Iron sharpens iron is what I call “Christianese” type of talk. It’s from Proverbs 27: 17 (LEB) : As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (LEB) is Lexham English Bible.
When I’m at a function and someone talks about something that I disagree with or don’t like or that stretches my thinking, so I have to really ponder what they’re saying, I might quip, “Well, iron sharpens iron.”
In some of the other versions it talks about “as iron sharpens iron, a man sharpens the countenance of his friend”, or “as iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens his friend” – this last quote is from the Bible in Basic English (BBE).
God wants people to think and seek wisdom and knowledge. The first universities in America were founded by Christians – Harvard and Yale. They provided courses to train ministers.
Proverbs is filled with admonitions to seek wisdom, and it states in the KJV-BRG in Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” is in the KJV in Proverbs 1:7a.
Proverbs also states in verses 27:6 in the KJV that “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”
To me, that means that sometimes my friend will tell me something that hurts but I need to hear it. It’s for my own good. I remember two ladies that attended our church many years ago. One began eating a lot of fresh garlic because she heard it was good for her health. The garlic smell started to come through her pores when she perspired and her friend told her that the odor was strong and unpleasant.
I know it caused a rift for a short time, but the lady forgave the other one and she cut back on her garlic. 🙂
I began to notice that the twenty-seventh chapter in Proverbs had a lot to say about friendships and relationships.
Iron sharpens iron is only part of it.