Friendship with the Master

No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.
John 15:15

In the Roman world, a “friend” was often a political ally who owed one a favor, or a more powerful patron on whom one could depend. But the traditional Greek concept of friendship remained influential even during the apostle Paul’s day. Paul had urged the financially well–off Christians of Corinth to treat Christians in Jerusalem as friends by sharing all things in common. Friends treated one another as “equals” (2 Corinthians 8:13,14).

Jesus said to His disciples: “I have called you friends.” While He was not implying that as His friends they were His equals, He was offering to share with them what belonged to Him. John’s Gospel describes this assurance specifically as the promise of the Spirit sharing Jesus’ words with the disciples, so they would know Jesus’ heart (see John 16:13–15).

The intimacy pictured between Jesus and the disciples fits the ancient ideal of friendship, which stressed both loyalty and the sharing of secrets. Among the Greeks, the highest expression of a friend’s loyalty was to die for a friend, and Jesus summoned His disciples to lay down their lives for Him and for one another, as He was about to do for them (John 15:12–14). But servants often proved no less loyal then friends, so Jesus spoke of an intimacy greater than that between the average master and servant. Greek literature often stressed how friends share secrets with one another in confidence, and Jesus had shared with the disciples all the words He had heard from His Father (John 15:15).

Some Jewish writers in Jesus’ day stressed that being God’s friend, as exemplified by Abraham and Moses, was even greater than being God’s servant. Jesus thus bestowed on His disciples such an honor of intimacy with Himself.

From a background note in the Chronological Study Bible.

Do you talk to Jesus as your friend, Lord, and Savior?
Read the online conversation / post a comment below!





  • S h I r l e y says:

    Most interesting .friend. Servant.
    Intimacy. Lots of food for thought.

  • I hope we don’t call Jesus our friend. As D A Carson pointed out (C S Lewis also spoke of this), the friendship was a unilateral one, an unsymmetrical one. Jesus is my friend if he obeys me and I’ll then let him into my plans. No, but the apostles would be his friends, lifted above mere disciples of their rabbi, if they obeyed him, being let into his plans. Jesus is not my friend, nor does he encourage that idea, but he is my lord under God.

    • I have been a Christian for over 60 years. I was 9 years old when our pastor changed the invitation hymn to “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”. When I came to the words “all our sins and griefs to bear”, I realized Jesus not only died for my sins but He knew and “felt” my griefs; especially since I was always made fun of and had no friends. I suddenly seemed to hear Jesus say to my heart “I want to be your Friend!”. I immediately went down the aisle and gave my heart to Him. He has walked with me and poured out His grace and peace to me through many trials and brought about many miracles in my life. He is my LORD, Savior and FRIEND!

  • Lynne says:

    What a great article. When I talk to Jesus, I refer to Him in different ways at different times. Most of the time, I refer to Him as my Father and most definitely my Lord and Savior but he is certainly my Friend as well!

  • Phyllis says:

    Yes I talk to the Lord ALL THE TIME I’m short on really friends that I commune with especially close ones at that mostly by choice …not being selfish but most of the women I know are not living for the Lord therefore not save. I do one or two that are but they live so far away so I speak a lot to the one I know resides in me!

  • Steve says:

    What an interesting study. I do not consider Jesus a friend but I consider my self to be a part of His family and He is also my master.

  • Mo Aribigbola says:

    JESUS is my friend. I call HIM friend also I do not loose focus of HIM as THE ANCIENT OF DAYS, the El – Olam (the Eternal, Everlasting one) which are attributes I can never ever posses as a human being.
    Calling HIM my friend brings me closer to HIM, tells me that I can talk to HIM just about anything, everything, anywhere and everywhere without having the feeling of talking to a superior being whereby I start building up doctrines, barriers or being legalistic.

  • Veronica Salazar says:

    All of us our familiar with our contemporary meaning of the word friend. In my case my closest friends are definitely in my trust circle. No pretenses, no lies, open conversations even when we must hear what we do not like. But my friends here on earth are my equals. When I think about Jesus, when I talk to Him this is entirely different, it is deeper and more profound than any friendship with another person. Even though I bare my soul in front of Him in a way I do not do or would do with any of my friends, in spite of me feeling loved, forgiven and understood beyond words by Him, I never lose sight of Jesus being my Lord. It is complex to describe this relationship with words. However if the Bible says that Jesus calls us friends, I would have to dig deeper in the Scriptures to understand exactly what this means, because in a sense I agree with the comment of Dr. Hakes posted previously in that this is an asymmetrical relationship, but I disagree that He does not encourage the notion of friendship between Him and us. Why would the Gospel writer record Jesus’ words saying that He now does not call us servants but friends? Furthermore, it becomes more interesting meditating upon this passage when considering Jesus’ words and actions in Mk 10:45 and Jn 13:1-17. I think there is more to this passage than what the article presented. This is good food for thought.

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