Fun with Greek


June 6, 2012 by Chris French

There are several interesting things going on in these two chapters. In John 20.17 Mary has just seen the risen Jesus, hasn’t recognized Him, then been hit by the fact that He was alive and standing in front of her. What does she do? What would you do? I think I would be so happy I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from running over to Him and getting Him in a bear hug. That’s what Mary did, so Jesus says that He’s not going anywhere for a while. She can let go of Him and He’ll still be there. This “don’t cling to me” confused me for a while years ago, but now I see one of Jesus’ kindest reassurances in this phrase. Mary could look away and He would still be there. Her sorrow had turned to joy and that sorrow would never return!

Another interesting thing happens in John 21 when Jesus questions Peter 3 times about Peter’s love for Him. Many people make a big deal about the change in words here. The first time Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him more than he loves himself and Peter says I love You like a friend. This happens twice, but the third time Jesus asks Peter if he even loves Him like a friend. Peter is incredibly sad because Jesus asked him if he even loved Him like a friend. Peter did deny that he even knew Jesus 3 times just a few days ago. With the triple repetition of Peter’s love here Jesus is probably calling Peter’s mind back to those three denials so He can formally forgive Peter and to make Peter move past it himself, something Judas was unable to do. Jesus still had BIG plans for Peter in His kingdom.

People make too much out of this word change. Both phileoo and agape are used of God’s love of Jesus. In John 5.20 Jesus says, “For the Father loves (phileoo) the Son and shows Him everything He is doing.” in Matthew 22.37-38 Jesus says that the law can be summed in one command: Love (agapoo) God with your everything.
Also, Jesus and Peter are most likely speaking Aramaic, not Greek, so the point is moot anyhow.

Didn’t come to the blog thinking you were going to get into Greek today, did you? Thanks for reading anyhow!


One thought on “Fun with Greek

  1. savedbygrace says:


    for months i was really contemplating on what Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery.

    “neither do i condemn you, go and sin no more”

    when I realized that Jesus was speaking aramaic to the woman,
    i sort of cannot get off the though that those words were probably meant differently.

    good post

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