The Loves Of God

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The Loves Of God

Post #1

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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

Post #11

Post by WebersHome »

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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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