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End Notes

“. . . and in your brotherly love, Christian love. . . .”  2 Pet 1:7b.


In this section we will review what the various commentators have to say about Love/agape/ἀγάπη, the eighth character quality of the Second Peter sequence.


Agape sees in the other something valuable or worthy of respect.  Agape is directed toward all the members of the whole human race, and seeks the welfare of the person loved, even at great cost.  It is to be distinguished from:  Eros/ἔρως/erotic love, Phileo/φιλέω/a love based on strong affections, and Storge/στοργή/love of one's family members.  Agape is the love that is characteristic of Christianity.  It is used to describe God's love for Man, and one's love for God, and other people.


Note that my reactions or clarifications to what these commentators have to say are [bracketed] and most are found below each comment, so as to identify them as my reactions and not those of the listed Commentators.



Commentators on Love


Abernethy, J.  (1762, Vol 2, PDF p. 219).

"justice, as well as devotion, is declared to be a necessary ingredient in a religious character"


[This idea parallels the addition of Justice to the higher levels of Christian development, as postulated by Bultmann.]



Alford, H.  (1878, p. 392;  PDF p. 682).

"and in your brotherly kindness, love (universal kindness of thought, word, and act towards all: a catholic large-heartedness, not confining the spirit of φιλαδελφία to ἀδελφοί only, Matt. v. 46,47."


[Apparently Alford sees Philadelphia and Agape as essentially similar.  He just sees them differ in who is being loved.]



Bagster, S.  (1870, p. 2)

"love, generosity, kindly concern, devotedness;  pl love-feasts,…"


[Basic, but OK.]



Barbieri, L. A.  (1977, p. 98, l. 16).

"Peter teaches that the crown of the Christian's progress is love.  This is agapē love, which is defined as the deliberate desire for the highest good in the one loved.  Such love is essential to the Christian community."


[I'm sorry, but Barbieri has hit a button.  Agape is NOT the 'deliberate desire for the highest good in the one loved'.  That can easily (or not so easily) be copied, producing hypocrisy.  What Agape IS is a natural expression of the state of loving 'the one loved.'  That Actual Love for the other does not have to be 'decided upon', it simply is and simply acts to produce the result that others have observed.  The 'deliberate desire' seems a rationalization of Agape for those that do not know it.  After all, duty and conforming to expected behavior are not the same thing as Love.]



Barclay, W.  (1958, p. 12-16).

"By far the commonest NT words for LOVE are the noun AGAPE and the verb AGAPAN. . . . It can mean TO GREET AFFECTIONATELY.  It can describe the love of money or of precious stones.  It can be used for BEING CONTENT with some thing or some situation. . . . But, the great difference between PHILEIN and AGAPAN in classical Greek is that AGAPAN has none of the warmth that characterizes PHILEIN. . . . 'You loved (PHILEIN) him as a father, and you held him in regard (AGAPAN) as a benefactor.'  PHILEIN describes the warm love for a father;  AGAPAN describes the affectionate gratitude for a benefactor. . . . The great reason why Christian thought fastened on AGAPE is that AGAPE demands the exercise of the whole man.  Christian love must not only extend to our nearest and our dearest. our kith and kin, our friends and those who love;  Christian love must extend to the Christian fellowship, to the neighbor, to the enemy, to all the world. . . . AGAPE has to do with the MIND: it is not simply an emotion which rises unbidden in our hearts;  it is a principle by which we deliberately live.  AGAPE has supremely to do with the WILL.  It is a conquest, a victory, and achievement.  No one ever naturally loved his enemies.  To love one's enemies is a conquest of all our natural inclinations and emotions."

"This AGAPE, this Christian love, is not merely an emotional experience which comes to us unbidden and unsought;  it is a deliberate principle of the mind, and a deliberate conquest and achievement of the will.  It is in fact the power to love the unlovable, to love people whom we do not like.  Christianity does not ask us to love our enemies and to love men at large in the same way as we love our nearest and our dearest and those who are closest to us;  that would be at one and the same time impossible and wrong.  But it does demand that we should have at all times a certain attitude of the mind and a certain direction of the will towards all men, no matter who they are."

. . . "That is to say, Christian love, AGAPE, is UNCONQUERABLE BENEVOLENCE, INVINCIBLE GOOD WILL.  It is not simply a wave of emotion;  it is a deliberate conviction of the mind issuing in a deliberate policy of the life;  it is a deliberate achievement and conquest and victory of the will.  It takes all of a man to achieve Christian love;  it takes not only his heart;  it takes his mind and his will as well."


[This is much better.  I still have some concerns.  From all the emphasis on 'will', I see no real difference between what is being described as Agape, and what I see practiced at Self-Control and Endurance.  Will-Power and Determination are very necessary, but I think there is more going on at Agape than a simple decision and determination to do good.]



Barclay, W.  (2017, p. 351).

"The ladder of Christian virtue must end in Christian love.  Not even mutual affection is enough;  Christians must end with a love which is as wide as that love of God which causes his (sic) sun to rise on the just and on the unjust, and sends his (sic) rain on the evil and on the good.  Christians must show to the world the love which God has shown to them."


[Good, but still not much here.]



Barnes, A.  (1848, PDF p. 252)

"And to brotherly kindness charity.  Love to all mankind.  There is to be a peculiar affection for Christians as of the same family;  there is to be a true and warm love, however, for all the race."


[As above, good, not much here.  Humm, ‘Race’ certainly has changed its connotations in the last generation.]



Beecher, H. W.  (1905, p. 33;  PDF p. 509;  l. 31).

"for all your neighbours that are more remote, for all your townspeople, for all the world.  “And to brotherly kindness, charity.”  Local affection and universal affection--add these”





Bengel, J. A.  (1873, p. 88;  PDF, p. 628).

"ἀγάπη, love to all, completes this company (chorus) of graces;  Col. iii. 14, throughout.  He who is rightly disposed towards his brethren, extends his love to those who are less nearly connected with him, and even to enemies."


['Less nearly connected'.  I like that.  That seems a transitional position before true Agape appears.]



Bigg, C.  (1902, p. 258;  PDF p. 272).

"ἀγάπη, the love of Christ (1 Pet. i. 8), and in Christ of all mankind."


[Yes, but skimpy.]



Black, M.  (1998, p. 166).

"'Love' is a much broader term than the former, 'brotherly kindness, 'implying self-sacrificial beneficence toward others, whoever they may be (see Luke 10:25-37).   Above all, love is defined by the act of God in sending his (sic) Son to die (John 3:16)."


[Better.  The emphasis on ‘self-sacrificial’ love is the key.]



Brown, C. (Ed.).  (1986, Vol. 2, p. 538, l. 29).

"agapaō, originally meaning to honour or welcome, is in classical Gk. the least specifically defined word;  it is frequently used synonymously with phileō without any necessarily strict distinction in meaning.  In the NT, however, agapaō and the noun agapē have taken on a particular significance in that they are used to speak of the love of God or the way of life based on it."


[In this opening section, GŁnther starts by describing Agape in it's Classical Greek use, and then moves to it's more fully formed use in the New Testament.  This is important as, in the initial section he provides a strong basis for the Interchangeability position that we will be discussing later.  He does, however clearly note that this earlier usage is quite different from it's NT usage.]



Bullinger, E. W.  (1901 B, App 135 p. 164;  PDF B p. 776)

"The verb.  1.  agapaō = to regard with favor, to make much of a thing or person, on principle.  The cause or ground of No. 2.  2.  phileō = to kiss, to be fond of, having regard to feeling as distinct from principle.  The demonstration of No 1.  Hence No. 2 is never used of man's love to God:  this is always No. 1.  Both words are used of God's love to man. . . . The Noun.  1.  agapē.  No. 2, below, was the common word used by the Greeks, for love;  and even this if far lower than the N.T. philadelphia ( = love of the brethren).  Agapē is spontaneous love, irrespective of 'rights'. . . . 2.  philanthrōpia = philanthropy, or love of man, which did not go beyond giving man his 'rights', among the Greeks. . . .The Adjective.  agapētos = beloved.  The word used of the Lord Jesus by the Father. . . . A special epithet of the Saints in the Epistles."


[This generally seems to parallel my understanding of these terms.]



Burkitt, W.  (1844B, Vol 2, p. 696;  PDF p. 701).

"And to brotherly kindness, charity;  that is, to all mankind, as proceeding from the same stock, having the same nature, and subject to the same necessities with ourselves;  let there be found with you a desire and endeavour to do all the possible good you can to every one."


[A very good parallelism between mortal men and Christians.  The last sentence 'all' seems a little strong.  Recall the 'AS' in the 2nd Commandment.]



Calvin, J.  (1855, p. 373;  PDF p. 371).

"Love extends wider, because it embraces all mankind.'


[Too brief.  Nothing much here, move along, move along.]



Cedar, P. A.  (1984, p. 210).

"Add love to brotherly kindness (v. 7).  There is a wonderful quality of love between brothers and sisters.  That is philadelphia.  There is an even deeper quality of love which knows no limits and has no conditions.  It is agapē - the very quality of the love of God.  In fact, the most simple and profound definition of agapē in all of literature is simply this:  'God is agapē' (1 John 4:8).   Agapē is the highest expression of love and the ultimate mark of Christian lifestyle.  By it we shall be recognized as the disciples or followers of Christ (John 13:35).   Agapē is also a part of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22).  Peter believes in the priority of love.  In his first letter he wrote, 'And above all things have fervent love for one another, for 'love will cover a multitude of sins' ' (Prov. 10:12;  1 Pet 4:8)."


[Again, what he says is right, but he doesn't tell us anything new.]



Clarke, A.  (1850, p. 880; PDF p. 888).

"Charity]  ἀγάπην  Love to the whole human race, even to your persecutors:  love to God and the brethren they had;  love to all mankind they must also have.  True religion is neither selfish nor insulated;  where the love of God is, bigotry cannot exist.  Narrow, selfish people, and people of a party, who scarcely have any hope of the salvation of those who do not believe as they believe, and who do not follow with them, have scarcely any religion, though in their own apprehension none is do truly orthodox or religious as themselves."

After ἀγάπην, love, one MS. adds these words, εν δε τῃ αγαπῃ την παρακλησιν, and to this love consolation;  but this is an idle and useless addition."


[His comments about the 'people of a party' speak volumes about Agape and it's pathologies.  Of special interest are his comments in the last, small paragraph.  While this speaks of a single, variant manuscript, this variation is of interest as one considers the use of this same term παρακλησιν/comfort in the theory section on Endurance.]



Cochrane, E. E.  (1965, p. 83-84).

"AGAPE is the logical ending of this whole series of Christian virtues.  Affection, brotherly love, for those within the Christian communion is not enough.  God does not make a distinction between persons in the expression of and extension of His love.  Jesus states it like this.  Matt. 5:45, 'For he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.'  Just like that, the Christian must end in a love so like God's that it is inclusive enough to take in the whole race of mankind.  National and racial boundaries can never be drawn so rigid that love cannot break through them to proclaim the gospel story of God's love displayed through Jesus Christ. . . AGAPE may be defined as an earnest and anxious desire for, and an active and beneficent interest in the well-being of others."


[Good.  Nothing objectionable here.  Nothing outstanding either.]



Constable, T. L.  (2021, PDF p. 22).

"'Love' (Gr. agape) is the highest form of love, God's kind, that seeks the welfare of the person loved above its own welfare (John 3:16; 13:35; Gal. 5:22; 1 Pet. 4:8; et al.).  It reaches out to all people, not just fellow believers."


[I keep reading comments like: 'above its own welfare' that seem to imply that the agape lover will place greater value on the other, whoever he may be.  Yet, the 2nd of the Great Commandments only asked us to 'agape love' our neighbor, however broadly defined, AS ourselves (Matt 22:39 - 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.').  We are only commanded that we value them equally, not above ourselves.  What people are probably seeing is Christ's death as the example for our love.  We are called to be willing to die for our witness for God.  As the 1st Great Commandment points out, we are to love God with a love greater than ANYTHING else.]



Cranfield, C. E. B. (1960, p. 178).

"The last word in v. 7 is the characteristic New Testament word for love - AGAPE.  While the Christian has a special obligation to love his brethren, his fellow-Christians, he cannot stop at that.  His love must include those who are outside the Church."


[OK.  Simple.]



Darby, J. N.  (1820, PDF p. 410-411, l. 11)

"There is another principle, which crowns and governs and gives character to all others : it is charity, love properly so called. This, in its root, is the nature of God Himself, the source and perfection of every other quality that adorns christian life.  The distinction between love and brotherly love is of deep importance;  the former is indeed, as we have just said, the source whence the latter flows; but as this brotherly love exists in mortal men, it may be mingled in its exercise with sentiments that are merely human,  with individual affection, with the effect of personal attractions, or that of habit, of suitability in natural character.  Nothing is sweeter than brotherly affections;  their maintenance is of the highest importance in the assembly; but they may degenerate, as they may grow cool;  and if love, if God, does not hold the chief place, they may displace Him — set Him aside — shut Him out.  Divine love, which is the very nature of God, directs, rules, and gives character to brotherly love;  otherwise it is that which pleases us — that is, our own heart — that governs us.  If divine love governs me, I love all my brethren; I love them because they belong to Christ;  there is no partiality.  I shall have greater enjoyment in a spiritual brother;  but I shall occupy myself about my weak brother with a love that rises above his weakness and has tender consideration for it.  I shall concern myself with my brother's sin, from love to God, in order to restore my brother, rebuking him, if needful;  nor, if divine love be in exercise, can brotherly love, or its name, be associated with disobedience.  In a word, God will have His place in all my relationships.  To exact brotherly love in such a manner as to shut out the requirements of that which God is, and of His claims upon us, is to shut out God in the most plausible way, in order to gratify our own hearts.  Divine love then, which acts according to the nature, character, and will of God, is that which ought to direct and characterise (sic) our whole christian walk, and have authority over every movement of our hearts.  Without this, all that brotherly love can do is to substitute man for God.  Divine love is the bond of perfectness, for it is God, who is love, working in us and making Himself the governing object of all that passes in the heart."


[Once again, Darby makes things seem so easy.  He did provide some interesting thoughts on the potential problems with Brotherly Love.]



Deffinbaugh, B.  (3 Jul 2004).

"This love is 'agape love,' which might be called the highest love.  It is also the capstone of all the virtues the Christian should pursue.  Michael Green (1987, p. 80) shows its uniqueness:  'In friendship (philia) the partners seek mutual solace;  in sexual love (eros) mutual satisfaction.  In both cases these feelings are aroused because of what the loved one is.  With agape it is the reverse. God’s agape is evoked not by what we are, but by what he is.  It has its origin in the agent, not in the object.  This agape might be defined as a deliberate desire for the highest good of the one loved, which shows itself in sacrificial action for that person’s good.  That is what God did for us (Jn. 3:16).  That is what he wants us to do (1 Jn. 3:16).  That is what he is prepared to achieve in us (Rom. 5:5).  Thus the Spirit of the God who is love is freely given to us, in order to reproduce in us that same quality.'  While 'Phileo love' is directed toward fellow-believers, 'Agape love' is universal in scope.  It is a love which applies both to believers and to unbelievers."


[‘a deliberate desire for the highest good of the one loved.’  Humm.  Have to think about that.]



Demarest, J. T.  (1865, p. 94).

"Charity or Love, as distinguished from brotherly love, means philanthropy (sic.), or love to man as man, shown by benevolence and beneficence."


[Cute but simplistic.]



Dummelow, J. R.  (1909, PDF p. 1050).

"Charity  RV 'love,'  which goes beyond the Christian circle to God and all that He has made."


[Cockroaches too?  Well, I guess.  It's too easy to make broad statements.]



Gaebelein, A. C.  (1913-1924, p. 103).

"It means divine Love, which is the very nature of God Himself."


[Short.  Doesn't tell us much.]



Gifford, O. P.  (1905, p. 32;  PDF p. 508;  l. 18).

“'And to brotherly kindness charity'--love, the broad affection which should characterize Christians, the love of men as men, 'God is love.'  The object of God’s love is the world;  likeness to God means love to all mankind.  Paul calls it the bond of perfectness, the sash which binds all other graces into place, the girdle over all;  here it is the last instrument;  without it you cannot render God’s composition to the world.  The first is faith in God, the last is love to man, for faith in God begets His likeness in us."


[OK, but it really doesn't tell us much.]



Gill, J.  (1746-48A, p. 14;  PDF p. 6410).

"and to brotherly kindness, charity:  or 'love';  that is, to all men, enemies, as well as to the household of faith;  and to God and Christ, to his house, worship, ordinances, people and truths.  Charity is more extensive in its objects and acts than brotherly kindness or love.  As faith leads the van, charity brings up the rear, and is the greatest of all."


[I like the explicit statement that 'charity' is more extensive.  OK.  Still, it doesn't tell us much about what is going on inside to produce this love.]



Green, M.  (1976, p. 71).

"The word agapē is one which Christians to all intents and purposes coined, to denote the attitude which God has shown Himself to have to us,  and requires from us towards Himself.  In friendship (philia) the partners seek mutual solace;  in sexual love (erōs) mutual satisfaction.  In both cases these feelings are aroused because of what the loved one is.  With agapē it is the reverse.  God's agapē is evoked not by what we are, but by what He is.  It has its origin in the agent, not in the object.  It is not that we are lovable, but that He is love.  This agapē might be defined as a deliberate desire for the highest good of the one loved, which shows itself in sacrificial action for that person's good.  That is what God did for us (Jn. iii. 16).  That is what He is prepared to achieve in us (Rom. v. 5).  Thus the Spirit of the God who is love is freely given to us, in order to reproduce in us that same quality.  For men will never believe that God is love unless they see it in the lives of His professed followers."


[Agape 'has its origin in the agent, not in the object.'  He defines it as:  'a deliberate desire for the highest good of the one loved, which shows itself in sacrificial action for that person's good'.  A well-considered and impressively put description.  I'll have to think about that 'origin' comment.]



Hamer, D. J.  (1905, p. 70;  PDF p. 546;  l. 21&31&41&49).

"It springs from the fact that Christianity is a religion for the whole earth, and that it teaches us how to strike away all that is accidental in the condition and surroundings of men, and to find under these outward differences of nation and caste, of position and intellect, the heart that throbs with the same passionate impulse as our own.  The gospel of Jesus Christ proclaims its mission to be to unite once more all the children of men into one Divine family.   Now the fact that charity and love for all men, irrespective of class, or creed, or circumstance, love for them because they are men, created and redeemed by the one God and Father of us all, is so rarely and so imperfectly exercised, presents itself as something for which we should be able to account. . . . Persecution, in its most virulent, in its fiercest form, has well-nigh disappeared now-a-days.  But are there not three kinds of relation in which we may stand to men: one of active opposition, one of neglect and apathy, one of active sympathy and hearty co-operation?  We may in some measure have shifted from the first to the second in our dealing with those who do not agree with our system of thought, and belief, and action, but that we have not advanced to the third is an unquestionable fact. . . . A man with any spark of enthusiasm about him, a man of strong conviction, having settled views of truth, is, by the very force of his own nature, made impatient of dissidence and contradiction.  He thinks that all men ought to see with his eyes, and to speak with his tongue.  It seems then to follow from this, that the more that intelligent holding of Christian truth obtains among men, the more difficult will the exercise of this grace of charity become! . . . Retaining our own moral convictions, not sacrificing our individualism of nature, to look abroad upon others, who, conscientiously as ourselves, have laboured their way towards the attainment of the truth, and, as the result, see it in a different light, and speak of it in a different language--to look abroad upon all these, and love them."


[Oh, Very Good!  He brings us an interesting problem, the 'spark of enthusiasm' comment.  The boldness of the earlier stages may make it difficult to open ourselves to those that do not accept Christ like we have.  All this is true, but only bespeaks the truth that the early stages will not be able to agape love fully.  Endurance, Godliness and Brotherly Love are there for a reason.]



Henry, M.  (1853, p. 817).

"Charity, or a love of good-will to all mankind, must be added to the love of delight which we have for those who are the children of God.  God has made of one blood all nations, and all the children of men are partakers of the same human nature, are all capable of the same mercies, and liable to the same afflictions, and therefore, though upon a spiritual account Christians are distinguished and dignified above those who are without Christ, yet are they to sympathize with others in their calamities, and relieve their necessities, and promote their welfare both in body and soul, as they have opportunity:  thus must all believers in Christ evidence that they are the children of God, who is good to all, but is especially good to Israel."


[Not a bad description.  It is balanced between a recognition of the superiority of the Christian life, yet recognizes the value of the unsaved children of men.  He notes we have' the same human nature' as our unsaved neighbors.   We are called to 'sympathize', 'relieve', and 'promote' them as we have 'opportunity'.]



Huther, J. E.  (1887, p. 383).

"While the apostle calls the love which is extended to all ἀγάπη, he gives it to be understood that what he means is not the purely natural well-wishing, but Christian love springing from the Christian spirit."


[Yes, that is true.  Sorta skimpy, however.]



Irwin, C. H.  (1928, p. 555).

"charity.  Or 'love';  comprehensive, universal."


[I don't think you could get much shorter than this.]



Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D.  (1880, p. 445;  PDF p. 495).

"'And in your brotherly kindness love,' viz.  To all men, even to enemies, in thought, word, and deed.  From brotherly kindness we are to go forward to love.  Cf. 1 Thessalonians, 3. 12, 'Love one toward another (brotherly kindness) and toward all men' (charity)."  [Emphases in original]


[1 Thess 3:12 – the noun describing our relationship with both 'one another' and 'all men' is agape.  I wouldn't label the first of these 'brotherly kindness', it might lead some to read it as philadelphia, which it is not.  This is especially true given the rest of the comment.]



Kelly, W.  (1906, p. 53-54 & 55 & 56;  PDF p. 64-67, l. 32).

"Therefore mark the divine wisdom and the profit for us, in that the apostle here distinguishes, instead of confounding, 'love'; for he closes with 'in brotherly kindness love.'  Higher than this last he could not rise;  for not only is love of God but God is love.  It is of all moment that in brotherly kindness we should supply that love which is of God, and which God is.  Nothing here evinces the wretchedly fallen state of Christendom more than the chorus of commentators who think of nothing beyond brotherly kindness save love to all mankind, even enemies, overlooking the source and power of all good. . . . . God's nature in its active energy of love is the complement of all, the standard withal that strengthens us against every evil.  Love, as known in Him, of which Christ is the full expression, while the most expansive of affections as it is necessarily, maintains all this character intact, refuses any sacrifice of his rights to indulge or palliate a brother's fault or error, and rises to its full height in God. . . . Thus love gives its best force but also its preservative guard to brotherly affection;  whilst it has its own highest and deepest scope according to its divine spring, nature, and character.  'Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought to love one another' (1 John iv. 11);  but he never says that we 'ought' to love God;  for this we do, if indeed called according to purpose.  It may be hard sometimes to love a brother when naughty: but we do love God always."


[I like the way he ends:  'It may be hard sometimes to love a brother when naughty: but we do love God always.']



Leaney, A. R. C.  (1967, p. 108).

"LOVE comes at the end of the chain because it is the disposition which includes and surpasses all others.  He who has LOVE in the sense meant here is the complete Christian;  for he acts always from a motive given by his devotion to God, and not from some disguised self-regarding motive."


['he acts always from a motive given by his devotion to God, and not from some disguised self-regarding motive.' - Nice!  I don't know that this is 100% accurate, but it is something to work toward.]



Lumby, J. R.  (1893, p. 248-9;  PDF p. 247-248).

"And in your godliness love of the brethren;  and in your love of the brethren love.  The last-named love (ἀγάπη) is that highest love, the love of God to men, which is set up as the grand ideal towards which His servants are constantly to press forward;  but from this the love of the brethren cannot be severed, nay it must be made the steppingstone unto it.  For, as another Apostle says, 'he that loveth not his brother, whom he hath seen, cannot love God, whom he hath not seen' (1 John iv. 20).  But love of the brethren is not to be narrowed in the verse before us or elsewhere to love of those who are already known to the Churches as brethren in the Lord.  The Gospel of Christ knows no such limits.  The commission of the Master was, 'Go ye forth into all the world.'  All mankind are to be won for Him;  all are embraced in the name of brethren.  For if they be not so now, it is our bounden duty to endeavour that they shall be so.  And in thus interpreting we have the mind of Christ with us, who came to seek and to save them that were lost,  to die for the sins of the whole world, and who found His brethren among every class who would hear His words and obey them.  We have with us, too, the acts of God Himself, who would have all men come to the knowledge of the truth, and who, with impartial love, maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth His rain upon the just and the unjust, that thus even the evil and unjust may be won to own His Fatherhood.  Such Divine love is the end of the commandment (I Tim. i. 5 ), and terminates the list of those graces the steps whereto St. Paul has more briefly indicated when he says the love which is most like God's springs from a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith unfeigned.  In this way shall men be borne upward into the hill of the Lord."


[Huhmmmm.  Lots of good stuff here.  However, I've got a concern.  It's Lumby, so I've got to be careful.  Yet, he says:  'love of the brethren is not to be narrowed in the verse before us or elsewhere to love of those who are already known to the Churches as brethren in the Lord.'  He seems to have gotten carried away by his evangelistic spirit to include as 'brethren' those who MIGHT be saved at a later date.  Maybe God knows those who will be saved, but I don't.  We can only know what's happening today.  We cannot predict the future.  And as we are, apparently, drawing conclusions about another person's status as saved vs lost, that is hard enough without adding the time element into it.  Yes, there's lots of good stuff here, but I don't think I can agree with applying philadelphia to those who MIGHT be saved at a later time.  ALSO, he uses 1 Jn 4:20 in a way that SEEMS to understand 'loveth not his brother' as if it were discussing philadelphia, which it is NOT.  Be careful here!]


[It MAY be that he's thinking of agape for the brethren.  OK, one wouldn't want to limit agape to the brethren.  Maybe that's it.  I'm primed to think of 'love of the brethren' as philadelphia.  In his opening quote from 2 Peter he used the phrase 'love of the brethren' to clearly refer to philadelphia.  So, I don't know what he's referring to.  I do know that I wouldn't want to use philadelphia to refer to the unsaved.]



Luther, M.  (1859, p. 244).

"This love extends to both friend and enemy, even to those who do not show themselves friendly and brotherly to us.  Thus Peter has here comprehended in few words whatever pertains to the Christian life, and whatever are the works and fruits of faith, as discretion, temperance, patience, a God-fearing life and brotherly love;  and be kind to everybody."





Maclaren, A.  (1905, p. 67-68;  PDF p. 543-544;  l. 63&8&13&23&30).

“'charity' is the sum of all duty to all men.  We hear it urged--and there is a truth in the saying--“we want less charity and more justice.”  Yes!  but we want most the charity which is justice;  the love which every man has a right to expect from us.  You do not do your duty to anybody, however you may lavish gifts upon them, unless this Christ-like sentiment dwells in your hearts.  The obligation has nothing whatever to do with the character of the object on which that ray is to fall.  The sun is as much bound to shine upon a dunghill as upon a diamond. . . . People curl their lips at the fine words that Christian teachers talk about universal love, and say, “Ah! a pretty sentiment.  It does not mean anything.”  Well! let a man try for a week to live it, and the want of practicalness in the exhortation will be the last thing that he will complain of. . . . And all the rush of the deepest and purest emotion is naught unless it drives the wheels of life.  II.  Notice how this same grace or virtue is represented as being attainable only as the outcome of godliness.  There is only one thing that can conquer the selfishness which is the great enemy of this universal charity, and that is that the love of God poured into a man’s heart shall on its bright waves float out the self-regard which is central and deep almost as life itself. . . . Add to virtue, love;  to knowledge, gentleness;  to all the graces which regard our own self-development, the supreme consecration of the excellence that forgets itself, and stretches out loving hands, laden with tender sympathies and large gifts towards the weary, even if it be the hostile world. . . . And still further let me remind you that this wide, expansive, all-comprehending charity is the child of an intensely personal faith.  It is when the love of Christ to me dawns on my heart that I am brought to the broad charity that grasps all the men whom Christ has grasped, and can-not but love in its poor measure, them whom He so much loved that He died for them."



[Notice that agape is cast as very practical, involved with concrete helps for the weak and downtrodden.  Agape is, however, not just actions, but actions motivated by a deep and sincere love for Christ and the weak.  Maclaren casts the primary enemy of agape to be the selfishness inherent in every man.  As one deeply accepts the out-poured love of God and seeing the world thru His eyes, we find our selfishness slipping away and turn to help others.]



Macmillan, H.  (1910, PDF p. 88, l. 38).

"In our brotherly kindness we are to exercise a large-hearted charity.  We are to mingle with it godliness in order to expand our charity, to make it like His who maketh His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.  Universal kindness of thought, word, and deed is what is implied in this charity."


[Simple, but Good.]



Manton, T.  (1874,  Vol. 19,  p. 110, l. 14)

"By the law of charity I owe this office of love to all, for I should bring home as many to God as possibly I can.  Neither age, nor sex, nor any condition of life doth deprive them of the benefit, nor exempt me from my duty to them.  Unbelievers are our neighbours, and to be loved with a true love;  besides φιλαδελφίᾳ, 'Love of the brethren,' ἀγάπη, 'love' is required of christians:  2 Peter i. 7, 'Add to brotherly-kindness charity.'  And therefore they must not be excluded from the common act and office of charity that belongeth to all men as men.  Spiritual alms is no more restrained than bodily.  Now upon occasion we are bound to relieve the worst in their great necessity, and none have such great necessity of being reduced as infidels, for they are further from God and more gone astray than others, and therefore most need information and warning of the danger they are in."


[This is Manton's defense of Agape.]



Mounce, R. H.  (1982, p. 109).

"But love for the brethren is not enough - there must also be AGAPE, love that is universal in scope, including all men everywhere.  Jesus taught that by loving our enemies we show that we are sons of God, for God's love is not limited to those who respond (Matt. 5:43-48).  Perfect love extends to all."


[Again, OK, but doesn't add much to what we already know.]



Oberst, B.  (1988, PDF p. 269-270).

"Gr. agape.  (See 1:22 and comments.  See also our discussion of this word in the Introduction.)  The individual possessing this quality seeks the good and welfare of all - whether 'deserved' or not.  In this way he becomes like God (Matt. 5:43-48;  John 3:16).  It is that out-going, self-forgetful love that one has within himself for God and others - all others.  We are to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44).  We are to 'walk in love' (Eph. 3:17).  Still, 'charity begins at home,' and love (agape) is to be exercised among the brethren (Eph 4:2;  1 Pet. 1:22, 4:8), and within the family (Col. 3:19).  (The Greek noun agape or the verb agapao occurs in all the above Scriptures.)"


[I think the key here is his description of 'self-forgetful' love.  With that, all else falls into place.]



Plummer, A.  (1877-1879B, p, 445;  PDF p. 438, l. 40 Rt.).

"And though 'charity begins at home' with 'them who are of the household of faith,' it must not end there, but reach out to all men, whether Christians or not (comp. 1 Thess. iii. 12, Gal. vi. 10.) . . . 'Charity' means love of men as such, as creatures made in the likeness of God, as souls for which Christ died.  The word for 'charity' is emphatically Christian love; not mere natural benevolence."


[Yes, a quite good summary.]



Powers, D. G.  (2010, p. 185).

"The last virtue is love (agapēn).  It is difficult to distinguish the meaning of love (agapē) from brotherly kindness (philadelphia).  The difference is not so much a variation in meaning as it is a variation in degree.  'Agapē', then, is not a completely different love, but embraces 'love of the brethren' as one sphere of Christian love in its fullest scope - that Spirit-given act of the will by which we treat other people with active benevolence' (Moo 1996, 47)."]


[No.  Philadelphia is love of the brethren, those like ourselves.  Agape is a generalized love of all men, whether or not they are like us.  It is not a matter of the degree or intensity of love, but of the object of our love.]



Robertson, A. T.  (1933, p. 151, PDF p. 2113).

"By deliberate choice (Matt. 5:44).  Love for Christ as the crown of all (I Pet. 1:8) and so for all men.  Love is the climax as Paul has it (I Cor. 13:13)."


[Again, deliberate choice is stressed.  Matt. 5:44 contains imperative verbs for love and pray.  MAYBE a deliberate choice is reasonable.]



Simeon, C.  (1844, p. 297;  PDF p. 305).

"That which closes the train, and which must of necessity be added to all the rest, is 'charity.'  For though there is an especial regard due to 'the household of faith (Note: Galatians 6:10.),' our love must not be confined to them: it must be extended to all, even to enemies;  and must so pervade our whole spirit and temper, and so regulate all our words and actions, as to evince that we are indeed children of Him, whose name and nature is “Love (Note: 1 John 4:8; 1 John 4:16.).”


[Very good.  Just don't let the English confuse you here.  As with the discussion of the comment by Lumby, above, so I wouldn't want anyone to think that the 'love' that is discussed in 'our love must not be confined to them' is referring to philadelphia.  Simeon is clearly speaking of agape in that clause.]



Sumner, J. B.  (1840, p. 236).

"And to brotherly kindness, charity;  or, love.  Brotherly kindness is rather shown towards those who live with us, who think with us, who act with us.  Love extends to all.  Brotherly kindness, for instance, assists those who are of the household of faith.  Love exerts itself beyond: would strive to bring all within that household.  Brotherly kindness may be felt towards those who are of our own party, and yet there may be a very bitter spirit towards those who differ from us.  Love resists prejudices;  finds excuses: 'beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.'"


[Yes.  This is a very clearly delineated distinction between agape and philadelphia.]



Thayer, J. H.  (1886, p. 4)

"affection, good-will, love, benevolence"





Thompson, J. P.  (1859,  PDF Footnote p. 212, l. 9).

"Dean Trench, 'Synonyms of the New Testament,' p. 70.  Lexicographers confirm what Trench here says.  a few examples will suffice.  Αγάπη (agape).  'this word occurs only in the bible and in Christian writers.'  (Rost und Palm.)  The verb ἀγαπα̑ω, frequent in classic writers, differs from φιλει̑ν 'as implying regard or affection rather than passion, and is rarely used of sexual love.'  (Liddle and Scott.)  Xenophon in his 'Memorabilia' makes Socrates advise Aristarchus upon the treatment of poor relatives:  'If you take them under your direction, so that they may be employed, you will love them, when you see that they are serviceable to you, and they will grow attached to you, when they find that you feel satisfaction in their society.'  (Mem. 2, 12.)  This chaste affection or mutual regard as distinguished from a merely amorous or dishonorable attachment, was expressed by the verb ἀγαπα̑ω;  but there was no corresponding substantive in classic Greek."


[OK, but it doesn't tell us much.]



Thompson, J. P.  (1859,  PDF p. 206-212, l. 21).

"1.  As an essential element of this love there must be the full recognition of a common humanity in all men, whatever their country, their colour, their language, their birth, or their condition." . . . "2.  But the doctrine goes farther;  and recognizes in all mankind not only the brotherhood of a common physical descent and of like physical characteristics, but a higher relationship as the common offspring of God." . . . "3.  And hence again, this love for man which the gospel enjoins, must flow primarily from love to God." . . . "4.  The Scriptures always trace this love to a renovated heart."


[Thompson traces agape to a renovated heart that produces a love for God that, in turn, produces an understanding that all men are the common offspring of God.  Given this understanding of the essential nature of mankind as one, the agape love for God then overflows to all mankind.]



Tuck, R.  (1896, p. 176).

"R.V. 'love.'  It may be doubted whether we can wisely lose the word "charity," which, for Bible readers, does not mean "almsgiving," but "considerate helpfulness of one another."  And we want a word to express that, which is one of the essential features of the Christly life.  Charity expresses the "beautiful" in Christian relations, as no other word can do."


[He seems to have expresses his preference quite clearly.]



Vincent, M. R.  (1900, p. 680).

"In the former word Peter contemplates Christian fellow-believers as naturally and properly holding the first place in our affections (compare Gal. vi. 10, 'especially unto them which are of the household of faith').  But he follows this with the broader affection which should characterize Christians, and which Paul lauds in 1 Cor. xiii., the love of men as



[This is a tough one.  I like it very much.  I basically agree with it.  Yet, the text Vincent cites to support his comment on Love doesn't seem to speak to the point he's making.  Hummmm.]



Williams, W. R.  (1905, p. 69;  PDF p. 545;  l. 32&42&47).

"The regenerate soul loves God in the first pulsations of his new-found spiritual life;  and gratitude to the Redeemer who has bought him, prompts, early and continually, all his acts of obedience to God, and all his acts of kindly service to his fellow-man.  But how is it related to, and distinguished from brotherly kindness?  Whilst the latter regards mainly the principle of fraternal obligation to human nature, the former finds its chiefest scope and its highest object, in the filial ties binding man to his Father and God.  The love of God subordinates and regulates all the outgoings of attachment in the renewed heart. . . . Neither is this grace a mere magnanimous disregard of all doctrinal variances, and a baseless assurance that all forms of faith are, if sincere, equally acceptable to God.  No: the charity of the Scriptures loves the true God;  and as He is the God of Truth, it loves, ardently and without compromise, His truth, unmitigated and unadulterated. . . . 'Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him, but in any wise rebuke it,' said the law.  'Charity rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth,' is Paul’s language in his matchless portraiture of this grace. And, as in the nature of God, love to truth and holiness, is an attribute, having as its opposite pole, hatred to falsehood and unholiness;  so, in each other true servant of God, the love of piety is necessarily detestation of impiety, and hatred for the workers of iniquity--not indeed detestation of their persons and souls, but of their practices, and principles, and influences.  For the charity of the Scriptures is, first, love to God, the Creator and Source of all goodness--to the good amongst men, as bearing His regenerate image--and to the evil of our race it is a charity, that seeks to reclaim and restore."


[Williams sees gratitude to God for his redemption prompting one to obedience to God and service to others.  As God is the Truth, so one comes to love truth and despise falsehood.  Agape love, then, is first directed to God, then to the brethren, and then as a charity to help reclaim the lost.]



Wuest, K. S.  (1973b, p. 60-61).

"'AGAPAO' speaks of a love which is awakened by a sense of value in an object which causes one to prize it.  It springs from an apprehension of the preciousness of an object.  It is a love of esteem and approbation.  The quality of this love is determined by the character of the one who loves, and that of the object loved. . . . But each sinner is most precious to God, first, because he bears the image of his Creator even though that image be marred by sin, and second, because through redemption, that sinner can be conformed into the very image of God's dear Son.  This preciousness of each member of the human race to the heart of God is the constituent element of the love that gave His Son to die on the Cross.  The degree of the preciousness is measured by the infinite sacrifice which God made.  The love in John 3:16 therefore is a love whose essence is that of self-sacrifice for the benefit of the one loved, this love based upon an evaluation of the preciousness of the one loved."


[This is an EXCELLENT understanding of Agape.  It hits all the right points.  It does NOT try to turn Christian Love into an unemotional decision.  It taught me the process for valuing the lost based upon what they can become.  Very Good!!!]



Wuest, K. S.  (1973e, p. 112).

"AGAPAN is used in its verb, noun, and adjective forms about three hundred and twenty times in the New Testament.  It is a love called out of a person's heart by 'an awakened sense of value in an object which causes one to prize it.'  It expresses a love of approbation and esteem.  Its impulse comes from the idea of prizing.  It is a love that recognizes the worthiness of the object loved.  Thus, this love consists of the soul's sense of the value and preciousness of its object, and its response to its recognized worth in admiring affection."

"In contrasting PHILEIN and AGAPAN, we might say that the former is a love of pleasure, the latter a love of preciousness;  the former a love of delight, the latter a love of esteem;  the former a love called out of the heart by the apprehension of pleasurable qualities in the object loved, the latter a love called out of the heart by the apprehension of valuable qualities in the object loved;  the former takes pleasure in, the latter ascribes value to;  the former is a love of liking, the latter a love of prizing."


[Very Good.  His distinction betweel Phileo and Agape is well taken.  His characterization of Agape as 'admiring affection' is great.  Very helpful.]



Zerr, E. M.  (1952, PDF p. 269;  Online p. 5).

"Charity is from AGAPE which is one of the Greek words translated "love" in the New Testament.  The principal meaning of the word in the present passage is to have a sincere interest in the welfare of others."


[Huhmm.  An 'interest' doesn't quite communicate agape to me.  Yes, one at agape will have a 'sincere interest in the welfare of others'.  I do think agape goes a bit farther, however.  Interest seems too cognitive, not emotive enough.]



Author's Summary


Agape is love derived from a respect of the worth of others.  It is an unselfish love that seeks the best for all of humanity and resists prejudices/social divisions in doing so.


This page revised and Copyrighted: Theon Doxazo

14 December, 2023