RE: Philadelphia vs agape vs lust

From: David L. Moore (
Date: Sat Aug 16 1997 - 14:03:23 EDT

At 09:36 AM 8/15/97 -0600, Williams, Wes wrote:
>Ellen Adams wrote:
>>>If the two words meant exactly the same thing, I would imagine there
>> >>only be one word. Surely there is an overlapping of meaning, but
>> there is
>> >>also a disctinction. I've always understood the "shadow" of
>> difference is
>> >>that one meant a an affection-love, the other a committed-love. The
>> word
>> >>AGAPE, though it may apply to either a "holy" or "unholy" love. It
>> is used
>> >>far more frequently in the New Testament, I believe, for two
>> reasons. 1.
>> >>because it is a broader term than PHILADELPHIA. 2. because scripture
>> in
>> >>general deals with our will and motivations.
>> >>
>> >>
>> > A comparison of this sort in the NT does point to
>> distinction, as
>> >Ellen says. To understand what distinction writers of the NT
>> perceived, it
>> >may be instructive to look at how these writers' use of AGAPH-AGAPAW
>> was unique.
>> David Moore wrote:
>> > Although AGAPAW comes up now and then from Homer onward,
>> AGAPH is
>> >rare outside of Jewish and Christian religious literature through the
>> NT
>> >period. Because of this, it is largely the Christian usage of AGAPH
>> and its
>> >cognate which defines the meaning of these words within the time of
>> the
>> >writing of the NT. One might safely say that Christians appropriated
>> this
>> >word group and even invested it with meaning it did not have before.
>> I quite agree with the scope of what Ellen laid out. I also find that
>> I agree with what David wrote as complementary. The point I wish to
>> raise is that while NT authors gave new extensions of meaning to
>> AGAPH, this new meaning would not necessarily invalidate Ellen's
>> thought that "it (AGAPH) is a broader term than PHILADELPHIA," would
>> it? I am not saying that David implied this, it was simply unstated.

        I wasn't really meaning to comment on that part of Ellen's post but
rather on the distinction implied by 2Pet. 1:7. It would be difficult to
say whether AGAPAW is broader than FILEW (I guess that's what Wes means.).
Gerhard Wallis says, in his essay on the Hebrew word 'HB [aleph he beth]
(which is the Hebrew verb in 2Sam. 13:15), that in the LXX AGAPAW is the
overwhelming favorite for translating 'HB, but FILEW could be used "when a
text described an inner affection for a thing, but not for a person..."
(_TDOT_, vol. 1, p. 103).

>> raise this because when we discussed this last year, someone showed
>> the lust (the "unholy" AGAPH) of AMNON in the LXX. Although not in the
>> NT in this sense, it is in the first century Koine and later LXX
>> translations as AGAPH here, and they certainly would be well aware of
>> the Christian use, would they not? Consequently, would it not be
>> reasonable to include this scope in our definition of AGAPH?

>> Brenton 2 Samuel 13:15 Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred;
>> for the hatred with which he hated her was greater the love with which
>> he had loved her, for the last wickedness was greater than the first:

        Another passage from Wallis's essay speaks about the use of 'HB to
indicate total love which demands all of one's energies. Although it is
written in reference only to the Hebrew word; of the 14 instances given,
*all* are translated using AGAPH or cognates (_Ibid._, p 104). So, it may
be that it is the all-consuming sense of AGAPH that is in the forefront in
this reference to Amnon's obsession with Tamar and not primarily his
romantic or sexual desire, which most readily could have been translated by
ERAW. Liddle & Scott does cite a couple of places in classical authors
where AGAPAW is apparently used for ERAW in reference to sexual love, but I
don't have the volumes handy and haven't checked Perseus to know if these
cases could also fall into this same category.

Regards to all,

David L. Moore
Miami, Florida, USA
Southeastern Spanish District of the A/G Dept. of Education
Home Page:


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