A little advise, please!

Steven Lo Vullo doulos at merr.com
Wed Oct 17 02:39:54 EDT 2001

on 10/16/01 12:52 AM, Suedaleg at aol.com at Suedaleg at aol.com wrote:

In plunging into this issue again I feel like an alchoholic: I know I'm
going to be sorry afterwards, but I can't help myself.

> Ted's examples actually clarified something in these two words which I fear
> has been unseen in most discussions.  I will need to do a little more
> research to see if this view holds up.  If anyone is willing to show where it
> is contradicted I'd be very happy to look at their thoughts.

First, the type of distinction you propose between AGAPAW and FILEW is by no
means uncommon, and is "seen" by a great many. That's the problem. This is a
distinction that must be *seen* in a subjective sense, because it certainly
cannot be *demonstrated* to be distinction that may be taken for granted in
the NT. I have stated in many earlier posts dealing with this issue that the
only way to "see" this distinction in a great many of the passages where it
is proposed is to presuppose that such a distinction simply *must* exist.
This is the only way to arrive at the conclusions you reach.

> It appears to me, by Ted's examples (Luke 6:32; 11:43; John 5:20; and 20:2)
> that FILEOis a feeling toward someone or something (The Father feals love
> toward the Son; Jesus feels love toward John) while AGAPAW addresses the
> action resulting from or demonstrating the reality of the feeling (Pharisees
> not only enjoyed the best seets but actively sought them; sinners demonstrate
> their apreciation (love) for those who do well for them.).

Let's look at the above examples one by one to see if a distinction between
"feeling toward someone or something" and "action resulting from or
demonstrating the reality of the feeling" is necessary or even probable.

(1) In Luke 6.32 one must assume something that needs to be proven if your
above distinction is to be maintained, namely, that because AGAPAW is used
rather than FILEW, FILEW must deal with feelings and AGAPAW must deal with
actions. This is a classic non sequitur, since no such distinction between
the two words is either made or implied here. One cannot maintain that since
one word is used in a certain place instead of another, the other *could
not* have been used to the same effect. Not only that, in the text in
question there is no explicit action mentioned as a result or demonstration
of the love in question, even though the context is concerned with doing
good. You may say action or demonstration is implied from the context, but
this still does not prove that FILEW could not have been used to the same
effect. As I shall show shortly, FILEW may indicate a resulting action or
demonstration as much as AGAPAW.

(2) Luke 11.43 actually presents one of the greatest obstacles to your
contention. You say that it demonstrates the "Pharisees not only enjoyed the
best seets [sic] but actively sought them." The problem here is that in the
parallel passage in Matthew (23.6), FILEW is used rather than AGAPAW! On
what basis shall we suppose that the one with AGAPAW implies the active
seeking of the "best seats," while FILEW only implies a warm "feeling" for
the "best seats." Why not rather say that FILEW implies an active seeking
and AGAPAW implies only a feeling? That would have just as much validity,
since in each case the object of the love is the same. I know that some out
there who have already decided that there MUST always be some special
distinction between these words will say, "Well yes, but, uh, Luke was
emphasizing the action involved, while Matthew was emphasizing the feeling."
The problem with this way of thinking is that the only way to maintain it is
by presupposition. Not only that, but such a response reveals that for those
who hold the view you are espousing there is no way to falsify the proposal.
This is what is so frustrating in this debate. The underlying presupposition
insures the conclusion no matter what, and the explanation always depends on
the presupposition.

(3) John 5.20 also doesn't help your case. You say concerning this passage,
"The Father feals [sic] love toward the Son." What is missed, however, is
that FILEW here is expressed in action: hO GAR PATHR FILEI TON hUION KAI
PANTA DEIKNUSIN AUTWi hA AUTOS POIEI, KTL. Not only that, but the same
situation obtains in John 3.35. There we read, hO PATHR AGAPAi TON hUION KAI
PANTA DEDWKEN EN THi CEIRI AUTOU. In both cases the love of the Father *for*
the Son is expressed in action *toward* the Son, the one with FILEW, the
other with AGAPAW. On what basis can we maintain that FILEW expresses
feeling in one sentence, and AGAPAW result or demonstration of feeling in
the other? Again, if we are going to make such a distinction, why not
reverse the significance? That would be just as valid. In this case also it
is only the presupposition that the two words MUST be distinguished and
CANNOT be synonymous that supports the conclusion.
> If this is so, it explains two things I have found difficult to explain in
> the past.
> Jesus wanted Peter to demonstrate his love (AGAPAW) but Peter, while truly
> loving (FILEW) the Lord was not certain he could demonstrate it by continuing
> to be an apostle, (John 21:15-17).
> Husbands are instructed not only to love (FILEW) their wives, but to
> consciously demonstrate it (AGAPAW) (Eph. 5:25), because after all SUNISTHSI

Since your previous points were not valid, they provide no support for the
distinction you make in John 21:15-17, I suggest you do a search for the
posts that comprised the last discussion of this passage. I think we gained
some real ground with that spate. If anything, FILEW is semantically the
broader of the two terms in that context, taking into its scope AGAPAW, as I
argued in one of my posts.

Moving on to Eph 5.25, it is again the presupposition that drives the
conclusion. Injecting FILEW into the discussion of that verse is merely
prejudicial. When you say, "Husbands are instructed not only to love (FILEW)
their wives, but to consciously demonstrate it (AGAPAW)," you act as if the
two terms are actually or implicitly being compared and contrasted by the
author, though no such comparison or contrast is being made. It is you who
are injecting the comparison and contrast, even though FILEW is not found
anywhere in the context, or for that matter anywhere in the entire letter!
As I mentioned earlier, it is a non sequitur to argue that because one term
is used rather than another that the other COULD NOT have been used
synonymously to the same effect. There is a presuppositional contrast at
work before the text has even been considered. The same mistake in logic is
made with regard to Rom 8.5.

Steven Lo Vullo
Madison, WI

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