The Loves Of God

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The Loves Of God

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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 (ag-ah' pay) is in the New Testament so we need not be concerned about the other two

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Some have attempted to force storge into the New Testament by means of the Greek noun astorgos (Rom 1:31 and 2Tim 3:3). However; astorgos doesn't mean love, it means the absence of natural affection; especially in regard to one's own children-- a situation that can easily eventuate in a psychological condition known as Reactive Attachment Disorder.

Examples of agape are located at 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, and their conjugation, 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.

In like manner, agapao and phileo together make up the spectrum of New Testament 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?

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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 benevolence, 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 [like] you.

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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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Last edited by WebersHome on Wed Jun 16, 2021 11:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Loves Of God

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WebersHome wrote: Mon Jun 14, 2021 11:47 amHowever; the thing to note is that those two verbs are not interchangeable.
If they're not synonyms in Koine, the difference is too subtle to define. Which word gets used in which situations has more to do with the author's preferences than contextual meaning.

Mark only uses phileo once, referring to Judas kissing (phileso) Jesus. Matthew and Luke do the same.

Matthew uses phileo predominantly when he means the love of things (what you called "preferences"). The "hypocrites" philousin to pray in public (6:5) and the Pharisees philousin the place of honor at a banquet and best seat in the synagogue (23:6). Matthew uses phileo of people in 10:37 ("whoever loves father and mother more than me"), but even if we stopped our analysis here, all we've established is a pattern of one.

Luke uses phileo as an adjective, when he calls the Pharisees philarguroi of money, but in his parallels of Matthew 6:5 and 23:6, he uses phileo and agapao interchangeably as the Pharisees both agapate (11:43) and philounton (20:46) the best seats.

In the Synoptics, the Father's love for the Son is always some form of agapao, but in John, the Father agapa (3:35) and philei (5:20) interchangeably with virtually no difference in context. Likewise, when Jesus loves the human beings Lazarus, Martha, and "the Disciple," phileo and agapao are used as synonyms with no apparent contextual pattern. In fact, John uses versions of both verbs far more often than the other Gospels combined and though he uses agapao more frequently, there's otherwise no discernable pattern.

Finer distinctions are made in classical Attic, but the patterns that you're finding only show up if you cherry-pick verses that match the pattern you hope to show. If you use your concordance a bit more critically, you'll see that while agapao is a more popular choice, the overlap with phileo is such that you'd have a hard time finding a pattern that you aren't reading into the Koine based on knowledge of more refined, classical forms of Greek.
WebersHome wrote: Mon Jun 14, 2021 11:47 amIn like manner, agapao and phileo together make up the spectrum of New Testament love, but they are not interchangeable-- phileo typically speaks of affection, whereas agapao usually does not; if ever.
This can only be true as a circular argument. In the Gospel of John in particular, there's no discernable context difference between descriptions of Jesus' love for his special friends whether described with phileo or agapao.
WebersHome wrote: Mon Jun 14, 2021 11:47 am 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.
I'm curious what this verse is supposed to represent. It includes miseo, "hate," but not "love" in any form.
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Re: The Loves Of God

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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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Re: The Loves Of God

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FAQ: Why does Titus 2:4-5 require phileo love from wives while Eph 5:25-33 require 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: The Loves Of God

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WebersHome wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 11:09 amFAQ: Why does Titus 2:4-5 require phileo love from wives while Eph 5:25-33 require agapao love from husbands?
Most likely because Titus and Ephesians were written by different people.
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Re: The Loves Of God

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Difflugia wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 4:59 pmMost likely because Titus and Ephesians were written by different people.
Ephesians was written by a man named Paul (Eph 1:1) and Titus was written by a man named Paul (Titus 1:1)

Now, it's possible those were two different men with the same name; but not likely they would be writing for two different Gods.

1Thess 2:13 . . And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is: the word of God

2Tim 3:16 . . All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;

» One of the very first things I learned as ongoing student of the Bible is that if the grammar of the Holy Bible is inspired; then it must be inspired for a purpose. For example:

1John 5:13 . . I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

The "have" verb is that passage is present tense rather than future, indicating that believers have eternal life right now-- no delay and no waiting period. Same below:

John 5:24 . . I assure you, those who heed my message, and trust in God who sent me, have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from Death into Life.

Unless the Bible's words mean something; its language and grammar serve no useful purpose.
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Re: The Loves Of God

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WebersHome wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 9:31 pm .
Difflugia wrote: Wed Jun 16, 2021 4:59 pmMost likely because Titus and Ephesians were written by different people.
Ephesians was written by a man named Paul (Eph 1:1) and Titus was written by a man named Paul (Titus 1:1)

Now, it's possible those were two different men with the same name; but not likely they would be writing for two different Gods.

A more likely possibility is that Ephesians was written by Paul and Titus was written by someone falsely claiming to be Paul, but most likely is that two different people falsely claimed to be the same Paul.

A majority of scholars therefore hold that Ephesians is pseudonymous, written by a Jewish-Christian admirer of Paul who sought to apply Paul's thought to the situation of the church in the late first century, although some scholars hold that Paul composed this letter at the end of his career while imprisoned in Rome (see 3.1; 4.1).

The New Oxford Annotated Bible, "The Letter of Paul to the Ephesians"
The conclusion that these three [Pastoral] epistles were not written by Paul is based upon literary, historical, and theological criteria. First and Second Timothy and Titus share a common Greek vocabulary and style that diverges in many ways from the other Pauline epistles. Historically, the Pastoral Epistles appear to presume an institutionalized leadership in local communities with bishops and deacons, and internal dissent over issues of faith and practice, which better fits a period late in the first or early in the second century CE when Paul was no longer alive.

The New Oxford Annotated Bible, "Introduction to the Pastoral Epistles"
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Re: The Loves Of God

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Difflugia wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 3:14 amA more likely possibility is that Ephesians was written by Paul and Titus was written by someone falsely claiming to be Paul, but most likely is that two different people falsely claimed to be the same Paul.
(chuckle) That would make a good plot for a series by Lana and Lilly Wachowski (a.k.a. The Wachowski Bros.) to go along with two of their other fantasies; Sense8 and The Matrix.
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Re: The Loves Of God

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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 misfortunate 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.
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Re: The Loves Of God

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WebersHome wrote: Thu Jun 17, 2021 9:46 am(chuckle) That would make a good plot for a series by Lana and Lilly Wachowski (a.k.a. The Wachowski Bros.) to go along with two of their other fantasies; Sense8 and The Matrix.
Do you feel that way about all scholarly opinions or just this one? Considering the amount of effort that you put into justifying the illusory pattern in the first place, I'd expect better than a handwaving and insulting dismissal now.
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