups of believers have the opportunity to be a “friend / loved one” of God.
Biblical Applications for Being a Friend of God:
The New Testament employs PHILOS about 30 times, often to indicate, “a friend to whom one is under a basic obligation”, (Günther, “Love,” Colin Brown, 2:549). Although friends and relatives are sometimes differentiated, Luke 21:16; Acts 10:24, this need not be the case according to our passages, John 15:13-15.
- Friends of God have no fear other than the fear (awe or respect) of God in their lives, Luke 12:4.
Luke 12:4-5, “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. 5“But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!”
- Friends of God have humility from a faith rest life, Luke 14:10.
Luke 14:7-11, “And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them, 8“When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, 9and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place. 10But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you. 11For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
- Friends of God have a mental attitude and actions that are filled with righteousness, Prov 22:11.
Prov 22:11, “He who loves purity of heart and whose speech is gracious, the king is his friend (REA).”
- Friends of God have a servant’s heart, Luke 7:6.
Luke 7:6-7, “Now Jesus started on His way with them; and when He was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to Him, “Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to come under my roof; 7for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed.”
- Friends of God are persistent in their prayer life, Luke 11:5 ff.
Luke 11:5-10, “Then He said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; 6for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7and from inside he answers and says, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 8I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs. 9So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.”
- Friends of God will be resurrected, John 11:11.
John 11:11, “This He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.””
- Friends of God will have tremendous blessing for time and eternity because of His Word resident in their souls, Job 29:1-5 ff.
Job 29:4, “As I was in the prime of my days, when the friendship (SOD – counsel) of God was over my tent.”
- Friends of Jesus Christ keep His mandates, John 15:14.
In the New Testament, the supreme example of a friend was Jesus. His example of love crosses all cultural boundaries. To the Jews, he represented one who loved His disciples as He loved himself; to the Greeks and Romans, He was the one who laid down His life for His friends. In John 15:14-15, Jesus declared that His followers were His friends not merely His servants (DOULOS). The believer is more than a servant of God, (i.e., One who ignorantly obeys orders under fear of punishment.), rather, he is a friend, and one who knows the Lord’s will and follows Him out of love and desire.
Being subservient is not the intent here or the qualification for friendship, see verse 15. Keeping his mandates means, you have the mind of Christ and have the same type of thinking as Christ which is the qualification for friendship. Compare with Rom 12:16; 15:5-6; 1 Cor 1:10; Phil 2:2.
Phil 2:1-4, “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.”
- Friends of Jesus Christ have an admiration for Him as his bride, Song of Solomon 5:10-16.
Song 5:16, “His mouth is full of sweetness and he is wholly desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”
- Friendship with the Lord Jesus Christ is based on having His Word metabolized in your soul, Prov 7:4.
Prov 7:4, “Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call understanding your intimate friend (MODA – מוֹדַע).”
This means that you have Occupation with the Lord Jesus Christ who becomes your best friend.
Occupation with Christ is attained through post-salvation epistemological renewing of you mind, Rom 12:2, (i.e., Learning Bible doctrine on a daily basis so that you advance to spiritual adulthood.).
Occupation with Christ provides a new focus in life away from eyes on self, on people, and on things. How you are treated and loved by people is no longer an issue once you have reached Spiritual Self-Esteem and have cognitive self-confidence.
It is your fellowship with God that counts, and consistent fellowship leads to friendship with God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Likewise, this is the only way to execute God’s plan, God’s purpose, and God’s will for your life.
Principles of True Friendship with Fellow Believers:
- Your fellow believers should be considered “friends”, (loved ones), 3 John 14.
3 John 1:14, “But I hope to see you shortly, and we will speak face to face. Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.”
- True friends are not wishy-washy, or Johnny-come-latelies. A true friend is a consistent companion, Prov 17:17; 18:24.
Prov 17:17, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
Prov 18:24, “A man of too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
- True friends do not hold back punches. In a loving way, they tell it to you straight, Prov 27:6, 9-10, 14.
Prov 27:6, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”
Prov 27:9, “Oil and perfume make the heart glad, so a man’s counsel is sweet to his friend.”
- Believer friends should be an encouragement and uplifting to one another, especially when one is going through various difficulties or trials, Job 6:14; Prov 27:10.
Job 6:14, “For the despairing man there should be kindness from his friend; so that he does not forsake the fear of the Almighty.”
Prov 27:10, “Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend, and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity.”
David said to his friend Jonathan in 2 Sam 1:26, “I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; you have been very pleasant to me. Your love to me was more wonderful than the love of women.”
- Believer friends should not cause trouble or dissentions against fellow believers, Psa 15:1-5.
Psa 15:3, “He does not slander with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend.”
- Believers lay down their lives for fellow believers, John 15:13; Psa 35:9-14.
Psa 35:14, “I went about as though it, (the afflictions of a friend), were my friend or brother; I bowed down mourning, as one who sorrows for a mother.”
If you have fellowship with positive believers who have virtue, integrity, and who recognize the privacy of your priesthood, you will have a wonderful relationship with them, and you will make some of the greatest friendships in this life.
The advantage to such friendships is that you are not depending on them; you are depending on the Lord.
When you are not depending on people and have relationships with them, then you are in Spiritual Self-Esteem. As a result, you never feel threatened by them.
Likewise, you do not get upset when they turn nasty and sarcastic and turn sour, because you are depending on the Lord and not them, and your fellowship with the Lord takes care of that.
If you enter into Christian fellowship with unrealistic expectation, you will never grow in grace, and you will never have the type of friendship God desires for you.
Prosperity and Friendship:
- The appropriate application of prosperity blessings is to use that wealth to make friends with the lost and dying to win them for Christ, Luke 16:9.
Luke 16:9, “And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings.”
Warren Wiersbe commenting on Luke 16:1-12 states, “Like the prodigal (wasteful) son, this steward wasted his master’s goods, just as many people are doing today. All that we have comes from the Lord and must be used for the good of others and the glory of God. We are not owners; we are stewards of His possessions, and one day we must give an account of what we have done with what God has shared with us.
Jesus did not commend the steward for cheating his master, but for making good use of his opportunity. The people of this world are much better at seeing opportunities and profiting from them than are the children of God (Eph 5:15-17). During this brief life, we have the opportunity to use wealth to make friends for God, friends who will meet us in heaven!
The key is faithfulness (vv. 10-12). The unrighteous mammon (money) is the least, but the eternal riches are “the most.” If we use God’s wealth as He wills, then He will give us true riches which are our own. Jesus did not see a “great gulf” fixed between the material and the spiritual, for one of the most spiritual things we can do is use material things to the glory of God in the winning of the lost.”
- The fool with his money thinks he has many friends, yet he does not, Prov 19:6.
Prov 19:6, “Many will seek the favor of a generous man, and every man is a friend to him who gives gifts.”
- All believers (friends) will rejoice together in heaven with the knowledge of those who were lost that have been saved, Luke 15:6, 9.
Luke 15:6, “And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’”
- We should not be friends with the world, Satan’s Cosmic System, James 4:4.
James 4:4, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship (PHILIA) with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend (PHILOS) of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
- Sometimes even believing friends will turn on you, especially in the Tribulation, Luke 12:16; Job 19:14; Psa 55:12-14.
Luke 21:16, “But you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, 17and you will be hated by all because of My name.”
Job 19:14, “My relatives have failed, and my intimate friends (YADA – to know) have forgotten me.”
Psa 55:12, “For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, then I could bear it; nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me, then I could hide myself from him. 13But it is you, a man my equal, My companion and my familiar friend (YADA); 14We who had sweet fellowship together walked in the house of God in the throng.”
- Intensive Divine discipline can result in the loss of friends, Psa 38:11; 88:16.
Psa 38:11, “My loved ones (AHEV) and my friends (REA) stand aloof from my plague; and my kinsmen stand afar off.”
Psa 88:18, “You have removed lover and friend (REA) far from me; my acquaintances (YADA) are in darkness.”
- Self-righteous legalism falsely projects sinfulness in terms of friendship onto the Grace Oriented believer, Mat 11:19; Luke 7:34-35.
Mat 11:19, “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds (ERGON).”
Luke 7:34-35, “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children (TEKNON).”
- Wrong friends stab you in the back, gossip about you, slander or malign you, Prov 12:26; 16:28; 17:9.
Prov 12:26, “The righteous is a guide to his friend (MEREA), but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”
Prov 16:28, “A perverse man spreads strife, and a slanderer separates intimate friends (ALLUPH).”
Prov 17:9, “He who conceals a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends (ALLUPH).”
- True friendships can be neutralized or destroyed by any of the following:
Mental attitude sins, Job 19:19-22.
Job 19:19-22, “All my associates abhor me, and those I love have turned against me. 20My bone clings to my skin and my flesh, and I have escaped only by the skin of my teeth .21Pity me, pity me, O you my friends, for the hand of God has struck me (underserved suffering). 22Why do you persecute me (mental attitude sins) as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh?”
Verbal sins, Prov 16:28, 17:9.
Prov 16:28, “A perverse man spreads strife, and a slanderer separates intimate friends.”
Overt sins, Rom 13:8-9.
National disaster, Jer 20:4.
- We should not make friends with those who are prone to anger, Prov 22:24.
Prov 22:24 (KJV), “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go.”
- Friends who are in it for the money are not true friends, Prov 19:6-7. Stingy people lack capacity for friendship. True friends show up even when you are broke.
Prov 19:6-7, “Many will seek the favor of a generous man, and every man is a friend to him who gives gifts. 7All the brothers of a poor man hate him; how much more do his friends abandon him! He pursues them with words, but they are gone.”
- Those who have common enemies become friends, Luke 23:12.
Luke 23:12, “Now Herod (Jewish state king) and Pilate (Roman occupying governor) became friends with one another that very day; for before they had been enemies with each other.”
This is the concept we have from the ancient Arabian proverb, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
The Biblical Applications of Other Greek Words for “Friend”:
- In Mat 5:25, we are command to reconcile with those who take us to court.
Mat 5:25, “Make friends (EUNOEO) quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.”
“Make friends” is the Greek verb EUNOEO – εὐνοέω from EU – εὖ that means, “good or well,” and NOEO – νοέω from NOUS – νοῦς that means, “to perceive, think.” So, EUNOEO comes to mean, “to think kindly of, i.e. to be favorable, that is make friends.”
- In Mat 20:13; 22:12; 26:50, the Greek word for “friend” is HETAIROS – ἑταῖρος and is used in regard to the unbeliever in relation to Jesus Christ. HETAIROS means, “clansman, cousin, a companion, or friend.”
Of those who reject Jesus Christ and their fate at the Great White Throne Judgment.
Mat 22:12-14, “And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Of traitors such as Judas Iscariot.
Mat 26:50, “And Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you have come for.” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him.”
- HETAIROS is also used in describing the sovereignty of God in relation to saving both Jews and Gentiles and has application regarding rewards at the BEMA Seat of Jesus Christ, Mat 20:8-16.
Mat 20:8-16, “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last group to the first.’ 9When those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius. 10When those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. 11When they received it, they grumbled at the landowner, 12saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.’ 13But he answered and said to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14‘Take what is yours and go, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. 15‘Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’ 16So the last shall be first, and the first last.”
This parable also tells us that one believer who has more Divine Good production than another will receive the same amount of rewards at the BEMA Seat of Jesus Christ if they both have fulfilled God’s Plan for their lives.
Compare with 1 Cor 12:4-6, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.” Also 1 Cor 3:10-15.
- In Luke 5:20, we have a different word in the Greek for the NASB translation “friend.” Here we have the passage translated as, “Seeing their faith, He said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven you’.”
This is an incorrect translation, because the Greek word is ANTHROPOS – ἄνθρωπος that means, “man, human, or mankind.” It should be translated, “man, your sins are forgiven you,” as it is in the KJV. Therefore, our Lord is not addressing an unbeliever who has come to the knowledge of salvation as “friend or loved one.” Instead, He is saying that mankind’s sins have been forgiven and this one man’s sins are included in that. So, we do not have any interpretation of friendship from this verse, only the forgiveness of sins for mankind.
Abraham is Our Example of Being a Friend of God, 2 Chron 20:7; Isa 41:8; James 2:23
2 Chron 20:7, “Did You not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever.”
This was part of the great public prayer of King Jehoshaphat to our Lord for guidance and protection from the invading armies of Moab and Ammon (Lot’s incestuous offspring). But we have no detail as to why he was a Friend of God here. So, we look elsewhere.
Isa 41:8, “But you, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, descendant of Abraham My friend.”
Here our Lord is speaking to His chosen people to comfort them reminding them of His power, love guidance, and protection, in comparison to the dead and dumb idols of foreign gods. Yet again, we only have an acknowledgement of friendship, but no reasons for it.
Then we see in James 2:21-24, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23and the Scripture, (Gen 15:6), was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. 24You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.”
Finally, we are given some reasoning as to why he was considered a Friend of God, it was his faithfulness, which means his consistent application of Bible Doctrine resident in his soul.
Now, in regard to the works verses faith discussion, see also Roman 3:20-4:1 ff and Gal 2:16.
Romans 3:28, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.” James was written between 45 and 50 AD, where Romans and Galatians were written by Paul between 56-58 AD and 55-57 AD respectfully. James is not nullifying faith alone for salvation but is saying that works, (Divine Good Production), are a demonstration of your faith in Jesus Christ and His Word. The person who says they believe in Christ and His Word, yet have absolutely no Divine Good Production does not have the faith they say that they have or think they have, and truly do not believe in Christ. The one that believes in Christ will demonstrate their faith in one way or another.
* Now back to our topic of Abraham’s friendship with God.
Why is Abraham called “the friend of God?” Well, our first two passages do not expand as to why he was called the friend of God, but the third passage, James 2:23, does.
Was he called the friend of God because of his sinlessness? Or his good looks? Or personality? Absolutely Not!
He is called the friend of God because of his faithfulness to God.
Now it is interesting to note that his faithfulness was not 100%. Yet it was consistent.
You see Abraham failed many times, for example:
- The conception and birth of Ishmael with Hagar, Gen 16, not trusting in God’s promise of offspring.
- 13 years later at age 99, he laughed in disbelief of God’s promise of a son, Isaac, with Sarah, Gen 17.
- In Gen 18:23ff, the fact that he bartered with God over the deliverance of Lot from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, rather than asking and trusting in the Lord.
- In Gen 20, the deception of Abimelech regarding Sarah, saying, “she is my sister.”
Yet even though he had failures, he always picked himself up, rebounded, and got back to his relationship with God. This is noted by his inclusion in the “Visible Hero” hall of fame listing in Heb 11:1-40, specifically in verses 8-19.
Notice what it says in verses 1-2, 6.
Heb 11:1-2, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2For by it the men of old gained approval.”
Heb 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”
So, there are two aspects to hall of fame faith.
- Believe in God, that He exists and is the Savior of all men (“he who comes to God”).
- Believe in God’s promises of blessing for time and eternity.
Faith here, and throughout this chapter, generally refers to Bible doctrine or what is believed that is followed up by actions of faith. Therefore, it begins with the function of the Grace Apparatus for Perception (GAP) of Bible Doctrine and leads to Divine good production.
The noun here in Heb 11:1 is PISTIS – πίστις that should read, “In fact doctrine.”
The word PISTIS has three different meanings in the Greek language.
- That which causes trust and faith, therefore translated faithfulness, reliability, proof, and pledge. This is a very common word in the New Testament. It means that which causes trust and faith.
- Faith in the active sense of believing, and it is always translated, “faith,” “trust,” and “confidence.”
- The third use of the word which is quite common and never correctly translated throughout the New Testament is “that which is believed, the body of faith, or belief,” and therefore translated it should be “doctrine” or “Bible Doctrine.” In other words, he was oriented to the Word of God that led him in all aspects of his life.
In verse 1, we have “doctrine is the assurance of things hoped for…” And all the way through we are going to see, for example:
Verse 4, “By doctrine Abel offered…”
Verse 5, “By doctrine Enoch was translated…”
Verse 7, “By doctrine Noah, being warned.” Noah was not warned by faith, he was warned by God’s Word – Bible doctrine. Faith doesn’t warn you, Bible doctrine warns you.
So, when we read about Abraham in verses 8-19, we note that it was by means of the application of Bible Doctrine resident within his soul that led him to serve God (produce Divine Good) in fantastic ways.
Note that 12 of the 40 verses in our Hall of Fame list are devoted to Abraham, that is 30%, not to mention Sarah’s, Isaac’s, Jacob’s, and Joseph’s production that was the result of Abraham’s influence.
So, what where the Doctrinally Oriented based works that gained Abraham the title of being a friend of God?
Verse 8, He obeyed the Lord’s calling of geographic location without knowing where that location was at the outset. He followed God’s Plan for his life.
Are you in the right location where God wants to use you? Or are you trying to find the land that best pleases you, as his nephew Lot did.
Verse 9, He did not have a lust for material possessions and act like he owned the place even though it was promised to him as an inheritance. He demanded nothing and humbly lived as God would provide.
Verse 10, He did not look to the world or his possessions to save him, but looked to God and trusted in God’s promises of the eternal state.
Verse 11, He managed his wife well, nurturing her own faithfulness in God.
Verse 12-16, He trusted in his heavenly citizenship as a member of the family of God, Phil 3:20-21.
Verse 17, He faith rested through adversity, disaster testing.
Verse 18, He trusted in the promises of God.
Verse 19, He believed in the resurrection of the dead to eternal life.
Verses 20-22, He passed down his faith in God and His Word to his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, etc.; his spiritual heritage.
Summary of Friendship with God, adapted from Oswald Chambers, (My Utmost for His Highest), “Friendship with God.”
Genesis 18:17, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing …?”
This verse is exactly what our Lord states in our passage of John 15:14-15, especially in verse 15, “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
Our friendship with God is based on hearing Him by means of His Word, Bible Doctrine resident within your soul.
When you have His Word and then faith rest, trust, and rely upon it, you will be a friend of God.
There are two aspects to our friendship, the difficulties and delights of friendship.
The Difficulties of His Friendship
In Genesis 18:33, Abraham stopped petitioning the Lord. Why did he stop when he did? He stopped because he was still lacking the level of intimacy in his relationship with God, which would enable him boldly to continue on with the Lord in prayer until his petition and desire were granted. His petition was to spare the city. His desire was to spare his nephew Lot and his family.
Whenever you stop short of your true desire in prayer and say, “Well, I don’t know, maybe this is not God’s will,” then you still have another level to go.
It shows that you are not as intimately acquainted with God as Jesus was, and as Jesus would have you to be, “…that they may be one just as We are one …” John 17:22.
Think of the last thing you prayed about. Were you devoted to your desire or to God?
Was your determination to get some gift of the Spirit for yourself or to get to God?
Mat 6:8, “For your Father knows the things you have need of, before you ask Him.”
The reason for asking is so you may get to know God better.
Psa 37:4, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
Yet, if you have a lack of faith in Him, you still have a ways to go before you can know that you are His friend. So, keep praying to get a perfect understanding not of your wants, needs, and desires but of God Himself.
The Delights of His Friendship
Genesis 18 also brings out the delight of true friendship with God, as compared with simply feeling His presence occasionally in prayer.
This friendship means being so intimately in touch with God that you never even need to ask Him to show you His will. It is evidence of a level of intimacy which confirms that you are nearing the final stage of your discipline (education) in the life of faith.
When you have a right-standing relationship with God, you have a life of freedom, liberty, and delight; you are God’s will. And all of your commonsense decisions are actually His will for you, unless you sense a feeling of restraint brought on by a check in your spirit.
You are free to make decisions in the light of a perfect and delightful friendship with God, knowing that if your decisions are wrong, He will lovingly produce that sense of restraint. Once he does, you must stop immediately.
Slavery Versus Friendship
In John 15:15 we have, “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
- Our first clause is, “No longer do I call you slaves.”
Principles of Being a Slave:
1) To the Greeks a slave was to be subject to an utterly debasing social and anthropological position. To them freedom and individuality was the goal of life. Autonomy was the highest prize of the Hellenistic world; thus, servitude was the absence of any such freedom.
2) The slave is:
- Limited in personal rights and privileges.
- Limited in thinking and actions.
- Carries out the will and purpose of another.
- Depends on others to provide protection and sustenance.
- Has turned his freedom over to someone else.
- Does not know what his master is thinking or planning.
3) In our relationship with God, these are emphasized in a positive way to protect us from sin and evil.
4) DOULOS – δοῦλος in the New Testament plays a major theological role. Apart from the use of DOULOS as a character in a parable, (e.g., Mat 25:14 ff; Mark 12:2; Luke 14:17), and excluding its normal literal use, (e.g., Luke 7:2 ff; John 18:10; Eph 6:5 ff; Col 3:22 ff; 1 Tim 6:1), it usually functions in a figurative sense.
5) This figurative use covers three basic areas:
a) The Christian as a DOULOS of God;
b) The Christian as a DOULOS to other Christians;
c) Christ as the DOULOS of God:
- The Christian as a “DOULOS” of God.
John’s Gospel and Paul’s epistles agree that people are either “slaves” (DOULOI – δοῦλοι) of sin, or they are slaves of righteousness, (i.e., they are obedient; John 8:34; cf. Acts 7:6; Rom 6:16-17, 20).
Believing in Christ’s atoning work makes it possible for people to be freed from their enslavement to sin and to enjoy a new status as sons and daughters of God, Gal 4:7; cf. 2 Peter 2:19.
The believing community is God’s/Christ’s DOULOI, 1 Cor 7:22. That is, the DOULOS of God is under obligation to be totally committed to his (or her) Lord, Mat 6:24, “No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” cf. Mat 8:9.
- The Christian as a “DOULOS” to other Christians. Believers are to model the servant-hood of Jesus.
Mat 20:27, “Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.” cf. 1 Cor 7:23.
Service to one another is an expression of love (AGAPE – ἀγάπη, Gal 5:13), kindness, and social responsibility (2 Tim 2:4).
Gal 5:13, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
- Christ as the “DOULOS” of God.
The servant-hood of Jesus is capsulized in Phil 2:6 ff.
Christ’s role as DOULOS binds Him solidly with humanity’s condition. He identified with mankind’s subjection to the Law, sin, and death, Heb 2:15.
Heb 2:15, “And might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”
Servant-hood to God is uniquely expressed in Christ’s obedience even unto death, Phil 2:8.
6) Our Lord distinguishes a friend from a servant, who might also be loyal but would not share intimate secrets.
7) Therefore, our Lord is saying we are much more than merely slaves to Him.
- Our next clause is, “For the slave does not know what his master is doing”.
1) A slave does what he is told without understanding his master’s mind or business.
2) Yet to the contrary, our true relationship with God and The Lord Jesus Christ is based on knowing who they are, how they think and what they are doing.
3) This can only be accomplished through the consistent intake and application of God’s Word / Bible Doctrine by the power of God the Holy Spirit.
4) As the saying goes, “knowledge is power!” Therefore, the more knowledge you have of God and His Plan for your life, the more power you will have over your own life, your sin nature, and Satan’s Cosmic System.
5) You have only two choices in life; to be a friend of sin and Satan’s Cosmic System, or to be a friend of God, James 4:4 ff.
James 4:4-10, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? 6But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”
- Then we have, “But I have called you friends.”
1) The slave simply receives the command of his master without knowing the reason why this or that thing is ordered. It is one of the conditions of slavery not to be let into the counsels and plans of the master. Yet, it is the privilege of friendship to be made acquainted with the plans, wishes, and desires of your friend.
2) The traditional Greek concept of friendship emphasized equality among companions.
3) The main ideals of friendship in ancient literature included loyalty (sometimes to the death), equality, and mutual sharing of all possessions, and an intimacy in which a friend could share everything in confidence.
4) Friends love each other and help each other.
5) The obedience that Christ asks from us is not that of the slave, but of the friend. Because we are His friends and abide in Him, we know His will and share His secrets.
6) Jesus called His disciples friends, because He had disclosed His Father’s revelation to them. This designation of friendship He gave to them was the result of making them acquainted with the reasons why He was about to leave them, and with His secret (mystery) doctrines for the Church Age. As He had given them these proofs of friendship, therefore it was proper that He should not withhold from them the title of friends.
- We complete verse 15 with, “for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
1) In essence, Jesus is saying to them, “I have admitted you into a state of the most intimate fellowship with Myself; and have made known unto you whatsoever I have heard from the Father.”
This is similar to what is said of our Lord’s relationship with Moses in Ex 33:11, “Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend.”
2) The disciples were, (and you and I can be), friends of Jesus Christ, because of our Lord’s disclosure of the thinking of the Father.
3) Jesus Christ has communicated to them Bible doctrine and also desires to communicate His doctrine to us.
4) The Grace Apparatus for Perception (GAP) was designed by so that Jesus Christ could communicate His thinking, His Word to us, 1 Cor 2:16; 2 Cor 4:7 (Read 1-12).
1 Cor 2:16, “But we have the mind of Christ.”
5) The reason why He called them friends was that He had now treated them as friends. He had opened to them His mind; made known His plans; acquainted them with the design of His coming, His death, His resurrection, and ascension; and having thus given them the clearest proof of friendship. Therefore, it was proper that he should give them the title. Likewise, He desires the same for you and me.
6) Knowing the will of God is a tremendous privilege; with it comes great responsibility.
a) Knowing God’s plan and will, whether it be for your own life or someone else’s, means you need to be a part of His will and align yourself to it. That is, voluntarily be His servant to accomplish His will.
b) This also means that you should not get in the way of or frustrate His will in any given situation.
c) If you know His will, you operate in conjunction with His will, and you do not get in the way of His will. (Note Balaam, Num 22-24.)
7) Knowing His heart as His friend you take on the heart of being His bond-servant.
Our complete translation of John 15:15 is, “I no longer call (designate) you all bond-servants, for the bond-servant does not know what his master is doing. To the contrary, I have called (designated) you all friends (loved ones). For everything I heard from My Father I have begun to make known to you all.”
1) Jesus declared that His followers were His friends not merely His servants (DOULOS).
The positive, (supergrace), believer is more than a servant of God, (i.e., one who ignorantly obeys orders under fear of punishment), rather, he is a friend, and one who knows the Lord’s will and follows Him out of love and desire.
2) The difference between DOULOS and PHILOS: DOULOS is ignorance; PHILOS is cognizance.
That is the whole story of the Christian life. The issue after salvation is cognizance versus ignorance. Ignorance leads to reversionism; cognizance leads to supergrace.
3) This tells us that our friendship with God is based on hearing Him by means of His Word, Bible Doctrine resident within your soul.
4) When you have His Word resident in your soul and then faith rest, trust, and rely upon it, you will be a friend of God.
5) Being subservient is not the intent here or the qualification for friendship.
Keeping his mandates means you have the mind of Christ and have the same type of thinking as Christ which is the qualification for friendship. Compare with Rom 12:16; 15:5-6; 1 Cor 1:10; Phil 2:2.
Phil 2:1-5, “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.”
6) The Lord elevated His disciples to a higher position than that of servants.
The slave is told and expected to execute the master’s commands while often remaining ignorant of his reasons. Yet, the level of friend is one of equals in some respects.
A servant is not told his master’s mind, purpose, or plans; a friend knows his friend intimately.
7) Friends inform each other and trust each other.
Jesus had been teaching His disciples, and in these verses, He introduced the friendship relationship with them.
Those who treasure His Words and abide in His love are His friends.
By His grace, those who grasp hold of His teachings are enlightened as His friends.
8) In the New Testament, the supreme example of a friend was Jesus.
His example of love crosses all cultural boundaries.
To the Jews, He represented one who loved His disciples as He loved himself.
To the Greeks and Romans, He was the one who laid down His life for His friends.
9) Christians will always be the Lord’s servants, but when they love as He commanded, He shares with them as friends.