Are you looking for guidance on how to avoid toxic friendships? The Bible provides numerous examples of the negative influence and betrayal that can occur in relationships.
Examples of bad friends in the Bible can help us discern between healthy and unhealthy relationships, enabling us to choose friends wisely. In this article, we’ll explore ten scripture examples to help you identify and avoid toxic friendships.
Adam and Eve (Genesis 3)
The story of Adam and Eve is a cautionary tale about the dangers of negative influence within close relationships. Although not a traditional example of friendship, Eve’s influence on Adam to eat the forbidden fruit showcases how those closest to us can lead us down the wrong path.
Genesis 3 tells us that Adam and Eve lived in paradise. God granted them free reign over everything except one tree. The serpent persuaded Eve to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge and sinful wisdom. Eve encouraged Adam to eat the fruit as well, and he complied. The consequences of their act of disobedience were that they were exiled from Paradise forever.
The narrative of Adam and Eve emphasizes the importance of recognizing the negative influence that those around us can have, including close friends and family. It also teaches us to be more mindful of the choices we make and to question the advice we receive from those closest to us.
Samson and Delilah (Judges 16)
The story of Samson and Delilah from the book of Judges in the Bible exemplifies how betrayal and deceit can occur even in the closest of relationships.
Samson was known for his superhuman strength, which he gained from never cutting his hair as part of a Nazirite vow to God. Delilah, a woman who claimed to love Samson, found out about the source of his strength and conspired with the Philistines to betray him.
“Please tell me where your great strength lies, and how you might be bound, that one could subdue you.”
After three failed attempts to trick Samson into revealing his secret, Delilah wore him down with her constant pleading and eventually learned the truth. She then betrayed him to the Philistines and had his hair cut off while he slept, taking away his strength.
When the Philistines attacked Samson, he was unable to defend himself, and they gouged out his eyes and put him in prison. However, in the end, Samson regained his strength and took revenge on the Philistines, sacrificing his own life in the process.
The story of Samson and Delilah serves as a cautionary tale, warning us against allowing ourselves to be fooled by those who do not have our best interests at heart.
Amnon and Jonadab (2 Samuel 13)
In 2 Samuel 13, Amnon, King David’s eldest son, became passionately in love with his half-sister Tamar.
Unable to control his desires, he confided in his friend and cousin, Jonadab, hoping he would provide counsel. However, Jonadab’s advice was not helpful. Instead of discouraging Amnon from pursuing his sinful desires, Jonadab urged him to trick and rape Tamar.
“Lie down on your bed and pretend to be ill. When your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Please let my sister Tamar come and give me some food to eat, and let her prepare the food in my sight so I may watch her and then eat it from her hand.’”
As a result of Jonadab’s terrible counsel, Amnon raped Tamar and then rejected her. Jonadab’s bad influence further led Amnon to hate Tamar and send her away, causing her immense emotional pain and suffering.
This story highlights the how the influence of friends can be a dangerous thing. One wrong friend can lead you down a path of destruction. In this case, Jonadab’s bad counsel led to the rape of Tamar and wounded relationships. Be cautious of who you let in your inner circle.
King Rehoboam and His Young Advisors
In 1 Kings 12 and 2 Chronicles 10, we learn about King Rehoboam’s decision to reject the wise counsel of older advisors in favor of his younger, more aggressive ones. The result was the splitting of the Israelite kingdom, with ten tribes creating the Northern Kingdom of Israel and two tribes forming the Southern Kingdom of Judah.
This story illustrates the importance of surrounding yourself with good people who can offer sound advice. In Rehoboam’s case, his impulsive decision had disastrous consequences, leading to a weakened kingdom and ultimately its downfall.
“And the king answered the people harshly, for he abandoned the counsel that the old men had given him and spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, ‘My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.'” – 1 Kings 12:13-14
Ahab and Jezebel (1 Kings 21)
One of the most notorious examples of bad friends in the Bible, Ahab and Jezebel’s relationship is steeped in deceit and wrongdoing. Queen Jezebel encourages her husband King Ahab to commit evil acts, including the murder of Naboth for his vineyard. This example illustrates the negative influence a spouse can have when encouraging their partner’s wrongdoing. Ahab allowed himself to be manipulated by Jezebel, leading to their ultimate downfall.
“So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, placed his seal on them, and sent them to the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city with him. In those letters, she wrote: ‘Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people. But seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them bring charges that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.'” – 1 Kings 21:8-10
Jezebel’s manipulation of Ahab also revealed how toxic relationships can have destructive consequences. Despite being warned by Elijah about Jezebel’s actions, Ahab allowed her to continue her reign of terror. His misguided loyalty ultimately led to his death in battle. The story of Ahab and Jezebel serves as a cautionary tale about the negative impact of unhealthy relationships and the importance of standing up for what’s right.
Judas Iscariot Among the Disciples
Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, played a key role in His eventual death. According to Matthew 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-11, and Luke 22:3-6, Judas agreed to betray Jesus to the chief priests for thirty pieces of silver. This act of betrayal highlights the danger of placing trust in people who turn out to be deceitful, even those close to us.
“The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” – Jesus (Mark 14:21)
Job’s Friends (Book of Job)
One of the most famous examples of bad friends in the Bible can be found in the Book of Job. After Job loses his family, possessions, and health, his friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar come to offer him comfort and support. However, instead of providing genuine compassion, they falsely accuse Job of wrongdoing as the reason for his suffering.
This story shows us the danger of friends who are quick to judge and blame rather than offer true empathy and understanding. It teaches us to be cautious of those who may cause more harm than good in times of hardship and to seek out friends who will offer unconditional love and support.
“Miserable comforters are you all! Will your long-winded speeches never end? What ails you that you keep on arguing?” – Job 16:2-3
The Bad Company of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32)
The parable of the prodigal son reminds us that poor companions and reckless living can lead to our downfall. In Luke 15:11-32, a young man demands his inheritance from his father and sets off to a far country, where he squanders all his wealth on reckless living. He soon finds himself destitute and forced to take up residence with pigs to survive. This story emphasizes the consequences of giving in to temptation and the dangers of surrounding oneself with companions who do not have our best interests at heart.
“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!'” (Luke 15:17)
In contrast to the prodigal son, his older brother chooses a different path in life and remains obedient to his father, demonstrating the importance of wise decision-making and good company. Choosing to surround ourselves with supportive, trustworthy companions is crucial in avoiding the negative consequences of poor decision-making.
As we reflect on this parable, it serves as a reminder to carefully consider the company we keep and to always be mindful of the choices we make, as they can lead to either positive or negative outcomes.
The Persuasive Neighbors of Dinah’s Brothers (Genesis 34)
Genesis 34 tells the story of how Simeon and Levi, two of Jacob’s sons and Dinah’s brothers, were influenced by the persuasive attitudes of their neighbors. Dinah was violated by Shechem, and in retaliation, Simeon and Levi deceived the men of the city and murdered them, including Shechem.
This example highlights how influential negative friends or peers can be. Simeon and Levi allowed themselves to be influenced by their neighbors’ desire for revenge, leading to deceit and mass murder. This narrative serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of surrounding yourself with people who do not have your best interests at heart.
“Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.'” – 1 Corinthians 15:33
It is essential to surround yourself with positive and supportive individuals who will encourage and uplift you. Choose your friends wisely, and do not be swayed by negative influences that could lead you down the wrong path.
How Does the Bible Address the Importance of Choosing Good Friends?
Peter’s Denial of Christ (Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:15-27)
You might recall the scene where Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, denied knowing Him three times. This event took place right after Jesus’ arrest, and Peter was afraid of being associated with Him.
In Matthew 26:69-75, we read that Peter was first recognized by a servant girl who accused him of being with Jesus. Peter denied this and went on to deny it two more times when confronted by others in the courtyard.
In Mark 14:66-72, we get a similar account of Peter’s denial, with the added detail of him cursing and swearing to emphasize his denial.
The book of Luke 22:54-62 shares the same story but highlights the moment where Jesus turns and looks at Peter after his third denial, causing Peter to weep bitterly and regret his actions.
Finally, John 18:15-27 tells us that Peter’s denials took place during his questioning by different people, including a servant and some officials.
Peter’s denial is a reminder of the power of peer pressure and fear. He was influenced by those around him and made the wrong choice, denying his faith and his relationship with Jesus.
However, even after his denial, Jesus forgave Peter and restored their relationship. This event teaches us that no matter how we may fail, we can always turn back to God and ask for forgiveness.
Let us learn from Peter’s experience and remember to stand firm in our faith, even if it means going against the opinions of those around us.