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Oct 17

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LOVE (5)

At times, our words deceive us! What is meant by this? Think about the word “love” under which we are writing. Have you ever heard, or said, “I love my dog?” Then, later you say, “I love God.” This has never seemed to be right to my feeble ears! How about your ears?
Let us look back at the three Greeks words translated “love.” First recalling the three Greek words, they are: 1) “agapao” 2) “phileo,” and 3) “storge”. First, looking at the verse which everyone knows, “For God so loved (agapao) the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). This “love” coming from God is the highest kind of “love,” and used here to embrace the greatest number of people. Here John wrote, “God so ‘agapao’ the world,” and the Greek word for “world” is “kosmos,” here meaning all those who live upon the earth. Second, the Greek word “phileo” is used when Jesus said to Peter: “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (phileo) thou me more than these?” The change of words in the text is lost in English but is important in the Greek. You see, the Lord did not use the same Greek word three times, as Jesus said in verse seventeen: “He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (phileo) thou me?” Here Jesus used the Greek word “phileo;” it is clear in the Greek text that Jesus changed words from “agapao” and it appears that Peter is very upset. Strong gives this as the meaning of the Greek word “phileo:” “to be a friend to (fond of that is, have affection for.” “Phileo” is clearly a lesser word the “agapao,” which Jesus had used the first and second time he spoke to Peter. To which Peter replied: “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.” Now, which word did Peter use in his reply? The text will answer our question as it has the Greek word “phileo.” Here is a question that I have never heard nor read from anyone; is Peter “grieved,” as the text says he was, as it reads: “Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me?” So, what is my question? It is, was Peter “grieved” because Jesus said unto him, “lovest thou me more than these?” Or was he “grieved” because Jesus changed words, and used a lesser word than “agapao?” You can study on this for yourself! The third Greek word translated “love” is “storge” and is used in these words: “Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection (astorgos), implacable, unmerciful” (Rom. 1:31). The “a” at the beginning of the word reveals that it is used “as a negative particle” (Strong). We will not study this word, as it has nothing to do with our study.
Now, when you say: “I love my dog” which of these two Greek words: 1) “agapao,” or 2) “phileo’”would you be using if spoke Greek? I trust that you and I would use the Greek word “phileo,” as we would be expressing I “have affection for” my dog. But, we speak English, so how do we express a difference, that is expressed in the Greek but not in English? Maybe we should say, “I like my dog” but “I love God!”
Of course, the greatest passage which expresses the true meaning of “love” are in Paul’s words to the Corinthians; when he wrote: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing” (1 Cor. 13: 1-3). Now, just how is love truly expressed: “Charity (agapao) suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: …” (verses 4-8). Love cannot be defined any better than in the words the Holy Spirit gave to Paul. Each time the word “charity” is used in these two texts (1Cor. 13:1-3 and 1 Cor. 13:4-8), it is the Greek “agape.” Thus, the apostle is using the greatest Greek word for “love.”
In the above two texts, Paul has given us a lifelong challenge! How are you doing, in everyday life, in measuring up? It is hoped that we all are improving! I trust that in these five articles on “love,” that I have taken you into everyday life as we deal with our fellows! It is understood that some people, appear to have been born in the “negative” mourned; thus, making it hard to follow Paul’s words. Yes, but let it not be us, that makes others have a hard time loving and living with us!

Frank R. Williams

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