Keep abreast of the International Bible Teaching ministry, and learn about faith, in just minutes a week.
Atlanta, 13 July 2016

The North River group (40% of our church) is back from the conference in St. Louis. The fellowship was terrific. I especially appreciated the attendees from cities around the world. It was enjoyable reconnecting with disciples from places like Buenos Aires, Vladivostok, Montreal, Addis Ababa, Calgary, Honolulu, São Paulo, London, Seoul, and many, many more locations. I even spent a few hours reconnecting with a brother I hadn't seen in 30 years. 

The teaching went smoothly, everyone seemed to like our new book (Campus Core), and the new version of the play Upside Down was even better than the original. I believe my favorite talk was Jeff Walling's Cross-Shaped Leadership & Grace-Driven Discipleship. All lessons are available here.

After last week's introductory quiz on common biblical words -- it seems most of your got 4 or 5 out of 5 correct, which is great -- now let's jump into our study.

Biblical Words Series:

                    N.T. Greek    O.T. Hebrew  –  O.T. Aramaic

Love, or friendship?

One of my readers wrote in with the following question: "I heard there are two words for love in John 21. Does one refer only to friendship, and the other to real love? You know Greek, so what do you say?"

In John 21, I think it most likely that agapâs me ("do you love me," as an act of will and commitment) and phileîs me ("do you love me," as an act of devotion based in affection) are synonymous. In other words, it is doubtful that Jesus is asking Peter if he's his "friend." Here's why:
  • Phileîn is the verb used in Matthew 10:37; John 11:3, 20:2; Romans 12:10; 1 Corinthians 16:22; Titus 2:4 (2x), 3:15. Please look up these passages and see how your translation renders phileîn.
  • Another distinction that could be made from the same passage -- though I've never come across it -- would be between arnia (lambs) in John 21:15 and probata (sheep) in 21:16 and 17. While the two words don't share the same root meaning, they are clearly being used interchangeably, in accordance with the dictates of good style.
  • On top of all this, in John 16:27 it is phileîn, not agapân, that describes God's love for the Disciples.
  • For a parallel, compare James 4:4 to 1 John 2:15. The first speaks of friendship with the world, the second of love for the world. Yet the basic meaning is the same. If you want further support for this view, see D. A. Carson's Exegetical Fallacies.
In John 21 it seems there's no difference between these love words -- despite what many of us preachers confidently affirm. While it's conceivable the account intends a distinction, this is far from obvious, even to a Greek reader. We may be tempted to leave this an open question, yet the evidence weighs in favor of synonyms.

The four loves
and agápē may be synonyms, yet that doesn't mean there's never any distinction. The "Four Loves" (popularized by C.S. Lewis in a lecture series and book by that name) are:
  • Agape (agápē, Greek: ἀγάπη): unconditional or divine love. Common in the N.T., though rare outside it.
  • Eros (erōs, Greek: ἔρως): erotic love. N.T. writers avoid calling eroticism "love," always using terms for sexual sin instead of the word eros.
  • Philia (philía, Greek: φιλία): friendship love. Common in the N.T.
  • Storge (storgē, Greek: στοργή): empathy; family love. Appears in the N.T. only in compounds (Rom 1:31).
Soon we'll explore Mashiach, the Hebrew word for Messiah. Perhaps you know how the Jews rendered Mashiach in their Greek translation? Find out next week.

To the Islands

Tomorrow afternoon I head to Kingston. The Caribbean School of Ministry has two sessions this month. The north/west islands converge in Jamaica, the south/east islands on Trinidad. The topic: Homiletics (teaching and preaching). I'm also speaking in Tobago, for total of a dozen talks to prepare. (That's not a complaint -- it's what I love to do.) Thanks for your prayers.

In Him,
Douglas Jacoby

unsubscribe from this list           update subscription preferences