Devoted Unconditionally to Christ's Kingdom & Service
The word love can mean many different things in the English language. It can refer to a mother's love for her child, love of country, romantic love, friendship, or God's love towards mankind. The Greek language has different words for different types of love. The original manuscripts of the New Testament of the Bible were written in the Greek language so we will take a look at the actual words used in the original manuscripts. We will explore the following Greek words:
Agape is defined as the love that God has for his Son and toward mankind.
In contrast, phileo is defined as to be a friend to, indicating feelings, warm affection.
As we study love we will begin to understand that phileo is the love that can come easily because of like interests, commonalities. Sometimes we meet people who we naturally like. They are easy to get along with, you may share the same ideas, they're likable and enjoyable to be around so you feel comfortable and have good feelings being around them. Many times you develop a warm affection toward them and enjoy their company. You become friends. This is phileo.
Phileo is never used in a command to men to love (phileo) God. Some want to say that God has only agape love but this isn't true. Take a look at the following verses:
In John chapter 21, both words are used but each word retains it's distinctive and essential character. Before we study John 21, let's review the events that lead up to this chapter. Peter is one of the twelve disciples, a fisherman by trade, who follows Jesus during three years of ministry. Near the end of Jesus life, just before Jesus is crucified, the last 24 hours go something like follows:
Jesus dies on the cross. Peter and the other disciples are scared and hiding out. What had they witnessed the last three years? All the miracles, the feeding of the five thousand, the man with leprosy who was healed, the blind man who's sight was restored and on and on we could go, not to mention all the teachings and parables by Jesus himself. He's dead now, where do they go, what do they do? Jesus remains in the tomb on the sabbath. No one could go to the tomb on that day. The next morning, Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb but it is empty. She runs and tells the disciples, Peter and John run ahead of the other disciples - they see the linen wrappings but no Jesus. They go to their homes. Jesus appears to Peter on the road to Emmaus. Jesus appears to the disciples and tells them to go to Galilee and wait for him. They go there and wait. Peter grows weary - says I'm going fishing (John 21:3 - "I'm going out to fish," Simon Peter told them, and they said, "We'll go with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.) Peter had gone back to what he had done before meeting Jesus and the other disciples followed. The next morning Jesus stood on the shore and called out to them "Friends, haven't you any fish?" The disciples answered "No". Jesus tells them "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." Miraculously, they caught an abundance of fish. John who is in the boat with Peter realizes that it is Jesus and says to Peter "It is the Lord!" Peter is so happy that he jumps in the water and swims to the shore. There Jesus had fish cooking on burning coals and invited them saying "Come and have breakfast." When they had finished breakfast, the following dialogue took place and is recorded in John 21:15 thru 17 - When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord, "he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs." Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said "Take care of my sheep." The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep." Loving one another (agape love) is one of the greatest outward expressions of our devotion to God. Jesus demonstrated agape love towards Peter even though Peter had failed so many times as evidenced in the verses listed above. Jesus was entrusting to Peter to be a leader in the Church when he said to Peter "Feed my sheep." A Pharisee asked Jesus "Which is the greatest commandment?" Let's look at Mathew 22:37 thru 40 - Jesus replied "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Loving one another with an agape type love shows our love for God and to God. John 14:15 - "If you love (agape) me, you will obey what I command." John 15:12 - "My command is this: Love (agape) each other as I have loved (agape) you." I John 4:20 & 21 - If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Conclusion: When we love one another with an agape type love, the Spirit of God can work through us in the lives of other people that need to see the love of Jesus.
Bible verses referenced in this