Synonymy in John 21
As Jim Hill noted, it is very likely that agapaO and phileO in John 21:15-17
demonstrate stylistic variation. It is significant that other synonyms also
occur here- boske/poimaine, arnia/probata, and oidas/ginOskeis.
Another resource for this topic is L. Morris, "Variation- A Feature of the
Johannine Style," pp. 293-319 of STUDIES IN THE FOURTH GOSPEL (G.R: Eerdmans,
David L. Turner, New Testament, Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary, MI