Straight Up with Sherri

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Language of LOVE.....

On Valentine's Day I posted the Story of Sarah Scantlin. I was a little surprised at some of the comments and their views, thoughts, and perceptions of love. Some felt love was powerful, some felt it was a gift, and others felt it was conditional. They maybe didn't use those words, but I could tell that some of the writers were wrestling with LOVE and what LOVE truly means. I immediately remembered a devotional I had given at my church where I had touched on this topic. I have since lost my notes (actually they are just burried somewhere amidst all the notes I take- I take LOTS of notes). I also knew that I was noy nearly as qualified to post on this topic as a friend of mine. So, I asked him help me out. I hope you all get as much out of this as I have. There is a lot to learn about the language of Love, and "theparson" is just the person to help us all out.


The Language of Love
If one only reads the New Testament in English he can certainly attain all the knowledge required to live a Christlike life. However, the rich and full meaning of this book can only be discovered by delving into the original language. The New Testament was written largely in Koine Greek (the origin of which is quite fascinating).The Koine Greek was a much more descriptive language than the English. Nothing exemplifies this more than a study of the word "love". The word love is a pretty generic word in the English language. I love my dog, I love ice cream, I love old movies and I love my wife. Pretty romantic sounding isn't it. Love in the English language is a pretty utilitarian word without much discretion.But, in the Koine Greek there were specific words for specific types of love. Two such words are used in the New Testament and both can be found in one passage of scripture.

John 21:15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?"
He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.
"He said to him, "Feed My lambs ."
16 He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?"
He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You."
He said to him, "Tend My sheep."
17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?"
Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time,
"Do you love Me?"
And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You."
Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep.

If one only read the preceding scripture in the English one might think Jesus was being somewhat neurotic. But, an examination of the Greek reveals a deeper meaning. The word "love" is used quite often in these sentences. However, in the original language there were actually two words used. The word "agapao" and the word "phileo". These two words are distinct from each other. The word "agapao" is what some call "the God kind of love". It is a selfless, giving love. John 3:16, which speaks of the love God has for the world, uses the word "agapao".The other word used here is the word "phileo". It is what we might call "brotherly love". It is a Platonic, less emotionally involved type of love that we have for our fellow man. It means to look at someone with high regard or esteem one highly.

If we were to insert the correct Greek word in the passage above it would read like this:John 21:15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you agape Me more than these?"He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I phileo You."He said to him, "Feed My lambs ." 16 He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you agape Me?"He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I phileo You."He said to him, "Tend My sheep." 17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you phileo Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?"And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I phileo love You."Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep.

What is the significance? Jesus wanted to know if Peter loved him with that sacrificial God kind of love. But, by now, Peter was having doubts and he could only bring himself to admit to loving Jesus as his brother. But, Jesus didn't berate Peter or call him faithless. He simply lowered the demand to where Peter was at that time and thus showed Peter he truly did love him.

Though it isn't used in the Bible there is another Greek word of interest. In "The Iliad", Homer uses the word "eros" which has been translated as "love". It is a passionate, sexual love. And then there is the word "storge" which would be best described as a love for family.

2 Comments:

  • Sherri, I am not sure how anyone thinks they can know what someone wants during an illness but I do know that it can't be anyone other than the one who is ill. I had a feeding tube during one illness and tubes running from one end to the other. The only one who knew I was tired of fighting was me. My heart breaks for anyone who loves Terri. I mean truly loves her feeling her pain through knowing her and only those closest to her would be able to do this certainly not the state. I have truly come to realize that life does amount to hill of beans in this country at times unless you are someone high up on the totum pole.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:58 PM  

  • theParson:
    Thank you for this wonderful lesson. I remember studying the issue back in college during "Theology of the New Testament" (or something like that - special thanks to the Jesuits). It is great to see it put into the perspective that you have presented it. I am often concerned by our lack of different expressions for love.

    By Blogger Right Wing Nut Job, at 3:08 PM  

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