After breakfast, Peter and Jesus had a conversation which raises an interesting question about how to understand the verbs for love—agapáo and philéo—used in the original Greek.
Agapáo (Strong’s #25) is a verb that means “to love” related to the noun agápe (love). Philéo (Strong’s #5368) is also a verb usually translated “to love,” related to the nouns phílos, (friend) and philía (friendship).
The passage is difficult to translate because although English has always had separate nouns for “love” and “friendship,” no English speaker prior to Mark Zuckerberg used “friend” as a verb. Translators, therefore, must either translate both words as “love,” which loses a potential nuance in the original, or else must try to somehow make the difference apparent in English. …
How are we to understand the shift between the two verbs in this passage?
I will argue that when Peter says, “I love [philéo] You,” he is declaring a more intimate form of love than if he responded “I love [agapáo] You.” I will also argue that by switching from agapáo to philéo, Jesus is helping to confirm Peter’s restoration to friendship with Christ.