John 5:20 (ESV)

20 For the Father loves (phileo) the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.

Have you ever heard a sermon on love where the speaker talked about the differences between “agape” and “philos” where the former is godly, pure love and the latter is a lesser brotherly or motherly love? I know I have – not only heard a few but preached a few. Turns out that’s not necessarily the case. I was reading a chapter in a book by Robert L. Plummer, Ph.D. (Professor of New Testament Interpretation Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) where he points out that many times (especially in the writings of John) the two words are synonyms of each other, so I started to pay attention when the word love came up and I found this in verse 20 of chapter 5.

So the question then becomes did the Father love the Son with a lesser brotherly love or is the apostle John simply breaking out his thesaurus? Come to think about it, I can’t ever remember hearing a sermon that talked about the use of phileo in this verse, but to tell you the truth, I never noticed it until now.

So what? Now that I have this information what do I do with it? For me right now, nothing. But there may be a passage coming where this information could be really important, so I’ll just file it away.