Agapao, Phileo and John 21:15-17

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by steaver, Jun 4, 2009.

  1. steaver

    steaver
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    (15) So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, [son] of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
    (16) He saith to him again the second time, Simon, [son] of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
    (17) He saith unto him the third time, Simon, [son] of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

    Jesus asks Peter, do you "agapao" me?

    Peter replies, I "phileo" thee.

    Jesus asks Peter a second time, do you "agapao" me?

    Peter replies, I "phileo" thee.

    Jesus asks Peter a third time (changes the verb) do you "phileo" me?

    Peter replies, I "phileo" thee.

    I looked up the definitions given for each of these Greek words in my Strong's Concordance. From what I understand, "agapao" is a love of "social or moral" consent with the mind while "phileo" is an affectionate love of the heart.

    Wouldn't this make "phileo" a more powerful verb expressing love than the verb "agapao"?

    I read some opinions on this passage and one said that "agapao" is the more powerful verb and Peter did not want to go there and tamed it down a bit. This doesn't seem probable according to the Greek definitions I have found.

    Does anyone here have some insight on this? These two verbs are said to be synomynous. Yet the Greek must have a purpose for having the two and there must be a purpose for God's word using two different verbs within the same conversation about this subject of "love".

    If there is a difference, however minute, what is it?

    From what I have gathered the difference is "agapao" is of the mind and "phileo" is of the heart. If this is true, then Peter was not deminishing his love for Jesus but was rather saying, "not only do I agapao you Jesus, but I phileo you Jesus". In other words, "My love is not only a mental consent but a affectionate love from my heart".

    Any input would be greatly appreciated, I have just begun studying this.

    :jesus:
     
  2. Allan

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    There is a little more to it than what you give.

    Agapao is more than just a 'social or moral' consent of the mind but it is also action without regard for benfit. Look at how God defines 'agape' (from with agopao is derived) in 1 Cor 13 and then we see God Himself defines Himself using this same word in 1 John 4:8 where the writer states through the Holy Spirit that God is love/agape.
    Thus this love is better descibed as that affection which moves one to action, not for yourself but specifically for the benifit others/another.

    And phileo is more about a personal affection; example - friendship. It is more about the feelings and not specifically involving any action.

    Note however that both refer to that affection which binds them to another person in some fashion however agape is that which goes beyond just affection and moves with intended action, with emphasis on the action. Where as Phileo meaning has more emphasis on the affection of that relationship.


    In the conversation with Peter when Jesus was asking whether Peter loved him (do something for him) Peter states I love you (have great affection for you). The question to Peter, it appeares, to be one that seemed a little cold because Jesus was basically stating do you love me enough to do what I ask and Peter was responding Lord I love you . The second time it was the same as the first - Jesus was emphasising the action (and thus feed my sheep) and Peter was reassuring the Lord that he did in fact love him deeply, as if to say the depth of my affection will prove my love, but in reality our action proves the depth of our affection. The last question Jesus gave took Peters statement where Peter was (loving Him) and encouraged him to move beyond just loving him to do something with it so that it could indeed be a real and true love toward Him (that Peters love would be in the likeness of both His Fathers and Himself).

    Therefore, in this case, the power of the verb used is determined by its action and thus agapao is in truth a stronger term here.

    This is a basic break down but hope it helps somewhat.
     
    #2 Allan, Jun 4, 2009
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  3. steaver

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    This analogy of the passage appears to make good sense. However, I would really like to see some in depth Greek definitions of these verbs that I may be sure of how I view and teach this passage to others. Your exgesis sounds good, but I need to be able to say to the student why agapao is more than phileo. I mean could you post some resources for me that made you come to this conclusion?

    Thanks for the post! :thumbsup:
     
  4. Allan

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    As I stated it was just a basic rendition because there is a lot to it. If you would just study the words in how they are consistantly used in context you see what I stated is correct. You will never find phileo ever refering to the relationship between God and man nor vise-versa. As you already stated phileo is an affectionate love of the heart. It is affection from the heart but that is as far as it goes in meaning. It simply states to have an affection or love toward another.

    However you will find that agapao is established or rooted in action derived from love.
    An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon on agapao states:
    Notice if you will that it involves action and illistrates this with .. to treat.. to caress, ect. This is why you will find THIS love (agape) illistrated in 1 Cor 13 to show that true love is not about self or what will benifit you but about others and what you can give them regardless of self benifit.

    Even Jesus stated "no hath greater love (agape) than this" IOW - no man can/has proved his love more than doing this, to lay down his life for his friends. (Jesus took it further by the way and laid down his life for his enemies - while we were yet sinners Christ died for us).

    Jesus also said "if you love (agapao) me you will keep my commandments. Do you see a pattern here in which agape or agapao is established in the premise that action is determined by the depth of affection toward another.

    And thus phileo is illistrated in affection to another but with regard to action. Both of these are seen well in 1 Thes 4:9 (as touching brotherly love/philadelphia... for you yourselves are taught of God HOW TO love/agape) NOTE: phiadelphia is derived from it's root word phileo :)


    I disagree with some scholars who state that Jesus was telling Peter to reach for a higher love (I agree here) but they state that Peter would not but was resigned to stay at a lower type of love. I disagree - I think Peter had a misunderstanding of what real love was and was about. Jesus had an interesting way of teaching many times whereby He would tell the person some spiritual truth (Nic in John 3 about salvation, the woman at the well about worship and the messiah, ect..) to confront their preconcieved idea, and then come back (so to speak) to where they were and lead them to see the spiritual truth they had misunderstood in the first place. This is the same thing we see here. Jesus didn't spurn Peter for not understanding but encouraged him to go further than he had done previously. If you will note as well Peter never left his Saviour, denied him, nor was silent over him again. :)
     
    #4 Allan, Jun 5, 2009
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  5. Pastor Larry

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    Actually, this passage doesn't hang on the distinction between the words. I know that kills a lot of good preaching, but the distinction between these words is not nearly so stark as some have tried to make it.

    The point doesn't hang on the distinction in meaning but on the repetition and the life of Peter in its context.
     
  6. Marcia

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    This is what I've read and heard as well. What I heard was that koine Greek did not make these distinctions the way classical Greek did. Therefore, we should not analyze this passage based on a supposed distinction between these words.

    I think more to the point is that Jesus asked Peter this question 3 times - the same number of times that Peter denied him.

    Strong's is not the best source for understanding Greek words in the NT. You need a good lexicon. Don't use Vine's, either.
     
    #6 Marcia, Jun 5, 2009
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  7. steaver

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    Thanks brother. :thumbsup: I am leaning this dirrection but I just want to be sure and have some evidence pointing strongly towards what I ultimately embrace.

    :jesus:
     
  8. steaver

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    I believe the repetition of "threes" in Peter's life is significant and is part of what can be learned about Jesus dealing with Peter. However, two different yet very similiar words were spoken in this passage. It must have some significance even if very minute. I don't think we should just brush it aside. It must mean something.

    :jesus:
     
  9. steaver

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    I don't see how you can say "a supposed distinction". Jesus used a different verb than Peter twice and then used the same as Peter the third time. This is the word of God. There must be a reason for the verbs used, even if very minute. The three times is significant, however the use of verbs must play some role in the lesson as well.

    Is there a good lexicon online that you would suggest?

    :jesus:
     
  10. Marcia

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    You need to be careful of reading into the text because you want to see a meaning here. Often these words for love were used interchangeably, so it doesn't necessarily mean anything. I can use several words meaning the same thing in a paragraph or several paragraphs. Research further! :thumbsup:
     
  11. Marcia

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    See my post before this one.

    These words had no distinction in koine Greek according to some experts so it doesn't have to mean something that different words were used. I think people read too much into this and maybe miss some of the more obvious meanings of the passage.

    I have hard copy lexicons and don't use online ones but try these:
    http://www.biblestudytools.com/Lexicons/Greek/?id=1

    http://www.studylight.org/lex/grk/

    I have never used these but they look okay.

    It helps to look up the Greek word by a number and then look it up that way. Some are keyed to Strong's.

    Also, maybe some commentaries might say something. You'll probably find both views but that proves my point: it's not absolute that a distinction in these words should be made.
     
  12. Allan

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    Yes in the Koine Greek there is a distinction in them with regard to action but not so much in essense. Where did you read there was none? Even in various lexicons they have some similar meanings but also, as I demonstrated previously a dtstinctiveness in them as well. This why they are two seprtate words even though they mean 'much' the same thing. You can see this illistrated in their usages and over and over again.

    Vines is actually very good but not the best out there of course and Strongs is a basic standard in relation to common or note-worthy definitions. This however does not mean what he gives is without some flaw or that his is authoritive, however he is used often by those knowledgable in the Greek and Hebrew languages as a good quick reference.

    I personally have Strongs, Thayer, Concise Greek=Eglish definitions, Intermediate Greek-Herew Lexicon, Brown-Driver-Digs Hebrew, BAGD, to namr some of those instraments in my library to help me properly evaluate those meanings (not mention my knowledge of them already -which is fair though not great)
     
    #12 Allan, Jun 5, 2009
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  13. Pastor Larry

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    Think of all the synonyms we use today and don't intend anything by them. I am not saying that word choice never means anything, but let's face it: We frequently use synonyms to say the same thing, not different things. In this case, there is no apparent reason for the change. There is no rhythm to it at all. I wouldn't read anything into it.
     
  14. Pastor Larry

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    I have never seen anyone knowledge in Greek and Hebrew cite Strong's for anything other than a bad example of where to get word meanings. Strong's is way too simplistic. If you compare it with BAGD or Thayer's, you will quickly see that.
     
  15. Allan

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    Some do yet there are many who do not.
    Words have meaning, as I'm sure you know, and thus words that convey the same type meaning but the difference is in how it describes that item/issue .. example black and dark. They mean much the same however there is a distictiveness which conveys depth an not just essesnse.


    I agree here in that distinction need not always be made the focus because in truth the distinction is no so much the essesnse as its depth.

    However I believe, with respect to the passage in question, that Jesus is speaking more to the distinctiveness of the detth to which love is demonstrated.
     
    #15 Allan, Jun 5, 2009
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  16. Allan

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    I didn't say they cite him, I said good quick reference (something quick, basic, and short). IOW - they are not opposed to its usage if need be. I should have been more clear in that statement,

    Oh no, I would not equate Thayer with BAGD or place them similar. I love my BAGD :) but if I'm online or out and about and I need to remember something I forgot I take a quick look at the Strongs to jump start my meory or give me a starting point till I get to more suitable study material.
     
    #16 Allan, Jun 5, 2009
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  17. steaver

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    I agree that we use synonymous words without regard as we speak, but this is not just common speak. This is the very word of God and if Jesus used different verbs at different times I am convinced there must be a just difference for doing so. If the Greek language has all of these different words for love then there must be a reason for it. I don't think it wise for a student of the word to just ignore it.

    God bless! :jesus:
     
  18. Pastor Larry

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    This means that Jesus' words are something other than simple human communication, which has drastic consequences for the Word of God, the doctrine of bibliology. I don't buy it for a second. If you look through Scripture, you will see that synonyms are used quite often with no intended change in meaning. With your idea, you are undermining the inspiration of Scripture. I think that is a bad thing. Sometimes different words are used for emphasis, or for rhetorical effect, or some other reason. It's human communication and Jesus was human communicating to humans.
     
  19. Pastor Larry

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    I haven't seen that either.

    I wouldn't either, but they have more in common with each other than with Strong.
     
  20. Joseph M. Smith

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    There are a couple of aspects of this question that have not been touched on yet:

    1. Are these the actual words of Jesus and of Peter? Some Fourth Gospel scholars see the entire Gospel as more of a theological essay than as a factual reporting. If it is an essay from the mind of John (or whoever the author was), and since it is chock-full of symbolism, might this wording difference suggest that the author does intend for us to see both a difference and a distinction? The author, now, not necessarily Jesus Himself.

    2. If, on the other hand, these are actually the words of Jesus and Peter, they would not have been speaking Greek, would they? They would have been speaking Aramaic. My pastor recently preached on this passage and did make the distinction between phileo and agapao; when another member and I were discussing the Aramaic question, she did a little research and discovered some 14 nuances of "love" in Aramaic! (Do not know her sources at this moment). Fascinating, then, to speculate what Aramaic words and meanings might lie behind these Greek words ... again, assuming that these are translations of actual speech.
     

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