Tag Archives: phileo

Peter and Jesus – a Pattern for Reconciliation

In John 18 Peter denied Jesus three times, as in fact Jesus Himself had predicted. (Matthew 26:34) A cocky, self-assured Peter said he would never do this. Sometimes our confidence gets away with itself.

Public denial has consequences

Peter learned what was in his inner most heart. But this denial had cut him off from Jesus. Public denial is quite serious. In fact, the scripture says that if you deny me before men, I will deny you before the Father. (Matthew 10:30)

After the death of Jesus and prior to His ascension an angel says to Jesus’ group:

Mark 16:7 But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”

Peter’s denial had removed him from being a “disciple.” So Jesus offers him an opportunity for restoration. Here is the passage. It is important for what it says in the Greek language, something impossible to state in English.

God knows what you have said

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah,[a] do you love Me more than these?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah,[b] do you love Me?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah,[c] do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”

And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.

If we do not know the two Greek words here, we can get caught looking at the sheep and their feeding instead of the real lesson.

Greek words for love have different meanings

Here we have two different words for love in Greek. This language has five words for love; four of them appear in the Greek Bible. Two of them are here. Agape (ah-gah-pay) meaning the pure, selfless love of God and phileo, (phi-lay-oh) the love of one person for another, i.e. brotherly love. Now – the same passage with the Greek words inserted.

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah,[a] do you love [agape] Me more than these?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love [phileo] You.”

He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah,[b] do you love [agape] Me?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love [phileo] You.”

He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah,[c] do you love [phileo] Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”

And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love [phileo] You.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.

Why did Jesus abandon His “agape” term and revert to Peter’s “phileo” verb?

The rules for speech are for Christian workers too

We can answer this several ways. First, Peter and the rest of the disciples/apostles had yet to receive the Holy Spirit in the upper room on Pentecost. Without the infilling of God’s spirit how can we truly know the pure love of God in our lives.

The natural man receives not the things of the spirit of God, neither does he know them, for they are foolishness unto him” 1 Corinthians 2:14

Second, Peter has been chastened, that is a fancy word for discipline. Discipline to be effective and honorable must always seek restoration. Discipline that is simply violent correction or evil doing, and there is plenty of that in this world, is non-redemptive and leads to more evil. Peter has seen his lack; he is embarrassed and he knows that he must grow in the knowledge of God and His love. In this respect we are all ‘Peters.’

God disciplines His people; he judges the lost

Peter list his position as a disciple after he denied Jesus three times on the day of crucifixion.  We know this because Jesus said the following to the women at the tomb:

“But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee.” Mark 16:7.

Jesus offered Peter an opportunity to undo all the denials he had initiated. By using the Greek word for Godly love, the Lord was telling Peter there was something he had yet to learn. Peter’s repeating that he loved Jesus three times restored him to disciple status.

Restortation through your words

Jesus does that for all of us; we are given space to be corrected and to understand ourselves so we can be effective doing our assigned tasks for the promotion of the Kingdom of God.

What does it mean to repent?

The first leg on a journey back to God is forgiveness. Repentance is the second leg and best understood by what it is not.

It is not remorse, regret, lament, apology, feeling bad about, wishing it had never happened, depression, despair, sorrow, shame or guilt. Those are all valid emotions which ordinary people feel when they have done wrong, or at least when they think they have done wrong. But emotions are not actions.

Jesus never once asked anyone how they felt; but many times he asked them “What do you think?” Thinking governs actions. To repent is to act.

Remorse is feeling so very bad about something that it destroys you. Judas betrayed Jesus and was engulfed by remorse so thoroughly he killed himself. That is not repentance.

Matthew 27:2-4 3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,

4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.Could Judas have repented and been restored to Jesus? Yes, but he did not.

Shame and guilt engulfed Peter after he had denied he knew Jesus. He didn’t kill himself or anyone else, but he skulked back into the shadows until Jesus openly and publicly asked Peter to undo in his heart what he had done previously in front of others. Jesus asked him 3 times if he loved Him since Peter had denied him 3 times. From The Message

15 After breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love (αγαπας) me more than these?” The word love here refers to the pure love of God.

“Yes, Master, you know I love (φιλω) you.” The word for love here refers to the love between persons, brothers, friends.

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16 He then asked a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love (αγαπας) me?”

“Yes, Master, you know I love (φιλω) you.”

Jesus said, “Shepherd my sheep.”

17-19 Then he said it a third time: “Simon, son of John, do you love (φιλω) me?”

Peter was upset that he asked for the third time, “Do you love me?” so he answered, “Master, you know everything there is to know. You’ve got to know that I love you.”

Peter knew what it meant to really repent. He believed he loved Jesus with God’s love, and could after the betrayal only confess to (φιλω) the love of mankind. But he did make as many confessions of love as he had of betrayal.

The English really cannot know these different words for love, essential to correct interpretation. Peter was required by the circumstances to agree and also recognize that his love was not as devoted and as unconditional as he had originally believed. Peter found out the truth about himself in this scenario. Peter was not only restored, he became one of the most aggressive of apostles.

Sorrow was what Mary felt when she saw her son die. Lament was what the women did at Golgotha. (Matt 27:55 And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: 56 Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedees children. ) Depression is a long term response to anger turned inward. The cure for depression is not repentance but praise. Isaiah 61:3.

Enough of what it is not. Repentance defined is, using a translation of the Greek word metnoia, (meta=change, nous=mind), solely to change your mind. This takes an act of the will. It does not mean that you really need to know very much. The simplest person can change his/her mind.

I once worked for a gifted attorney; in fact she had never lost a case. Even though she attended church and Sunday school every week, (and her husband was a preacher’s kid), she told me that she hoped she would do enough good in her life to be accepted in heaven. Clearly she had not one clue what true salvation was all about. She needed a mental change. What will happen to bring her to this? I have no idea but clearly weekly preaching has not done it for her. Will she have a sudden realization of her lost-ness?

As one who worked with prisoners for years I saw people in jail who did not see their condition until they had a realization of the love of God. One murderer said he broke down in sobs when he realized that he had killed someone that God loved.

The Bible says there are two ways to get people saved: one is kind and gentle words of love, and the other is pure-T scaring them into the Kingdom.

Jude 1:21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 22 And of some have compassion, making a difference: 23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

God uses all methods to bring man to Himself.

Cheap Grace, Sloppy Agape, Greasy Grace

Is it my imagination or does it appear that millions of Christians think this life of a believer is some easy road? If I hear “once saved always saved” one more time I will _____.

Agape (pronounced ah-gah-pay) is the Greek word for sacrificial love. Greek, being the most exacting of languages, has several words for love. Phileo means love between people. We recognize Philadelphia as the city of brotherly love. There is eros for sexual love, and storge which is family love, and there are many parts of the world where only family love exists. Sloppy agape has come to mean for the Christian church that since Jesus paid it all, we can sit back on His laurels and be-bop our way to the final whoppy-goodbye. Others call it greasy or cheap grace.

Grace is God’s word for blessings no human has now or ever will deserve. Grace then is undeserved benefits. But you’d jolly well think many are only too happy to let Jesus pay it all and then live no-account lives on the interest payments.
I can barely count the numbers of “believers” – using the term loosely – who think they become Christians by sitting in church. I challenge you. Sit in the garage for 3 months and see if you can turn into a Ford F150.

Jesus (and the Bible) reassures the new believers that they are not going to slip back into hell. But people – if you’ve been around for some years, you should not need constant reassurance about your salvation. You are not a baby anymore – or should not be. Babies are loveable and cute but they produce little more than smiles, and feces. Parents are only too happy to take them off the bottle and into kindergarten.

The test of salvation is growing up. Is there anything more heartbreaking than seeing a bus load of adults who have some severe retardation? Or disability? No, because we know that the best that life has for them is not available. God will save and bless them but it is not the perfect thing for man.

Same for the believers. Time to show up, grow up and man up.