The apostle Paul employed the Greek noun ho·mi·liʹa when warning Christians about the danger of bad “associations.” (1Co 15:33) This Greek word is related to the verb ho·mi·leʹo, meaning “converse.” (Ac 20:11) It denotes association or intercourse with another, usually through speech but sometimes through sexual relations. The Greek Septuagint used this word to translate the Hebrew for “persuasiveness” in Proverbs 7:21 and for the “marriage due” in Exodus 21:10.
Those who desire God’s approval choose as their companions persons who are devoted to righteousness and truth. (2Ti 2:22) They also stop “associating [literally, mixing themselves up]” socially with members of the congregation whose way of life has led to official censure of their disorderly conduct. While continuing to manifest love toward such ones, they make it clear that they do not approve of their disorderly conduct. (2Th 3:6-15) Whereas good associates can be a real aid in one’s continuing to walk in harmony with divine wisdom, there is no denying the damaging consequences of bad association. The inspired proverb states: “He that is walking with wise persons will become wise, but he that is having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.” (Pr 13:20; compare Pr 22:24, 25; 28:7; 29:3.) The Hebrew word ra·ʽahʹ, translated ‘have dealings with’ in Proverbs 13:20, is also rendered ‘associate with’ and is related to the Hebrew word reʹaʽ, meaning “fellowman; companion.”—Jg 14:20; Le 19:18; Ps 15:3.
That unwholesome companions are indeed hurtful to one’s welfare is evident from many Scriptural examples. Jacob’s daughter Dinah unwisely chose Canaanite girls as her associates, and this led to her being violated by Shechem, the son of a Hivite chieftain. (Ge 34:1, 2) David’s son Amnon listened to the bad counsel of his companion Jehonadab and raped his own half sister Tamar. Thus he incurred the hatred of Absalom, her full brother, who later arranged to have him murdered. (2Sa 13:3-29) Contrary to Jehovah’s commands, the Israelites began associating with the Canaanites, formed marriage alliances with them, and adopted their degraded form of worship, resulting in Jehovah’s disfavor and abandonment. (De 7:3, 4; Jg 3:5-8) Even Solomon turned from worship of Jehovah when he took worshipers of false gods as wives. (Ne 13:26) It was the influence of Baal-worshiping Jezebel that made Ahab worse than all the Israelite kings prior to his time. (1Ki 21:25) Close association with the royal house of Ahab nearly cost godly Jehoshaphat his life, and the marriage alliance that he had formed with Ahab later almost destroyed the royal house of David.—2Ch 18:1-3, 29-31; 22:10, 11.
The united body of true Christians, though composed of small groups, congregations, or physically isolated individuals, constitutes an “association of brothers,” or a brotherhood, designated by the Greek expression a·del·phoʹtes. (1Pe 2:17; 5:9) To remain a part of that brotherhood, true Christians avoid all association with any from their midst who become promoters of false, divisive teachings. (Ro 16:17, 18) The Christian apostle John directed fellow believers never to accept such a false teacher into their homes or to greet him, which would give him an opening for presenting his twisted, corrupt doctrine. Greeting such a person would have indicated a measure of approval and made one a sharer in “his wicked works.” (2Jo 10, 11) Despite the overwhelming evidence regarding the certainty of the resurrection from the dead, the apostle Paul knew that association with those who had rejected this Christian teaching would be destructive to faith. That is why he wrote: “Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits.”—1Co 15:12-22, 33; see APOSTASY.