- Religion and Philosophy
John's Gospel, a new look No 28-A different kind of love.
Love comes in different forms
John 16:27- A different love.
Many believe that John uses the two words for love, phileo and agape, interchangeably in his Gospel account. I believe that a careful study will reveal that he, in fact, uses them differently. The discussion between Jesus and Peter in John 21:14-17 shows this clearly.
The amazing statement in John 16:27 also illustrates this. In all other references to God’s love towards mankind, including the famous John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have life eternal”, the word used for God’s love is “agape”. This love is a love of the mind and can be commanded. This is how I have to love my neighbour even if I do not particularly like him. It does not depend on the quality of the receiver, but on a decision and commitment of the one showing that love.
In John16:27, John quotes Jesus as saying that God loves those who love the son and believe that he came from God, with a “phileo” love. This is a love of affection, a love that is heartfelt; a love that speaks of a special relationship.
What Jesus is saying in this passage is that God loves the world enough to send his son to die for it, “agape”. Once a person becomes a believer, he or she enters into another level of loving relationship, one of deep affection - a “phileo” love.
It is a pity that in the English language we do not have words that fully translates the different Greek words for love. The richness of the Greek words used, brings out a deeper meaning in this and other passages in John’s Gospel.