Phileo is an emotional,
brotherly love, a love which would best be illustrated in the
Bible as that between David and Jonathan.
The relationship between Lazarus
and Jesus depicts this type of love as well:
Jn.11:3 So the sisters sent
word to Jesus, "Lord, the one you love is sick."
Again when Jesus sees Mary crying, we
Jn.11:35-36 Jesus wept.
Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!"
Then there was also the close disciple
whom Jesus loved:
Jn.20:2 So she came running
to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved,
and said, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t
know where they have put him
It is on the basis of Phileo
that we are commanded to a brotherly kiss out of fraternal
Ro 16:16 Greet one
another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send
greetings However when Judas greets Jesus to betray him, the Greek
word is not the word for kiss, but the word phileo- the word for
Mk.14:44 Now the betrayer
had arranged a signal with them: "The one I kiss (phileo) is
the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard."
It is important that the command to love
is never phileo, because it is an emotional love
that comes out of a mutual reciprocal relationship but rather
However, it must be pointed out that for
a Christian to phileo love someone definitely also
always includes the agape love as well.
God the Father Agape loved
Jn.3:35 The Father loves
the Son and has placed everything in his hands. But God also
phileo loved Jesus because of their relationship:
Jn.5:20 For the Father
loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your
amazement he will show him even greater things than these.
God agape loves his church
Jn.14:21 He who loves me
will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show
myself to him."
But God also loves us because of the
relationship we have with his Son:
Jn.16:27 No, the Father
himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed
that I came from God. The relational phileo love for Christ is in
the context of relationship, else the Bible says we
will be cursed.
anyone does not love the Lord— a curse be on him. Come, O
However if we are in a relationship with
the God, he will rebuke and discipline us as the need arises:
Re.3:19 Those whom I
love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.
Therefore phileo love comes from a
relationship which shares common interests- both giving and
Finally there is the Greek word for love:
“agape” which represents an attitude of love that
is non selfish. It has a self-less interest with its focus on
primary giving to others. Agape can be described
as unconditional positive regard, a personal state of mind that
spurs us into helpful, needful action in personal simplicity,
humility, compassion and equanimity. Agape is the
higher form, manifestation of God's true love for all of us
which we all still do need to personally have, promote, cultivate
by letting God have full control of our lives.
The Greek word agape is mostly foreign
to classical Greek because it’s origin is from God:
1Jn.4:7 …for love comes
The first disciples of Jesus Christ were
incapable of agape love until after Pentecost, for agape love
comes from the Holy Spirit alone:
Ro.5:5 And hope does not
disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our
hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
The fact that the disciples were void of
agape love prior to Pentecost becomes clear in John
21 where Jesus uses the word agape:
Jn.21:15 When they had
finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do
you truly love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you
know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."
Peter’s response was “I phileo love you.”
Did Peter not understand the question? Jesus repeats
Jn.21:16 Again Jesus said,
"Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes,
Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my
Again Jesus uses the word “agape”, yet
Peter again responds with phileo, love based on a relationship.
Jesus in his third attempt asks, “Peter do you phileo love
Jn.21:17 The third time he
said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt
because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said,
"Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said,
"Feed my sheep.
Peter could not experience agape love in
and of himself, its origin is of God:
1Jo 4:8 …for God is love.
Agape is an outward manifestation of an
1Co 16:14 Do everything in
Agape love is a love that is based on the
one doing the loving and not on the one receiving the love being
lovely or worthy of that love:
Ro 5:8 But God demonstrates
His own love toward us, in that while we were still
sinners, Christ died for us.
The love of God could not be understood
by man until Christ died on the cross:
1Jn.3:16 This is how we
know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And
we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
Agape love is the highest love as it is
selfless, this differentiates it from all human forms of love:
Jn.15:13 Greater love
has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his
Agape love is not based on feelings,
therefore it can be commanded:
Jn.15:12 "This is My
commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Agape love is not based on relationship,
we are now called to love more then our neighbor, our enemy:
Lk.6:27-28 But I tell you who hear me:
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless
those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
There is much confusion these days on
what love is. Phileo always tries to please the one
that is being loved. Agape always does what is best on behalf of
the person even though it might not be perceived as love at that
Ro.8:28 And we know that in
all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.
Is everything good that God allows in our
life, “no”; but because of his love for us, it will be for our
He.12 :5-6 "My son, do not make light
of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes
you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."
In the same way, if we agape love
someone, we might have to tell them how God perceives their
actions. Some people say the things others want to hear, instead
we need to say those things they need to hear:
Eph 4:15 Instead,
speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into
him who is the Head, that is, Christ
Therefore let us enjoy the phileo love we
have for each other as we do life together, but let us also love
with the same love that God has always willing to reach out to
those who do not know the love of God. There are many kinds of
love, but the greatest of these is agape love.
(James 1:17 KJV) Every good gift and
every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father
of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of
...and when we love
one another with agape love, we do love God also.