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The 3 Levels of Love According to Jesus' Conversation with Peter.

Love is a complex and multifaceted emotion we experience in different ways and levels. In John 21:15-17, Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him three times, and each time, Peter gives a slightly different response. This conversation, often called the "Great Commission," reveals the three levels of love interpreted by the Christian faith. Let's explore these three levels of love and what they mean for us.

The first level of love that Jesus mentions is "agape" love, which is the highest form of love and refers to God's unconditional love for us. When Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him with agape love, Peter responds with, "You know that I love You" (John 21:15). Peter could not claim to have agape love for Jesus because that kind of love is only possible through a deep and personal relationship with God.

However, Peter acknowledges that he loves Jesus deeply, which is the starting point of his journey towards developing a stronger relationship with God.

The second level of love that Jesus mentions is "phileo" love, which refers to brotherly love or affection. When Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him with phileo love, Peter responds with, "You know that I love you" (John 21:16). This response shows that Peter has a strong affection for Jesus, but it is still not the highest form of love that God desires for us. Phileo love is essential to our relationships with others, but it should be rooted in a more profound, intimate love for God and a desire to serve Him.

The third level of love mentioned by Jesus is also phileo love but with a different twist. This time, Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him with phileo love, and Peter responds, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you" (John 21:17). This distinction is subtle but essential. By repeatedly asking Peter this question and receiving the same response, Jesus reveals that Peter has genuine affection for Him. Still, He is also encouraging Peter to reflect on what it truly means to love God wholeheartedly.

Peter's responses to Jesus' questions have given many Christians a picture of what these levels of love ought to look like today. In John 21:15-17, Jesus was not just trying to ascertain Peter's feelings for Him but also challenging Peter's commitment to Him. In much the same way, Jesus desires us to love Him completely, fully committed and made manifest in practical ways. We are called to love God with all our hearts, minds, and souls, which involves serving Him and living according to His will. Jesus modeled this kind of selfless love for us, and it is up to us to follow in His footsteps.

As Christians, we are called to love God and our neighbors. When we understand the three levels of love according to Jesus' conversation with Peter, we can learn to love others with the same kind of sacrificial love Jesus showed us through His death on the cross. Agape love is a love that is given freely, without any expectation of return. As we grow in our relationship with God, we learn to love others unconditionally, without ulterior motives.


In conclusion, the conversation between Jesus and Peter in John 21:15-17 teaches us the three levels of love we are called to embrace as believers in Christ. Agape love is the highest form of love, representing God's unconditional love for us. Phileo love expresses our affection for loved ones and highlights the importance of brotherly love or companionship. However, Phileo's love should also be guided by our desire to love God more deeply and serve Him with all our hearts. May we always strive to love God our Father with all our heart, soul, and mind, and may this love overflow and manifest in every relationship we have.

*** We will discuss Eros Love in another Sermon:

Eros love is named after the Greek God of love and desire, Eros (or Cupid in Roman mythology). It is the love that we feel for somebody when we are physically attracted to them. Eros love is mainly focused on the physical side of a relationship – the yearning for closeness, touch, and sensual pleasure. It is all about the passion and desire that two people feel when they are romantically and sexually attracted to each other.

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