Company We Keep

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Author: Jonathan Holmes


In Search of Biblical Friendship

Friendship. It’s one of the simplest of human relationships in comparison to marriage or family relationships, and yet it’s also one of the least understood and practiced. For all of our progress in making connections through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites, people are consistently experiencing loneliness and growing disenchanted with the whole notion of friendship.

Could it be our understanding of friendship has been more informed by pop culture and social media, and less informed by the vision of friendship offered by Scripture?

Is it possible friendship exists for a greater purpose than my enjoyment and comfort? Is friendship more than just having some people to hang out with on a weekend, participating in a book club, or hitting the golf course together?

These questions and more are answered in this book. Biblical friendship is first and foremost about a relationship with Jesus Christ. As you are brought into friendship and relationship with the Father, Jesus Christ calls you a friend! It is out of this friendship that our human friendships find their beginning and their purpose.

Aelred, a Cistercian monk who wrote a profound treatise on friendship, writes, “And so in friendship are joined honor and charm, truth and joy, sweetness and good-will, affection and action. And all these take their beginning from Christ, advance through Christ, and are perfected in Christ.”

This is the core of biblical friendship, and what sets it apart from what the world is offering: it all flows from Jesus Christ. Friendship finds its origin, purpose and power in Jesus. Our human friendships then must be shaped by this life-changing truth. Dig into this book, and find how your friendships can embody this amazing and wonderful truth.


About the author:

Jonathan Holmes serves at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio as the Pastor of Counseling. He graduated with degrees in Biblical Counseling and History from The Master’s College and a master’s degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Jonathan and his wife, Jennifer, are parents of three beautiful daughters, Ava, Riley, and Ruby. Jonathan also serves on the Council Board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition.


“Jonathan Holmes has the enviable ability to say a great deal in a few words. Here is a wonderful primer on the nature of biblical friendship—what it means and why it matters.”  ~Alistair Begg, Senior Pastor, Parkside Church, Cleveland, Ohio

“In The Company We Keep, Jonathan Holmes has made a significant contribution to the Kingdom. We expect far too little from our friendships, and Jonathan’s work not only encourages us to expect more, it also equips us to give more. His four marks of biblical friendship—constancy, candor, carefulness, and counsel—provide a robust and relevant GPS for intentional and vulnerable gospel-centered friendships. The ‘Dig Deeper’ sections embedded in each chapter make this a great book not only for individuals, but also for small groups.”  ~Robert W. Kellemen, Ph.D., Executive Director, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Author of Gospel-Conversations: How to Care Like Christ

“I talk with many Christians who have intensely practical questions about how to make and maintain friendships with their fellow believers. Jonathan Holmes’ book is filled with answers that are equally down-to-earth, nitty-gritty, and specific. This is a book that isn’t just a roadmap for cultivating Christian friendship. It’s also a tour guide, taking us where we need to go with warmth and wisdom.”  ~Wesley Hill, assistant professor of biblical studies, Trinity School for Ministry, Ambridge, Pennsylvania and author of Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality

“So often, books on biblical fellowship place our relationships in a ‘spiritual’ realm where none of them really exist. Thankfully, Jonathan has succeeded in giving us a picture of how normal, daily, biblical friendships can be used by God to mold us into the likeness of Christ. He successfully steers clear of over-spiritualizing what friendship between brothers and sisters in Christ should look like. It is rich in its application of Scripture and practical in the way it connects all of our relationships to Christ. If you want a solid, fresh way of re-thinking all of your relationships, read this book.”  ~Dr. Tim S. Lane, President, Institute for Pastoral Care, Conference speaker and co-author of Relationships: A Mess Worth Making and How People Change

The Company We Keep casts a vision for the kind of friendships we all really want–to love and be loved as Christ loves us. Jonathan provides practical guidance that is both biblical and inspiring. I’ll be recommending this book to friends and counselees.”  ~Winston T. Smith, faculty and counselor, Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation

“Thought provoking, rooted in theology, and a topic that has needed to be addressed more deeply. I’ve often bemoaned the superficial relationships in the church so I’m thankful for a book that addresses this and takes gospel-saturated one-anothering seriously. I can assure you the church would be different and get the attention of the world if these types of friendships were pursued. I finished reading and wanted to invest more in Christ-focused relationships.”  ~Dr. Ernie Baker, Professor of Biblical Counseling, The Master’s College; author of Help! I’m in Conflict

“Short. Thoughtful. Biblical. Practical. I’m planning to get my friends to read this book so we can transform our friendships into something more biblical. I am grateful to Jonathan Holmes for carefully helping us think through the topic of Christian friendships.”  ~Deepak Reju, Pastor of Biblical Counseling and Families, Capitol Hill Baptist Church (Washington, DC); author of The Pastor and Counseling: The Basics of Helping Members in Need

The Company We Keep offers a beautiful invitation to participate in the life that has God called us to live with one another. I found myself stirred in different ways throughout this short, yet thoughtful and robust, treatise on biblical friendship—excited with a renewed vision, convicted about my tendencies to ‘go it alone,’ and compelled to persevere in my fight to love and be loved. I also found myself drawing near to Jonathan as he brought us along on his own personal journey, in his gentle tone and with keen insights. I confidently recommend this work, which will serve the church well.”  ~Robert K. Cheong, Pastor of Care, Sojourn Community Church; author, God Redeeming His Bride

“Jonathan Holmes has tackled an often neglected and sometimes misunderstood topic: biblical friendship. He brings clarity to what Christ-centered friendships are and how to cultivate them. In a time when friendships are defined by a few taps on a keyboard this book will cause you to take pause and reflect on why and how God intended our friendships to be a testimony to a desperate world looking for intimacy in all the wrong places. Pick a friend, read this together, and watch how your faith and the faith of others grow as a result.”  ~Dr. Garrett Higbee, Author of The Uncommon Community: Biblical Soul Care for Small Groups, Board Member of the Biblical Counseling Coalition

The Company We Keep is a refreshing and challenging book. Here you will find rich, practical, and theologically grounded counsel. Jonathan Holmes demonstrates that our need for friendship is rooted in the eternal relationships within the triune God in whose image we are created, illustrates how the self-centeredness of sin has distorted our view of friendship, and teaches us how to apply the humility of Christ to the intentional pursuit of careful relationships that draw attention to the gospel. This is a book that I wish had been available in my early years as a believer. I really need this book.”  ~Paul Tautges, Biblical counselor, author, and founder of Counseling One Another

“Yes! A book on a subject that all kinds of people—parents and grandparents, teenagers and empty nesters—often struggle with: biblical friendship. I will put this well-written, biblically saturated, easily accessible resource into the hands of as many church members as possible. This resource will inform, convict, and encourage people to pursue meaningful Christian friendship. Thank you, Jonathan, for living out these very principles in our friendship. May others benefit from this work.”  ~Kelly Wright, Associate Pastor, Castleview Baptist Church, Indianapolis, IN

“We live in a world of easy, quick, superficial, and selfish relationships where Christians need biblical wisdom about how to develop meaningful friendships. In The Company We Keep, Jonathan Holmes provides this wisdom in abundant supply. This guide to biblical friendship is grounded in the timeless truth of God’s Word, centered in the grace of Jesus Christ, and focused on relevant and practical application. This book is required reading for anyone desiring to grow in deeper Christian friendship.”  ~Dr. Heath Lambert, senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville

The Company We Keep presents a compelling vision of biblical friendship that glorifies Christ, builds up believers, and witnesses to the world. I was both encouraged and challenged in my own relationships and counseling ministry through the wisdom of this book. The section on friendship and same-sex-attraction is especially timely and helpful for the church today. Jonathan has written a clear, concise book that is biblically faithful, relationally practical, pastorally wise, and, above all, Christ-centered. I highly recommend it!”  ~Pat Quinn, Director of Counseling Ministries, University Reformed Church, East Lansing, Michigan

“Friendships are such an important part of our lives, but there is so much confusion about what a true friend is. Is it someone I shop with, someone I play sports with, someone I meet for lunch, or someone I call when I’m in trouble who never condemns me? Jonathan winsomely unpacks what biblical friendship really is. Prepare to be blessed, encouraged, and perhaps surprised. Then look forward to putting his wise words into practice and enjoying sweet fruit. I wish all friendships had the focus Jonathan describes.”  ~Amy Baker, Faith Church, Lafayette, IN, Biblical Counselor and Ministry Resource Director

“Ever get the sense there’s something lacking in your friendships? This book provides Christ-centered, practical wisdom on the obstacles and benefits of biblical friendships. You’ll gain valuable direction for real-life relationships and you will see the vital role of biblical friendships as a witness to the gospel. From his wealth of experience as a biblical counselor, Jonathan Holmes knows that friendships can be hard but also deeply fulfilling, especially when pursued with an eye to God’s glory.”  ~Dr. Stephen K. Moroney, Professor and Chair of the Department of Theology, Malone University

Friendship is a word like trust. We all know what these words mean but we’re not always sure how to ‘do’ them. Our tendency can be either to fear friendship or to deify what it means to have ‘a good friend.’ In The Company We Keep, Jonathan Holmes serves us well by giving us a functional definition, realistic expectations, and practical steps to develop the kind of biblical friendships God intended for his people.”  ~Brad Hambrick, Pastor of Counseling at The Summit Church (Durham, NC) and author of Burnout: Resting in God’s Fairness

“I loved this book because it honestly addresses a significant problem we all face in ways that are both theologically robust and delightfully practical. I especially appreciated Jonathan’s authenticity as he described ways he has struggled with these very same concepts. I felt like I was talking to a good friend as I read the book—how appropriate for a book on friendship. Now I plan to get to work applying the tremendous principles I’ve read. I needed this.”  ~Steve Viars, author; Senior Pastor, Faith Church, Lafayette, IN

“In a world where we are seemingly surrounded by friends, many continue to search for meaningful friendships. The Company We Keep not only provides a theological lens to view friendship accurately, but gives practical insights on how to develop them in everyday life. This book will encourage and enhance your friendships from a biblical perspective to become what they are truly designed to be.”  ~Joe Keller, D.Min., Vice President of Student Life, The Master’s College

“We hear a lot about the goodness of marriage, the honor of parenting, and the call to disciple others, but so little about life’s most common relationship: friendships. And what we see today is that, like never before, people do have more connections yet fewer true friends. My life receives so much richness thanks to Jonathan’s friendship, and I believe yours will too by embracing what he has to say here. I challenge you not to read this book alone, but with a friend!”  ~Scott Zeller, Training Coordinator, Redeemer Church of Dubai

“People want to connect with others. It is part of the image of God in man. But so often we struggle to have meaningful relationships, settling instead for various kinds of cheap substitutes and wishing for more. In this work, Jonathan helpfully teaches a biblical theology of friendship and along the way he provides wise counsel while having his feet firmly planted in the reality that we have many God-given responsibilities. Wise will be the one who evaluates his own life and seeks to make practical changes to pursuing and enjoying true biblical friendships based on the conviction of the Holy Spirit.”  ~Rob Green, Pastor of Counseling and Seminary Ministries, Faith Church, Lafayette, Indiana

“With meaningful friendships in sharp decline in an age of superficial acquaintances, we receive encouraging words in The Company We Keep. In this book, Jonathan Holmes paints friendship in exalted hues, drawing inspiration from no less than the ‘friendships’ formed within the triune Godhead. When we image the sacrificial love of heaven, we create friendships on earth that bring great glory to God and immense delight to ourselves. This concise book is biblical and personal, incisive and emotive, theological and practical—and causes us to yearn for the prize of Christ-centered friendships. The Company We Keep elevates interpersonal relations to new heights, beyond fellowship to friendship.”  ~Tim Savage, Ph.D., Senior Pastor, Camelback Bible Church

“I am glad that this book has been written. This short book challenges readers to understand God’s bigger purpose in giving friendships. It is filled with biblical wisdom, honest reflections, and helpful questions. I highly recommend this book.”  ~Lilly H. Park, Assistant Professor, Crossroads Bible College, IN

“With convicting transparency, Jonathan Holmes addresses not only the philosophical and motivational underpinnings of biblical friendships, he also offers help in overcoming our lost obedience with practical applications. Helpful and penetrating questions accompany each chapter, making this book a useful tool for leaders and groups as they take on the challenge of deepening commitment, thus bucking the cultural tendencies of calling shallow relationships “biblical friendship.“ Ideally, this book should not to be read alone, but along with people willing to take a deeper plunge into the challenge of biblical friendship than we are naturally accustomed to.

“With candor and insight, Jonathan exposes our sinful impediments to biblical friendships in a Christ-centered, contemporary manner. This book challenges those who are maturing in their biblical friendships to continue to grow, and introduces others to the concepts and challenge of biblical friendships. Thus, fresh challenges, motivations, and applications to the common and pervasive problem of shallow or selfish relationships can be applied by those new to the faith as well as those who have been struggling to deepen relationships biblically for a long time.”  ~Greg Cook, D.Min, Soul Care Pastor, Christ Chapel Church, Ft. Worth, Texas

“Jonathan Holmes has gifted the body of Christ with a fresh, insightful, relevant, and theologically-rich window into biblically-shaped, Christ-centered friendship. He invites the reader on an exploration, discovery, and practical pathway to healthy friendship. Not only does he unpack the relational challenges that can exist within friendships, but he also provides wisdom, direction, and hope for those desiring to experience friendships that thrive. This book is a timeless resource that could equip every reader on his or her journey to relating biblically.”  ~Dwayne R. Bond, Ph.D., Lead Pastor, Wellspring Church

“It is one thing for a church or an individual to be friendly, and quite another for us or our churches to be places where we find and make real friends. Jonathan’s book helps us understand what real friendship is and then how we can cultivate it in our lives and churches, on God’s terms. The Company We Keep is honest, realistic, and God-centered.”  ~Sam Williams, Professor of Counseling, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, North Carolina