Love and Love

John 21:15‑17  •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 9
John 21.15-17.-I do not think that the student will get much satisfaction by reading the remarks of the late Dean Alford on this affecting scene. There is more, perhaps, in what the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Trench, has observed in his New Testament Synonyms. But the true difference seems to me much more simple than either of these gentlemen apprehend. 'Aγαπάω, is the broad, generic term for loving. It is susceptible of all applications, of superiors, inferiors, and equals. It is predicated of God towards man, and of man towards God. It describes God's feeling towards the world in giving His only begotten Son. It describes Christ's tender and full affection towards the church. On the other hand, φιλέω is a narrower word. It is distinctively the love of feeling, of endearment, and hence frequently it is used of the outward sign of fondness, and also in a vague way of that fondness which produces the habit of this or that action, though this is true of ἀγαπάω, too. Both are said of God's love to His Son. Dean A., if I remember rightly, considers that the Lord drops the word of reverential love (ἀγαπάω) which he had twice used, comes down to the word of human affection, Peter's own word (φιλέω), and this third time questions, not merely his loyal love for his master, but the very human regard of his heart. On the contrary, it appears to me, that while the Lord thoroughly judges Peter's confidence in his own love to Him, in its so exceeding that of others that he could stand where they fled, He not only hears Peter's repeated declaration of his true and near affection for Him, but Himself takes it up the third time, and that this, flashing on Peter's threefold denial, went to his inmost heart. The Greek concordance utterly dissolves the idea that reverential love is the dominant thought in ἀγαπάω. We are not called so to love our enemies, nor even our neighbors (Matt. 5:43,44;6. 24). Nor was it so that Christ loved the rich young man; and certainly none can pretend that God reverentially loved the world (John 3:1616For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)); and this is not a tithe, perhaps, of the absurdity that follows Dean A.'s distinction, if I understand him. As little can 9A.ir4 be reduced to the mere human regard of the heart.. It is not thus that the Father loves the Son (John 5:2020For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that himself doeth: and he will show him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. (John 5:20)), or even us (John 16:2727For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. (John 16:27)); nor can anything be more opposed, as it appears to me, to the true scope of 1 Cor. 16:2222If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha. (1 Corinthians 16:22); Titus 3:1515All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen. <<It was written to Titus, ordained the first bishop of the church of the Cretians, from Nicopolis of Macedonia.>> (Titus 3:15); Rev. 3:1919As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. (Revelation 3:19), where φιλέω occurs. Let the reader judge.