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Peter's Love Song
Andy Bustanoby
(C) January 22, 2005

     What turns a fiery, sword wielding disciple into the writer of a
     love song? Remember Peter? He claimed a love for the Lord above all
     the other disciples. He drew a sword in the Garden of Gethsemane to
     defend Jesus against arrest. And yet, before it was all over, he
     denied Christ three times.

     By the time he wrote his second epistle, some thirty or thirty-five
     years later, Peter was a different man. It wasn't the maturity of
     age. Peter experienced a seminal event seven weeks after the
     resurrection of Christ.

     Pentecost, the Advent of the Holy Spirit, and the birth of the
     church changed Peter forever. At that moment he experienced
     something never known to the disciples before--the indwelling,
     baptizing, sealing and filling of the Holy Spirit. It was this new
     Spirit-driven Peter who preached that marvelous sermon that brought
     three-thousand believers to Jesus Christ (Acts 2).

     This helps explain two things that happened in his life. The first
     was his encounter with Jesus at the Sea of Galilee after his
     three-fold denial. Jesus asked, Do you agape (love) me more than the
     rest of the disciples? Peter, knowing that his earlier claim to love
     was just an ignorant boast, said, Lord, I phila (have affection for)
     You. Twice Jesus asked about agape love and twice Peter replied with
     a confession of the lesser phila love (Jn. 21:15-17).

     Then Jesus asked, Do you phila me? Do you really have affection for
     me? The heart-broken Peter cried, Lord, you know all things. You
     know I phila You (Jn. 21:15-17). Jesus accepted that and said, Feed
     my sheep. But we need to understand what was happening here and
     later in Peter's life.

     Phila love was a legitimate love. It is the love of inclination or
     affection. In Greek culture it was used to describe the love that
     brothers and sisters have in the immediate family. But God took it
     one step further--giving the disciples a brotherly love for someone
     outside their immediate family. We see this in John 16:27 where God
     the Father has phila for the disciples because they phila His son,

     But phila fell short of what Christ was looking for at the Sea of
     Galilee--agape. This is the will to love, in spite of circumstances.
     This was the love that would fill Peter at Pentecost, at the Advent
     of the Holy Spirit.

     At the Sea of Galilee, Jesus accepted phila love because He knew
     that soon, the Holy Spirit would bring into the world a new and
     abiding work of God. The grace-given work of the Holy Spirit in the
     heart of Peter at Pentecost would add to his faith in Christ the
     agape love that Jesus sought.

     With this in mind, we can understand the second event in his life.
     The inspiration to write his second epistle and the love song he
     opens with:

     Add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to
     knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to
     perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and
     to brotherly kindness, love (2 Pet. 1:5-7).

     The Greek word translated "add" is from the Greek root choros from
     which we get our word "chorus," a mingling of voices in harmony.
     Faith carries the tune, the song of our redemption. But wait. Look
     at the musical score. One by one, seven other voices join in
     harmonizing with faith. They don't stand separately from faith as
     additions to faith, as though there is another song to be sung about
     our redemption. Our redemption starts with faith in Christ, but oh,
     the beautiful voices that join in as the years pass and that faith
     grows. They fill out a grand chorus called the Christian life that
     lifts its voice in harmony with that fundamental song of
     redemption--our faith in Christ.

     But the last two voices that are added to the chorus are undoubtedly
     the most beautiful part of the harmony for Peter, which I call his
     love song. They are the voices of brotherly kindness (phila +
     delphos) and love (agape).

     When Peter writes this he understands what Christ was asking of him
     at the Sea of Galilee. Yes, Jesus valued the fact that Peter rose
     above Greek culture and had phila love for someone outside the

     But now Peter, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and filled with all the
     fullness of God, faces martyrdom. To walk the final mile would
     require more than phila, an affection for Christ. He would need the
     will to love, to agape his Savior, in spite of the terrors ahead. By
     the power of the indwelling and filling of the Spirit he now could
     give to his Savior what he could not give on the shores of Galilee.

     Now he could go to martyrdom. His love song was complete.

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