Re: A question from a novice!

From: Mike Sangrey (
Date: Mon Mar 20 2000 - 11:34:09 EST

Barry Murrell <> said:
> I think the Lazarus passage in John 11 you cited is especially
> pertinent to the discussion. We do find Jesus being described as
> one who had AGAPE for Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Did Jesus have
> deep feelings for the family? Yes he did, but this reference would
> communicate to the readers that Jesus' relationship toward the family
> was action oriented-as ANY DEEP relationship ought to be. But did you
> notice how, when Jesus arrives at the tomb where Lazarus was laid,
> and immediately begins weeping, that the Jews DID NOT remark, IDE
> PWS AGAPA AUTON? (John 11:36) I would suggest that in our search to
> differentiate how the writers used the different words for LOVE to
> indicate different points of emphasis that this is significant. (I
> would like to get other's thoughts on this.)

I like this. I find I have thought the distinction between AGAPAW
and FILEW is one of level: That AGAPAW is more love and a better
love than just 'ole FILEW. The discussions of AGAPAW and FILEW being
synonyms have fueled this. However, when I view AGAPAW and FILEW
as spanning the whole spectrum of intensity, within their respective
and specific semantics, then, maybe, just maybe, I can allow the words
to be distinct.

> It wasn't until I came to understand a little Greek that I realized
> that this conversation [John 21:15f] was MUCH MORE about action
> than emotion!

I couldn't help but put myself in Peter's sandals. As everyone is
aware, Jesus asks AGAPAiS ME twice. Could he be asking, "Peter, are
you willing to take action for my benefit?" Peter responds by saying,
"Certainly! My emotions drive me to that action." The switch in
verb is not euphonic, as many on this list have proposed, but becomes

When Jesus asks the third time, changing the verb to FILEW, Peter
is hurt (note the emotion!) by Jesus asking the question for the
third time. In other words, Jesus has been asking for results and
Peter has been replying to that desire by saying he is "pumped" for it.
For Jesus to ask the third time for results, even acknowledging the
seat of the motivation, hurts Peter. Peter responds by saying, in
effect, "You can see right into me. You see my emotions. You see
the energy that bubbles within me. You know what that means and what
actions will transpire in the future. You know the whole thing."
Jesus responds in agreement with him by indicating that Peter will,
in fact, stay so committed to Jesus that he will die in a way which
indicates unswerving devotion.

Keeping the two words distinct helps me understand this passage.

Furthermore, persons in authority always measure results by what gets
done, that is, the action involved. To them, emotion is at best,
only a means to an end. People, however, need to be motivated.
Action doesn't just happen in an emotional vacuum. I don't say this
to cast Jesus as a hard nosed leader, but I do think this basic fact
of life rests in the background of the John 21 passage. Jesus has
selected a leader, puts the measurement of and knowledge of the
activity in place. He then motivates with a small test followed
immediately by a strong statement that Peter will succeed. Without
wishing to water down the intensity of the interchange, this sounds
like good management to me.

Now, Steven Lo Vullo raises an issue by citing selected verses. I
think these verses, in the light of Barry Murrel's comments, can be
easily explained.

Steven Lo Vullo <> said:
> And speaking of emotion, what about texts like John 3:35, 10:17, 11:5,
> 13:23, 14:31, 19:26, and 21:7.

John 3:35 is of the form 'Participant loves and takes action'.
The Father places everything in his hands.

John 10:17 may be similar. In verse 18 Jesus notes the Father gave
him the command. That is, the Father loved and took action--gave
the command.

11:5 is also of the same form; however, the action is NOT what
we would expect. This, IMO, fits perfectly and gives a strong
contextual clue to John's intent. There is stark contrast between
the Jesus who is capable of resurrecting someone and the Jesus who
weeps over a death. Ironically, using ALLA to start verse 6 would
have weakened the contrast. The hWS OUN is startling. In fact,
the whole discourse is pregnant with startling contrasts.

13:23, 19:26 and 21:7 are more difficult to discover the use of AGAPAW.
However, in defense, the semantics are inherently vague. To say,
'the disciple whom Jesus loved' instead of stating the person's name
is obviously obtuse to begin with. Did John have a special need?

14:31 is again of the form "Participant loves and takes action'.

It seems to me your examples can all be easily explained using the
'action<-> AGAPAW and emotion<->FILEW' semantics.

I would be very interested in other objections. This exercise is
clarifying much for me.

Mike Sangrey
Landisburg, Pa.
       There is no 'do' in faith, everywhere present within it is 'done'.

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