Is Your Love Like Peter’s or Jesus’?

In John 21:15-19 Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. This is one of those times we must go to the Greek to see what is really happening.

The first two times Jesus asked if Peter agape’ed Him, to which Peter replied he phileo’ed Him. The third time Jesus asked if Peter phileo’ed Him, which grieved Peter.

There is an important difference between agape and phileo. It appears Peter thought phileo was more important than agape, while Jesus believed–thereby setting the standard–that agape is more important than phileo.

So what’s the difference?

Phileo is defined in the Strongs concordance (5368) as to be a friend to, to be fond of, or have affection for, as a matter of sentiment or feeling. This contrasts with Agape (25, 26) which is to love in a social or moral sense, with affection, or benevolence, including the judgment and deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety.

Consider Proverbs 17:17,

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

You have affection with friends, while siblings–notably brothers–have an adversarial role which prods us to learn conflict resolution. Conflict with friends is painful and might end the friendship. Conflict with siblings is painful, yet the loyalty of siblings usually wins out.

God does not merely want our fond affection of sentiment and feeling that changes with circumstances. Instead of that shaky structure He wants the foundation of our love for Him to be our loyalty based on our judgment and deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety.

God defined Agape in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love is not proud; love is not rude; love is not selfish; love is not easily provoked; love thinks no evil, does not rejoice in evil but in truth; love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,  endures all things. Love never fails.

When God asks a question it is for us to think and learn, because He already knows. Jesus asked Peter if he agape’ed Him, and Peter said he phileo’ed Jesus, but Jesus challenged him on that. He wanted Peter’s agape and it appears by His question He was not even getting phileo. Note that phileo runs from the cross while agape embraces it.

Peter had a lot to think about, and when the Holy Spirit came on the day of Penticost and indwelled him, he did agape Jesus, with the ultimate evidence of embracing the cross.

How do you love God, phileo or agape?
How do you love your spouse?

Is your love based on circumstances and emotion–which change like shifting sands, or on the decision of will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety–an immovable foundation able to endure the storms of life? Are you able to embrace the cross?

Remember Jesus said we are to take up our cross to follow Him. He wants us to be ultimately dedicated lovers of Him, and our spouse is our practical training ground.

If it’s not costing you your life–putting to death your corrupt nature with its selfish desires–then it’s not agape.

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Key Mindsets in Our Marriages — 1 Peter

Building on the previous three posts–Modeling Christ and the Bride, Reality, and Identity–I see key mindsets in 1 Peter of how to live, our marriages being the prime area we should apply these mindsets. 

  • Be focused to do the work of the Kingdom with dedicated and watchful prayers because we have the goal and deadline of Jesus’ return (1 Peter 1:13-14, 4:7).
  • Expect persecution which is your part of Christ’s sufferings, and rejoice to the extent you are able to display His glory which will enable you to have exceeding joy (1 Peter 4:12-16)!
  • Expect the judgment of God as loving purification, suffering according to His will to develop complete dedication to doing the Father’s plan for His kingdom and glory forever (1 Peter 4:17-19, 5:11)!
  • This is all to be done in mutually submissive humility which is a channel of God’s grace, not seeking position but opportunity to benefit each other (1 Peter 5:5b).
  • Be on your guard, because the enemy attacks with fear. Those who respond in the flesh with fear, worry, pride, scorn, denial, blinding anger, or rage will be devoured. Resist the enemy by being steadfast in the faith, knowing the same sufferings are a common experience. God–the source of grace–will use the suffering as a test and perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you (1 Peter 5:8-10).

We have a deadline; let’s unify to get as much done for the Kingdom as we can. Persecution is par for the course and opportunity for God to be glorified. We should expect God’s refining work in our life–it is as intrinsic as the air we breathe! Unify as a team through mutual humility and rejoice as God is glorified. We have an enemy, so be ready to fend off attack. God uses all forms of suffering to make us into His ideal, so go with His flow, soaking in His healing grace.

To minister to Father God’s heart and model Christ and the Bride in our marriages, we must unify as a team, submit to God’s refining, fend off all spiritual enemies, glorify God in persecution, and soak in God’s grace to be supple in His hands.

Our Identity for Marriage–1 Peter

Have you ever heard bad teaching on the husband and wife verses in 1 Peter? Or been on either end of the statement, “Wives are supposed to submit to their husbands!”

My last post was on Reality according to 1 Peter, the reality we need to recognize, accept, and align with in order to model Christ and the Bride.

Now consider what 1 Peter 1:1-2 says about your Identity–who you need to be–in order to model Christ and the Bride:

“To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:”

I hear you ask, “Are you saying this applies to me?”

Yes, this is you, as a secondary audience. Let’s take a look:

  • Pilgrim: The Greek means “in reference to heaven as the native country, one who sojourns on earth.” You are traveling here for a while, heaven being your home, so as a visitor you do not follow all the cultural norms and expectations of the region. Jesus is from heaven and the Bride’s real home is heaven, so live from heaven’s perspective.
  • Of the Dispersion: This refers to the group dispersed from Israel over the world due to religious persecution, where they then shared the gospel and made disciples. It can figuratively apply to us as visitors of our lands while on a mission for the kingdom of God: sharing the good news and making disciples.
  • Elect: Meaning chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. He thought of you beforehand, wanted you as His child, so He created you. You are a desired and planned child of Father God! Be in relationship with Him as His child!
  • Sanctified: Meaning to make holy by setting apart and purifying. God enables you to obey Him by making you holy through the Holy Spirit setting you apart and purifying you.
  • Obedience: Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). You are one who obeys Him out of love. Do you, Bride, love Jesus? Are you ever lovesick for Him? Does your love make you willing to do anything for Him? Do you do anything for Him?
  • Sprinkling of the blood of Jesus: Here we have the fundamental aspect of our identity. In the prior covenant removal of sin was obtained by animal sacrifice and God confirmed the covenant with the Hebrews by having Moses sprinkle blood on the alter and people (Exodus 24). In the new covenant Jesus is the sacrifice and High Priest who sprinkled His own blood on the alter in heaven and on each of us to remove our sin and confirm the covenant between us and God (Hebrews). Husband, are you in covenant with God? Wife, are you in covenant with God?

A few more details are given in 1 Peter 2:9-10 which says you are:

  • A chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation
  • God’s own special people for the purpose of proclaiming His praises
  • Called from darkness to light
  • Called to your true identity, purpose, and unity
  • Called to receive mercy

How wonderful! You, desired and planned by Father God, have a covenant with God through Jesus taking away your sin so you may spend eternity with Him, therefore you are set apart and being purified by Holy Spirit both in preparation for eternity and so you may pour out His love to others here and now. You are called to receive mercy bringing you into light, into your true identity, purpose, and unity as holy royalty, made to proclaim God’s praises.  Who else but you would have grace flowing in your heart and peace being multiplied within!

Combine the 1 Peter Reality with the Identity and we begin to see a whole new viewpoint on the husband-and-wife verses in 1 Peter 3:1-7. Just the first two verses–“Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by [respect]”–become mere details of explanation of how to live out Reality and Identity, how to model Christ and the Bride and thereby achieve the best marriage ever!

Instead of lording authority over each other, husbands and wives are to live lives devoted to God, knowing who you are in God, and from that foundation of Reality-plus-Identity serve each other, seeking to benefit each other to strengthen your one-flesh-team! Just as Christ and the Bride will.

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The Reality of Marriage—1 Peter

There they were, the famous words—or infamous depending on whom you have been around—regarding wives submitting to their husbands and husbands loving their wives. I read them as I studied 1 Peter looking for insight into modeling Christ and the Bride.

I do not recall ever hearing teaching on them in context. By which I mean a marriage study of all of 1 Peter to get the letter’s context.

So I did my own study. Wow! The context is so important!

For my study I categorized all the verses in 1 Peter as statements of Reality, Identity, Mindsets, Goals, or Actions.

Here is a brief version of the Reality you must recognize, accept, and line up with in order to model Christ and the Bride:

  • God exists as the blessed One, and the Father of Jesus
  • Jesus is the son of God—carrying equal authority—and is Lord and Christ
  • God, from His mercy and through the resurrection of Jesus, has reborn us into a living hope and an incorruptible and undefiled inheritance that does not fade away, waiting for us in heaven
  • God, in His power, keeps us for salvation through faith

We must believe God—the Father of Jesus Christ—exists to accurately model Jesus’ marriage. We have to believe He exists and He created everything in order to grasp eternity past as the foundation for eternity future. Without that basis there is no way to model Jesus’ marriage.

We must believe Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and the Lord in order to accurately model His marriage.  We have to know Jesus in His relationship with the Father and in His authority to properly relate to Him, serve Him, and model Him.

We must believe in God’s mercy, the resurrection of Jesus, and that Father God has reborn us into a living hope and incorruptible inheritance in heaven in order to accurately model Jesus’ marriage by living as the reborn new people—adopted by Father God—with the hope of our reward in eternity.

We must believe God keeps us for salvation through faith to accurately model Jesus’ marriage because we must know God’s love and forgiveness to model love and forgiveness to our spouses.

In order to model Jesus and the Bride we have to know God exists. We have to know Jesus. And know Father God. And be reborn into true hope of our inheritance in eternity. And be kept by God through faith for salvation.

And that is just the beginning. That is just the basics of Reality.