That You May Believe
Dr. F. J. May and Dr. H. Lynn Stone
Section III – The Lord Reigns Through His Passion (John 18-21)
Lecture 12, THE LORD AND THE LOVE WHICH SERVES HIM (John 20:15-22)
So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest
(AGAPAS) thou me more than these? He said unto him, Yea Lord; thou knowest
that I love (PHILO) thee. He said unto him, Feed (BOSKE) my lambs (ARNIA).
He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (AGAPAS)
thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love (PHILO) thee.
He saith unto him, Feed (POIMAINE, shepherd) my sheep (PROBATIA, little
He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (PHILEIS) thou me?
Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest (PHILEIS) thou
me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love
(PHILO) thee. Jesus said unto him, Feed (BOSKE) my sheep (PROBATIA).
A. Agapao Love in the New Testament
In his lexicon Henry Thayer gives nine different shades of meaning to AGAPAO
as it is used in the New Testament (pages 3, 4).
1. To Love, To Be Full of Good-Will and Exhibit the Same
When Jesus came into the house of Simon, the Pharisee did not give him water to
wash his feet nor did he greet him with a kiss. However, a woman who was a known
sinner washed his feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair, and kissed his feet and
anointed them with perfume (Luke 7:36-46). Simon said within himself, "This man, if he
were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth
him: for she is a sinner."
Jesus explained the different actions of the woman who had been forgiven much
and Simon who felt no need for forgiveness. "Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which
are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same
loveth little" (Luke 7:47).
2. To Have a Preference For, Wish Well To, Regard the Welfare Of
Jesus said in Matthew 5:43-44, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt
love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless
them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully
use you, and persecute you."
Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you;
though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved" (II Corinthians 12:15).
3. Of the Love of Christians Towards One Another
John said in I John 4:7-8, "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God;
and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth
He then explains how true love is manifested. "In this was manifested the love of
God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might
live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his
Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (I John 4:9-10).
Therefore, John explains, there is an obligation on our part to love one another.
"Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God
at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us" (I
4. Of The Love of God In Giving His Son
Paul explains to the Romans, "For when we were yet without strength, in due time
Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet
peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love
toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:6-8).
5. Of the Love Which Led Christ to Suffer and Die for Our Sins
Paul admonished the Ephesians to love as Christ loved. "And be ye kind one to
another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven
you. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also
hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a
sweetsmelling saviour" (Ephesians 4:32-5:2).
6. Of the Love pith Which God Regards Christ
John explains, "The Father loveth the Son, and bath given all things into his hand"
(John 3:35). At the Lord's baptism the Father said, "This is my beloved Son (HO
AGAPAYTOS), in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17) and reaffirmed that same
love on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:5).
7. AGAPAO Love Involves Affectionate Reverence, Prompt Obedience, and
Grateful Recognition of Benefits Received
Jesus explained that it is impossible to serve two masters because of the very
nature of AGAPAO love. "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one,
and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve
God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24).
The apostle Paul connects love with the calling that fulfills the purpose of God
and shows how they relate to the benevolent providence of God. "And we know that all
things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called
according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).
James explains the rewards of eternity flow out of love that constrains the saint to
faithfulness even during times of hardship. "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation:
for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to
them that love him" (James 1:12).
8. AGAPAO Love Denotes To Take Pleasure In the Thing, Prize It Above Other
Things, Be Unwilling to Abandon It
The writer to the Hebrews quotes the Psalmist in describing the
Son's love for righteousness which is the symbol and authority of His Kingdom. "But
unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, 0 God is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is
the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore
God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows"
(Hebrews 1:8, 9).
In a negative way Jesus illustrates the love of the Jews for the applause of this
world that is so great they will not forsake it even though they also believed on Jesus.
"Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the
Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they
loved the praise o men more than the praise of God" (John 12:42, 43).
Jesus condemned the Pharisees because they loved the prestigious seats of the
synagogue and rabbinical greetings more than they loved God. "But woe unto you,
Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and
the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Woe
unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in
The Scripture plainly declares that the love of God and the love for this world are
simply not capable of being mingled together and we must forsake the latter if we are to
experience the first (I John 2:15-17).
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the
world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of
the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is
of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth
the will of God abideth for ever.
9. AGAPAO Love Longs for a Personal Relationship
In possibly the last recorded words we have Paul, the Apostle speaks warmly of
the reward he and the faithful saints will soon receive. In doing so he expresses the love
that yearns to see the Lord in His personal presence. "Henceforth there is laid up for me a
crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day:
and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing" (II Timothy 4:8).
B. Phileo Love in the New Testament
In his lexicon Harold K. Moulton gives four different shades of meaning to
PHILEO as it is used in the New Testament.
1. Properly, PHILEO Means to Manifest Some Act Or Token of Affection; To Kiss
Both Mark and Luke describe the betrayal of Jesus by Judas in a manner similar
to that of Matthew 26:48, 49. "Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying,
Whomsoever I shall kiss (PHILESO), that same is he: hold him fast. And forthwith he
came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master: and kissed (KATEPHILESEN, "affectionately
2. To Love, Regard with Affection, Have Affection For
Jesus compared the love of family members and the love His followers have for
their Lord. "He that loveth (PHILEO) father or mother more than me is not worthy of me:
and he that loveth (PHILEO) son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me"
This PHILEO love is not limited to human affection. Jesus described the
relationship between Him and the Father. "For the Father loveth (PHILEO) the Son, and
sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these,
that ye may marvel" (John 5:20).
3. To Like, Be Fond Of, Delight in a Thing
Jesus described the love of the Pharisees in Matthew 23:5, 6. "But all their works
they do for to be seen of men; they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders
of their garments, and love (PHILEO) the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats
in the synagogues."
John the Revelator described the affection of sinners for falsehood. "For without
are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever
loveth (PHILEO) and believeth a lie" (Rev. 22:15).
4. To Cherish Inordinately, Set Store By
Jesus used PHILEO to describe the natural tendency of man to love the present
life in John 12:25. "He that loveth (PHILEO) his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his
life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal."
Again Jesus used PHILEO to describe the hypocrites' love for ostentation. "And
when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love (PHILEO) to
pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of
men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward" (Matthew 6:5).
C. Distinction Between Agapao Love and Phileo Love
1. Henry Thayer (p. 653)
"As to the distinction between AGAPAO and PHILEO: the former, by virtue of
its connection with AGAMAI, properly denotes a love founded in admiration, veneration,
esteem, TO BE KINDLY DISPOSED TO ONE, WISH ONE WELL; but PHILEO
denotes an inclination prompted by sense and emotion." (Note: Thayer says of AGAMAI,
"to wonder at, think highly of." This comment is under AGATHOS which means "of a
good constitution" which he says is also related to AGAMAI and uses Plato as a
reference. See page 2).
2. James Strong (p. 76)
"Phileo means TO BE A FRIEND TO (FOND OF, i.e., HAVE AFFECTION for)
denoting PERSONAL attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling; while
AGAPAO is wider, embracing especially the judgment and the deliberate assent of the
will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety. While PHILEO is chiefly that of the
heart, AGAPAO is of the head."
3. Richard Trench (pp. 42, 43)
In almost all these passages of the New Testament, the Vulgate, by the help of
DILIGO and AMO, has preserved a distinction which we have let go. This is
especially to be regretted at John 21:15-17.; for the passing there of the original
from one word to the other is singularly instructive, and should by no means
escape us unnoticed.
In that threefold "Lovest thou Me?" which the risen Lord addresses to Peter, He
asks him first, AGAPAS ME; At this moment, when all the pulses in the heart of
the now penitent Apostle are beating with a passionate affection toward his Lord,
this word sounds far too cold to very imperfectly express the warmth of his
affection toward Him.
The question in any form would have been grievous enough (ver. 17); the
language in which it is clothed makes it more grievous still. He therefore in his
answer substitutes for the AGAPAS of Christ the word of a more personal love,
PHILO SE (ver. 15). And this he does not on the first occasion only, but again
upon a second. And now at length he has triumphed; for when his Lord puts the
question to him a third time, it is not AGAPAS any more, but PHILEIS. All this
subtle and delicate play of feeling disappears perforce, in a translation which
either does not care, or is not able, to reproduce the variation in the words as it
exists in the original.
D. The Use of Phileo and Agapao in the Gospel of John
1. PHILEO In the Gospel of John (Word Study Concordance, p. 787)
"for the father LOVETH the Son" (5:20)
"he whom thou LOVEST is sick" (11:3)
"behold how he LOVED him" (11:36)
"he that loveth his life shall lose it" (12:25)
"the world would LOVE his own" (15:19)
"the Father himself LOVETH you, because ye HAVE LOVED me" (16:27)
"to the other disciple, whom Jesus LOVED" (20:2)
"Thou knowest that I LOVE thee (21:15 and 21:16)
"LOVEST thou me? ...LOVEST thou me?" (21:17)
2. AGAPAO In the Gospel of John (Word Study Concordance, pp. 2,3)
"for God so LOVED the world, that he gave" (3:16)
"men LOVED darkness rather than light" (3:19)
"the Father LOVETH the Son" (3:35)
"If God were your Father, ye would LOVE me"
(8:42) "Therefore DOTH my Father LOVE me" (10:17)
"Now Jesus LOVED Martha, and her sister" (11:5)
"they LOVED the praise of men more" (12:43)
"HAVING LOVED his own which were in the world he LOVED them" (13:1)
"One of his disciples, whom Jesus LOVED" (13:23)
"LOVE one another; as I HAVE LOVED YOU, that ye also LOVE" (13:34)
"If ye LOVE me, keep my commandments" (14:15)
"He it is that LOVETH me;
and he THAT LOVETH me SHALL BE LOVED of my Father,
and I will LOVE him" (14:21)
"If a man LOVE me, he will keep my words;
and my Father WILL LOVE him" (14:23)
"He that LOVETH ME not keepeth not my sayings" (14:24)
"If ye LOVED me, ye would rejoice" (14:28)
"world may know that I LOVE the Father (14:31)
"As the Father HATH LOVED me, so HAVE I LOVED you" (15:9)
"That ye LOVE one another as I HAVE LOVED you" (15:12)
"I command you, that ye LOVE one another" (15:17)
"HAST LOVED them, as thou HAST LOVED me" (17:23)
"thou LOVEDST me before the foundation of the world" (17:24)
"the love wherewith thou HAST LOVED me" (17:26)
"the disciple standing by, whom he LOVED" (19:26)
"that disciple whom Jesus LOVED saith" (21:7)
"(son) of Jonas, LOVEST thou me more than" (21:15)
"Simon, (son) of Jonas, LOVEST thou me" (21:16)
"the disciple whom Jesus LOVED following" (21:20)
As children of God who have been both loved (AGAPAO) and loved (PHILEO)
by God, we likewise should demonstrate both our love (AGAPE) and love (PHILEIN) to
God by keeping His commandments and feeding His sheep. His commandment is that we
love AGAPAO one another. His example is that we both love (AGAPAO) one another
and love (PHILEO) one another even as He has both loved (AGAPAO) us and loved
(PHILEO) us. The concept is well described by the Lord when He said, "And thou shalt
love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength:
this is the first commandment"
Section 3, The Lord Reigns Through His Passion, Lecture 12
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