Re: Jn 21:15-17

From: Jim West (
Date: Thu Apr 16 1998 - 22:16:47 EDT

At 09:28 PM 4/16/98 -0400, you wrote:
>I have two questions from this passage.
>First, what is your take on the AGAPAS/FILEIS interpretation? Is there a
>difference in meaning between the two words here, or should we see them
>as being virtually synonymous, at least in this context?

No, I take the differences to be significant. I.e., Jesus asks Peter, do ya
love me. Peter says, yup, youre my friend. Jesus says again, do ya love
me. Peter- yup, youre my friend. Jesus says, are you even my friend- Peter
is grieved.
The use of agape by Jesus and philew by Peter means peter sees Jesus as a
buddy; so the final question of Jesus is quite pointed.

>I am tending towards the latter interpretation because of v. 17 where it
>says Peter was grieved hOTI EIPEN AUTWi TO TRITON, FILEIS ME;

I think you should translate this, "because he said to him the third time"
not "because he said three times..."

>Technically, Christ had said FILEIS only once, and AGAPAS twice. Thus,
>John would be wrong, unless he understood AGAPAS and FILEIS to be
>synonymous here.

No, I think your translation can be sharpened.

>Second, if the same question is being asked three times, should we also
>expect the resultant charges to be synonymous? Do they all mean the same

No. See above.

>Is this just an emphatic way of driving home the point, i.e., if Peter
>really loved Christ, then he would tend His flock, which includes feeding
>and caring for the entire flock, young included?

No, I think this is just a nice little piece of poetic parallelism.= a-b-c

>Paul Dixon



Jim West, ThD
Quartz Hill School of Theology

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