31 Bible Verses About Bad Friends (with Explanations)

Throughout history, people have sought guidance and support from close companions, but not all friendships blossom into sources of positive influence. The Bible, a rich tapestry of human experience, reflects this reality, offering both warnings and insights on navigating the complex territory of friendships.

Within its pages, we encounter stories of loyalty and betrayal, tales of wise counselors and manipulative companions. We are urged to choose our friends carefully, for their influence can shape our character and destiny.

In this exploration, we delve into several Bible verses that shed light on the potential pitfalls of bad friendships. We’ll avoid painting all non-ideal relationships with a single brushstroke, but rather examine the characteristics and behaviors that Scripture warns against.

By understanding these red flags, we can cultivate wisdom in discerning genuine friends from those who may lead us astray.

Also Read: Bible Verses About Fake Friends (with Explanations)

Bible Verses About Bad Friends

Proverbs 22:24-25 (NIV)

“Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.”

Proverbs, often regarded as a practical guide to wisdom, issues a stern caution against forming bonds with individuals characterized by a quick temper. The metaphor of getting ensnared conveys the potential entanglement and harm that may result from such associations.

This advice is rooted in the understanding that consistent exposure to anger can shape one’s own responses, making it crucial to exercise discernment in choosing friends to avoid adopting detrimental behaviors.

1 Corinthians 15:33 (ESV)

“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.'”

This verse from Corinthians serves as a stark warning against the deceptive nature of companionship. It asserts that the character of our friends can have a profound impact on our moral standing.

The term “ruins” underscores the transformative power of association, urging believers to be vigilant in selecting friends whose influence aligns with moral principles to safeguard their own ethical integrity.

Proverbs 13:20 (NLT)

“Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.”

Proverbs continues its sage advice, highlighting the transformative power of association. The call to walk with the wise underscores the positive influence of wise companionship, suggesting that it contributes to personal growth and understanding.

Conversely, the caution against associating with fools paints a vivid picture of the potential consequences, warning against the pitfalls and troubles that may arise from such associations.

Psalm 1:1-2 (NIV)

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.”

Psalm 1 sets a tone of blessedness for those who intentionally distance themselves from ungodly influences. The progressive imagery of walking, standing, and sitting in the company of the wicked emphasizes the need for deliberate separation from negative influences.

The focus on delight in the law of the Lord underscores the importance of aligning with those who share similar values, emphasizing the joy derived from spiritual companionship.

Proverbs 14:7 (ESV)

“Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge.”

Proverbs succinctly advises to depart from the company of fools, emphasizing the lack of wisdom in such associations. The instruction to leave signifies an active and intentional choice to distance oneself from those who hinder intellectual and spiritual growth.

The absence of knowledge in the presence of a fool serves as a stark reminder of the importance of seeking meaningful, knowledge-enriched relationships.

James 4:4 (NIV)

“You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”

James addresses the peril of aligning too closely with worldly values. The strong language, referring to people as “adulterous,” heightens the gravity of the message.

The concept of enmity with God underscores the spiritual consequences of worldly friendships, challenging believers to prioritize spiritual alliances over secular associations.

Proverbs 19:4 (NLT)

“Wealth makes many ‘friends’; poverty drives them all away.”

This proverb explores the dynamic nature of friendships in the context of material wealth. The juxtaposition of gaining and losing friends based on prosperity illuminates the superficiality of relationships driven solely by material gain.

It encourages discernment in relationships, cautioning against those who are only present in times of prosperity and highlighting the importance of cultivating genuine, lasting connections.

1 Corinthians 5:11 (NIV)

“But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.”

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians addresses the importance of maintaining spiritual integrity within the community of believers. The directive to avoid association with those claiming kinship but engaging in unrighteous behavior underscores the significance of preserving the sanctity of the Christian fellowship.

The act of sharing meals in ancient cultures symbolized intimacy, making the admonition to refrain from eating with such individuals a powerful symbol of separation from ungodly influences.

Proverbs 16:28 (ESV)

“A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.”

This proverb highlights the destructive impact of dishonesty and gossip on friendships. The imagery of spreading strife emphasizes the far-reaching consequences of deceitful actions, while the mention of a whisperer separating close friends underscores the insidious nature of gossip, which erodes trust and divides even the closest of companions.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV)

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”

Ecclesiastes presents a positive perspective on companionship, emphasizing the mutual support and benefit derived from healthy friendships. The imagery of two working together and helping each other up in times of trouble underscores the inherent value of supportive relationships.

This passage encourages believers to appreciate the positive impact of uplifting, caring friendships that contribute to personal and collective well-being.

Galatians 5:9 (NLT)

“This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough.”

In addressing the influence of false teachings, Galatians employs the metaphor of yeast to illustrate its pervasive and corrupting nature. The verse warns believers about the potential impact of allowing false doctrines or misguided influences into their lives.

The imagery prompts reflection on the importance of guarding against subtle influences that can permeate and distort one’s understanding of truth.

Proverbs 17:17 (NIV)

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”

This proverb encapsulates the enduring nature of true friendship, emphasizing the constancy of love in genuine companionship. The declaration that a brother is born for a time of adversity underscores the unique strength of deep connections during challenging moments.

This verse encourages believers to value and cultivate friendships that stand the test of time, offering unwavering support in both joyful and difficult seasons.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV)

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

In this epistle to the Thessalonians, the call to encourage and build up one another resonates as a foundational principle for Christian community. The emphasis on mutual support highlights the positive role friends play in fostering spiritual growth and emotional well-being.

This verse inspires believers to actively engage in uplifting and edifying relationships within the faith community.

1 Peter 3:8-9 (NLT)

“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

Peter’s exhortation encourages believers to cultivate virtues such as like-mindedness, sympathy, love, compassion, and humility within their relationships. The call to respond to evil with blessing reflects the transformative power of positive actions, fostering an environment of grace and unity.

This passage serves as a guide for building Christ-centered friendships that reflect the character of Christ in interactions with others.

Matthew 7:15-16 (NIV)

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit, you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?”

Jesus’ words in Matthew highlight the importance of discernment in evaluating the authenticity of spiritual leaders and influences. The metaphor of false prophets in sheep’s clothing conveys the deceptive nature of those who may appear righteous but harbor harmful intentions.

The emphasis on recognizing them by their fruit underscores the idea that genuine spirituality is reflected in the tangible outcomes of one’s life and teachings.

Proverbs 12:26 (ESV)

“One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

Proverbs draws a sharp contrast between the influence of the righteous and the wicked. The imagery of a guide underscores the positive impact of righteous individuals who lead and inspire others toward goodness.

In contrast, the warning about the way of the wicked leading astray highlights the potential harm that can result from following those who lack moral integrity.

Colossians 3:9-10 (NLT)

“Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.”

Paul’s letter to the Colossians emphasizes the transformative power of a renewed nature in Christ. The instruction to avoid lying and embrace authenticity within relationships aligns with the concept of stripping off the old sinful self.

This verse encourages believers to foster honesty and transparency, fostering genuine connections that reflect the transformative work of God in their lives.

Proverbs 27:6 (NIV)

“Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”

Proverbs delves into the complexity of true friendship, asserting that constructive criticism and honest rebuke from a friend are valuable. The contrast with an enemy who multiplies kisses suggests that superficial expressions of affection can be deceptive.

This verse challenges believers to appreciate the sometimes uncomfortable, yet trustworthy, guidance that true friends offer for personal growth and improvement.

1 Corinthians 1:10 (ESV)

“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”

Paul’s appeal to unity in Corinthians underscores the significance of harmony within the Christian community. The call for agreement and avoidance of divisions emphasizes the importance of shared beliefs and values in fostering strong, supportive friendships.

This verse challenges believers to actively pursue unity, recognizing its role in building a cohesive and spiritually edifying community.

Proverbs 18:24 (NLT)

“There are ‘friends’ who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.”

Proverbs offers a profound insight into the nature of true friendship, contrasting it with destructive relationships. The imagery of a friend sticking closer than a brother emphasizes the depth and loyalty inherent in genuine companionship.

This verse encourages believers to value and prioritize relationships characterized by mutual support, trust, and enduring commitment.

Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Paul’s exhortation in Philippians articulates the Christian ethic of selflessness and humility in relationships. The call to value others above oneself challenges believers to prioritize the well-being and needs of others.

This verse serves as a foundational principle for cultivating healthy, Christ-centered friendships, encouraging a mindset that fosters mutual care and consideration.

Proverbs 22:11 (NLT)

“Whoever loves a pure heart and gracious speech will have the king as a friend.”

Proverbs extols the virtues of a pure heart and gracious speech, highlighting the potential for cultivating influential and honorable friendships. The metaphor of having the king as a friend conveys the idea that genuine goodness and kindness can lead to connections with those of high standing and influence.

This verse encourages believers to prioritize inner purity and considerate communication in their relationships.

1 John 4:20-21 (ESV)

“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

In this passage from 1 John, a direct link is established between one’s love for God and love for fellow human beings. The strong language, calling someone who claims to love God but hates their brother a liar, underscores the inseparability of love for God and love for others.

This verse challenges believers to demonstrate genuine love in their relationships as a tangible expression of their devotion to God.

Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

Proverbs employs the metaphor of iron sharpening iron to illustrate the refining and edifying nature of authentic friendships. The imagery suggests that just as two pieces of iron become sharper through friction, individuals can grow and improve through the challenges and interactions within meaningful relationships.

This verse encourages believers to seek and appreciate friends who contribute to their personal and spiritual development.

Romans 12:16 (NLT)

“Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!”

Paul’s exhortation in Romans emphasizes humility and harmony within the Christian community. The call to live in harmony challenges believers to prioritize unity over personal pride. The encouragement not to be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people underscores the value of humility in relationships.

This verse prompts reflection on the role of humility in fostering genuine and inclusive friendships.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 (ESV)

“And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

Ecclesiastes offers a profound reflection on the strength of companionship, using the metaphor of a threefold cord. The imagery suggests that unity and mutual support create a resilient bond that is not easily broken.

This verse encourages believers to appreciate the collective strength that arises from supportive and interconnected relationships, emphasizing the importance of community and teamwork.

James 3:17-18 (NIV)

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”

James provides a comprehensive description of heavenly wisdom, emphasizing its qualities of purity, peace-loving nature, consideration, and sincerity. The mention of being peace-loving and considerate underlines the importance of fostering harmonious relationships.

The call to be peacemakers reflects the transformative impact that cultivating a spirit of reconciliation can have in building and maintaining healthy friendships.

Colossians 4:6 (NLT)

“Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”

Paul’s guidance to the Colossians underscores the power of gracious and attractive communication in relationships. The emphasis on choosing words carefully aligns with the broader theme of fostering positive interactions.

This verse encourages believers to prioritize kindness and thoughtfulness in their speech, recognizing the significant role it plays in building and sustaining meaningful connections.

Proverbs 18:20-21 (NIV)

“From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips, they are satisfied. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

Proverbs emphasizes the profound impact of words on our lives and relationships. This passage underscores the power of speech in shaping our experiences and influencing those around us.

It serves as a reminder to choose our words wisely, especially in friendships, as they have the potential to build up or tear down. Cultivating a habit of speaking life and positivity can contribute to the health and well-being of our connections.

2 Corinthians 6:14 (ESV)

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians provides guidance on the nature of partnerships and friendships. The metaphor of being unequally yoked underscores the importance of aligning with those who share similar values and faith.

While this doesn’t imply isolation from non-believers, it highlights the significance of having a core support system rooted in shared spiritual beliefs. This verse encourages believers to be mindful of the spiritual foundation of their close friendships to foster unity and understanding.

1 Thessalonians 5:14 (NLT)

“Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.”

In this passage from Thessalonians, Paul provides a multifaceted approach to relationships within the Christian community. The call to warn, encourage, and take care reflects the diverse needs of individuals.

This verse encourages believers to be attuned to the varying circumstances of their friends, demonstrating patience and a genuine desire to uplift and support one another. It reinforces the idea that healthy friendships involve a combination of correction, encouragement, and compassion.

Also Read: Bible Verses About Fake Friends (with Explanations)

What Does the Bible Say About Bad Friends?

The Bible provides several insights and teachings regarding the nature of friendships and the impact that companionship can have on one’s life. While the Bible doesn’t explicitly use the term “bad friends,” it offers guidance on the characteristics and behaviors that one should be cautious about in relationships.

Here are some key principles:

Avoiding Unrighteous Associations: Proverbs 22:24-25 (NIV) advises against forming close bonds with those who are hot-tempered, easily angered, or engage in unrighteous behavior. The concern is that such associations can influence one’s own conduct and lead to entanglement in negative patterns.

Choosing Wise Companions: Proverbs 13:20 (NLT) emphasizes the importance of walking with the wise, suggesting that associating with those who possess wisdom contributes to personal growth. Conversely, associating with fools can lead to trouble and adversity.

Impact of Company on Morality: 1 Corinthians 15:33 (ESV) cautions that bad company can corrupt good morals. This verse underscores the transformative influence that friends and associates can have on one’s ethical values and behavior.

A Short Prayer Against Bad Friends

Dear Heavenly Father,

I come before you seeking guidance and protection against the influence of harmful friendships. Grant me discernment to recognize those whose intentions may lead me astray from Your path. Shield me from the negative impact of unwise associations and surround me with companions who uplift and encourage my faith.

In Your loving grace, help me to cultivate friendships rooted in Your values, where love, understanding, and righteousness prevail. Strengthen my resolve to walk away from any relationships that may compromise my spiritual well-being.

Lord, I trust in Your wisdom and ask for Your guidance in choosing friends who align with Your Word and contribute positively to my life. May Your presence be a constant source of guidance, protecting me from the pitfalls of harmful associations.

In Jesus’ name, I pray.