Christian Churches of God
Why was Abraham called "the Friend of God"?
(Edition 2.1 19940611-20000620)
This paper examines, in short form, the remarkable relationship that Abraham had with God.
Christian Churches of God
PO Box 369, WODEN ACT 2606, AUSTRALIA
(Copyright ã 1994 (Ed. 1997), 2000 Christian Churches of God)
(Summary by Ron Proposch, Ed. by Wade Cox)
This paper may be freely copied and distributed provided it is copied in total with no alterations or deletions. The publisher’s name and address and the copyright notice must be included. No charge may be levied on recipients of distributed copies. Brief quotations may be embodied in critical articles and reviews without breaching copyright.
This paper is available from the World Wide Web page:
Why was Abraham called "the Friend of God"?
It is interesting to note what James said about Abraham, the father of the faithful:
James 2:2323 and the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness"; and he was called the friend of God. (RSV)
Notice how James draws attention to the fact that Abraham was called the friend of God. The term "friend" is somewhat intimate and conveys a sense of closeness, trust, and sharing.
What is remarkable is that Abraham was termed the friend of God. The great, almighty, ever-present and all-powerful, all-knowing God was the one who made this statement. This was not Abraham’s assessment of his relationship with God, nor how he thought about God. It was a statement that God made about Abraham.
James was quoting from Isaiah 41.
Isaiah 41:88 But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; (RSV)
The children of Israel were God’s servants and were the offspring of Abraham, who was God’s friend. Just consider for a moment how remarkable these words are, and what a remarkable relationship they describe! Consider that a limited, physical, mortal being would be thought of by the all-powerful, immortal, all-knowing, supreme God as His dearly beloved friend. Also consider that an imperfect man, made from the dust of the ground, would be viewed by the perfect Creator God composed of eternal spirit as one with whom He could have a warm, lasting and special friendship.
Yet the words my friend are exactly how God did consider Abraham, and his relationship with God was a true and deep friendship.
We have all met many, many people over the course of our lives to the present and, no doubt, we’ll meet many more in the future. However, only a comparative few have ever been, or ever will become, our close friends. Why? One of the most obvious reasons, and the first point is that of agreement.
Notice what God said about Abraham in Genesis 26. Here God is talking to Isaac, and reconfirming the promises He gave to Abraham, now passed on to Isaac (Gen. 26:3-5).
Why did God make these unconditional promises to Abraham, and now pass them to Abraham’s son Isaac? Because Abraham obeyed God and kept His commandments (v. 5). Abraham was in total agreement with God. He obeyed God precisely and in every detail even when he didn’t know the outcome.
The prophet Amos posed the rhetorical question:
Amos 3:33 Can two walk together, except they be agreed? (KJV)
God brought Israel out of Egypt and to Mount Sinai where He made a covenant with them. In the covenant He promised to protect them and bless them. They in turn promised to obey Him and keep His laws. There was this coming together, or agreement reached between Israel and God, about their plans to set out on the path to a new life in the Promised Land together. However, Israel let down their side of the agreement and veered off course. They repeatedly said, we’ll be a party to this, we agree to that, but their words were not sure and so Israel and God were not able to walk together for any length of time.
In this, Israel failed to follow the example of their forefather Abraham who:
went out of his homeland to a place God would show him;
found out how God walked and came into agreement with it;
walked in the paths of God’s law, and did not follow the ways of this world.
Abraham was in precise and continuing agreement with God and that was one of the factors contributing to his friendship with God.
The parallel for us as Christians, is that we make an agreement with God at baptism. We say, Yes! We’ll go where you want to go. We’ll do what you want to do.
Loyalty and dependability
A second vital factor contributing to endearing friendships is that of loyalty and dependability. If you reflect on those people you count as your closest friends, it is those who have been loyal to you through thick and thin; those who you can count upon when the chips are down.
However, true friends are loyal and faithful to one another when the going is easy and when it gets tough:
True friends support each other.
True friends sacrifice for each other.
True friends are dependable – they’re always there when needed.
Christ’s sacrifice for us, as his gesture of true friendship toward us, should evoke loyalty and dependability from us (Jn. 15:14).
Christ was explaining that, just as he was prepared to go all the way for us, we need to go all the way for him in demonstrating our loyalty and reliability to him.
Abraham did as God commanded and made preparations to slay Isaac. He demonstrated his loyalty to his Creator. He demonstrated that he could be depended upon to carry out God’s will no matter how difficult the assignment. Hence, God considered Abraham His friend.
The ability to be able to confide
One last aspect of what constitutes true friendship that we will consider is the ability of true friends to confide in one another.
This point builds upon the previous two points. Our closest friends are those in whom we can freely confide. They are those to whom we can communicate our deepest feelings and convictions, knowing that we won’t be betrayed.
With real friends we can discuss what is on our mind; we can share our joys, our observations, our plans, and even our sorrows and regrets. When there is deep and intense friendship, nothing needs to be held back. Christ described this dimension of friendship (Jn 15:15).
Just as God through Christ extends friendship to us through His willingness to confide in us, so we must return that friendship to Him by confiding in Him. We are to spend time talking to Him, pouring out our hearts to Him, and telling Him of our every need and desire.
The relationship Abraham enjoyed with God was a remarkable one by human standards, but tremendously encouraging for us. God is not a partial God. He is not a respecter of persons. God doesn’t involve Himself in cliques or narrow, exclusive groups of people that only a few can enter. Rather, He extends the hand of friendship to all of those in His family. If we follow the example of our spiritual forefather Abraham by being in agreement with God, displaying loyalty and dependability towards God, and freely confiding in Him in all matters, then we too will be called the friends of God.