Greek Nuggets or Fool's Gold?
The Truth about the Agape-Phileo Myth

by Dr. Herb Evans

Bible believers are constantly bombarded by Greek experts, who claim to have special insight to the hidden nuggets of the Greek N.T., which cannot be found in the plain, ordinary English of the King James Bible. Most believers, not proficient in the Greek, may lack a refuting authority for such claims.

Fortunately, most Bible believers are wisely either skeptical or suspicious regarding that which they cannot read, trusting only in that which they can read, thus escaping the pitfalls of blindly following after the claims of the new age Rosicrucians.

Just as the King James Bible is rich in synonyms (purposely according to its translators), the Greek N.T. is also rich in synonyms. Both Greek and English synonyms fit into different contexts or blend into the rhythm of the text more suitably than others. Sometimes, one Greek word is translated by more than one English synonym; at other times, multiple Greek synonyms a retranslated by one English word.

W.E. Vine, Bible Corrector First Class, confesses, and admits, regarding the Greek word for "love" (AGAPAO), "enquiry into its use (AGAPAO), whether in Greek literature or in the Septuagint throws but little light upon its distinctive meaning in the N.T." In other words any distinction must be found within the N.T., for it cannot be found in other Greek literature.

It is not always easy to confine Bible correctors to the scriptures. Thank you, Mr. Vine!

he following passages test both the Greek Bible teachers/experts' honesty and accuracy, as they claim there is a radical distinction between the Greek noun "AGAPE" & the Greek verb "AGAPAO" as opposed to the Greek verb "PHILEO," all translated "love" in the King James Bible, (with the exception of where the Greek noun "AGAPE" is translated "charity").

AGAPE (noun) and AGAPAO (verb)

  • "I loved ('AHAB) Jacob." — Malachi 1:2

  • "Jacob have I loved (AGAPAO)" — Romans 9:13

  • "Thou shalt love (AGAPAO) the Lord thy God with all thy heart . . . Thou shalt love (AGAPAO) thy neighbour as thyself." — Matthew 22:37-39

  • "thou shalt love ('AHAB) thy neighbour as thyself." — Leviticus 19:18

  • "thou shalt love ('AHAB) the LORD thy God with all thine heart." — Deuteronomy 6:5

  • "Demas hath forsaken me having loved (AGAPAO) this present world." — 2 Timothy 4:10

  • "men loved (AGAPAO) darkness rather than light." — John 3:19

  • "For they loved (AGAPAO) the praise of men more than the praise of God." — John 12:43

  • "sinners also love (AGAPAO) those that love them." — Luke 6:32
The theories, which we have heard regarding the word "AGAPE" (which some tell us is the highest form of love) are many, i.e., selfless love, intimate love, moral love, spiritual love, Christian love.

Could Demas actually have had a selfless or spiritual or Christian or moral love for this present world? Is it possible for sinners to have the same kind of selfless, moral, spiritual love that saved people have?

Can darkness (John 3:19), praise of men (John 12:43), masters (Matthew 6:4),the world (1 John 2:15; 2 Timothy 4:10) nations (Luke 7:5), creditors (Luke7:42), wages of unrighteousness (2 Peter 2:15), life (1 Peter 3:10) be loved in such away?

Strong tells us that the Hebrew word for love, "'AHAB" (Leviticus 19:18), means "to have affection for (sexually or otherwise). . ."Could Matthew (Matthew 22:37-39) have mis-rendered the Hebrew word for "love" of God and one's neighbour? Or is the "original" Hebrew word for "love" in error (for one's neighbor — Leviticus 19:18 or for God —Deuteronomy 6:5 or for women — 2 Samuel 13:1; 1 Kings 11:1; 2 Chronicles 26:10)? Could Paul have mis-rendered the Hebrew word for love regarding Jacob (Malachi 1:2 and Romans 9:13)? Are the Hebrew and the English words for love too inclusive and in need of correction?

PHILEO

  • "the Father himself loveth (PHILEO) you, because ye have loved (PHILEO) me." — John 16:27

  • "If any man love (PHILEO) not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema." — 1 Corinthians 16:22

  • "For the Father loveth (PHILEO) the Son." — John 5:20

  • "Greet them that love (PHILEO) us in the faith." — Titus 3:15
We are told by the Greek experts that the Greek word "PHILEO" means only a casual or friendly type of love. Does God love the saints casually because they love His Son casually? Should we love our brothers in the faith casually? Should we love the Lord Jesus Christ casually? Does the Father love the Son or us casually? Is love in the faith casual?

PUZZLING GREEK CROSS-REFERENCES

  • "Then Peter . . .seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved (AGAPAO)" — John 21:20 (19:26; 21:7)

  • "She. . .cometh . . .to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved (PHILEO)" — John 20:2

  • "For whom the Lord loveth (AGAPAO) he chasteneth." — Hebrews 12:6

  • "As many as I love (PHILEO), I rebuke and chasten" — Revelation 3:19

  • "ye love (AGAPAO) the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets." — Luke 11:43

  • "love (PHILEO) greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues" — Luke 20:46
Why would John tell us that Jesus loved that disciple intimately, deeply, selflessly, and spiritually in one place but tell us in another that Jesus loved him only casually? Why would Luke tell us that the Pharisees loved "greetings" and "uppermost seats" in the synagogue intimately, deeply, selflessly, morally, or spiritually in one place but tell us in another place that they only loved these things casually?

IS PHILEO LOVE OR AGAPE LOVE "BROTHERLY" LOVE?

  • "But as touching brotherly love (Philadelphia) . . . ye yourselves are taught of God to love (AGAPAO) one another." — 1 Thessalonians 4:9

  • "obeying the truth. . . unto unfeigned love of the brethren (Philadelphia), see that ye love (AGAPAO) one another." — 1 Peter 1:22
If our Bible correcting friends are correct, it would seem that the word for brotherly love or love for the brethren would be based on the higher, more intimate, deep, selfless, spiritual Greek word "AGAPAO," rather than on the casual Greek word "PHILEO, "but this is not the case. But then, King James Onlys are ignorant and don't understand.

Or do we?

AGAPE or PHILEO Thou Me?

"Jesus saith to Simon Peter. . . lovest (AGAPAO) thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love (PHILEO) thee...He saith to him again the second time . . . lovest (AGAPAO) thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thoughtless that I love (PHILEO) thee. . . He saith unto him the THIRD time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (PHILEO) thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the THIRD time, Lovest (PHILEO) thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love (PHILEO) thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep." — John 21:15-17
Self styled Greek expositors go bonkers with this passage, seeking to get something out of the passage that is not there, while they miss the main point that Peter was asked this question three times because he denied his Lord three times. Their idea, however, is that Jesus was asking Peter, with the higher Greek word (AGAPAO), if he loved Him deeply and intimately. Supposing that Jesus thought Peter fudged by using the lower Greek love word (PHILEO), Jesus repeated the question three times to Peter.

But Bible correctors have missed something. . .

It says that Jesus said to Peter the "THIRD TIME, Lovest (PHILEO) thou me?" Now, poor ignorant Bible believers understand this to mean that the first and second time were the same as the third time. Either the Greek matching words are in error or it doesn't make a hill of beans worth a difference which Greek words, "AGAPAO" or "PHILEO," are used in either place. Selah!

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