Agapao Can’t Mean, “The Unconditional, Divine Love of God” – and Phileo Can’t Mean, “Brotherly Love”
Love. This seems to be an important issue for Christianity. In fact, it could even be said that it is a central element of the Christian faith. After all, the first commandment is the requirement to love God, with all our heart, mind, soul and strength (Mk 12:30). The second commandment requires that we love our neighbor as ourselves (Mk 12:31)! This requirement of “love” covers all our vital relationships: towards oneself, neighbor and the Creator! But the centrality of this “doctrine of love” extends even further. The Bible declares that love fulfills the Law (Ro 13: 8-10 and Gal 5:14)! So all the requirements of God’s Law … are they met out of love? It is evidently made up of something that has the capacity to satisfy the requirements of the entire Old Testament theocracy! This is worthy of reflection, investigation, and inquiry!
So, what is love? If we are going to fulfill these mandates, we need some kind of definition. How else can we know if we are meeting Your requirements?
A common teaching
There are two Greek words in the New Testament that are often translated as “love” in English. Here is a common teaching, perhaps the common teaching, about the meaning of these two Greek words.
1) Agapao (verb); Agape (noun). God is agape (1Jn 4,8). Since God himself is agapee, and since he is divine, then it logically follows that he acts (the verb) in divine-agapao love. Agapee originates from God, and can never fail (1Cor 13: 8). This is clearly the highest form of love. Therefore, many teach that agapao / agapee means “the divine and unconditional love of God.” It is also taught that non-Christians are separated from this love, but in conversion, one enters this love. But there is more! The convert becomes more than just a recipient of this love of God. He / she now becomes a conduit for this “alien to the world” love to flow. With Christ in the Christian, God’s divine love can flow unconditionally to those around him. And since agapao is an act of God (unconditional and infallible), the actions or reactions of the objective object are ultimately irrelevant, since this love is independent of human affectations.
2) Phileo (verb); edges (noun). This is defined as “brotherly love” or “man love”. It is the love expressed by unsaved people. Therefore, it is a form of love less than divine agapao. Ultimately, it is a self-centered type of love that has conditions, even if it is not easily detected. As just a human love, it is fickle by nature and can be turned on and off as situations and conditions change. The transliterated word, Philadelphia (philia + adelphphia fem.), Means “the city of brotherly love,” and is often cited as an example of the phileo meaning.
This teaching sounds pretty learned as it appeals to the original language of the New Testament. It is also quite attractive, separating the pure and holy love of God from the fickle and corruptible affections that periodically emanate from the unsaved. This really sounds great! But the part of the Christian entering into God’s divine love (agapao) by becoming – the love the world doesn’t know – well that’s phenomenal. And when he adds that the convert can become a funnel for this divine material to flow, spontaneously, unconditionally, even divinely, to everyone around him, what a rush! The only problem with this teaching … is that it is wrong. How can I be so sure of this statement?
I had been taught, and believed, the common teaching on the meaning of agapao and phileo (related above). It had come through biblical scholars and was even taught in various denominations to which it had been exposed. I had no reason to doubt the accuracy of this teaching, as I was simply “a layman” and knew only English. And surely on such an important subject – Love – the teaching was correct. But then I went to a Bible college onlyfans free trial
. After completing my first year of “Greek for Beginners”, I began to read the Gospel of John, the simplest Greek in the New Testament. In describing what happened next, I will now quote directly from my e-book, “Love and the Bible” (pages 9-11, 13 and 19).
As I started at John, everything was going pretty well. Finally, I got to John 3:16. “Because God so loved (agapao) the world, that he gave his only begotten Son …” I thought: “I know that word! That is the love of God! That is the love that the world is incapable of. to generate! ” I had come across things of legend! There it was – the powerful and exclusive love of God – in all its purity and transcendence! A love generated from the depths of the heart of our benevolent Creator projected unconditionally on a world that does not deserve it! Pen