Peter do you love me?


Peter do you love me?

Something interesting, that I don’t remember thinking about before, is found in 1John 21:15-17.  My son Josh was visiting us.  He and I were talking, and he asked if I ever thought of what Jesus was doing when He was asking Peter if he loved Him?  You see, the first two times Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him, He uses the Greek word, “ἀγαπᾷς” it transliterates as, “agapas.”  It is a form of the word, “agape.”  I’ve always been told by people and Preachers that the word, “agape” means, God’s perfect, sacrificial love.  While looking the word up it seems there is more to it than that.  It also has implications of a willful, reasoned, self-volitional type of love.  We also see that this type of love is supposed to be reciprocated by us, to God, and we are supposed to love each other in the same way, in 2Matthew 22:37-39 when Jesus, in Greek uses the word, “Ἀγαπήσεις” or “Agapēseis.”

So why does Peter respond with the Greek word, “φιλῶ” which transliterates as, “philō.”  Philō implies a warm, brotherly love, the kind of love you would have for a very close friend.  So Peter is responding back with a more reserved, lesser type of love, than what Jesus is asking him about.  Keep in mind, this is after Peter had denied that he even knew Jesus, to save his own neck.  Jesus is fully aware of this, and what is going on in Peter’s heart.  One has to wonder, “What was going on in Peter’s mind after these questions from Jesus?”  I’m not going to make any assumptions here.  What we read in the Bible is enough.  It is just one of those things that I have wondered about.  I hope to find out one day.  I think I’ll pass this on to one of my more learned friends and see what they have to say.  I’ll get back to you all.  Maybe, they can comment on this article?

115So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.”16He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.”17He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.

2Matthew 22:37-39 (NASB) “…37And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’38“This is the great and foremost commandment.39“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’…”

2 thoughts on “Peter do you love me?

  1. I believe Peter was reluctant to express total commitment because he felt guilt over his denial of the Lord after Jesus’ arrest. Jesus was trying to press home the fact that He demands total commitment. The third time Jesus asked, He use the same word for “love” that Peter used, which grieved Peter. In other words, the third time Jesus asked he was saying, “Are you sure you are even My friend?” Peter answered, “You know I’m your friend!”


  2. Great article and comment. agape is truly to be taken in relation to Peter’s previous statement that he was totally sold out to Jesus; even to the point of dying with Him. Now the question – “Are you fully and completely, regardless of the emotions, concerned about and for Me?” Peter deliberately avoids the word agape which is a love involving true commitment regardless of Peter’s emotions. For example the command, “Love (agape) your enemies.” Peter’s response is safer, “I certainly am fond of You.” Peter is avoiding the word that he had truly just trespassed. Jesus settles for Peter’s more humble, and realistic, love for Him. “Liking” Jesus is certainly a start. None of us is truly as committed to Him, regardless of our emotions, as we should be. Another note: Peter and the others may have just denied the Lord again. They were going back to their former jobs – professional fishermen! They were not fishing all night as a hobby. They were there to make a living. Jesus goes and finds them, just as He did before. A conversation from the beach and Peter throws himself in and heads for shore. The emotional love (philo) was not in doubt. Peter jumps at the name of Jesus! What Peter needed, humility and the power provided by Jesus, he was in the process of getting. Shortly after this Peter will again face death for Jesus and demonstrate agape in its fullest sense. Pride brought him to humility and humility brought him to the power of agape.


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