In some earlier posts, I wrote on the common belief that agape and phileo have different meanings, especially in John 21. To help people understand this better, I developed the following quiz. For each of the following verses, see if you can guess whether the Greek word for love is agape or phileo. I'll give the answers at the bottom.
- Mt 10:37 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me."
- Luke 20:46 “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets."
- Jn 5:20 “For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing."
- Jn 11:3 So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”
- Jn 12:25 “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal."
- Jn 16:27 "for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father."
- John 20:2 So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb..."
- 1 Cor 16:22 If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed.
- Titus 3:15 All who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith.
- Rev 3:19 "Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent."
To get the answer key, use your mouse to highlight the apparently blank lines below.
All of of the sentences use phileo in Greek. None use agape. Sneaky, huh?
So what's the point? If agape means divine, unconditional, higher love, and phileo means only friendly affection (the usual explanation given), then anyone reading Bible verses with the English word "love" ought to be able to guess which Greek word it was translating. But as you can see, several of the above sentences describe a higher love, and some describe a defective love - but all use the same Greek word, phileo. I could have done the same thing with agape - give you multiple verses, some obviously about higher love, and others about defective love, but all translating agape. The two words, as you can see, have about the same range of meanings. For more on this, read my earlier posts on agape / phileo.