Why was Peter loathe to profess love for Christ?

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Paidion
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Why was Peter loathe to profess love for Christ?

Post by Paidion » Sun Jul 20, 2014 9:33 pm

Please read John 21:2-14

1. (a) Jesus: "Simon Johnson, do you love me more than these?"
1. (b) Peter: "Yes, Lord, you know that I am fond of you."
1. (c) Jesus: "Feed my lambs."

2. (a) Jesus: "Simon Johnson, do you love me?"
2. (b) Peter: "Yes, Lord, you know that I am fond of you."
2. (c) Jeus: "Shepherd my sheep."

3. (a) Jesus: Simon Johnson, are you fond of me?
3. (b) Peter: Lord, you know everything. You perceive that I am fond of you.
3. (c) Jesus: Feed my sheep.

Peter replies that he is fond of Jesus, each time Jesus asks. But he does not say that he LOVES Jesus (αγαπαω).
It is interesting that on the third time, Jesus just asks whether Peter is fond of him. Do you see any significance in this?
Paidion

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TheEditor
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Re: Why was Peter loathe to profess love for Christ?

Post by TheEditor » Sun Jul 20, 2014 9:56 pm

Hi Paidion,

The only significance I could see would be that he asked 3 times, and that Peter had denied him 3 times. As far as the words; Agape is a broader term and Philea is narrower, referring more to fondness of friendship, etc. It may simply be that the two words were used interchangeably. For instance, I had a chat with someone once that made a big issue over the use of Agape and insisted it was always significant. However, I pointed out that in the parallel accounts of Luke 11:43 and Mattew 23:6 the word Agape is used in Luke and Philea in Matthew. It may be that people used words then much as we use them now--interchangeably.

Regards, Brenden.
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Re: Why was Peter loathe to profess love for Christ?

Post by Paidion » Sun Jul 20, 2014 10:31 pm

Thank you Brenden, for pointing out that the verb "φιλεω" is used in Matt 23:6, where as "αγαπαω" is used in the parallel verse in Luke 11:43.
That would seem to indicate that the words are used synonymously.

Yet the question remains: "Why did the writers choose one word instead of another? And in the passage in the original post, why does John use "αγαπαω" for "love" in Christ's first two questions, where as he uses "φιλεω" for Peter's answers? If the words are synonymous then one would think whichever word John chose to use, he would use it consistently.
Paidion

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Re: Why was Peter loathe to profess love for Christ?

Post by dizerner » Sun Jul 20, 2014 11:21 pm

I think, besides a trifold reaffirmation, Christ was emphasizing that only God can truly agape love, a true lesson in humility. It is interesting that at the time Peter didn't seem to connect the 3 and 3, as it grieved him assumedly because he felt the Lord doubted him. Although Peter confessed the Lord knew all things, perhaps he still might be tempted to trust himself too much.

I was surprised that many main translations didn't reveal the different Greek words behind the text. But they don't also in Romans 9:22. I don't know how translators can possibly justify such a concealment. It's my humble opinion that just because the words can sometimes be interchanged doesn't mean they are exactly equivalent, however.
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TheEditor
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Re: Why was Peter loathe to profess love for Christ?

Post by TheEditor » Mon Jul 21, 2014 1:04 am

Hi Diszerner,

You wrote:

Christ was emphasizing that only God can truly agape love


Could you please expand on this for me?

Also, you mentioned Romans 9:22, and I'm unsure what part of this verse you feel is not revealed properly by translators?

Regards, Brenden.
[color=#0000FF][b]"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery."[/b][/color]

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Re: Why was Peter loathe to profess love for Christ?

Post by dizerner » Mon Jul 21, 2014 3:26 am

TheEditor wrote:Hi Diszerner,

You wrote:

Christ was emphasizing that only God can truly agape love


Could you please expand on this for me?

Well, I believe Peter typified for us a spiritual path of coming to understand our inadequacy to truly follow Christ from the wellspring of our efforts not entirely based in a helpless trust of a work of grace, but based rather in the fallen ground of our Adamic nature. As such, he did indeed give his very best to Christ, I have no doubt of that, but if he could agape love all on his own, that would essentially be fulfilling the heart of the Law, which Christ fulfilled in the cup he drank. So at that point, I think Peter did indeed lose his salvation, not because he merely denied Christ, but that denial resulted in a shipwreck of his faith temporarily because it came out of a lack of trust in grace. Peter was trusting himself to fulfill the Law, however I don't think this is always against the purposes of God, as long as it's a tutor to lead us to Christ. Eventually Peter was said to undergo the cup of martyrdom and this time, what was different, and gave him the unflinching resolve to go through with it, is not his greater strength, but his great weakness resulting in a love he could not produce on his own.
Also, you mentioned Romans 9:22, and I'm unsure what part of this verse you feel is not revealed properly by translators?

Regards, Brenden.
One of my favorite translations and many others use the same word "prepared" for vessels of wrath and mercy, when the Greek word is different. Even if we debate the meaning of the two Greek words, the very fact that the words are different say that Paul meant something different with each one. I see no real possible justification to gloss over this nuance and give the reader the impression that Paul wanted to equalize the formation of the vessels more than he really did.
22 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
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TheEditor
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Re: Why was Peter loathe to profess love for Christ?

Post by TheEditor » Mon Jul 21, 2014 1:23 pm

Hi Diszerner,

Agape is a principled love, that may or may not include affection. Other loves (at least as for as the Greek words are concerned) may or may not be principled. I don't know that I can agree that the words are used as exclusively as we think today. I was raised to believe they were. But the more I read of the Scriptures over the years, the more I could see they were many times used interechangeably. We are to "agape" according to Paul in 1 Corinthians 13. The Pharisees "agape" the chief seats in the Synagogue.

The translation I was weaned on (The NWT) translates Romans this way:

If, now, God, although having the will to demonstrate his wrath and to make his power known, tolerated with much long-suffering vessels of wrath made fit for destruction, in order that he might make known the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy, which he prepared beforehand for glory, namely, us, whom he called not only from among Jews but also from among nations, [what of it]?
(Romans 9:22-24)

I see the difference reproduced here. What significance do you see in this? Do you feel that using the same term, "prepared", makes a stronger case for Calvinism?

Regards, Brenden.
[color=#0000FF][b]"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery."[/b][/color]

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dizerner
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Re: Why was Peter loathe to profess love for Christ?

Post by dizerner » Mon Jul 21, 2014 9:05 pm

I guess I can see your annoyance at the insistence that agape always means a special class of love. I don't think it always means that, but it can mean that. When Peter deliberately used a different word for love I think the point was drawing a distinction. Nowadays we "love" hamburgers, video games, a good book, and we love God and our closest friends. Nobody really makes a point of saying "I only like hamburgers, but I love my wife." If an instance came when someone very seriously needed to differentiate between kinds of love, they would at that point try to find words that fit degrees. I'm not sure what a modern equivalent for Peter's words would be, one translation used "fond of you" which I liked. Maybe something like "you know that I care for you." In any case Peter wouldn't use agape.

The NWT decently translates that verse. I'm not too familiar with it. I like the words "tolerated" and "made fit" and I think that captures the essence of the intention. I do think using the same word makes a stronger case for Calvinism because it gives a stronger impression that God was entirely responsible for the vessels of wrath.
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Re: Why was Peter loathe to profess love for Christ?

Post by Homer » Mon Jul 21, 2014 10:10 pm

I'm not sure what a modern equivalent for Peter's words would be, one translation used "fond of you" which I liked. Maybe something like "you know that I care for you." In any case Peter wouldn't use agape.
But isn't it highly likely that the Apostle John chose those the words to express what Jesus and Peter meant when they actually had the conversation in Aramaic? It would be interesting to know what Aramaic word(s) would have been used for "love".

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Re: Why was Peter loathe to profess love for Christ?

Post by StevenD » Tue Jul 22, 2014 12:47 am

Though it may not eliminate any of the question marks about the sense that Jesus, Peter, or John intended, the Peshitta is fairly straightforward in using a single Aramaic word (רחם racham, probably best translated "love" in each instance) throughout 21:15-17 in place of the two Greek terms.

Maybe the root would be familiar to some as the song "El Shaddai" by Michael Card has a lyric--"Er'cham-cha na Adonai". I think this resembles a segment of the first or second verse of Psalm 18 (minus the "na"), "I will love you, LORD". This is probably the only instance in the Hebrew Bible that employs this particular verb with God as the object. The Hebrew verb is often associated with tender mercies or compassion (Ps. 51:1b, Heb. v. 3).

Off topic: I'm guessing that those who claim Aramaic primacy over the Greek text may find it difficult to give an explanation for two Greek terms that (I think) are consistently represented among the Greek textual tradition, while only one Aramaic term is used. If this is a polysemous (that's a big word for me) term translated from an Aramaic original, one would expect to find variance throughout the Greek texts. Unless I'm mistaken, the texts are fairly consistent about this.

On another note, D.A. Carson discussed this subject in his book Exegetical Fallacies. I do not currently have access to the book, but I recall reading something there that might contribute to this discussion.

Steven D.

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