15 ¶ So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. 19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.
One problem that modernists have with this passage is the way it underscores how various Greek words can stand for the same English word.
According to Strong’s dictionary when Jesus asks Simon Peter if Peter loves him more than the others in verse 15, the Greek word is based on agape, the word that modern evangelical Christians like to say is the divine love of God for man found only in the Bible.
However, Peter responds that he does love Jesus using the word phileo, which the modernists insist refers to brotherly love, as in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love (now, there is a joke.)
In verse 16 Jesus asked Peter again if he agape’d Jesus and Peter again replies that he phileos Jesus.
In verse 17 Jesus asks Peter if he phileos Jesus and Peter replies that he does. So, do the words actually mean different things as modern evangelicals insist?
Agape and Phileo are words for love that are used interchangeably. No extra insight into these verses is gained by playing ping pong with them. In Matthew 6:5 hypocrites phileo to pray standing in the synagogues, in Matthew 19:19 you are told to agape your neighbor as yourself, John 15:19 says the world won't phileo the disciples, 1 Corinthians 16:22 says that if any man phileo not the Lord Jesus Christ let him be Anathema Maranatha, and when we are repeatedly told to love our neighbor as ourselves with agape the Scriptures in no way imply that this is superior to our brotherly love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. I doubt anyone would imply that the kind of love Jesus says we are to have for each other, which distinguishes us as His followers, is inferior to the love we are supposed to have for a stranger who is in need.
Titus 3:4 doesn't have the love of God our Saviour toward man as agape. Paul's admonition in Titus 3:15 isn't agape. 1 Peter 1:22 uses both words for the same thought with phileo first and then agape. Does knowing this change your understanding of the text? Does it help you know what you are to do? Is your lack of access or availability of access to the Greek a determinant of your ability to understand God's words? Finally, in Revelation 3:19 does it matter to you that Jesus phileos here?
You will gain no valuable insights in the Bible by going back to the original languages; no subtle shades of meaning, no nuggets of wisdom, just some seminary educated person trying to show off their presumed superior training and intelligence. It's like telling me you are going to really get to know the Gettysburg Battlefield and then immediately digging the deepest hole in the ground that you can. I would tell you to compare verse with verse in the Bible as I would tell you to tour the entire battlefield. Keep in mind Paul's admonition in 1Corinthians 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
Dictionaries, encyclopedias, and even Strong's Concordance are not given by inspiration of God and are often corrupt. Lexicons, dictionaries of Hebrew and Greek are notoriously corrupt. Even their own creators and those modern translators who use them and revise them say so. Here are some quotes from the book, Biblical Greek Language and Lexicography.
“The fact is that opinions will very often differ over the precise wording of lexical definitions even - or perhaps, especially - after careful consideration of a proposed definition.”
“…there is the fact that even the latest lexicons derive their material from their predecessors, and a great deal of it has been passed on uncritically over the course of centuries.”
“…we cannot know for certain that what we find in front of us when we look up a word is sound.”
“…all the existing lexical entries in all our dictionaries are now obsolete and await reassessment in the light of the full evidence,or at least checking to see if there is further evidence to be added.”
“Lexicons are regarded by their users as authoritative, and they put their trust in them. Lexicons are reference books presenting a compressed, seemingly final statement of fact, with an almost legal weight. The mere fact that something is printed in a book gives it authority, as far as most people are concerned. And understandably: if one does not know the meaning of a word, one is predisposed to trust the only means of rescue from ignorance. Yet this trust is misplaced.” (41)
(41) Bernard A. Taylor, John A. L. Lee, Peter R. Burton &Richard E. Whitaker, Biblical Greek Language and Lexicography: Essays in Honor of Frederick W. Danker (Kindle Locations 955-956). Kindle Edition.
So compare scripture with scripture and ignore the scholar who says the original languages give more insight than the English. All they are trying to do is to take the authority of your Bible from you and replace it with their own intellect as your final authority.
Three times Peter denied Christ. Three times Christ asks Peter if he loves Christ. It seems that Christ is making things right with Peter. He then asks Peter to feed his sheep. Peter is to preach the words of God and to lead the Apostles. Christ then gives Peter a heads up that he will be martyred. Peter later said;
2Peter 1:14 Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.
20 ¶ Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? 21 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? 22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. 23 Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? 24 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true. 25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.
John explains how the error is made that some might think that John would not die until Jesus returned. Jesus only said, “what is it to you if he doesn’t die until I return?” so this teaching must have been a stumbling block of some sort in the early church. This teaches us a lesson of interpretation of the Bible. We are warned here about taking a comment, a verse, out of context and making it mean something it was never meant to mean. John lets us know that he is the one writing this gospel and confirms his testimony.
For verse 25 see verses 30 and 31 of the last chapter for a connection. John then wraps up his gospel giving us the idea that if he had wanted to and had the time he could have written many volumes of the things Jesus did. This brings to mind a great point. God, who has seen every moment of every life that has ever lived could have written a Bible no one could read but we have had come down to us about 1200 pages. One would assume that we should pay attention to every word, that everything is important in some way. I hope my comments on the Gospel According to John have helped you want to dig deeper into God’s Bible and that my study has been a blessing to you as it was to me. Thank you for reading.