Defining philein and agapan love in the NT part 2; John 15:9-13

Title: Defining philein and agapan love in the NT part 2; John 15:9-13.


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.


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


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


There is no emotion in this love since it is a mental attitude love. Philein love is often accompanied by emotion, which is wonderful if that emotion remains a responder to legitimate pleasure.


A few more important verses using philein.


John 12:23 And Jesus answered them, saying, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.


John 12:24 "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.


John 12:25 "He who loves his life loses it; and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal.


John 12:26 "If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall My servant also be; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.


 “loves his life” – filon th.n yuch.n [philon ten psuchen] = The pure love of living your life your own way. To have great pleasure from setting your own priorities and scale of values.


It is a proverbial saying of universal application, adduced here in support of the solemn declaration of the preceding verse that fruit-bearing comes through sacrifice.


If the Lord set His own priorities He would have by-passed the cross, but our Lord submitted to the will of the Father and by this He loved [agape] the Father.


Matt 26:39

"My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt."


When you are about to act or set in motion the work to accomplish your desire do you look at it in light of God’s priorities and God’s scale of values, and in God’s plan?


That’s why philon is used on John 12:25. There is an affinity or an attraction for someone’s own desires above God’s and that gives the individual pleasure. That will result in loss of the soul’s true destiny as God has designed it.


As with agape love, instead of liking, or attraction, or affinity, there is a value placed on the object of this noble love. This value can only be recognized when the subject has the virtue required for seeing it.


There is value in the Father’s plan and that is the bearing of much fruit, but you have to mature enough to see it; you have to gain the perspective from virtue to see that value.


There is value in an unbeliever, but you have to gain the perspective of virtue from maturity to see it.

I didn’t say there was good in the unbeliever, like when people say there is good in everyone, but I did say there was value. The value is the soul which always has the potential for salvation and for good of intrinsic value.


The loving of life [soul] spoken of in John 12:25, then, has such pleasure in it, such a fixing of the heart upon it and doting on it that nothing else comes into consideration or in comparison with it.


This is the thinking of the so-called cool kids, the loner, the one who won’t play by the rules, the question authority, etc. They have set their own priorities and filled their own conscience with their own norms and standards and take great pleasure in it.


Pure joy in living your life your way, says our Lord in effect, is a short-sighted policy, because there lies something beyond this living which is calling the believer to eternal affection.


Undoubtedly fileo is the appropriate word to express this idea, and has pungency when employed to express it which the more customary agapan would lack.


John 15:19 "If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.


 “would love” – evfi,lei [ephilei – imperfect active indicative] = keeping a deep soul attraction for the world system that began in the past and continues today.


There will always be a large percentage of the population that is in deep affectionate love with the world system. To reject that system by abiding in the plan of God you will incur the wrath or hatred of those who recognize your rejection of it. The plan of God is grace, virtue, integrity, and self-sacrifice. The kosmos or world system is merit, idolatry, self-centeredness, and love of self.


Certainly you can’t love both the world system and God’s system. No one can have two masters.


Luke 16:13

"No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."


2 Tim 4:10

 for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica


As we transition to the fourth Greek word for love, let’s look at 2 passages that seem identical, but use the two different verbs for love.


John 5:20 "For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and greater works than these will He show Him, that you may marvel.


John 3:35 "The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand.


John 5:20 – the Father filei [philei – present active indicative] = the Fatherly tenderness with which the Father loves the Son.


John 3:35 – the Father avgapa [agapa – present active indicative] = the greatness of the Son whom the Father honors by His love as the relationship of a Master and a Servant.


John 5:20 is the only passage in the NT in which the love of the Father to the Son is described otherwise than by agapao.


These passages might, on a surface view, be taken as a mere repetition of that, with a meaningless change in the verb. Such is, however, not the case; the difference in the verbs corresponds with an important difference in the sense conveyed.


Therefore we see the subtle but very real difference between the love of attractiveness and affinity and the love of preciousness in an object from an awakened sense of virtue in the maturing believer.



A few instances of the use of agapan in the NT before we tackle our main text verse by verse.


John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.


As we have defined agapan love: A mental attitude love from mature virtue that recognizes the value of an object, which produces a preference and a regard for its benefit, without sin, nor motivated by any affection or attraction.


From John 3:16 another aspect is added to this love and that is self-sacrifice to the point of death, and that on behalf of the one who bitterly hates the One who loves, and the One who loves bitterly hates the sin of the one who hates.


Agapan love: self-sacrifice to the point of death, and that on behalf of the one who bitterly hates the One who loves.


1 John 3:16

We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.


Only the power of the word and the filling of the Spirit can accomplish this.


Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her;


 “love” – avgapate [agapate – present active imperative] = The husband is to habitually lead as a noble, virtuous lover in the same way as Christ does to the Church.


And like Christ it will kill him. JK.


The example given leaves no room for doubt that this is Christ’s love. However, as we emphasize the definition, agapan means to see value in terms of potential.


As a husband you must see value in your wife in terms of that potential. It’s easy to love her when there are no problems or divisions, but when things are disagreeable the husband must forgive and support his love with agapan since philein just went out the window!


This is one of the loftiest commands given by God.


Eph 5:28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;


Eph 5:29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,


Eph 5:30 because we are members of His body.


Eph 5:31 For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh.


Eph 5:32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.


Eph 5:33 Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband.


A husband must first and foremost have a relationship and rapport with God and then with his wife. She is to respond to his agapan love.


Col 3:19

Husbands, love your wives, and do not be embittered against them.


Agapan love has a lack of mental attitude sins.


The fact that agapan means self-sacrifice, which is certainly implied here from the reference of Christ giving up His life, this is a love of complete devotion.


Eph 5:22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.


Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.


Eph 5:24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.


 “subject” – uvpota,ssw [hupotasso] = to be under the rank of, to be subject to, to be subordinate. A woman habitually surrenders her volition to her husband as she does unto the Lord.


A wife must attain virtue in order to deny her own desires and subject herself to her husband.


By means of doctrine the wife gains the capacity to submit to her right man, appreciate her right man, and fulfill her right man.


1 Peter 3:1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives,


1 Peter 3:2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.


1 Peter 3:3 And let not your adornment be merely external —  braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses;


1 Peter 3:4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.


1 Peter 3:5 For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands.


1 Peter 3:6 Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.


A virtuous wife constantly thinks of ways to help her husband because she knows that God has called her to be a helper and a partner to him.

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