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Posts 1975
mike | Forum Activity | Posted: Tue, Nov 17 2015 6:15 AM

Check your email..

And NIDNTTE is on sale!

Posts 537
Fasil | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Nov 17 2015 6:23 AM

For anyone who missed the Pre-pub deal. $159.99 This sale ends November 24, 2015.

Here is the link:


Posts 94
Rokas | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Nov 17 2015 6:32 AM

great one!

Is anything else on sale? Stick out tongue

Posts 1395
James Taylor | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Nov 17 2015 7:17 AM

anything else on sale

Don't forget to subscribe to the Zondervan email list, which is on the same page as the sale, and you'll receive a free PDF of "In The Beginning: Three Views on the Bible's First Chapters".

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John Kight | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Nov 17 2015 7:22 AM

For anyone who missed the Pre-pub deal. $159.99 This sale ends November 24, 2015.

Wish I had the dollars for this. Huh? 

For book reviews and more visit sojotheo.com 

Posts 1395
James Taylor | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Nov 17 2015 7:31 AM

As for me, even with this helpful chart, I'm still unsure whether the update is worth $150, since I have the old version.

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Posts 19
Wim Kater | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Nov 17 2015 7:47 AM

James Taylor:

As for me, even with this helpful chart, I'm still unsure whether the update is worth $150, since I have the old version.

Same thoughts, the named added values are in several cases not relevant for the digital editions. I did a search, but didn't find until now a reason which convinced me.

Posts 537
Fasil | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Nov 17 2015 9:52 AM

John Kight:

For anyone who missed the Pre-pub deal. $159.99 This sale ends November 24, 2015.

Wish I had the dollars for this. Huh? 

the same here.

can someone tell me if it's worth the update.

Posts 49
Kason | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Nov 17 2015 11:07 AM

I am sorry if this is an ignorant question. I have BDAG, would this add much value?

Posts 1395
James Taylor | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Nov 17 2015 11:14 AM

BDAG is a lexicon in the proper sense of the word whereas this is a theological dictionary which is going to be significantly different in the way it organizes and offers its content.  its purpose is mainly to draw out the theological significance of its terms. 

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Forum MVP
Mark Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Nov 17 2015 11:32 AM

can someone tell me if it's worth the update.

I would say it is but that depends on how much you rely on the older version. If you have the old version and rarely use it, I doubt the new version would cause you to use it more. If you use the old version and want to see some updated information then I'd say it is worth it.

Here is the article on agapao from the updated version. MS Word tells me it contains 7393 words. The original article contains 5943 words, so the new article is almost 25% longer. Comparing the bibliographies, the original has entries up to 1979. The new article has six additional entries dating from 1989 to 2005.

ἀγαπάω G26 (agapaō), to love, cherish, take pleasure in; ἀγάπη G27 (agapē), love, affection, love feast; ἀγαπητός G28 (agapētos), loved, beloved, dear, valued

Concept: Feast; Friend; Love

GL The etym. of ἀγαπάω cannot be determined. This vb., which appears freq. from Homer onward, has a broad range of usage in general Gk. lit. When applied to things, it may mean “to value highly, prefer, be content with”; when used of persons, the sense is “to love, treat or regard with affection, be fond of.” The term can be applied to children, and the adj. ἀγαπητός (“bringing contentment, cherished, beloved”) is sometimes used in partic. of an only child (but see J. Chadwick, Lexicographica graeca: Contributions to the Lexicography of Ancient Greek [1996], 32–34). A few times the vb. refers to sexual love. In some instances it is applied to someone favored or preferred by a god (cf. Dio Chrys. Orationes 33.21), implying a generous move by one for the sake of the other. The noun ἀγάπη is only a late construction and occurs very rarely outside the Bible (for the sparse evidence, see BDAG s.v.).

JL 1 These lexical patterns change significantly in the LXX, where the vb. occurs c. 250× (some 50 of them in the Apoc.; by contrast, φιλέω G5797 occurs only c. 30×, incl. a handful of times in the Apoc.). With relatively few exceptions, ἀγαπάω renders Heb. אָהַב H170 (c. 170× [the next most freq. equivalent is רָחַם H8163, “to show mercy,” only 4×]; אָהַב is transl. with φιλέω 10×). The reason for this equivalence is debated: some have argued that the Gk. translators chose ἀγαπάω because it (allegedly) has less to do with passion than with the will (placing value upon a person or thing); others point to the general decrease of φιλέω in Gk. lit. as a whole (see below, NT 6); still others suggest that the translators were motivated by the partial sound correspondence between the Gk. and Heb. terms.

In any case, there is no doubt that the noun ἀγάπη becomes prominent for the first time in the LXX, occurring 18× (10 of them in Song of Songs; 4 in the Apoc.), always for Heb. אַהֲבָה I H173 (ἀγάπη occurs only 3× in Philo and not at all in Jos., but almost 100× in the ApF). The cognate ἀγάπησις, with no apparent difference in meaning, occurs in the LXX 9× (plus 4× in Apoc.), most of these also as the rendering of אַהֲבָה (φιλία occurs only in Proverbs [9×, usually for אַהֲבָה] and in the Apoc.; ἔρως only in Prov 7:18; 30:16).

2 Love can mean the vital urge of the sexes for one another, and some OT passages speak openly of the sexual side of love (e.g., Jer 2:19–25; Ezek 16). The powerful perception of the differentiation of the sexes and of marital love as an enriching gift derives not only from the creation narrative (Gen 2:18–25), but even more so from Song of Songs, which celebrates the strength of passionate love: “Place me like a seal over your heart, / like a seal on your arm; / for love is as strong as death, / its jealousy unyielding as the grave. / It burns like blazing fire, / like a mighty flame” (Cant 8:6).
In addition to the relationship between the sexes, family ties as well as the spiritual bond between friends can be described as love. Thus, when the affection of Jonathan and David for one another is spoken of, it is expressed in terms of a communal fellowship deeper than the romantic or physical love between the sexes: “Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women” (2 Sam 1:26, where the LXX uses ἀγάπησις; ἀγαπάω is used in 1 Sam 18:1, 3 [lacking in cod. B]; 20:17). The modern attempt to view David’s relationship with Jonathan as homosexual misses the specific point of the text, namely, that a deep spiritual bond has greater value than a strictly erotic relationship.

In a further sense, love is understood as lying at the root of social community life: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 19:18; see πλησίον G4446). Love in this context means devotion toward one’s neighbors, receiving them with full acceptance. This aspect is illustrated by the social legislation, which is partic. concerned with the rights of aliens, the poor, and others in special need (19:34; 25:35).

3 The word love is used in the OT less commonly and with greater caution for describing the relationship between God and human beings. In this respect the Heb. Scriptures contrast with Gk. lit. in being far removed from any mystical thinking. The OT makes clear that we can never ascend to God; rather, all human thought, feeling, action, and worship are a response to a previous movement by God (some have thought that this difference accounts for the LXX’s choice of the simpler word ἀγάπη over the more loaded ἔρως, but see below, NT 6).

(a) At the beginning of the OT stands not only the God who loves, but also the God who elects and who acts directly in nature and among human beings—in partic., his people, with whom he has made a covenant (Exod 24; see διαθήκη G1347). The great deeds of Yahweh are the deeds of his history with his people, such as the exodus, the gift of the land, and the Torah. Righteousness, faithfulness, love, and grace are some of the concepts embodied in such actions. The people, in turn, reply with jubilation, praise, and obedience.

God’s judgment and grace (Heb. חֶסֶד II H2876) permeate the whole of the OT. It is not an isolated characteristic of God that is being described, but rather his total activity, itself based on his sovereign will. God holds to his covenant, despite Israel’s freq. relapses, which draw divine wrath on them. The only ground for this faithfulness is to be found in his electing grace and love (e.g., Hos 11:1). Statements concerning this devotion of God to his people reach the level of suffering love, as Isa 53 predicates of the Servant of the Lord.

(b) It was the prophets who first ventured to elaborate on the theme of the love of God as the main motif of his electing work. It was an enormity of unique proportions for Hosea—surrounded by the Canaanite world of sexual fertility-cults—to represent the relationship between Yahweh and his people as that of a deceived husband and a prostitute. Yet, despite the fact that Israel had broken the covenant, and thus become a whore and an adulteress, Yahweh still wooed back his faithless wife, the godless covenant people, with an inconceivable love (Hos 2:19–20). Israel is not his people (1:9), but will become his people again through Yahweh’s patient and winsome wooing (2:23).

Besides this marriage analogy, however, Hosea also used the picture of a father to describe Yahweh’s unfathomable love for Israel, whom he loved in Egypt and drew to himself with bonds of love (Hos 11:1–4). But Israel turned away, and so Hosea pictured a struggle going on within Yahweh himself as that between the jealous wrath of a deceived father and his glowing love: “How can I give you up, Ephraim? / How can I hand you over, Israel?… / My heart is changed within me; / all my compassion is aroused. / I will not carry out my fierce anger, / nor will I turn and devastate Ephraim again. / For I am God, and not man—/ the Holy One among you” (11:8–9). This description by Hosea of the passionate and zealous love of God is unprecedented in its boldness: his divine character does not express itself in destructive power, but in tender and compassionate love, which precedes any responsive human love, suffers through the faithlessness of his people (6:4), and does not hand them over to ultimate ruin.
The later prophets took over from Hosea the picture of love and the theme of the beloved, with modifications. Jeremiah spoke of Israel’s first love in the wilderness and of the people growing cold in Canaan (Jer 2:1–8). But Yahweh’s love is everlasting (31:3), and he will restore the degenerate people again (3:6–10; 31:4). In Isa 54 it is not the wife who has left her husband, but Yahweh who has abandoned his young bride, to whom he now again turns in compassion: “For a brief moment I abandoned you, / but with deep compassion I will bring you back” (54:7). One can even speak of Yahweh’s “political love,” to be recognized in the return of the exiles from Babylon: “Since you are precious and honored in my sight, / and because I love you, / I will give people in exchange for you, / and nations in exchange for your life” (43:4).

(c) Deuteronomy expresses similar ideas. But whereas in the prophets the focus is Yahweh’s love as the basis for his future actions in saving his lost people, the allusions to his electing love in Deuteronomy always provide the ground for exhorting Israel to love God and to follow his directing (Deut 7:6–11). This theme is summarized in the Shema: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (6:5). Love for God is realized in obedience to his will as expressed in the covenant, in keeping the law (Exod 20:6; Deut 10:12–13), and in devotion to one’s neighbor (Lev 19:18). The law concerning aliens provides a striking example of the way human social love is to be founded on the acts of God: “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God” (Lev 19:34). Love, here, means dealing with a person as a true friend. Of course, the command to love one’s neighbor is not, in the OT, something capable of comprehending the whole law: love for Yahweh is represented in a whole gamut of instructions and directives.

4 (a) In Hel. and rabb. Jud., love became the central concept for describing God’s relationship with his people. Despite mystical nuances derived from Greece and the ANE, the concept still maintained its basic OT implications. God loves his people through every distress they meet. Proof of his love is the Torah: believers reciprocate God’s love as they obey the commandments, emulate God’s zealous compassion, and remain true to God, even to the point of martyrdom (4 Macc 13:24; 15:3). Loving one’s neighbor is of supreme importance in Jewish piety. There are even individual exx. of commands to help one’s enemy, if need be, whether a member of the chosen people or not. There is also the occasional observation that God allows his forgiving love to hold sway well beyond the requirements of justice (Str-B 1:905, 917–18; 3:451, 485, 766, 778).

(b) Essential for an understanding of the NT is the quite different structure of Qumran piety. The Qumranians believed that their community had been chosen in God’s love, but that this love referred only to the “children of light.” Indeed, God hates all who belong to the company of Belial, and the community is instructed to “love everyone whom God elects, hate everyone he hates” (1QS I, 3–4; contrast Matt 5:43–48). The command to love does indeed play an important role, but since God’s love is not conceived as having universal application, even love for one’s neighbor has only a restricted ref. to members of the community. (Cf. E. F. Sutcliffe, “Hatred at Qumran,” RevQ 2 [1959–60]: 345–55.)

NT 1 Introductory comments. Love is a central and all-encompassing concept of the Christian faith (cf. John 3:16). “God is love” (1 John 4:8), and therefore “we also ought to love one another” (4:11). In this connection, the NT writers use ἀγαπάω and its cognates rather than their synonyms (see below, sect. 6). This word group occurs c. 320× in the NT, with the greatest concentration found in 1 John (c. 10× per ch.), Ephesians (almost 4× per ch.), and the Gospel of John (c. 2× per ch.; strangely, these terms do not appear in Acts except for ἀγαπητός [Acts 15:25, and even this example is in a quotation of the letter drafted by the Jerusalem Council]).

One should not infer that this word group has some kind of intrinsic “divine” meaning, as though the terms by themselves indicate selfless, sacrificial, pure love. In the LXX, for example, the vb. is used of Samson’s attraction to Delilah (Judg 16:4), of Saul’s initial liking for David (1 Sam 16:21), of King Hiram’s political friendship with David (1 Ki. 5:1), of Solomon’s attachment to his numerous pagan wives (1 Ki. 11:2), of the people’s devotion to vain things (Ps 4:2 [LXX 4:3]), of the wicked’s love for unrighteousness, evil, and cursing (11:5 [10:5]; 52:3–4 [51:5–6]; 109:17 [108:17]), of the love for death that characterizes those who hate divine wisdom (Prov 8:36), of greediness for money and wealth (Eccl 5:10 [5:9]), of the rulers’ passion for shameful behavior (Hos 4:18), of the desire for a prostitute’s wages (9:1), of the craving to oppress (12:7 [12:8]), of the inclination to swear falsely (Zech 8:17), of greediness for bribes (Isa 1:23), of passion for the adulterous bed (57:8), of the tendency to wander away from God (Jer 14:10), and even of Amnon’s lust for his half-sister Tamar (2 Sam 13:1, 4, 15 [where both the vb. and the noun are used]).

Negative uses are found in the NT as well: of the Pharisees’ desire for places of honor in the synagogue (Luke 11:43, where the parallel has φιλέω, Matt 23:6 [cf. 6:5]), of the world’s preference for darkness (John 3:19), of the Pharisees’ longing for human glory (12:43; cf. Plato Phaedr. 257e, ἀγαπῶσι τοὺς ἐπαινέτας, “[the statesmen] love those who praise [them]”), of Demas’s love for the present age (2 Tim 4:10), and of the love for the world that indicates the absence of God’s love (1 John 2:15).

It remains true that in the vast majority of its NT occurrences, ἀγαπάω is used with ref. to a distinctive Christian virtue, but this fact witnesses to the significance of the theological concept, not to any positive qualities inherent in the word itself. (The absence of the terms ἐράω and ἔρως in the NT [and near absence in the LXX] cannot be explained by saying that the Bible has a higher view of love than do secular writers, for the Scriptures freq. refer to “bad” or illicit love, lust, and so on without using that word group. In these cases, the bib. writers prefer more specific terms, such as ἀσέλγεια G816, ἐπιθυμέω G2121, πορνεύω G4519, etc.) On the other hand, one can hardly deny that the OT teaching on love and esp. the NT emphasis on this virtue have had a significant effect on the vocabulary, regardless of what may have motivated the initial choice of a specific term. In partic., it is worthy of note that the NT never uses the noun ἀγάπη in negative contexts. Rather, its meaning always seems related to the phrase ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ, “the love of God” (whether in the subj. gen. sense, “God’s love for us,” or in the obj. gen. sense, “our love for God”), incl. the love for fellow believers—and even for one’s enemies—that the presence of God evokes. This usage brings ἀγάπη very close to concepts like faith (see πιστεύω G4409), righteousness (δικαιοσύνη G1466), and grace (χάρις G5921), all of which have a single point of origin in God alone.

2 Synoptic Gospels. (a) In the synoptic tradition the main emphasis falls on the preaching of the kingdom of God (see βασιλεύς G995) and of the new way of life that breaks in with Jesus himself. God sends his beloved (ἀγαπητός) Son, to whom we are commanded to listen (Matt 3:17; 12:18; 17:5; Mark 12:6 [with their respective par.]; cf. Gen 22:2, 12, 16; Ps 2:7; Isa 42:1). The noun ἀγάπη is not used to express the motive behind this divine work. Instead, other words and pictures take its place (e.g., οἰκτίρμων G3881, “compassionate,” Luke 6:36 [see οἰκτιρμός G3880]; ἔλεος G1799, “mercy,” Luke 1:50). Jesus’ activity among us thus reveals the mercy and love of God: Jesus himself is the one who truly loves, and he takes to himself the poor, the sick, and sinners. The word ἀγάπη is not found in the passion narrative either, but the underlying thought of redemptive mercy and love lies clearly in the background (cf. Mark 10:45; 14:24).

The Sermon on the Mount is best understood when the Beatitudes are seen in the first instance as statements by Jesus about himself (Matt 5:3–11; cf. Luke 6:20–22; see μακάριος G3421). Jesus is the first to keep the radical demands of discipleship and so fulfill the law. The command to love one’s enemies (Matt 5:44; cf. Luke 6:27), the word of forgiveness from the cross (Luke 23:34), and the promise to the robber (23:43) all fit into the same pattern.

(b) In the Synoptics love for God is based on the twofold summary of the law (Matt 22:34–40 par. Mark 12:28–34; cf. Luke 10:25–28). Here too, through God’s mercy, grows the new reality of love revealed in Jesus’ ministry. His followers enter and share this love and so fulfill the demands of the Sermon on the Mount. Discipleship, however, also involves suffering, and when disciples suffer they are recognized by God (Matt 10:37–39). This demand indicates the hardship love has to face; it can succeed in this world only by way of suffering. If love cost God what was most dear to him, the same will certainly apply to a disciple.

(c) These considerations suggest a new and distinctive way of understanding love for one’s neighbor: it is God’s love, creating the new realities among human beings, that is itself the basis and motivation for love between people. The combination of the command to love God (Deut 6:5) and the command to love one’s neighbor (Lev 19:18) appears only in Mark 12:28 and par. The second command is quoted also in Rom 13:9; Gal 5:14; Jas 2:8. The two commands were stressed by the rabbis as well: R. Akiba calls the command to love one’s neighbor a basic principle of the Torah, embracing all others (cf. Str-B 1:900–908). But the summation and substantiation of the command in the love of God is a peculiarly NT insight. Further, Jesus decisively stepped over the boundaries of Jewish tradition in the radical command to love one’s enemies (Matt 5:43–48 par. Luke 6:27–28, 32–36). It is true that a general love for people, even for all creatures, had already been accepted as axiomatic; and as noted above (JL 4), Jewish tradition speaks about helping enemies. But the radical and laconic nature of the sentence—enemies are to be loved—is not found in rabb. teaching (cf. Str-B 1:553–68). Jesus’ interpretation of the second command in the parable of the Good Samaritan implicitly extends love to include everyone (Luke 10:37; cf. 7:47).

3 Pauline writings. (a) Paul stands entirely in the line of OT tradition when he speaks of the love of God. The adj. ἀγαπητός is very common in his writings (27×), and it often approaches the meaning “chosen.” In partic., Rom 11:28 (κατὰ δὲ τὴν ἐκλογὴν ἀγαπητοὶ διὰ τοὺς πατέρας, lit., “but according to election beloved on account of the patriarchs”) shows how this word in Paul’s thought links up with the Israelite election-tradition. The “called” (κλητοί, a term that alludes to God’s gracious election) are also the ἀγαπητοί (Rom 1:7; cf. Col 3:12). As in the OT, the motive for divine election is God’s love, which can also be expressed by the term ἔλεος (the LXX usually translates Heb. רָחַם H8163, “to show mercy,” with ἐλεέω G1796 and οἰκτίρω G3882, but in a few instances with ἀγαπάω).

The contrasting concept in Paul is ὀργή G3973, “wrath” (cf. Rom 5:8–9; Eph 2:3–4). All human beings find themselves on a direct road leading to the wrathful judgment of God; from this destiny God in his electing love rescues those who believe (1 Thess 1:10). This love thus becomes a revealing activity in Jesus Christ’s saving work (Rom 5:8; 8:35–39), so that the circle of guilt, wrath, and judgment is broken through. Indeed, Jesus Christ himself is said to be the source of this love (e.g., Gal 2:20; Eph 5:2; cf. 2 Thess 2:13). Now if God’s action can be defined as love, then the great love song of 1 Cor 13 can be understood not merely as a chapter of ethics, but as a description of all God’s activity. As many have pointed out, in place of the word “love” we can put the name of Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Cor 13:11, 13, where God and his love appear to be used synonymously). This does not mean that God becomes the “good Lord” who lets anything pass, for there is still the possibility of disbelief and there is still the judgment to come. But God’s righteousness is realized in the fact that the beloved Son stands in the place of the unrighteous (cf. 2 Cor 5:18–21).

The electing love of God lies also in the background of Eph 5:22–33, where the relationship between husband and wife is compared with the love of Christ for the church. There are two points of contact here. On the one hand, there is the election of Israel (cf. Rom 9), and the church is regarded as the new Israel that has come to faith in Christ. On the other hand, there is the OT picture of marriage, dating from the time of Hosea, with the implication of a relationship of fidelity and covenant love. What is true for the Christian community is true also for the individual and for marriage. God’s love is able to overcome every kind of difficulty and infidelity. Electing love is at the same time compassionate and forgiving love.
Certainty of salvation consists in knowing that God’s loving activity, of which the resurrection is the final seal, is stronger than any other power, incl. even death (Rom 8:37–39; 1 Cor 15:55–57). The resurrection is the crowning act of God’s love. In it is displayed the victory over these forces (cf. 2 Cor 5:16–21). See ἀνίστημι G482.

(b) A believer is a sinner who is loved by God. Having entered the sphere of God’s love, believers themselves become loving. Hence, as in Jesus’ teaching, love for God and for one’s neighbor derive from God’s own love. It is this divine love, poured into our hearts by the Spirit, that moves believers (Rom 5:5; 15:30). The human response to God’s saving act is described by Paul mostly as πίστις G4411 (“faith”) or γνῶσις G1194 (“knowledge”), but also freq. as ἀγάπη (cf. 1 Cor 8:3; Eph 3:19). Through the Spirit, knowing God and being known by him are two sides of the same coin (1 Cor 13:12; Gal 4:9); similarly, those who are loved by God love him. In those who recognize that they are loved (cf. Rom 8:37), faith is active through love (Gal 5:6). Thus love can be said to be the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22); faith and love in fact are often mentioned side by side (e.g., Eph 6:23; 1 Thess 1:3; 3:6; 5:8; 1 Tim 1:14).

The formula ἐν Χριστῷ (“in Christ”) speaks of the existence of the believer in the sphere of the love of God. When I am “in Christ” or Christ is “in me,” this love has taken hold of me and is making me, a believing person, into a loving person (cf. Gal 2:20; 1 Tim 1:14). As someone who loves, a believer is a “new creation” whose origin lies in the love of Christ (cf. 2 Cor 5:14 with v. 17).

(c) In 1 Cor 13 Paul summarizes virtually everything to be said here. Love stands over every power and authority, introducing and encircling the whole. Prophecy, faith, hope, and knowledge (vv. 2, 7–8) are subordinated to it—not, however, as gradations of lessening importance, but as component parts of that one powerful force which permeates and animates everything. In the context of 1 Corinthians, love is the greatest of the gifts of the Spirit, as well as the force that holds a Christian community together and builds it up. Without love, no fellowship or shared life is poss. (1 Cor 16:14; Eph 1:15; 3:17–19). The body of Christ is built up by love (1 Cor 8:1; Eph 4:16; Phil 2:1–2; Col 2:2; 2 Thess 1:3). When Paul offers the church the example of his own love, he is calling believers back to their fellowship in the love of God (2 Cor 2:4; 8:7). Moreover, the apostle views love for neighbor as the fulfillment of the OT law (Rom 13:8–10; Gal 5:14). The law has already been fulfilled because Jesus, who is love, has died for sinners. Insofar, therefore, as Christians love one another they too fulfill the law, not in the sense that they attain any perfection, but that they are now living in God’s new reality through the strengthening power of forgiveness. See νόμος G3795.

4 Johannine writings. (a) God’s nature and activity are illustrated with partic. clarity by John’s use of ἀγάπη and ἀγαπάω, partly because he employs these terms more often than does Paul in absolute fashion (i.e., as a noun without qualifying gen., or as a vb. with no obj.). The two words occur in the Johannine writings (incl. Revelation) over 110×, a much greater frequency than that of terms referring to associated concepts such as righteousness (δικαιοσύνη G1466 and cognates 23×), “grace” (χάρις 7×), and “mercy” (ἔλεος 1×, ἐλεέω not at all). Just as John 1:1–14 speaks of the preexistent λόγος G3364, Jesus in this gospel speaks of the Father’s preexistent love for him (John 17:24; cf. 3:35; 10:17; 15:9). God is essentially love (1 John 4:8), and his purpose right from the beginning has been one of love. The love of the Father for the Son is therefore the archetype of all love. This fact is made visible in the sending and self-sacrifice of the Son (John 3:16; 1 John 3:1, 16). For sinners to “see” and “know” this love is to be saved. God’s primary purpose for the world is his compassionate and forgiving love, which asserts itself despite the world’s hostile rejection of it. In God’s ἀγάπη his δόξα G1518 is simultaneously revealed, for love’s triumph is seen in the glorification of Jesus, that is, his death, which here includes his return to the Father (John 12:16, 23–33). The believer, taken up into this victory, receives life (cf. 3:36; 11:25–26; 1 John 4:9).

(b) According to John, believers are included in the relationship of love enjoyed between Father and Son (John 14:21–24; 15:9–10; 17:26). The disciples are to love Father and Son with an equal love (14:21–24; cf. 8:42; 1 John 4:16). The continual oscillation between the subj. and obj. of love in John shows that the Father, the Son, and the believers are all united in the one reality of divine love (1 John 3:16; 4:7–8); the alternative is death (3:14–15). The typical Johannine phrase μένειν ἐν (“to remain in”) can refer equally to Jesus (John 15:4–7) or to love (15:9–10; cf. 1 John 4:12–15 with v. 16).

(c) In John, even more clearly than in Paul, mutual love is grounded in divine love (John 13:34; 1 John 4:21). Love is a sign and a proof of faith (1 John 3:10; 4:7–21). Love for others derives from God’s love for us; and without love for our brothers and sisters there can be no relationship with God. Thus John presents love as a command (John 13:34; 14:23–24; 15:12, 17; 2 John 5).

5 Other uses. Love found expression for itself in early Christian circles by way of the “kiss of love” (φίλημα ἀγάπης, 1 Pet 5:14; cf. Rom 16:16), evidently a token of fellowship that was a regular part of the worship of the congregation; practically no details of this custom are known (see φιλέω NT 3). In addition, ἀγάπη was the word used for an important ceremony in early Christianity. The only explicit ref. to this custom in the NT is Jude 12, whether the author decries certain people who were “blemishes at your love feasts” (ἐν ταῖς ἀγάπαις ὑμῶν σπιλάδες; cf. also 2 Pet 2:13 v.l.). It appears from 1 Cor 11 that the celebration of the Lord’s Supper was linked with a normal meal; later evidence suggests that this feast eventually became separated from the Eucharist and celebrated in its own right, though patristic allusions to it provide little specific information (cf. Ign. Smyrn. 8.2; Clem. Alex. Paedogogus 2.1; see also ODCC, 26).

6 Synonyms and antonyms. It has become commonplace—not only in popular lit. but in scholarly treatments as well—to say that while Eng. has only one word for “love,” Gk. has three, each of which has a clearly distinguishable meaning: ἔρως (vb. ἐράω) supposedly has a negative connotation and indicates a desire for personal satisfaction, so that it is often applied to sexual matters (this word group is rare in the LXX and totally absent in the NT); φιλία G5802 (vb. φιλέω G5797) is said to be a somewhat neutral and colorless term, referring primarily to friendships and family relations; ἀγάπη and ἀγαπάω, finally, signify a self-giving attitude that seeks the best for others, even if unlovable (some of these distinctions owe much to the influential work by A. Nygren, Agape and Eros [1953]; earlier, Trench (p. 43) had argued that ἔρως and its cognates had been corrupted by the world, and “they carried such an atmosphere of unholiness about them … that the truth of God abstained from the defiling contact with them”).

This approach is problematic, however. Not only does it give an oversimplified picture of the Gk. vocabulary—it is also inaccurate in several respects. To begin with, Gk. has more than just three words whose use can come within the broad category of “love,” such as ἀντέχω G504 (mid.; see ἔχω G2400), ἐπιθυμία G2123 (vb. ἐπιθυμέω G2121), ἐπιπόθησις G2161 (vb. ἐπιποθέω G2160), ἵμερος (vb. ἱμείρω), κολλάω G3140, πόθος (vb. ποθέω), σπλάγχνον G5073 (pl.), στοργή (vb. στέργω), and others. And, of course, it is far from the truth that Eng. has only one word to express the concept of love in its various forms (cf. affection, amorousness, ardor, attraction, devotion, eroticism, fondness, infatuation, libido, lust, passion; vbs.—adore, be attracted/drawn to, cherish, be enamored of, fall for, like, long for, need, treasure, want, yearn for; verbal phrases—have a crush on, be in love with, be smitten with, give pleasure to, make love to, be crazy/wild about).

More important, it is misleading to suggest that the three Gk. words in question have inherently favorable or unfavorable meanings. As noted above (sect. 1), there are plenty of negative contexts in the LXX where ἀγαπάω is used. By the same token, ἐράω freq. occurs in positive contexts; Philo, for example, links this vb. with “good things,” “virtues,” “perseverance and temperance,” “peace,” “truth,” “wisdom,” etc. (Leg. 2.55, 80, 83; Somn. 2.40; Spec. 2.258; Virt. 1.62), and he can speak of ἔρως as “heavenly” and “divine” (οὐράνιος, θεῖος) and as the source of all virtue (Virt. 1.55). As for φιλέω, it is true enough that this vb. occurs freq. in contexts of friendship, and that often it is used in the mild sense of “to like (something)” (cf. Gen 27:4 et al.), but it can also be applied to Jacob’s strong love for his son Joseph (37:4 [= ἀγαπάω in v. 3]), to a person’s love for wisdom (Prov 29:3), to the love for parents (Matt 10:37), to God the Father’s love for the Son (John 5:20), to Jesus’ deep love for Lazarus (11:3 [= ἀγαπάω in v. 5], 36); to the Father’s love for the disciples in response to the disciples’ love for Jesus (16:27), to the love for the Lord that is required to avoid a curse (1 Cor 16:22), to Christian brotherly love (Titus 3:5), and to the risen Lord’s love for his people (Rev 3:19). (It should be added that φιλέω could also mean “to kiss,” and that this meaning became more freq. when the alternate vb. κυνέω fell out of use. Very prob., the increased frequency of ἀγαπάω during the Hel. period, reflected in the NT, has something to do with the decrease in the use of φιλέω with the meaning “to love.” See R. Joly, Le vocabulaire chretien de l’amour, est-il originel? Φιλεῖν et ἀγαπᾶν dans le grec antique [1968], 33.)

Special attention is usually given to the well-known dialogue between Peter and the risen Jesus in John 21:15–17; here the alternation between ἀγαπάω (which Jesus uses the first two times he asks, “Do you love me?”) and φιλέω (which Jesus uses the third time and Peter uses in his answer all three times) naturally raises the expectation that some semantic distinction is intended. B. F. Westcott (The Gospel according to St. John [1882], 303) argued that by using the second vb. Peter “lays claim only to the feeling of natural love … of which he could be sure. He does not venture to say that he has attained to that higher love (ἀγαπᾷν) which was to be the spring of the Christian life.” This view has been widely accepted and seems to be reflected in the earlier NIV rendering of ἀγαπάω as “truly love” (1984 ed.; the word “truly” is omitted in the 2011 ed.). Trench (42–43) also sees a distinction, but his understanding is almost exactly the opp. of Westcott’s! According to Trench, ἀγαπάω involves “respect and reverence,” and thus to Peter this word “sounds far too cold” and fails to express “the warmth of his affection.” “He therefore in his answer substitutes for the ἀγαπᾷς of Christ the word of a more personal love, φιλῶ σε.… And this he does not on the first occasion only, but again upon a second. And now at length he has triumphed; for when his Lord puts the question to him a third time, it is not ἀγαπᾷς any more, but φιλεῖς.”

That two erudite Gk. scholars should reach such contradictory conclusions raises doubts about the validity of the enterprise. If we assume the historical reliability of this incident, further questions are raised by the likelihood that the dialogue would have taken place in Aram.; when the text was translated into Syr. (a form of Aram.), both Gk. vbs. were rendered with the standard Aram. vb. for “love,” rḥm (some scholars have argued that Gk. was the language more commonly spoken by Jesus and the disciples, but this remains a minority view). Moreover, consideration must be given to the fact that John’s writing style is characterized by wordplays of various sorts, and in this very passage we find other lexical alternations: βόσκω G1081 (“to tend, graze, feed”) in 21:15, 17, but ποιμαίνω G4477 (“to herd, tend, shepherd”) in v. 16; ἀρνίον G768 (“sheep, lamb”) in v. 15, but πρόβατον G4585 (“sheep”; v.l. προβάτιον, “little sheep”) in vv. 16–17; οἶδα G3857 (“to know”) in vv. 15–17a, but γινώσκω G1182 (also “to know”) in v. 17b. While these terms (like virtually all synonyms in any language) are semantically distinguishable in some contexts, it is hardly believable that the writer here intends to differentiate between two distinct types of people with the first pair of terms and between two distinct types of ministry with the second pair (note also three different words for “fish” used in vv. 5–13).

That ἀγαπάω and φιλέω can be used interchangeably in some contexts is certain: “I love [ἀγαπῶ] those who love [φιλοῦντας] me” (Prov 8:17 LXX, where the two terms render the same Heb. vb., אָהַב; cf. also 21:17; Lam 1:2; and Jos. Vita 1.198; LSJ cites Xen. Mem. 2.7.9); and John himself can employ these two vbs. as simple synonyms, as is esp. clear from the formula “[the disciple] whom Jesus loved” (ἠγάπα in John 13:23; 21:7, 20; but ἐφίλει in 20:2). Moreover, as noted above, John sometimes applies ἀγαπάω to negative expressions of love (3:19; 12:43), and φιλέω to divine love (5:20; 16:27). Among patristic writers who discuss John 21:15–17 (many of whom were native Gk. speakers), virtually all fail to note any significant distinction between these two vbs. here; similarly, most modern standard commentaries on John (Bernard, Bultmann, Brown, Barrett, Bruce, Beasley-Murray, Carson, et al.) view the terms as synonymous in this passage. (For recent arguments to the contrary see K. L. McKay, “Style and Significance in the Language of John 21:15–17,” NovT 27 [1985]: 319–33, who does not specify what the distinction might be; and D. Shepherd, “ ‘Do You Love Me?’ A Narrative-Critical Reappraisal of ἀγαπάω and φιλέω in John 21:15–17,” JBL 129 [2010]: 777–92, who proposes a distinction between the sacrificial love that Jesus was requesting [alluding to the statements in John 13–16] and the kind of love offered by Peter.)

The vb. μισέω G3631 (“to hate”) functions almost exclusively as the antonym of ἀγαπάω, with nearly thirty examples of this opp. found in the LXX (e.g., Gen 29:31–33; Exod 20:5–6), and about a dozen in the NT (e.g., Matt 5:43 [with the additional pair ἀντέχω/καταφρονέω]; Eph 5:28–29). Not surprisingly, it functions also as the antonym of φιλέω (only Gen 37:4; Eccl 3:8; John 12:25; 15:19). In addition, there are several instances where ἀγαπάω is opposed to the adj. ἐχθρός G2398 (“hostile,” subst. “enemy”; Judg 5:31; Lam 1:2 [alongside φιλέω]; Luke 6:27 par.; Rom 11:28), and in a few LXX passages it is opp. the vb. βδελύσσομαι G1009 (“to abhor”; Ps 119:163 [LXX 118:163, alongside μισέω]). Finally, Paul opposes the vbs. ἀποστυγέω G696 (“to hate violently”) and κολλάω G3140 (“to cling to”) in Rom 12:9, where the context includes ἀγάπη. It seems surprising, however, that the NT lacks a large number of vbs. for “to hate”: ἀπεχθαίρω, ἀπεχθάνομαι, διαμισέω, ἐγκοτέω (cf. Gen 27:41; Ps 55:4 [54:4]), ἐκμισέω, ἐχθαίρω, ἐχθραίνω, ἔχθω, μηνιάω (cf. Lev 19:17), ὀδύσσομαι, στυγέω, ὑπερεχθαίρω.

The noun μίσος does not occur at all in the NT (it is found in the LXX opp. ἀγάπη in 2 Sam 13:15; Eccl 9:1, 6 [cf. Did. 16.3]; opp. ἀγάπησις in Ps 109:5 [108:5]; opp. φιλία in Prov 10:12). Its place is apparently taken by ἔχθρα G2397, “enmity” (opp. φιλία in Jas 4:4; φιλία is opposed to ἔχθρα or its cognates a few times in LXX, and often in Jos. and Philo). Moreover, as mentioned above (sect. 3), ἀγάπη is contrasted with ὀργή G3973, “wrath” (cf. Rom 5:8–9; Eph 2:3–4). Nonbiblical Gk. nouns within the semantic field of hate include the following: ἀπέχθεια, ἐγκότημα, ἔχθος, στύγος (but see Titus 3:3).

Moisés Silva, ed., New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014), 103–115.

Pastor, North Park Baptist Church

Bridgeport, CT USA

Posts 1557
Ben | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Nov 17 2015 12:04 PM

Is this valuable for non-Protestants, since one of the critiques of the original was that it lacked a consistent Evangelical perspective?

"The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected."- G.K. Chesterton

Posts 94
Rokas | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Nov 17 2015 12:20 PM

James Taylor:

<links to Zondervan sale>

thank you, James!

Posts 13417
Mark Barnes | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Nov 17 2015 12:48 PM

Wim Kater:
Same thoughts, the named added values are in several cases not relevant for the digital editions. I did a search, but didn't find until now a reason which convinced me.

Personally, I think the new edition is the best theological NT dictionary available. It's certainly better than TDNT, EDNT and the original NIDNTT, and is comparable to Spicq (but more comprehensive).

The articles have been entirely rewritten. References to classical literature are much more comprehensive. Below is a screenshot that shows the entry for ὑπακούω (I chose that word simply because the article is short enough to just about fit on the screen!). You'll see that the new edition (on the left) is very different from the original on the right.

Posts 537
Fasil | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Nov 17 2015 12:57 PM

Thanks! I've the Old , but missed the New in it's pre-pub stage. Your comments are appreciated. It's very helpful discussion. Thanks again.

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