We are familiar with these two Greek words for “love” as found in the New Testament
(John 21:15-17).

At the outset, to be fair and honest, the sincere pastor/teacher simply regurgitates what he has been taught in Bible College. It’s sort of like the Doctor of Medicine who simply puts into practice what he has been taught at medical school – a product of his training.

The pastor presents the Greek word “agape” as speaking of a deep, intimate and selfless love, that is exemplified by the love that God has. “Phileo” on the other hand, is more of the casual and friendly type of love found between people.

The pastor is saddened by the shallowness and constraints of the English language, that can only be rectified by reference to the rich language and meaning to be found in the Greek.

He relates the story as follows, with the Lord saying to Peter “Peter … lovest (‘agape’) thou me (with the God like, deep, intimate, selfless love) more than these?” Peter replies “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love (‘phileo’) thee (with a casual friendly type of human love)”

The pastor then tells his congregation, that the Lord, in not getting the answer he wanted, asks again.

Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (‘agape’) thou me?”
Peter, not willing, or unable to, produce the deep love required, responds for the second time “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love (‘phileo’) thee.”

Whereupon, the pastor points out that a disappointed and saddened Jesus, meets Peter ‘in the middle’ by giving in to Peter’s lack of committing himself, and changes his choice of word from “agape” to “phileo”.

The Lord’s change of word seems to shock Peter into seeing the poverty of his love for the Lord Peter bows his head in shame, perhaps averting his eyes, sadly says “…thou knowest that I love thee.”

The pastor then shows the congregation that there is only one way to get this depth of meaning, and that is with the Greek. The weak English language can only go so far in getting the true meaning in this situation. The Greek goes far deeper.

Now look, the effect on the congregation pays dividends. They all shake their heads, are ashamed and vow to love the Lord better and others. A prayer is uttered and all go home suitably chastened and enlightened with their lack of love exposed by the richness of this Greek ‘nugget’.

As stated, this presentation by the pastor is overwhelmingly effective, but it has only ONE FLAW. The definitions given for “agape” “and phileo” are TOTALLY FALSE AND UNTRUE!

The following statement about “agape” and “phileo” is not based on prejudice or opinion. It is grounded solely on the way these two words are used in the Bible by Jesus Christ and New Testament writers.

“There is ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENCE in the New Testament between “agape” and “phileo”, and both are used INTERCHANGEABLY by Jesus Christ himself and New Testament writers. All this is REGARDLESS of what the Greek grammars, Greek teachers and Greek preachers may say!”

Now, if you have been saturated in the false teaching of “agape” and “phileo” by your Bible College professor, you will immediately reject the above statement with “How could such godly men be wrong?” Dear reader, these good and godly men, and they are, have only passed onto you what they themselves have been taught at Bible College as undergraduates.

Now there are two ways to prove all this as right or wrong:

1. You have already done the Test and come to the knowledge of the truth. The proof has come from Jesus Christ, Paul, Peter and John.

2. The final decision will be made by you before the Lord. Please earnestly pray “Dear Lord, is this true? I want the truth, all of the truth, nothing but the truth, at any cost.”

Who will you believe? The false teaching ‘Greek’ professor or Jesus Christ himself?


**** ****

Harley Hitchcock


What the Greek actually says is... 


Australian Bible Ministries, PO Box 5058, Mt. Gravatt East 4122 Qld, Australia