Defining philein and agapan love in the NT; John 15:9-13

Class Outline:

Title: Defining philein and agapan love in the NT; John 15:9-13.


John 15:9 "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.


John 15:10 "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love.


John 15:11 "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.


John 15:12 "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.


John 15:13 "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.


In the introduction of mystery doctrine to the Church by our Lord we are again introduced to the NT concept of love and in the form of a command.


3. filein [philein] = a friendly love, a love that is called out of one’s heart as a response to the pleasure one takes in a person or object. Pleasure to the subject based on the attraction of the object.


This love doesn’t always imply human relationships. It is a love that is based upon an affinity, an attraction, and a pleasure that one takes in a person or object.


We noted last night that this love is legitimate and illegitimate depending on the object of that love and the motivation of the subject.


Wives are commanded to love with affinity their husbands as heroes and their training children.


Religious Pharisees possessed an attraction for approbation lust.


Anyone who has no affinity to the Lord Jesus Christ, but rather a malignant hatred of Him will live a cursed life.


Any believer who is more attracted to their loved ones and gains more pleasure from their loved ones over and above TLJC is not worthy of Him and will live a life out of balance.


Any believer who gains great pleasure from living his own life, setting his own priorities in his soul, and establishing his own norms and standards apart from God’s plan will lose that soul. [The soul obviously isn’t taken away, but its potential to experience the life beyond dreams will be lost.]


We have a few more instances of philein love to document, but before we do I believe it’s better to define agapan love, which is the word used in our main passage.


4. avgapan [agapan] = impersonal, unconditional, virtue love. It is the virtuous soul’s sense of the value and preciousness of its object.


 “It is a love called out of a person’s heart by an awakened sense [awakened virtue] of value in an object which causes one to prize it.” (K. Wuest)


 “to have a preference for, wish well to, regard the welfare of,” (J. Thayer)


 “is the love which is the product of the apprehension of value in its object, and which is therefore informed by a feeling of its preciousness, so that it moves in a region closely akin to that of esteeming, valuing, prizing.” (B.B. Warfield)


 “a mental attitude love that is free from all mental attitude sins,” (R.B. Thieme Jr.)


 “this is not a love of complacency or affection, that is, it is not drawn out by any excellency in its objects … not an impulse from feelings … does not spend itself only on those for whom some affinity is discovered.” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary)


There is not an ounce of excellence in a fallen man, however there is always the potential for it and so the soul of man is valued by God.


The value of man’s soul is revealed to us through God’s redemption of it. The entire human race was redeemed through the blood of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of all sin, EPH 1:7.


The soul is made of such a material that God can, through redemption, make it brand new in Christ and subsequently conformed it to His image and fullness.


This love had its perfect expression among men in the Lord Jesus Christ. Agapan love is the fruit of His Spirit in the mature believer, GAL 5:22.


God so loved the world because He was virtuous enough to see the preciousness of the human soul’s ability to choose for Him. This explains the unlimited atonement despite that fact that God’s Omniscience knew that there would be a certain percentage of the human race who would reject that salvation.


God’s desire is not just for all men to be saved but for all men to come to a full knowledge [epignosis] of the truth, by which they would grow to maturity and produce much fruit and thereby reveal their value as producers of divine good of intrinsic value.



1 Tim 2:4

who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.


Therefore, though agapen love is impersonal and unconditional it is not simply an ability to ignore an unlovely person. This love prompts action on behalf of the object in the form of self-sacrifice when called upon.


For this reason this love is not for the immature, nor does this love motivate a believer to act the same way towards all.


We are commanded to agapen God the Father and Jesus Christ and the same verb is commanded of us towards the unbeliever or the believer in reversionism. Obviously our attitude will not be identical towards both parties.


1 John 4:16

And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.


God is love. Love is a part of His essence, therefore God always possessed the virtue that saw the value of a human soul. He did not see good in fallen man, but through His love, which would provide salvation through Jesus Christ, He saw the potential for every soul to believe in Christ with the result that His justice could then impute perfect, divine righteousness to that soul.


For any of us to have such a love, a love that lays down the lifesoul for another, unless we possess God’s virtue through spiritual maturity.


Phil 4:8 gives us six virtues that need to exist in the heart for breaking the maturity barrier.


Phil 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatever is true [doctrinal truth], whatever is honorable [worthy of respect], whatever is right [experiential righteousness and justice], whatever is pure [divine good], whatever is lovely [prosphilos = legitimate personal loves], whatever is of good repute [commendable], if there is any excellence [virtue] and if anything worthy of praise [approval or recognition], let your mind dwell on these things.


“dwell” [logizomai] means to make these things the subject of thoughtful consideration or to carefully reflect on them.


With these things as a basis for your system of thinking and therefore function of your soul, in which case would not be your own values or priorities, the believer will have capacity for virtue love where he recognizes the value and potential in every man. This is not faking it anymore or trying it anymore, this is the system of thinking of the mature believer and so he must necessarily think with this love.


agapan is a love that recognizes the value and preciousness of an object from a developed virtue, established by PVTD, that motivates a desire to be of benefit and not a hindrance no matter the cost or inconvenience.


This love can only exist under the power of God the Holy Spirit filling the soul.


1 Cor 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,


1 Cor 13:5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,


1 Cor 13:6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;


1 Cor 13:7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.


1 Cor 13:8 Love never fails


patient - MA grace orientation

Kind - overt grace orientation

Not jealous - content with God’s grace

Doesn’t brag - neutralized ego

Not arrogant - others more important


Not unbecoming - behaves with honor

Not seek its own - self-sacrificial from lack of lust

Not provoked - avoids being irritated

No account of wrong - sees potential victory


Not happy with -R - does not compete

Happy with truth - BD always the issue

Bears all things - will not betray confidence [used originally for covering a roof]


Believes all things - faith rest to believe the bestno presumption

Hopes all things - confidence in the potential victory

Endures all things - stands firm under pressure

Never fails - the subject retains joy, stability, and tranquility