Ruth 1:16 And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:

17 Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.

John the Baptist

John 3:27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.

28 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.

29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.

30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

Paul the Apostle

Philippians 3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.


MEMORY VERSE: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. —John 15:13-15


CENTRAL THOUGHT: Three Bible examples show the characteristics of a true friend of Jesus: Ruth, when she covenanted to remain close to Naomi and the true God; John the Baptist, when he in humility acknowledged the divinity of Jesus and His rightful place as Lord of all; and Paul, when he left behind his own righteousness and set his heart steadfastly toward knowing Jesus, loving Him, and reaching the goal of the high calling of Jesus.




Ruth 1:17 “The Lord do so to me…”: “a frequently recurring formula in connection with an oath, by which the person swearing called down upon himself a severe punishment in case he should not keep his word or carry out his resolution” (Keil and Delitzsch).

Philippians 3:8 “Excellency”: to hold or rise above; superior. “Dung”: refuse; that which is to be cast away or thrown to the dogs. “Win”: gain or acquire.




There are probably many more examples in scripture when we think of knowing Christ, having Him for our friend, and being a devoted, faithful friend to Him; I have chosen the testimonies of three, one in the Old Testament and two in the New Testament.

An Israelite man named Elimelech, his wife, Naomi, and their two sons had sojourned in the land of Moab during a time of famine. Elimelech soon died and left his wife and sons, each of whom then married Moabite girls, Orpah and Ruth. After ten years, both sons died and Naomi chose to return to Judah and her hometown of Bethlehem. She said to each of her daughters-in-law, “Return each of you to your mother’s house.” They both wept as she kissed them, and wanted to go with her. She again prevailed upon them to return to their homes. This time, Orpah decided to go, but Ruth held on to Naomi.

Ruth’s words of friendship and commitment were not only to her mother-in-law. Yes, she committed to go with Naomi back to Bethlehem, stay with her and be a companion and helper to her, leaving her relatives and her homeland. But there was more. She was placing her trust and belief in Naomi’s God, the true God, and leaving behind the false gods she had previously worshipped.

The testimony of John the Baptist, who was actually Jesus’ own cousin, just six months older, was spoken when, after he had baptized Jesus in the Jordan and identified Him as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, he met up with Jesus again while Jesus was also baptizing those who had repented. John’s disciples then came to John with a question about Jesus. John’s answer demonstrated an humble belief in Jesus as the Messiah. He called Him the bridegroom, the one who has the bride, but referred to himself as the friend of the bridegroom, who rejoices to hear the bridegroom’s voice. His own joy was fulfilled, he acknowledged, when he heard Jesus’ voice. He further witnessed of Jesus’ heavenly origin and the fullness of the Holy Spirit upon Him. The words of John’s personal covenant with Jesus can be found in his simple statement: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” John knew that he was only a voice, only a forerunner, a herald to the King of kings. After he was put into Herod’s prison, he seemed to have second thoughts and sent some of his disciples to question Jesus: “Are you really the One?” Jesus sent back an 49 answer to John which must have satisfied him. Shortly afterward, Herodias, Herod’s wife, requested him to be put to death. When Jesus heard the news, he went out into the desert, no doubt to grieve and commune with His Father.

Paul’s covenant of friendship with Jesus is written to the saints at Philippi. He felt the solemn call to “know” Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Having experienced being a blameless, law-keeping Pharisee, he aspired to a superior knowledge and a righteousness which exceeded the righteousness he had known. Now he desired to gain Jesus Himself; to know and experience the power of His resurrection and to fellowship in His sufferings and death. He had been apprehended by this amazing Lord of Glory; stopped and arrested by a blinding heavenly light, and called by a voice like thunder. He wanted to possess, to hold in his hands the very thing which arrested and held him.

In the verse immediately following (Philippians 3:14), Paul says, “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded.” Wait a minute, he just said in verse 12 that he did not count himself as already perfect! But here it is again—the concept of being perfect. Completely open to Christ. Completely surrendered to Him. Feeling everyday that there’s probably more openness and surrender that I’m reaching for, but as far as I understand, I’ve done as much as I know to do. Paul had already suffered much for Jesus. He had been working and preaching and traveling in His service. But here he said that he didn’t count himself to have gained much at all, in comparison with how much more there was to gain in Christ. There was a prize he stretched toward with all earnestness. There was a high calling for which he pressed.

In the memory verse, we repeat the words of Jesus that express that high calling. Not servants—that had to do with the righteousness of the law; but friends. “I have called you friends.”

—Angela Gellenbeck



  1. Whom did Ruth entreat with her words of consecration and devotion, and what is the deeper meaning?
  2. What did John the Baptist call himself, in relation to Jesus, and what deeper truth about Jesus did he recognize by this?
  3. With what words did John state his covenant to Jesus?
  4. How did the increase/decrease actually take place?
  5. Toward what “prize” did Paul press, and what particular details of that calling did he desire to experience?





In earlier lessons we spoke about the importance of covenant in friendship. There was the example of Abraham’s covenants and David and Jonathan’s covenant. Today we can see the vows and covenants made by Ruth, John the Baptist, and Paul, each very emotional and heartfelt, yet very deliberate and expressive of utmost devotion. The elements of these vows reveal to us the path to our own dedication and covenant with Christ.

First, a vow to remain. “I don’t want to ever leave you. Where you are, that’s where I want to be. Where you must stay, in whatever circumstances you are, I’ll go with you. Even where you die (Calvary!) I want to be there, too. Your God, your Father, will be mine too.” Truly, that’s the covenant we make if we want to be Jesus’ friend.

Secondly, a vow to humble myself. “Lord, You must increase. Your hold on my life must be greater and greater, while I must let go of myself more and more. May Your kingdom come and possess all of my life. ‘No reserve now to myself will I make.’ Let me go lower, and lower still.”

Third, a vow to suffer and die with Him. As we said in the beginning, this is the ultimate expression of love. Jesus laid down His life for us. We lay down our lives for Him and for the brethren, our friends in Him. “We love Him, because He first loved us.”

In these examples we again see the revelation element of our friendship with Christ. As Ruth pledged her faithfulness, she was given instructions about what to do. As John submitted himself to Jesus, he asked and received answers to his questions. And Paul was told, as he lay prostrate before Jesus on the road to Damascus, “Rise and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee” (Acts 26:16).

—Angela Gellenbeck




In many ways, social media has redefined friendship and, I believe, has contributed to the shallowness of modern relationships. “Friend” is no longer just a noun that describes a person, it has become a verb. Facebook has given us the option to friend, unfriend or be friended at the click of a button. We can make a friend request to a total stranger without there being even the remotest possibility of ever meeting them. We seek for friends and followers on various social media platforms and somehow feel that it will add significance to our lives.

But what about Jesus? He too, seeks friends and followers but on a far deeper and more intimate level. He doesn’t just want to “lurk” to see where we’ve been and what we’re doing. He genuinely cares and wants to be a part of our lives. His commitment is to help us through our most difficult days—to be there when we need a shoulder to lean on. He understands us like no one else can. He speaks with us when everyone else is tired of listening. He mends our broken hearts and wipes away our tears. He gently nudges us out of our moments of self-pity, leads us beyond our failures and becomes our greatest champion.

He loved us even when we were unlovable. He is a true friend who understands our pain, our emotions, and our frustrations. He was tempted just like we are tempted. The victory that he won is the same victory that he shares with us. He is a generous giver of gifts and of grace. Every need that we will ever have, he willingly supplies. And the best part is that he took our place and bore our punishment. He died so that we wouldn’t have to die. That is the epitome of a genuine friendship! Oh, what a friend we have in Jesus! How can we not be his followers? How can we not befriend him?

—Darrell Johnson