Was Jesus a friend of sinners? I’m writing this in response to an article that says Jesus was not a friend of sinners. The people who make up the church are full of sinners. Sinners saved by grace. If you are a Christian, then you are a sinner saved by grace. “For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16) that He sent his son Jesus Christ to die for our sins. As the old song says “Jesus paid it all…”
If someone chooses to be my enemy it does not mean that I have to be their enemy. People, humans that God created are sinners. Jesus is our friend. My responsibility to sinners is to love them, make people who are sinners my friend and develop enough of a relationship with them to save them from hell. Satan wants to deceive sinners into believing that Jesus is not their friend and that their sins will send them to hell forever when in fact it is rejection of Jesus Christ by their own choice that sends people to heaven or to hell.
The following definitions are from the Greek dictionary of the Bible found in the back of nearly all Strong’s Exhaustive Concordances. The references are to the use of the word “friend” as used in the New Testament and are not exhaustive. The numbering system is that used by Strong’s and can be found when looking up most references to any word in the Bible.
Properly dear, that is, a friend; actively fond, that is, friendly (still as a noun, an associate, neighbor, etc.): – friend.
This Greek word is used in the following scriptures:
Matt. 11:9, Luke 7:6, Luke 7:3, Luke 11:5 (x 2), Luke 11:6,Luke 11:8, Luke 12:4,Luke 14:10, Luke 14:12, Luke 15:6, Luke 15:29, Luke 16:9, Luke 21:16, Luke 23:12,
John 3:29, John 15:13, John 15:14, John 15:15, John 11:11, John 19:12
Acts 10:24, Acts 19:31, Acts 27:3
III John 1:14 (x2)
James 2:23, James 4:4
Note the definition, actively fond. Is Jesus actively fond of sinners? Well, maybe. It’s true that God hates sin; it’s also true that bad company corrupts good morals. Jesus is God come in the flesh; he was there when the worlds were created. (John 1:3). The use of this word in James 4:4 tells us that when we become dear friends with the world it makes us enemies with God. Being a friend of sinners does not make us friends with the world, it helps us to show the world how much Jesus loves people.
Jesus created sinners because he created humans. He loves them and is fond of them enough to save people who are sinners. Christ wants the sinner to repent and in that sense Jesus is indeed the sinners friend. Because Jesus is a friend of sinners does not that mean He endorses a sinful lifestyle.
A Christian is simply a sinner saved by grace, if we deny that we have sin then we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. (I John 1:10). When it comes right down to it Jesus cares about the sinner (a lesson some preachers today need to learn).
This is probably not the Greek word used for that kind of caring, though it might be. This word appears to be used more in the sense of someone you would share your most intimate thoughts with. It was used of the Apostles and of Lazarus (the one Jesus raised from the dead).
From ἔτης etēs (a clansman); a comrade: – fellow, friend.
Matt. 11:16, Matt. 20:13, Matt. 22:12, Matt. 26:50
This reference appears to be someone like a co-worker or neighbor. It is probably the more appropriate use of the word “friend” when we refer to Jesus as a “friend” of sinners. There is really no compassion among those involved. At the end of the day, your “fellow” or “friend” goes home and you pretty much forget about each other until you meet again.
This may also be the word that could be used to describe Jesus’ friendship with sinners. Jesus developed this type of friendship with Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9), the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:4-26) and the adulterous woman (John 8:1-12). Later on, Mary Magdalene developed a closer friendship with Jesus. She was among the Marys’ at the tomb when he was resurrected.
From G5384; fondness: – friendship.
Used in James 4:4
The translation in the King James Version of this word is “friendship” and James tells us it makes us hostile (enmity) with God. Friendship with the world makes us hateful towards God. The context in which James uses this word is discussed in the last paragraphs of this article below the last Greek Word Definition.
Other uses in the NT of the word “friend”. All of the following references appear to be from Acts 12:20
A primary verb; to convince (by argument, true or false); by analogy to pacify or conciliate (by other fair means); reflexively or passively to assent (to evidence or authority), to rely (by inward certainty): – agree, assure, believe, have confidence, be (wax) content, make friend, obey, persuade, trust, yield.
Perhaps the same as the base of G985; Blastus, an officer of Herod Agrippa: – Blastus.
ὁ, ἡ, τό
ho hē to
The masculine, feminine (second) and neuter (third) forms, in all their inflections; the definite article; the (sometimes to be supplied, at others omitted, in English idiom): – the, this, that, one, he, she, it, etc.
Probably from G939 (through the notion of a foundation of power); a sovereign (abstractly, relatively or figuratively): – king.
A primary preposition properly meaning superimposition (of time, place, order, etc.), as a relation of distribution [with the genitive case], that is, over, upon, etc.; of rest (with the dative case) at, on, etc.; of direction (with the accusative case) towards, upon, etc.: – about (the times), above, after, against, among, as long as (touching), at, beside, X have charge of, (be-, [where-]) fore, in (a place, as much as, the time of, -to), (because) of, (up-) on (behalf of) over, (by, for) the space of, through (-out), (un-) to (-ward), with. In compounds it retains essentially the same import, at, upon, etc. (literally or figuratively).
From G2845; a bedroom: – + chamberlain.
All the above Greek references appear to be used for the one time use of the term “friend” found in. Acts 12:20. Here the reference friend is referring to a friend or chamberlain of Herod’s and others who were making friends with the chamberlain after the apostle Peter escaped from prison by an angel. (Acts 12:5-25).
The context of James 4:4 is James 4:1-17, which describes the wars, the lusts, and the wars we conduct against one another as supposed members of Christ’s Church. James concludes the chapter with the statement “…to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17)
The book of James in the scripture concludes with this verse: “Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way, shall save his soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” (James 5:30)
One must conclude that Jesus is indeed a friend of sinners. Not a friend that develops a close personal attachment to the activity of people He finds sinning. But a love for the sinner, a hope for salvation, a hope that Jesus will save the sinner from the error of his ways. Compassion and love for sinners is why God sent his Son Jesus. Jesus paid the price for you and I. Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Saviour? He loves you in spite of yourself, He loves sinners and Jesus is your friend. While we were yet sinners Christ died for us. As the old song says “What a friend we have in Jesus”!