Re: AGAPAO in John 21 and "the third time"

From: Gary S. Shogren (
Date: Sat Feb 15 1997 - 10:04:23 EST

At 01:10 AM 2/15/97 -0500, Paul Zellmer wrote:

>If this interchange of synonyms were merely stylistic, if the choice of
>words by Jesus in his questions and Peter in his responses were just an
>attempt at variety, then we might well have expected Peter to use AGAPAO
>the third time or Jesus to have remained with AGAPAO for all three.
>Instead, assuming that AGAPAO does have higher requirements than FILEO,
>I see a clear progression, an "easing", if you will, by Jesus'
>that this observation is by no means original with me, but this
>progression speaks more elegantly to me than does a mere attempt of
>interchanging synonyms.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Yes - but what I'm saying is, you need to presuppose that PHILEO is an
easing down from AGAPAO, the very thing that the evidence does not seem to
support. Wouldn't you have to say as well that Peter has been notched up
from feeding the lambs to tending the sheep?

Anyhow - I mentioned that this synonym discussion can distract us from the
flow of the passage; an in my experience, every sermon I've heard on this
focuses so entirely on the alternation of verbs that it becomes an end in

Gary S. Shogren
Biblical Theological Seminary
Hatfield, PA

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