Agape and Philia

   Agape and Philo are distinguished nicely at the close of the Gospel of John. Meeting again before a charcoal fire,* Peter is asked by the resurrected Jesus, “Simon, son of John, Do you love (agapas) me more than these? Peter answers, “You know I love (philo) you, and Jesus tells him, “Feed my lambs” (John 21:17). One wonders what the Aramaic words would be, encompassing the subtle distinctions. At John 15, “You are my friends (phil-) if you do what I command you…that you love (agapeis) one another as I have loved you.” The word agape is developed out of Homeric words for admiration and the beloved or the darling, the object of affection.

   Jesus then asks Peter again, Do you love (Phileis) me? Peter answers, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love (Philo) you.” Jesus answers “Tend my sheep.” And a third time, “Do you love me!” And Peter answers, “lord, you know everything; You know that I love you.” Jesus answers, “Feed my sheep” Three kinds of phronesis are distinguishable. Agape” goes with ” Feed my lambs” Then two kinds of friendship with the raised Son are first to tend his sheep. These are men, and this is politics. Third, there is to feed the adult sheep, the higher kind of education. The “friend of God,” and friendship with God is shown in three aspects, three kinds of phronesis. Friendship with God is written of by Socrates, in the Symposium (212a; Epinomis 992b; Republic (VI-VII), and spoke of by Jesus (John 15:14). God apparently wants friends. Why be alone?

   So too, we say that those who do this are Christians,” however these appear, and those who do not are not, however these appear.

The slave or servant does not know what the master is doing, but as much as he does, these are called friends.

To “feed” the young is education. To tend the sheep is politics. To feed the adult sheep is the highest phronesis, to tend the adults theoretically.

* A Catholic priest on the radio was talking about the two instances of Peter and the charcoal fire, here and when he denied 3 times that he was a follower of Jesus.

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