Paul S Dixon dixonps at
Wed Oct 17 18:11:28 EDT 2001

On Wed, 17 Oct 2001 18:42:36 +0000 "Mark Wilson" <emory2oo2 at>
> Antonius, in the funeral discourse addressed the Roman
> people over the body of Caesar in this way:
> - Trench, Synonyms of the NT, pg. 42, citing Dion Cassius, xliv, 
> 48).
> I have always found Trench's study on these two words most 
> informative
> where in this quote, the author uses FILEW toward the father
> and AGAPAW toward a benefactor.
> As noted by Trench, AGAPAN TON QEON is commanded of believers, but
> never do you find FILEIN TON QEON. For FILEW involves the natural
> affections and passion; while AGAPAW is a reasoned attachment, from
> a sense of due respect. One can not command affection/passion.
> Taking this distinction into the famous John 21 passage, Trench
> further feels that when Christ asked Peter if he AGAPAiS ME, this
> use of love, AGAPAW, "when all the pulses in the heart of the now
> penitent Apostle were beating with a passionate affection toward
> his Lord, this word on the Lord's lips sounds far too cold... to
> very imperfectly express the warmth of his affection toward Him."
> (pg. 42,43).
> Just some more thoughts on this often debated issue...
> Mark Wilson

If the meaning of AGAPAS in Jn 21:15-16 is a"reasoned attachment, from a
sense of due respect,"  versus an emphasis upon "the natural affections
and passion," then what is the meaning of Christ's question?  

Furthermore, why does Christ then change to FILEW in the third question? 
Is it simply to question not only Peter's reasoned attachment love (which
Peter then fails to answer), but also to question even his natural
affections and passion love which Peter seems to be harping on at the
expense of ignoring, or at least reinterpreting, Christ's questions
altogether?  Is Peter then basically saying he does not AGAPEI Christ,
but he surely does FILEI Him?

I tend to agree with you and Trench, that if there is a distinction
between AGAPAW and FILE, it may be as you say.  But, the question is
this, is there a distinction in this context?  Would you agree that the
words can be virtually synonymous, or do they always have to maintain a
distinctive difference?

Paul Dixon

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