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Love in Weakness

Love in Weakness

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Published by Ben
The different kinds of love, shown through our shortcomings.
The different kinds of love, shown through our shortcomings.

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Published by: Ben on Nov 13, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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06/16/2009

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In Greek, there are multiple words that in English we translate "love." Our English translationdoesn't really do justice to the nuances between the different words that we translate as thesame. Two of the most common words for love in Greek are the verbs
 phileo
and
agapao
.
Phileo
connotes a love of friendship, or affection between friends or family. The cityof Philadelphia is a combination of the words
 phileo
and
adelphos
, which means "brother"--thus, it is the City of Brotherly Love. This
 phileo
love is prompted by an emotion felt betweenfriends or family.
 Agapao
is a higher kind of love. It is a love that regards something as more important thanyourself, and places its will above your own. It is to cherish something with reverence, and it iswilling to give up everything for the object of its love. It is a tendency of the will rather thanan emotion. One definition states:
γαπάω denotes to take pleasure in the thing, prize itabove other things, be unwilling to abandon it or do without it. In a sense,
agapao
love is oftenthe cause of 
 phileo
love.
 Agapao
is used to tell of God's love for people and the world. It is ahigher, self-sacrificial, deliberately willing love.These definitions are interesting to note when we look at the last chapter of the Gospel of John. It is after Jesus has been resurrected and appears to His disciples. He approaches Peter,who just a few days earlier had betrayed Jesus by denying association with Him. He asks Petera blunt question: "Do you truly
agapao
me?" Peter, full of shame at his denial, can only tell thetruth before his Lord, who knows all things before they are said. He responds bluntly, with "Yes,Lord, you know that I
 phileo
you." Jesus responds, "Feed my lambs."Peter knows that his actions have shown his heart, and he is honest in his confession that he isnot where Jesus expects him to be. He cannot say truthfully that he
agapao
loves Jesus withthis sacrificial love that Jesus asks and expects of him. How awkward is this? It would be liketoday if a guy told his girlfriend "I love you" for the first time, and was met with the responseof "Yeah, I like you a lot, too." How humiliating this must have been for Peter, who is met head-on with his guilt and shame in the presence of his Lord Jesus.Jesus asks Peter a second time, "Do you
agapao
me?" To which Peter can only respond again,"Yes, Lord, you know that I
 phileo
you." Jesus responded with, "Take care of my sheep."Then the third time Jesus says to Peter, "Simon son of John, do you
 phileo
me?" This time Jesusconcedes to Peter's position, to make sure that he loves him even with a
 phileo
love. Now Peteris hurt. Not only did Jesus ask him this question a third time, but the third time stung evenmore because Jesus was questioning even his
 phileo
love. Peter responds, "Lord, you know allthings; you know that I
 phileo
you." Peter is basically saying to Jesus, "You know everythingabout me and how weak I am. You know that this
 phileo
is all I have to give right now in myweakness."This is such an interesting passage that we completely miss over in our English translations. It'skind of depressing too, because this is Peter, the rock upon which Jesus is going to build HisChurch! This is that same Peter, saying that he can't really love Jesus enough! But this isn'twhere the story ends. After Peter's third response, Jesus says to him,

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