LOVE: Phileo, Agape, Eros, Storge; Father’s Love Defined
A CHILD FROM THE ONSET
John 1:1, 14. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
His relationship with the Father was from the beginning. Jesus, the Eternal Son of God, became flesh. The secret to the sinless life of Jesus and to His miraculous ministry is bound up in His relationship to the Father. Even though He was God, Jesus drew His power from an intimate, child-like relationship with the Father in Heaven. The ability to hear what God is saying, to see what God is doing, and to move in the realm of the miraculous comes as an individual develops out of the same intimacy with and dependence upon the Father.
How did Jesus do what He did? The answer is found in His relationship with the Father. How will we do the “greater works than these” which Jesus promised? We discover this by developing the same relationship of intimacy, simplicity, and obedience. John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, shows the nature of this relationship and how the ministry of Jesus flowed out of it. Today we are going to take a look at the Gospel of John as a primary source for an examination of Jesus relationship with the Father and Spirit.
Abba is the word little kids would call their male parent in Palestine. Children do not normally call their fathers father all the time. It’s to formal and rigid. We use words like dad, pop, daddy, poppa, da. These are our equivalents to Abba.
FATHER’S LOVE ILLUSTRATED
Jesus Baptism (Matthew 3:16-17) When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
John 17:26 addresses Jesus understanding of His Father’s agape love for Him, And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them. But at the baptism, Jesus experienced the phileo of the father. Holy Spirit brings the affectionate touch of the Father to us. This is why we are to be filled with His presence and receive His gifts and encounter His anointing. At the river Jordan, Father God spoke words of affirmation to His Son. These words help us to see the humanity of Jesus and His human needs.
This experience of affirmation is crucial at the beginning of the ministry of Jesus. He is secured by His Father’s love and sensitive to His Father’s voice and presence. In the book The Blessing by Gary Smalley and John Trent, we see five identified traits that children need to receive from their parents, in this case a Son from His Father. They are: 1) Meaningful Touch; 2) a spoken message; 3) placing high value in blessing a child; 4) seeing a future for your child; 5) being committed to fulfilling that future. Jesus received His Father’s blessing at His baptism. The same thing happens again at the Transfiguration in Matthew 17:1-5.
Stergein: (Storge) This means a natural affection, like that between members of a family, or even in the love of animals for their offspring. This kind of love binds any social unit together.
Philein (noun form philos) This phileō, spontaneous natural affection, with more feeling than reason, occurs some 25 times. It is the love between friends, the mutual attraction of similar interests and characteristics. It is the appreciation of the qualities of another person and can be understood as tender compassion. The Greeks valued friendship very highly, and philein is the most commonly used word for ‘love’ in the classical writings.
Agapan (noun form agape): This means the highest form of love which sees something infinitely precious in its object. It is a love of esteem and of prizing for the values ascribed to the beloved. Agapē means to love the undeserving, despite disappointment and rejection; the difference between agapaō and phileō is difficult to sustain in all passages. Agapē is especially appropriate for religious love
Eros: Sensuous love.
James 2:5 Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?
We typically define the Father’s Love as agape theologically. This is His unconditional concern for us that He demonstrated for us in Christ’s death for us (Romans 5:8). We do this because we have people who have identified agape as unconditional in the sense of sacrificial action and incapable of being enacted by humans completely. Our theology has moved agape out of experience and has made it philosophical or conceptual, not experiential.
Let me address how we experience the love of the Father. We do it through His phileo love, not agape. The phileo of the Father for the Son is described in John 5:20, For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. The ministry of Jesus, His words and works apparently flowed out of phileo love. It was in the relational intimacy of tender compassion that Jesus sensed His Father’s presence and heard His voice, which let Him know what the Father was doing.
Father God expresses this same type of love for us. John 16:27 says, for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God. Our communication and connection with God is supposed to flow out of the same continual experience of our Father’s phileo for us. Modern definitions of agape focuses on a truth about God that is almost untouchable or unknowable from a human standpoint through its elevated concept. Phileo is important, as it focuses on God’s tender touch, which is missing in most believers lives.