I think it is time to move away from the discussion of agape for a while. I fully intend to come back to it, but for now a change of scenery we do us good, so we will shift to the second most significant biblical word for love: philios, which is brotherly love or friendship.
The Bible has a lot to say about friendship. The first spiritually significant use of friend is in Exodus and while it does not explicitly say that Moses was friends with God, it certainly implies it.
Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. Exodus 33:11a
I think every believer wants that, for God to speak to them directly, as if to a friend. The next use of the word is in a negative context, but it has something very important to says about a friend.
If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly… Deuteronomy 13:6a [Emphasis added]
The bond between friends is compared to being one with your own soul. That is exceptionally powerful and we see it exampled in the relationship between David and Jonathon, the son of Saul.
As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. 1 Samuel 18:1-3 [Emphasis added]
You can see right off that despite the power and significance of agape, philios is extremely powerful in its own right. This bond of friendship runs to our very souls. So much so that Proverbs says:
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24
You can lack many things in life, but if you have a true friend then that changes everything for the better. You are not alone. In a friend, the tangibleness of caring is real and speaks directly to your heart.
To lose a friend, is to lose a part of yourself. I believe David’s loss of Jonathan, more than any other thing, contributed to his inability to rise above his temptations and later problems.
Tomorrow we will look at the New Testament use of philios. Jesus has a lot to say about friendship and some of it may surprise you.
May friendship find you ready and willing and may Jesus Christ always be your own and true friend.