Even Jesus had close friends.
We all need close friends, and the Bible has a lot to say about what a true friend is. A true friend is one who loves you no matter what situation you’ve got yourself into.
A friend loves at all times,
And a brother is born for adversity. —Proverbs 17:17
A true friend can be closer to you than your own family.
A man of too many friends comes to ruin,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. —Proverbs 18:24
And a true friend will tell you the truth, even when the truth hurts.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy. —Proverbs 27:6
Even Jesus had three of His twelve disciples turn into His close “inner circle.”
Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. —Matthew 17:1
See also Luke 8:51 and 9:28.
The three, Peter and the two brothers James and John, were the only ones to witness:
- The raising of Jarius’ daughter.
And He allowed no one to accompany Him, except Peter and James and John the brother of James. —Mark 5:37
- The Transfiguration.
Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them —Mark 9:2
- Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane.
They came to a place named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here until I have prayed.” And He took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be very distressed and troubled. —Mark 14:32-33
I appreciated the explanations of those scriptures in Acts where someone had believed and was saved by faith under law but had not received the Holy Spirit because they didn’t yet know Christ had come. But there is one verse, Acts 8:16, where they were apparently Church Age believers and yet the Holy Spirit was not present in them. How do you explain that?
Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the Word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.—Acts 8:14-16
When you find one verse that seemingly goes against many verses, don’t throw out the many and take a stand on the one. Take the time to research and determine the reasons for the apparent contradiction of doctrine.
In this case there are two possibilities. One, those in Samaria had only been baptized with water, and just because you are baptized in water, that doesn’t make you a Christian. God could have been making that fact very clear.
Or another possibility, which we believe is just as valid, has to do with the Samaritans themselves. The Samaritans were a people who had intermarried outside the Jewish race during the Babylonian captivity. After initially incorporating many pagan customs, they eventually repented and went back to following the five books of the Jewish Torah.
When Nehemiah began the effort to return to recover Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple, the Samaritans, who lived in close proximity to Jerusalem, came and offered to help. The orthodox Jews rejected their help citing their intermarriage and even refused to allow them into the Temple once it was completed.
Since the Torah requires sacrifice to cover their sins, and the Jewish Temple was inaccessible, they built their own temple in Samaria. Naturally this caused a great division between the Jews and the Samaritans. This explains why the woman at the well (John 4:9) was astonished that Jesus would even set foot in Samaria.
Understanding that background, if the Holy Spirit had immediately fallen on the Samaritans, there could have been continued animosity and division. But by God allowing a miracle (having to wait for John and Peter to come from Jerusalem) it proved that there was only one church and avoided having two competing churches in Israel.
God has always allowed miracles to achieve His ultimate purposes. As we’ve said before, just because He allows one piece of iron to float, it doesn’t mean all iron floats.
Then the man of God said, “Where did it fall?” And when he showed him the place, he cut off a stick and threw it in there, and made the iron float. —2 Kings 6:6
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Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible, copyright The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977. Used by permission.
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