by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 2 Study # 1 November 23, 2014 Dayton, Texas
9 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.
10 And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more;
11 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;
12 That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and [that] ye may have lack of nothing.
1901 ASV Translation:
9 But concerning love of the brethren ye have no need that one write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another;
10 for indeed ye do it toward all the brethren that are in all Macedonia. But we exhort you, brethren, that ye abound more and more;
11 and that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your hands, even as we charged you;
12 that ye may walk becomingly toward them that are without, and may have need of nothing.
I. A Return To 3:12.
A. In 3:12 Paul had addressed the work of "the Lord" in view of his larger thesis that believers end up "unblameable in holiness before the God". In light of 5:23, this is, apparently, the "burden" of this letter in terms of what Paul hoped to accomplish.
B. In this paragraph, the focus is split between "loving the brethren" and "walking becomingly toward them that are without".
1. This is similar to 4:6 where Paul's focus was upon protecting "the brother" and keeping the "believer" out of the realm of divine vengeance (a solemn warning) [a split focus].
2. Since the move toward "unblameable holiness" is rooted in "love", Paul's comment to Timothy that "the goal of our instruction is love" (1 Timothy 1:5) stands out as a kind of premier objective for the Gospel.
II. The Specific Terms.
A. "Now concerning the love of brothers...".
1. This verse puts "filos" into a direct relationship with "agape" (concerning the "filadelfias", ... you are God-taught unto "to agapan").
a. This does not make them "equivalent" (i.e., "synonyms"), but it does indicate a more or less direct connection of some sort.
b. The distinctions between "fileo" and "agapao" are several. The classic text of these distinctions is John 21:15-16 where Jesus is interested in "being loved" (agapao) and Peter claims "to love" (fileo). How one understands this interchange depends upon some guessing about what Peter has learned through his denial. Is he "humble" (not claiming so great a love as "agape"), or is he still "Simon" (claiming more than is true in "fileo")?
1) Since Peter is "wounded" by Jesus' switch to "fileo" in the third question, I have a hard time seeing his claim as "humble".
2) Simon is still Simon (every question by Jesus begins with "Simon, son of Jonas"); the transformation has not yet occurred.
3) The "point", then, is that "fileo" is a greater "claim" than "agapao", at least in some respect. The question is, then: in what way is "fileo" a greater "claim" than "agapao" ? At least part of the answer is found in James 2:21-23 where James says Abraham was God's "friend" (filos) because he was willing to sacrifice Isaac upon an alter. What this means is that a "friend" is one who holds nothing back from another (this makes Jesus' statement in Luke 11:8 even more remarkable). Thus "fileo" has this about it: the link between two persons is more potent in "fileo" than in "agapao" in terms of what is at stake. "Agapao" has to do with a relative position in the list of one's priorities. "Fileo", in distinction, has to do with how "relationally attached" one is to another so that one is willing to make all manner of personal sacrifices to keep the relationship strong and functional. This is at the heart of Jesus' declaration in Matthew 10:37 that anyone whose relational commitments are greater to family members than to Him is not "worthy" of Him. An interesting play on these terms is found in a comparison of Matthew 23:6 to Luke 11:43. Matthew''s record makes the issue "relational" so that those who "love" the chief seats are really in love with the relationships they have with others and see the chief seats as a primary instrument in maintaining those relationships as they are. Luke, alternatively, casts the issue in terms of what things are of real value in God's reckoning ("...ye pass over judgment and the love (agape) of God...") and makes the Pharisees liable for subverting the "value system" that God has established.
2. The use of "brotherly love" (filadelfias) in the New Testament seems to maintain this distinction: "agape" arranges elements in the order of their importance in any of a host of settings while "filos" describes relational commitments that motivate one to put the "friend" above one's own interests. In other words, "agape" declares where the various "values" are placed in respect to each other and "filos" gives the relational rationale (tells why) for that placement. "Agapao" is relatively emotionless; "fileo", in distinction, is significantly emotional. Thus one can "love" one's enemies (agapao), but one can hardly "love" one's enemies (fileo). One can love one's enemies with almost no emotional energy whatsoever, but one can only love one's friends emotionally.
B. You are God-taught.
1. When one is "God-taught" that one needs no human instruction.
2. But the focus of the "God-teaching" is upon "agape", not "filos". In the general run of things, where a matter is placed in the scheme of values is more important than why. A person can, and should be willing to, die for an enemy because that is what the enemy needs, but the only way that will actually happen is if one's friendship with God is great enough to sponsor such a sacrifice.