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Read Introduction to 2 Peter


to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.


and to brotherly kindness love

In this verse, we have two Greek words for love: sacrificial love and rapport love. The New Testament uses both terms for the love of the Father for the Son (Jn 3:35; 5:20). “Brotherly kindness” is closer to the idea of rapport love, such as the love between husband and wife. This kind of love is man’s love for man; hence it carries the concept of “kindness.” The second word for “love” is sacrificial love. 

There must be a distinction between the two Greek words for love in this verse; otherwise, there would be no need for two words for the same idea. We can see the distinction in John 21. Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him because He wanted to commission him for service.

Jn 21:15-17,So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love [agapao] Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love [phileo] You.’ He said to him, ‘Feed My lambs.’ 16He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love [agapao] Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love [phileo] You. He said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’ 17He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love [Jesus changes His term to phileo] Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love [phileo] Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love [phileo] You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep.'”

Jesus’ question:                                      Peter’s answer:    

Agapao                                                      Phileo

Agapao                                                       Phileo

Phileo                                                         Phileo

Many scholars see no distinction between these two words for love in John 21. However, it seems inconsistent that Jesus would change terms in this kind of context so flippantly. Jesus asked Peter the first two times whether he loved Him with love beyond rapport love. “Do you love Me with a love that goes beyond our friendship? Do you love Me unselfishly? Are you willing to serve Me no matter the cost?”

Peter’s answer with rapport love to the Lord’s third question conveys the idea of cherishing His relationship with the Lord. However, Jesus asked Peter whether his love for Him transcends friendship and the issues of human relationships. Jesus wanted a love that manifests itself in a love characterized by constancy. Peter needed to recognize that this special three-fold commission given to him by the Lord is an issue of love that transcends human rapport.


Jesus expects us to love with a love that goes beyond rapport love.


If we desire to serve the Lord, love for the Lord is the central issue we must face. Do you love the Lord sacrificially? Or do you serve the Lord out of convenience?

Many of us have the idea that we will serve the Lord if it is convenient, “If I have enough time from my other priorities, I will serve the Lord. If I can find some spare time on the outer edge of the periphery of my life, I will serve Him.” No, if we genuinely love the Lord, we give the highest priority to serving Him. Everything else falls into a distant second place.