Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Further down the page (click here) two kinds of love were discussed: Agapao (Do you choose to love me?) and phileo ( I love you personally and affectionately.) In another article, I gave excerpts of the definition for Agapao from the Vines dictionary. To further help us understand biblical love, below (appearing in italics) is a definition taken from Vines of Phileo.


Phileo is distinguished from agapao in this, that phileo represents tender affection. The two words are both used for the love of the Father for the Son for the believer, and. of Christ's love for a certain disciple. The two verbs are never used indiscriminately in the same passage; if each is used with reference to the same objects, as in the examples just mentioned, each word retains its distinctive and essential character.

Phileo is never used in a command to men to love God, agapao is used instead. The distinction between the two verbs finds a conspicuous instance in the narrative of John 21:15-17. The context indicates that agapao in the first two questions suggests the love that values and esteems. It is an unselfish love, ready to serve. The use of phileo in Peter's answers and the Lord's third question, conveys the thought of cherishing the object above all else, of manifesting an affection characterized by constancy, from the motive of the highest veneration.

Strong's Concordance says that phileo is to be a friend to, to be fond of an individual or an object, to have affection that denotes personal attachment, sentiment, feeling. Agapao is wider, requiring a deliberate choice as a matter of principle, duty and propriety. The two are related, phileo being chiefly of the heart and agapao of the head.


The crux of the matter is this: the love God requires from us is an earnest concern and interest in the well-being of another. This concern should motivate appropriate and beneficial action.


1 comment:

geoff anderson said...

Despite the fact that I was a biblically based preacher for nearly 30 years and knew the distinction I went to theological college at 31 and if you were over 30 they exempted you from learning Greek - too hard for aging brain cells, I suppose!
So my Greek has been of the Interlinear text variety, rather than familiarity with the Gospels in Greek.
I really really appreciate having that light thrown on that passage. Thanks Jay, and God bless your wonderful Blog, which is alive with your love of the Lord.