“Love – Philos” – John 15:9-17

April 27th,  2014

John 15:9-17

“Love – Philos”


Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command.  —John 15:13-14


If the most likely basic sense of the stem φιλέω is “proper to,” “belonging to,” the original sense of the verb φιλέω is “to regard and treat somebody as one of one’s own people.  It thus denotes natural attraction to those who belong, love for close relatives.  (Gerhard Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the NT, 115)


It is then used esp. for the love of friends, which like that of married couples is based on reciprocity.  (Gerhard Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the NT, 115)


φιλέω can often take on in this regard the concrete sense “to help,” “to assist.”  (Gerhard Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the NT, 115-16)


φιλέω can also denote “sensual love,” love between the sexes.  (Gerhard Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the NT, 116)


Philos Background Information:

  • Gk “Philos” (and derivatives)  translated as Friend in NIV = Mt 11:19; Lk 7:6, 34; 11:5-8; 12:4; 14:10-12; 15:6-9, 29; 16:9; 21:16; 23:12; Jn 3:29; 11:11; 15:13; 19:12; Acts 10:24; 19:31; 27:3; Jas 2:23; 4:4; 3 Jn 1:14  
  • Gk “Philos” translated as kindness in NIV = Acts 27:3; 28:2; Ti 3:4
  • Gk “Philos” translated as love of money in NIV = Lk 16:14; 1 Tm 6:10
  • Gk “Philos” translated as love of attention in NIV = Mt 6:5; 23:6; Lk 20:46
  • Gk “Philos” translated as love of parents in NIV = Mt 10:37
  • Gk “Philos” translated as kiss in NIV = Mt 26:48; Mk 14:44; Lk 22:47
  • Gk “Philos” translated as love of self in NIV = Jn 12:25; 2 Tm 3:2-4


The questions to be answered are . . . What does the Bible have to say about philos love and its place in marriage?  What does this have to do with my being a Christian?


Answer:  Philos love realizes the great contribution the beloved makes for the lover and out of a heart of gratitude and appreciation responds by being loyal, generous, helping and encouraging to the beloved.  For the best possible life this should be true both in marriage and in the Christian walk.


To win alone is to lose.  Psychologist Philip Zimbardo of Stanford writes:

I know of no more potent killer than isolation.  There is no more destructive influence on physical and mental health than the isolation of you from me and us from them…The devil’s strategy for our times is to trivialize human existence by isolating us from one another while creating the delusion that the reasons are time pressures, work demands and economic uncertainties; by fostering narcissim and the fierce competition to be No. 1.

Of course, we all say that relationships are more important than money.  But we constantly cheat relationships for the sake of work or money.  There are no TV shows called “Who Wants to Be a Great Friend?”  What we have come to call “reality” shows are programs that deliberately pit one person against another.  “Reality” means having someone excluded or fired or voted off the show.  If we’re going to play the game wisely, there are a few relational realities we need to observe.  (John Ortberg, When the Game is Over It All Goes Back in the Box, 204)


The Word for the Day is . . . Friend


What do the Scriptures teach us about philos love and how it relates to friends/spouses?:

I.  Philos is connected (Gn 2:18; Ps 119:63; Eccl 4:10; Song of Sol 5:16; Mal 2:14; Jn 15:9-17; 1 Cor 5:9-10; 6:15-20; 2 Cor 6:14-18; Eph 5:7, 11, 28-30; Jas 2:23; 1 Pt 3:7)


The semantic notion of “friend” includes a commitment, whether in business (e.g., Mt 20:13) or marriage (e.g., Mal 2:14).  Thus “friend” has a broad semantic range, from casual acquaintance to the most intimate of personal relationships.  (Geoffrey Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, 361)


Everybody’s friend is nobody’s.  (Arthur Schopenhauer)


That is why those pathetic people who simply “want friends” can never make any.  The very condition of having Friends is that we should want something else besides Friends.  Where the truthful answer to the question Do you see the same truth? would be “I see nothing and I don’t care about the truth; I only want a Friend,” no Friendship can arise–though Affection of course may.  There would be nothing for the Friendship to be about; and Friendship must be about something, even if it were only an enthusiasm for dominoes or white mice.  Those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going nowhere can have no fellow-travelers.  (C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves, 66-67)


Such people talk very intimately and esoterically in order to be overheard.  Everyone who is not in the circle must be shown that he is not in it.  Indeed the Friendship may be “about” almost nothing except the fact that it excludes.  In speaking to an Outsider each member of it delights to mention the others by their Christian names or nicknames; not although, but because, the Outsider won’t know who he means.  (C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves, 85)


II.  Philos is loyal (Job 6:4; 17:5; Prv 17:17; 27:10; Jn 15:9-17; Jas 2:23; 4:4; 1 Pt 3:7)


Friendship is like a BOOK.  It takes a few seconds to burn, but it takes years to write.  


You find out who your real friends are when you’re involved in a scandal.  (Elizabeth Taylor)


It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.  (Ralph Waldo Emerson)


A friend is someone who walks in when others walk out.  (Walter Winchell)


Friends are people who know you really well and like you anyway. (Greg Tamblyn)


Central to the idea of “friendship” is loyalty.  Through both good and bad times of life, friends are bound together (Job 17:5; Ps 122:8; Prv 16:28; 17:17; 18:24).  (Geoffrey Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, 361)


The devil is the great deceiver, and the aim of all his deception, as with temptation, is that we desire anything–even good, safe, wholesome things–above God.  He offers a thousand substitutes and threatens us with a thousand miseries in this world.  When we pray for deliverance from him, we mean:  Never let us be attracted by the substitutes, and never let us infer from our miseries that God is not our all-satisfying Friend.  (John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God, 147-48)


III.  Philos shares (Jn 15:9-17; Acts 27:3; 28:2; Ti 3:4)


These ideas of loyalty and sharing are underlined in several texts which link friendship with covenant (Ps 25:14; 55:20; Prv 2:17; Mal 2:14); hence the seriousness with which the betrayal of friendship is treated (Ps 88:18 [MT 19]; Jer 20:10; Ob 7, etc.).  Job frequently accused his friends of breaking their covenant of friendship by laughing at him (12:4), scorning him (16:20), failing him (19:14), and abhorring him (19:19).  Proverbs contains several warnings about friends, because those who appear friendly may not turn out to be so (13:20; 22:24; 28:7; cf. Ex 23:27; Dt 13:6 [MT 7]; Mic 7:5).  This is especially true when wealth is either abundant or lacking (Prv 14:20; 19:4, 6f.).  (Geoffrey Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, 362)


Friendship, unlike Eros, is uninquisitive.  You become a man’s Friend without knowing or caring whether he is married or single or how he earns his living.  What have all these “unconcerning things, matters of fact” to do with the real question, Do you see the same truth?  In a circle of true Friends each man is simply what he is:  stands for nothing but himself.  No one cares two pence about anyone else’s family, profession, class, income, race, or previous history.  Of course you will get to know about most of these in the end.  But casually.  They will come out bit by bit, to furnish an illustration or an analogy, to serve as pegs for an anecdote; never for their own sake.  (C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves, 70)


As we have said, friendship is essential to marriage, and this form of love has its own range of specific expressions.  Friendship love can be cultivated by spending quality time together.  That means doing something that at least one of you loves doing and that enables you to communicate while doing it.  Most people immediately think of recreation and entertainment, and that is right, but doing common work tasks–like gardening or chores–bonds you together, too.  Above all, show your spouse that time with him or her has priority in your life.  (Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, 176-77)


Two people cannot hate each other if both love God.


Tact is making your friends feel at home, even when you wish they were.


There is no such thing as life apart from relationship, which is to say, no life apart from the sharing of ourselves with another.  (Mike Mason, The Mystery of Marriage, 55)


IV.  Philos is mutual help and encouragement (Gn 2:18; Prv 17:9; 22:11; 27:6; Eccl 4:10; Jn 15:9-17; 1 Pt 3:7; Rv 3:19)


People come to church for many reasons, but they stay if they find a friend.  Be constantly concerned about how to bring people into intimacy so they don’t get lost or feel left out in the process. (Carl F. George, The Coming Church Revolution, 186)


Single men are jailed more often, earn less, have more illnesses and die at a younger age than married men.  Married men with cancer live 20% longer than single men with the same cancer.

Women, who often have more close friendships than men, survive longer with the same cancers.  Married or not, relationships keep us alive.  (Dr. Bernie Siegel, Homemade, May, 1989)


The OT terms for “helper” are all based on the Hebrew verb ‘āzar, a very general term for “help” or “succor.”  The purpose for the creation of woman is included in this concept: she is a “helper,” i.e., a partner who corresponds to a man, in contrast to any animal (Gn 2:18, 20).  The Lord is the ultimate Helper (Ps 30:10 [MT 11]; 54:4 [MT 6]; cf. He 13:6).

In the NT the Lord is the source of antilēmpsis, the ability to be a helper to others in the Church (1 Cor 12:28); note that this is one of the “gifts of the Spirit,” and not an office.  The cognate verb means to help in a general sense, and is used in both the NT and the LXX (cf. TDNT, I, s.v. αντιλαμβάνομαι χτλ. [Delling]).  Those who have proved themselves able assistants are commended to others in this role (Rom 16:2).  The term used in Acts 19:22 of Paul’s “helpers” Timothy and Erastus is a participle based on diakonéō, a verb denoting personal service done out of a motive of love (cf. Lk 22:26f., where the RSV renders the part, diakonōn as “one who serves”).  (Geoffrey Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, 683)


…Marriage is intended to be a companionship of two people who stick closer than anybody else to each other—who genuinely love at all times.  It is a companionship of mutual caring.  Proverbs 27:6 gives us another clue about this kind of friendship, reminding us, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted,” while Prv 27:9 adds, “The pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel.”  In other words, marriage is a relationship in which two friends come together, care for each other, confront each other to build each other up, and counsel each other, in order that there might be growth as individuals and growth together.  (Stuart Briscoe, Choices for a Lifetime, 70)


The importance of helping members develop friendships within your church cannot be overemphasized.  Relationships are the glue that holds a church together.  Friendships are the key to retaining members.

A friend told me of a survey he took in a church.  When he asked, “Why did you join this church?”  93% of the members said, “I joined because of the pastor.”  He then asked, “What if the pastor leaves?  Will you leave?  93% said, “No.”  When he asked why they wouldn’t leave, the response was, “Because I have friends here!”  Notice the shift in allegiance from pastor to other members.  This is normal and healthy.  (Rick Warren; The Purpose Driven Church, 324)


The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.  (Hubert Humphrey)


While the rest of the world runs after grandiose and unattainable ideals, married partners walk the humbler but more accessible path of simple caring for one another from one day to the next.  It is a task that is not very glorious from the point of view of the world, but one which could hardly be more important in the eyes of God.  (Mike Mason, The Mystery of Marriage, 123)


In marriage each partner should pursue his or her own joy in the joy of the other; that is, marriage should be a matrix of Christian hedonism.  (John Piper, Brothers, We are NOT Professionals, 250)


Here is something very simple about relationships that Spencer helped me discover:  Nobody will listen to you unless they sense that you like them.

If a person senses that you do not like them, that you do not approve of their existence, then your religion and your political ideas will all seem wrong to them. If they sense that you like them, then they are open to what you have to say. (Donald Miller; Blue Like Jazz, 220)


How can I philos love better?:


A.  You must be aware of the beloved’s contribution to your life to effectively philos love.  (Prv 12:26; 14:20; 19:4-7; 27:9; Lk 16:9; Jn 15:9-17; Jas 2:23)


I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light. (Helen Keller)


My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.  (Henry Ford)


Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.  (C.S. Lewis)


A true friend stabs you in the front.  (Oscar Wilde)


Lamb says somewhere that if, of three friends (A, B, and C), A should die, then B loses not only A but “A’s part in C,” while C loses not only A but “A’s part in B.”  In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out.  By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets.  Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s reaction to a specifically Caroline joke.  Far from having more of Ronald, having him “to myself” now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald.  Hence true Friendship is the least jealous of loves.  Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend.  (C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves, 61)


Romance is a relationship, not an event.  It’s not something we do occasionally to stoke the fires of passion.  Rather, it should be an ongoing, foundational part of our relationship, something that doesn’t come and go like the tide, but flows as steadily as a river.  An inescapable aspect of romance is being “best friends” with your spouse.  (Gary Smalley with John Trent, Love is a Decision, 134)


A gossip talks about others, a bore talks about himself, and a brilliant conversationalist talks about you.


B.  You can love if you put yourself in a position to love.  (Jn 15:9-17; 16:27; Rom 12:10; 2 Cor 7:1; 1 Thes 4:9-10; Heb 13:1; 1 Pt 3:8; 2 Pt 1:5-7; 3:1, 17)


Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer.  (Ed Cunningham)


You tend to only “hear” certain kinds of love language.  For example, your spouse may be working hard to provide you with material things, but you wish he were more verbal.  There is a tendency to say, “He doesn’t love me!” because he is not communicating love in your most valuable language.  Take off your filter and recognize the love your spouse is giving you.  (Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, 171)


Learn the primary languages of your spouse and send love over those channels, not over the channels you prefer for yourself.  We tend to give love through the channels in which we like to receive it.  (Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, 172)


The hard and deliberate work of knowing your spouse and loving him or her fittingly is foundational to any good marriage.  Because our culture thinks of love as mainly an involuntary feeling and not a conscious action, this foundational skill is often missed entirely.  (Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, 175)


The especial glory of Affection is that it can unite those who most emphatically, even comically, are not; people who, if they had not found themselves put down by fate in the same household or community, would have had nothing to do with each other.  If Affection grows out of this–of course it often does not–their eyes begin to open.  Growing fond of “old so-and-so,” at first simply because he happens to be there, I presently begin to see that there is “something in him” after all.  The moment when one first says, really meaning it, that though he is not “my sort of man” he is a very good man “in his own way” is one of liberation.  It does not feel like that; we may feel only tolerant and indulgent.  But really we have crossed a frontier.  That “in his own way” means that we are getting beyond our own idiosyncrasies, that we are learning to appreciate goodness or intelligence in themselves, not merely goodness or intelligence flavored and served to suit our own palate.  (C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves, 36)


Think about your friendships, the closest ones, the ones that have gone the distance. How often do you ask who is in charge?  Do you ever find yourself questioning, “Where does the buck stop?”

No, it’s not even on the radar. Over time you’ve built up reserves of trust and love, and power and control become irrelevant.  The healthier and more whole a marriage relationship is, the less you ask these kinds of questions.  When people are truly living in what’s called “mutual submission,” you lose track of who’s in charge.

(Rob Bell; Sex God, 117-18)


A key to blending friendship with romance is to take the time to explore each other’s interests and then share them together.  I recently saw a cartoon that captures this idea.  The scene shows a couple walking happily hand in hand, looking deeply into each other’s eyes, and obviously enjoying a conversation together.  The caption reads, “Romance happens when…he asks about her potted plants and she asks about the football scores.”  As unromantic as “sunflowers” and “screen passes” may seem, that cartoon really captures the essence of one important element of romance.  (Gary Smalley with John Trent; Love is a Decision, 134-35)


Two cardinal rules of romance:  1.  Make sure the romantic activity you’re involved in receives your full, undivided attention.  2.  Make sure you’re doing the activity for her best interests, not yours.  (Gary Smalley with John Trent; Love is a Decision, 143)


Divorce records show that many married couples spend too much time in court and not enough time courting.


C.  Carefully guard your heart and your affections.  Are you loving the right things? (Prv 4:23; 13:20; 16:28; 18:24; 22:24; 28:7, 24; 29:3; 1 Pt 1:22; 2:11)


Part of the difficulty in today’s society, however, lies in the fact that people don’t know how to be friends and to express intimacy because they have not learned how to be affectionate in their families.  Various factors contribute to that malaise–such as fathers and mothers working away from home much of the time, children involved in myriads of social activities, television creating an entertainment society in which interpersonal communication has been lost, and so forth.  Sadly, part of the problem arises simply because we are afraid.  Because we fear rejection, or abuse, or other perversions, we run away from affection altogether, often thereby creating the very perversions and rejections we fear.  (Marva J. Dawn, Truly the Community:  Romans 12, 163)


The peer pressure you feel depends mostly on which peer you are moored to.  Choose good friends.


Worship point:  When you take time to realize what a real friend is, you begin to see what a friend we have in Jesus.


Imagine a high-school student whose family is part of a Christian church.  She belongs to a Christian youth group, has only Christian friends, reads only Christian books and has to attend Christian chapel services, because it’s mandatory at the Christian high school she attends.

That student can potentially become so anesthetized to Jesus that she is unable to see Jesus as the stunning, dangerous, compelling, subversive, dynamic reality that he is.  She has simply sung so many songs about Jesus that the name has lost its power to provoke and inspire.  (Rob Bell, Love Wins, 152)


Spiritual Challenge:  The more we become like Jesus the better friend we become as well.  The best thing that could ever happen to a marriage is for each person to become more and more like Jesus and consider their spouse as their best friend (helpmate).


The only way to have a friend is to be one.  (Ralph Waldo Emerson)


As long as we look for our needs to be met by persons, we will always be disappointed.  This is especially true in marriage relationships, because such an expectation imposes a terrible burden upon one’s partner.  No person is perfect; no one can take the place of God in our lives.  Rather, in Christian marriage and in true community we learn together that we will find our needs thoroughly met only in our relationship with God.  Our alienation from him prevents us from discerning ways in which other persons can minister to our needs.  (Marva J. Dawn, Truly the Community:  Romans 12, 86)


When you are in a jam, a good friend will bring you bread and peanut butter.


It takes a great soul to be a true friend.  One must forgive much, forget much, forbear much. (Anna Robertson Brown; “What Is Worth While?”, Reader’s Digest 7/94, 132)


Real friends are those who upon watching you make a fool of yourself do not feel that the job was done permanently.


Eating a sandwich with a friend is better than eating a gourmet meal by yourself.


Bumper Sticker:  Friends don’t let friends die without Jesus.



Be friends with Jesus – Use faithbook

(Church sign in Kendallville, IN)


Christ: Love Defined

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