sorting out the slight distinctions of John 21 synonyms (per AGAPAO/PHILEO)

Paul Zellmer pzellmer at
Tue Jan 9 00:37:52 EST 2001

Well, David, I see two problems in your interpretation as being the more
sensible.  One is theological, and the other is purely contextusl.

The theological problem is that we do not find men correcting Jesus in the
Johannine writings, yet this is what you see Peter doing here.

The contextual problem is that it would fly in the face of the fact that
Peter was grieved with Jesus' third question, whether it be from the wording
or from the fact that it was the third in a series.  After all, if he were
trying to express an even deeper love than Jesus was suggesting, would he
not have instead been glad that Jesus recognized his point.  Also, in such a
case, there would seem to be no purpose for a command after the third
question and answer.

So I fail to see how your proposal can be considered the more sensible
interpretation, assuming that there is a significance between the two

Paul Zellmer

-----Original Message-----
From: One of the McKays [mailto:musicke at]
Sent: Monday, January 08, 2001 8:09 PM
To: Biblical Greek
Subject: [b-greek] Re: sorting out the slight distinctions of John 21
synonyms (per AGAPAO/PHILEO)

Is there a similar instance in the NT of one person using one word, while
t'other consistently uses a synonym? [I know, of course, Jesus finally uses
Peter's word].

I haven't noticed a passage quite like it, yet.

And if there is a distinction, it would seem likely to me also, that Peter
intends to raise the stakes, and says he loves Jesus truly, madly, deeply,
or something of the kind.

Makes a lot more sense than the other way round. I can't imagine the Peter
we find in the Gospels saying "No, I only love you a little bit!" Can you?

But the problem is that we have all been taught about this special AGAPH
love, and it is hard to get away from that.

Amazing how much interest this little passage raises. Is it because it is
fairly easy to at least get some kind of a handle on?

Or is it because of all those sermons?

David McKay
musicke at

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