What is Phileo and Agape Love?

I wanted to write up an explanation of phileo and agape love and also use an example from Scripture to encourage you.

This comes from Wuest’s Word Studies in the Greek New Testament Vol.3, #28, pg.62.

“‘Phileo’ is a love which consists of the glow of the heart kindled by the perception of that in the object which affords us pleasure. It is the response of the human [soul] to what appeals to it as pleasurable… The word was used to speak of a friendly affection. It is a love called out of one in response to a feeling of pleasure or delight which one experiences from an apprehension of qualities in another that furnish such pleasure or delight. ’Agapao’ on the other hand, speaks of a love which is awakened by a sense of value in the object loved, an apprehension of its preciousness.”

This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead. So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (agapao) thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love (phileo) thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (agapao) thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love (phileo) thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (phileo) thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest (phileo) thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love (phileo) thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
John 21:14-17

This is after Peter has denied Jesus and went back to a life of fishing (John 21:3) because he felt he totally failed. Jesus is seeking to re-affirm Peter as a disciple.
Based upon the definitions above I want to render the above verses according to the Greek.

Jesus asks Peter do you see my value and understand how precious I am? Peter responds, yes Lord, you provide me with pleasure. Jesus asks, but Peter, do you recognize my intrinsic value and preciousness? Peter responds, yes, I take pleasure in our relationship. Jesus then cuts to the heart and says, but Peter, do you even take pleasure in me? Peter says, you know everything, I can’t hide anything from you, you know that I take pleasure in you. Jesus reaffirms him again and tells him to feed his sheep.

Even though Peter failed greatly and Jesus cuts him to the heart he reaffirms him and sends him to feed Jesus’ disciples. I’m so thankful to know the patience and love that God has towards his elect. No matter what the elect go through Jesus will stand by them and affirm them. The Lord Jesus will do whatever it takes to bring us to heaven. “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:28-29) All power in heaven and earth is given to him and all that power stands behind him bringing his sheep, his elect, to eternal life in heaven. Nothing will pluck them out of his hands and nothing, no devil, no bad relationship, NOTHING will separate the elect, the sons and daughters of God from his love!

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:35-39



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