Author Topic: Phileo Love vs Agapao Love  (Read 748 times)

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Offline NyawehNyoh

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Phileo Love vs Agapao Love
« on: Wed Jun 09, 2021 - 22:25:16 »
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A common Greek word for "love" in the New Testament is agape (ag-ah' pay) for example 1John 4:8 and 1John 4:16 where it's said that God is love.

Agape has become a sort of sacred cow among Christians; and they typically quote the entire spectrum of it from 1Cor 13:1-7.

But the entire spectrum of love tells us nothing of its particular nuances. In order to discern the colors of agape we have to seek out passages where love is a verb.

The two primary colors of agape are agapao (ag-ap-ah'-o) and phileo (fil eh'-o). A Strong's Concordance shows every verse in the New Testament where those verbs are used; which is very handy for helping us to understand the spectrum of love. However; the thing to note is that those two verbs are not interchangeable.

For example the colors red and blue, combined with other colors, make up the spectrum of sunlight. But if we want a red house, we have to use red paint. If we use blue paint, our house won't come out red because red and blue are not interchangeable.

In like manner, agapao and phileo together make up the spectrum of love, but they are not interchangeable-- phileo typically speaks of affection, whereas agapao usually does not; if ever. For example:

John 21:15 . . So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter: Simon; do you love me more than these?


» Some say that "these" refers to the other apostles, but I'm inclined to suspect that Jesus was referring to the sea, and the fish they had just eaten, and to the boat, and to the tackle, and to the fishing business. Certainly all of that was important to Peter seeing as how fishing was his life.

The Greek verb for "love" in that passage is agapao, which isn't necessarily an affectionate kind of love, rather, it's related to things like preferences, loyalties, and priorities. For example:

Matt 6:24 . . No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.

Luke 14:26 . . If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters-- yes, even his own life --he cannot be my disciple.

The verb agapao is employed several times in the 13th, 14th, and 15th chapters of John's gospel relative to Jesus and his apostles, and relative to the apostles among themselves.

But then Jesus asked Peter:

John 21:17 . . Simon, do you love me?

That time "love" is translated from the Greek verb phileo which is a very different kind of love than agapao.

Well, the thing is: agapao is more or less impersonal; whereas phileo is just the opposite. It's an affectionate, bonding kind of love felt among best friends, lovers, and kinfolk.

In other words: Peter wasn't asked what he thought of Jesus, rather, how he felt about him, viz: Jesus' question was: Peter; do you like me?

Of course Jesus already knew how Peter felt about him, but Jesus wasn't satisfied with knowing; he wanted Peter to come out with it, and he did.

John 21:17 . . He said: Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.


» I'd imagine that expressing his feelings for Jesus was difficult for a rugged blue collar guy like Peter. I worked as a professional welder for 40 years in shipyards and shops. Not many of the men I worked alongside were comfortable talking about their feelings for each other.
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Offline johntwayne

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Re: Phileo Love vs Agapao Love
« Reply #1 on: Thu Jun 10, 2021 - 03:05:23 »
I think too much is made of the difference between the two.

Offline NyawehNyoh

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Re: Phileo Love vs Agapao Love
« Reply #2 on: Thu Jun 10, 2021 - 19:24:43 »
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FAQ: Why does Titus 2:4-5 expect phileo love from wives while Eph 5:25-33 expects agapao love from husbands?

A: Phileo is typically related to one's affections, whereas agapao is typically related to one's actions.

For example in the Ephesians passage, a husband's love for his wife is expressed by taking her under his wing, viz: by providence, i.e. by protecting and providing for her.

The love expected from a wife is quite a bit different. Hers is more about feelings than providence. For example:

"Your desire shall be for your husband" (Gen 3:16)

That passage appears to me the very first prohibition against adultery. If so; then phileo's use in Titus 2:4-5 is telling wives to be faithful and chaste, viz: not to share their affections with other men; which has the benefit of ensuring that all her children will be the offspring of the man she's married to.
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Re: Phileo Love vs Agapao Love
« Reply #2 on: Thu Jun 10, 2021 - 19:24:43 »

Offline DaveW

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Re: Phileo Love vs Agapao Love
« Reply #3 on: Fri Jun 11, 2021 - 05:25:43 »
You are leaving out storge and eros in the Greek; and ahavah and dod in the Hebrew. 

The command to "love God" (Deuteronomy 6:5) and to "love your neighbor" (Leviticus 19:18) both start with the same word:  V'ahavta - "And you shall love..."

Instead of focusing on Agape, look at Ahavah which is the Hebrew behind the Greek.

BTW - there are a couple more Hebrew words; Chavav unique to Deut 33:3 and Chashak in Isa 38:17 and 10 other places.
« Last Edit: Fri Jun 11, 2021 - 07:12:48 by DaveW »

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Re: Phileo Love vs Agapao Love
« Reply #3 on: Fri Jun 11, 2021 - 05:25:43 »
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Offline NyawehNyoh

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Re: Phileo Love vs Agapao Love
« Reply #4 on: Fri Jun 11, 2021 - 19:47:22 »
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You are leaving out storge and eros in the Greek

The ancient Greek language, in which the New Testament was written, contains three distinct nouns for "love." They are agape, storge, and eros. Of those three ancient Geek nouns, only agape is in the New Testament so I need not concern myself with the other two.
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Re: Phileo Love vs Agapao Love
« Reply #4 on: Fri Jun 11, 2021 - 19:47:22 »



Offline TrevorL

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Re: Phileo Love vs Agapao Love
« Reply #5 on: Sat Jun 12, 2021 - 17:24:06 »
Greetings NYawehNyoh,
Quote from: NYawehNyoh
Some say that "these" refers to the other apostles, but I'm inclined to suspect that Jesus was referring to the sea, and the fish they had just eaten, and to the boat, and to the tackle, and to the fishing business. Certainly all of that was important to Peter seeing as how fishing was his life.
I prefer that Jesus was refering to when Peter boasted that he would not deny the Lord, even if all the others denied the Lord. This is the first of three stages whereby Jesus is attempting to humble Peter to prepare him for his ministry. These three stages fittingly balance the three denials and this also confirms that Jesus is refering to his previous boast.

Kind regards
Trevor

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Re: Phileo Love vs Agapao Love
« Reply #5 on: Sat Jun 12, 2021 - 17:24:06 »

Offline NyawehNyoh

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Re: Phileo Love vs Agapao Love
« Reply #6 on: Sat Jun 12, 2021 - 21:18:24 »
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  John 3:16 . . For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son,
that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

The Greek word translated "loved" in John 3:16 is conjugated from the verb
agapao, which tells me that God's love in that passage isn't especially divine
because the very same Greek verb is used in Luke 6:32, which says:

"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those
who love them."

Every "love" in that verse is derived from agapao. Well; the very fact that sinners
are capable of agapao tells me that it would be a mistake to restrict its use solely to
God and/or to assume that agapao always, and in every instance, speaks of divine
attributes.
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Offline NyawehNyoh

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Re: Phileo Love vs Agapao Love
« Reply #7 on: Sun Jun 13, 2021 - 22:43:53 »
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When love lacks modifiers and/or verbs, it means very little in particular. For example: my love for a man with a cardboard sign alongside the road is different than my love for the girl I married. My love for the man is sympathy for a stranger, whereas the love I have for my wife of forty-one years is affection for someone special.

Those two differences are exemplified by John 3:16 and John 16:27 where it's on display that God's love for the world is agapao, which is merely sympathetic, whereas His love for Jesus' followers is expressed by phileo, which speaks of fondness and affection-- two emotions that form strong bonds and attachments.

Offline DaveW

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Re: Phileo Love vs Agapao Love
« Reply #8 on: Mon Jun 14, 2021 - 05:05:34 »
The ancient Greek language, in which the New Testament was written, contains three distinct nouns for "love." They are agape, storge, and eros. Of those three ancient Geek nouns, only agape is in the New Testament so I need not concern myself with the other two._
Storge is in there too, as a part of a compound. Putting a- in front of it means without - so we have astorgos (G794) for without love or without natural affection.  It is in Romans 1:31 and 2 Timothy 3:3.

But beyond that, the NT writers (especially Paul) based all their writing on what was in the Hebrew Scriptures (aka the Old Testament) So you are remiss in not paying attention to the Hebrew words as well.
« Last Edit: Mon Jun 14, 2021 - 05:09:09 by DaveW »

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Re: Phileo Love vs Agapao Love
« Reply #8 on: Mon Jun 14, 2021 - 05:05:34 »

Offline TrevorL

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Re: Phileo Love vs Agapao Love
« Reply #9 on: Mon Jun 14, 2021 - 07:17:46 »
Greetings again NyawehNyoh,

It is interesting that Peter uses the two words phileo and agape in the following, and on both occasions these seem to indicate the necessity to progress from brotherly love (phileo) to agape love.
1 Peter 1:22 (KJV): Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
2 Peter 1:5–7 (KJV): 5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
This instruction seems to be based upon Peter’s experience in John 20.

Kind regards
Trevor

Offline NyawehNyoh

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Re: Phileo Love vs Agapao Love
« Reply #10 on: Mon Jun 14, 2021 - 12:42:16 »
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There are times when Heaven's love is conditional; for example:

"If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love; just as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in His love." (John 15:10)

The Greek noun translated "love" in that passage is agape, which is a nondescript noun. In other words; agape alone doesn't tell me whether the love in view is affectionate or non affectionate, i.e. phileo or agapao. For example John 3:16 which says:

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

The love in that passage is conjugated from the Greek verb agapao, which informs me that God experiences pity for the world without necessarily liking the world. This is somewhat similar to the sympathy that many of us experience for a desperate stranger with a cardboard sign that says "Lost job due to Covid 19"

And then there's this:

"Then Jesus, beholding him, loved him" (Mark 10:21)

The Greek word translated "love" in that passage is conjugated from phileo, which basically speaks of affection, fondness, acceptance, and bonding. (cf. 1Sam 18:1)

Here's an hypothetical situation that breaks John 3:16 down to something practical.

Evangelist: Did you know that the Bible says God loves you?

Audience: God likes me?

Evangelist: Sorry, my bad. I should've been specific. I was asking if you were aware that God pities you.

Audience: Pities me?! What's to pity?

Evangelist: You are on the road to a future that's so disagreeable Jesus said you'd be better off dismembering a hand or gouging out an eye than to end up there.

»
God pities the world's deplorable spiritual condition and offers a remedy for it (Luke 2:8-14) but that shouldn't be construed to mean that He likes the world. In point of fact, God regrets its creation. (Gen 6:6)
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Offline NyawehNyoh

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Re: Phileo Love vs Agapao Love
« Reply #11 on: Mon Jun 14, 2021 - 13:33:00 »
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Storge is in there too, as a part of a compound. Putting a- in front of it means without - so we have astorgos (G794) for without love or without natural affection.  It is in Romans 1:31 and 2 Timothy 3:3.

I can't agree to forcing storge into the New Testament by means of astorgos Dave. There are bright people, educated people, out there in cyberspace who would take me to task for trying to pull a stunt like that.
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« Last Edit: Mon Jun 14, 2021 - 13:50:17 by NyawehNyoh »

Offline DaveW

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Re: Phileo Love vs Agapao Love
« Reply #12 on: Mon Jun 14, 2021 - 14:09:19 »
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I can't agree to forcing storge into the New Testament by means of astorgos Dave. There are bright people, educated people, out there in cyberspace who would take me to task for trying to pull a stunt like that._
Not really.  If they do, refer them to CS Lewis' "The Four Loves." He was at least as bright and educated as any of them.

Offline NyawehNyoh

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Re: Phileo Love vs Agapao Love
« Reply #13 on: Mon Jun 14, 2021 - 16:20:48 »

Not really.

Yes, really.


If they do, refer them to CS Lewis

I'm neither that stupid nor that naive.


He was at least as bright and educated as any of them.

These "them" about whom you speak. What are their names, their accreditations, their publications? Have you actually been in touch? Don't be making remarks like that Dave when you've no idea what you're talking about.

You know, this thread could've been a really neat little topical study had you not come along to muddy the waters with suggestions for tampering with the Bible. You're toxic Dave.
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Offline 4WD

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Re: Phileo Love vs Agapao Love
« Reply #14 on: Tue Jun 15, 2021 - 05:06:30 »
You know, this thread could've been a really neat little topical study had you not come along to muddy the waters with suggestions for tampering with the Bible. You're toxic Dave.
There was absolutely no call for that.  You can disagree with others here; that is much of why we are all here.  But there is no reason or need for name calling. As for muddying waters, in reading the both of you, it is not at all apparent that one is any less a muddier that the other.

Offline DaveW

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Re: Phileo Love vs Agapao Love
« Reply #15 on: Tue Jun 15, 2021 - 07:37:03 »
These "them" about whom you speak. What are their names, their accreditations, their publications? Have you actually been in touch? Don't be making remarks like that Dave when you've no idea what you're talking about.
You are the one that brought "them" up, not me:

Quote
I can't agree to forcing storge into the New Testament by means of astorgos Dave. There are bright people, educated people, out there in cyberspace who would take me to task for trying to pull a stunt like that.

Since you brought "them" up, I have no idea of how educated they are.  But since Mr Lewis taught English literature both at Oxford and Cambridge; I would posit that his academic credentials were unassailable.
« Last Edit: Tue Jun 15, 2021 - 07:39:59 by DaveW »

Offline DaveW

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Re: Phileo Love vs Agapao Love
« Reply #16 on: Tue Jun 15, 2021 - 07:53:53 »
I can't agree to forcing storge into the New Testament by means of astorgos Dave.
The a- is a prefix meaning without. 

That is like saying the word "moral" is not in some document because it appears as immoral or amoral. Prefixes and suffixes modify the root word, not negate its existence.
================================
BTW - you still have not addressed the use of the Hebrew words for love; most notably ahava.
One common form of that is v'ahavta - "And you shall love ..."  Both great commandments that our Lord listed start with that word:

Deuteronomy 6:5
You shall love [
v'ahavta ] the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Leviticus 19:18b
you shall love [
v'ahavta ] your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.

Matthew 22:37
And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment.  39  The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’


I find it interesting that no major English translation puts in the "and" which starts that word off;  the prefix v'-
« Last Edit: Tue Jun 15, 2021 - 08:05:04 by DaveW »