From: David McKay (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Sat Feb 08 1997 - 00:40:23 EST
8th February, 1997
We've been having a discussion on the theology list about John 21: 15-17.
One fellow is arguing the case for agapao meaning a strong love, and phileo
meaning a weaker version.
I have attempted to show that John uses the 2 interchangeably to some
extent. For example, he calls himself "hON HGAPA hO IHSOUS" in John 13:23,
but "hON EFILEI hO IHSOUS" in John 20:2.
He uses AGAPAO for Jesus' love for Lazarus, Mary and Martha, but in another
verse uses FILEO for his love for Lazarus.
If AGAPAO is meant to be used of God's love, why does John use FILEO in
John 5:20 "...the Father loves the Son"
However, my arguments have not been accepted by my adversary in theological
One of my arguments was that Jesus and Peter were probably speaking Aramaic
anyway, and so the words used may be John's and not their ipsissima verba.
I've lost my reference about this (other than a cursory note in Leon
Morris' Commentary on John.)
Can anyone help me? What language(s) did Jesus and his disciples converse
I also argued that most translations do not make a distinction. From this I
concluded that the translators had thought the problem through, and had
decided not to make the distinction. (NIV is a notable exception and
gives"truly love" for AGAPAO and "love" for FILEO.) However, the other
bloke countered with "...most [translators] have not done serious thorough
exposition of the Scriptural text in the way some pastors have."
IMHO, these pastors he refers to must be like the ordinary people you know
who have the answers to all the world's problems. You know the folk, they
could run the world so much better, if given the chance? So why don't they?
Simple! They're too busy cutting hair and driving taxis! (Apologies to any
taxi-driving, hair-cutting Greek students!)
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