Have you ever been confronted by someone about something you needed to change in your life? That may not be a memory you enjoy remembering. If it was someone you did not know, it might have been difficult to take. “Who does he think he is? He hardly knows me!” But if it was someone who loved you and expressed his concern in a loving way, it would be easier to handle, wouldn’t it? When it comes to the apostle Peter and his second letter, which do you think he was? Was he the one who hardly knew the people he was writing, or the one who knew them well and loved them? It is quite apparent, as you read through the letter, that Peter was someone who knew and loved these people.
At the beginning of the letter, he shows that he cares about them. He wanted them to have grace and peace (1:2), to grow in Christ (1:3), and to have assurance of God’s calling (1:10). But he also expresses his love for them more directly by calling them his beloved four separate times (3:1, 8, 14, 17). His love for them was not brotherly love but the highest form of godly love expressed in the Greek word agape.
“The Greek word agape is often translated ‘love’ in the New Testament. How is ‘agape love’ different from other types of love? The essence of agape love is goodwill, benevolence, and willful delight in the object of love. Unlike our English word love, agape is not used in the New Testament to refer to romantic or sexual love. Nor does it refer to close friendship or brotherly love, for which the Greek word philia is used. Agape love involves faithfulness, commitment, and an act of the will. It is distinguished from the other types of love by its lofty moral nature and strong character.”What is agape love?
Think of the many times that this agape love is mentioned in the New Testament.
- Love is one of God’s defining character traits (1 John 4:8).
- Love is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).
- Love is the result of growth (2 Pet. 1:5-7).
- Love is one of the greatest character traits (1 Cor. 13).
- Love is motivator for telling the truth (Eph. 4:15).
There are times when love overlooks problems (1 Peter 4:8), but there are other times when love must speak (Eph. 4:15). Knowing the difference may be difficult. But notice how direct Peter was in expressing his concern for his readers (2 Peter 3). They needed to hear what he was communicating in his letter. But all of it would have been like a “noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” if the people didn’t already know that he loved them. So, let us who know and love the Lord remember to express our love for others in a tangible way so that when they hear our concerns there is no doubt that we love them.