Devoted, supportive friends are among life's greatest blessings. Here are some of the closest spiritual friendships found in the Old and New Testaments.
The Bible is full of interesting stories about human relationships, including friendships. In fact, tales of platonic companionship pop up throughout the Old and New Testaments. It’s no wonder that some believe God intends for us not just to have soul mates on this earth, but “soul friendships”—aka friends who aid our spiritual development.
Here is a breakdown of some of the Bible’s most inspiring friendships:
David and Jonathan
One of the most famous friendships of the Bible almost didn’t happen. David and Jonathan were supposed to be enemies. Jonathan was the son of King Saul, the very monarch David was appointed by God to replace. King Saul wanted to kill David. But Jonathan befriended him and risked his own life to warn David of his father’s plans. 1 Samuel 18 says that Jonathan loved David “as his own soul.” When Jonathan was slain in battle, David even composed “The Song of the Bow” and instructed all the children of Israel to learn it.
Moses and Aaron
Moses and Aaron weren’t just brothers. They worked together too. Although Moses was leader of the Israelites, he was terrified of public speaking. So Aaron became his mouthpiece. And, when Moses was tired from battle, Aaron and another man held up his arms. Talk about a solid support team!
Elijah and Elisha
Friendships can take many forms, including mentorship. Take the relationship of Elijah and Elisha. God instructed Elijah to anoint Elisha his successor. The two became so close that Elisha referred to Elijah as his father. When Elijah told Elisha to stay behind while he traveled, Elisha refused. “As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you,” he said. Elisha was also the only person present when Elijah was taken into heaven.
Naomi and Ruth
When Naomi’s husband and two sons died, she thought God had forsaken her. She decided to return to Bethlehem alone. But Ruth, her daughter-in-law, refused to leave her side, saying, “wherever you go, I will go.” The two became inseparable and looked out for one another. Naomi guided Ruth into a relationship with Boaz. And Ruth cared for Naomi in old age.
Paul and Timothy
The dynamic duo of the New Testament met while Paul was evangelizing in Timothy’s hometown. Timothy eventually tagged along with Paul on his travels. The two became so close that Paul referred to Timothy as his “son in the faith.” Paul wrote a letter to Timothy while imprisoned in Rome a few months before his death. One of his last wishes? To see Timothy before he died.
Jesus and Martha (and Mary and Lazarus)
Martha often gets a bad rap, but she’s one of only three people—along with her siblings Mary and Lazarus—called out in the Gospel of John as Jesus’s friends. In fact, John 11:5 says, “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” They were so close that when Lazarus died, Martha and Mary sent a personal message to Jesus to let him know. When Jesus came to see what had happened, it was Martha who ran out to meet him and implored him to heal her brother.
For more inspiring stories, subscribe to Mysterious Ways magazine.