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

From: Paul Zellmer (
Date: Mon Feb 17 1997 - 01:12:02 EST

Gary S. Shogren wrote:
> Thanks for your thoughts.
And for yours, also.

> 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?

Gary, one of my tasks in overseeing a translation of the Bible into a
minority language is to help the team discover the minor differences in
meaning or standard usage of close synonyms. I can't speak for you, but
I know that when I speak formally or write, I often weigh these subtle
meanings in my decisions as to the word to use in a situation. By
convention, close synonyms mean that the words are used interchangably
in many (if not most) situations. This does not imply, however, that
the words have become exactly the same in meaning. The only cases that
I have found for an exact equivalence of meaning have been situations
where a language has borrowed or incorporated words from two different
languages. I don't see this as being the case with FILEO and AGAPAO.
Given that, could not John 21 be a situation where the GNT writer is
actually calling out a difference between the two?

Also, although I did not mention the change of the age of animal nor the
type of care directed to be given, I think that your question would lend
more support to the progressive nature of the passage than it would
undermine it.

> 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
> itself.

This danger is inherent in any exegetical sermon. Although I
predominantly use this form of preaching, I have to keep reminding
myself that the congregation is not looking for a scholastic argument.
They are looking for a way to apply the truth of the Scriptures to their
lives. I am more comfortable in finding the meaning in the passage from
the change of words, since this is clearly seen in the text, then I do
in referring the passage back to the denial in the courtyard, which
seems more likely to be eisegesis since the text never makes reference
to it. I guess I would be more shaken in my position, which I admit is
mere opinion, if you, Carl, or someone could show me where my
interpretation of Jn 21:17b is wrong, that the Greek would actually have
been different if John meant to say, as I see this case, that Peter
grieved because Jesus' third question was, "FILEIS ME;"

BTW, what *do* you see as the significance of this passage? What should
the sermons have said?



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