Truth, Understanding, Insight

Philadelphia or Philanthropy?

28th July 2013, hej


1) Phila-dephia

As usual we investigate every occurrence of a word. This is not a long article as looking for 'phila' and 'phile' (φιλε) revealed it was not used a lot. The Greek word 'agapao' was used much more for love. Which might make us wonder why. But to think of these things is to think on things pure and good. Let's think.

Great Affection

The first finding was 'Theophilos' the person addressed by Luke in his gospel as the 'lover of God'. The second was the woman sinner of the city who kissed-earnestly, or affectionately, kataphileō Jesus / Y'shua's feet and anointed them (Luke 7:38).

We can ponder that the Father had affectionate love of his son, and what he did because of that,

For the Father loveth (phileo) the Son, and shews him all things that himself does: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. (John 5:20)

We understand that if we love, phileo, our lord and do what he says, the world will hate us,

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love (phileo) his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:18-19)

If we do the things commanded by Y'shua and become faithful disciples,

For the Father himself loveth (phileo) you, because ye have loved (phileo) me, and have believed that I came out from God. (John 16:27)

It is featured in the exchange between Peter and Y'shua

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (agapao) thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou know that I love (phileo) thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou know that I love (phileo) thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (phileo) thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest (phileo) thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou know all things; thou know that I love (phileo) thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. (John 21:15-17)

The remainder of the occurrences are powerful, also in showing what true friendship is,

[Lazarus'] sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. (John 11:3)
Then said the Jews, “Behold how he loved him[Lazarus]!” (John 11:36)
Mary runs to the disciple Y'shua loved. John 20:2

Julius allows Paul to be refreshed by his friends (phila)Acts 27:2

There is a parable of the friend who seeks loaves for an unexpected visitor (Luke 11:5). Another parable speaks of the one who asks his friend who took the lowest seat to come up higher. (Luke 14:10). The woman having ten pieces of silver, when she has found one piece lost she calls her friends (phila) and her neighbours together, saying, “Rejoice with me” (Luke 15:8-9)

And it is fitting to end with the last,

If any man love (phileo) not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha. (1Cor 16:22)

Brotherly Love

The disciples of Christ are reminded to love their brethren,

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned (philostorgos) one to another with brotherly love (philadelphia) ; in honour preferring one another; (Romans 12:9-10)

Having reminded them before through his teaching, the Apostle Paul reminds us again,

But as touching brotherly love (philadelphia) ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love (agapao) one another. (1Thessalonians 4:9)

And again Paul speaks of it,

Let brotherly love (philadelphia) continue. (Hebrews 13:1)

The Apostle Peter speaks of this brotherly love as a result of obeying the truth,

Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren (philadelphia), see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. (1Peter 1:22-23)

He then asks them (and us) to grow in this love

And to godliness brotherly kindness (philadelphia); and to brotherly kindness (philadelphia) charity (agapē). (2Peter 1:7)

He ends his first epistle, on what he sees as an important point,

Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren (philadelphos), be pitiful, be courteous (philophrōn lit: friendly mind): (1Peter 3:8)

Paul speaks of other love and kindness required by leaders and elders,

For a shepherd must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality (philoxenos), a lover of good (philagathos), sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. (Titus 1:7-9)

That they [aged woman] may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands (philandros), to love their children (philoteknos), (Titus 2:4)

The sum is that this philadelphia is important and features at critical points. We are told that we must have this brotherly love. Peter says it comes from purified souls, and comes after and is added to Godliness, then after that people are to develop agape.

The use of this word philadelphia is backed up by powerful commands and clear teaching. To have affection is one step as we are required to have this and more. The beginning is a command,

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. (John 15:12)


Ye are my friends (Philos), if ye do whatsoever I command you. (John 15:14)

The ultimate goal for the disciples is to reach where Christ wished his friends to be, where he prayed to his Father they might reach.

For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. (John 17:8-11)

He sought that as result the end might be many bound in unity,

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:20-23)

See Psalm 133.

The Apostle John then devotes much of his epistles to the issues of brotherly love. He underlines an expands what Peter and Paul said,

We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. (1John 3:14)

He that does not have philadelphos has not passed from death into life.

Unless we are 'taught of God' and unless we have 'purified' our 'souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit' we will not attain 'unfeigned love' for our brethren, and will not have passed from 'death' into 'life'. It is a process of being renewed in our mind by every word of God.

Once the word has transformed us we will know how to give good,

But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. (1John 3:17-18)

This love in deed and in truth is tied directly to the love of God,

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. (1John 4:20-21)

When John speaks of having the world's good and giving, it is not a sign of duty, but must be the outworking of brotherly love. Paul makes this clear,

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity (agape), it profits me nothing. Charity suffers long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. (1Cor 13:3-7)

It is clear that before one gives to the poor one must in oneself achieve all those qualities. These qualities are all about interpersonal relationships, the relationships with our brethren.

Why is giving to the poor without achieving this high standard of brotherly love useless? Is it because it might be harmful due to wrong motives in giving? Many rich seek to be 'patrons' of the poor to be their benefactors and so exploit the poor to be seen by the poor as a great person, which might elevate and increase pride. It is akin to the fact that throughout history those who gathered wealth via plunder and taxing to give to their servants made themselves rulers. We are told,

The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. (Luke 22:25)

Doe people by giving 'largess' to the poor honour God? Or do they forget

thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth (Deut. 8:18)

To overcome the tendency of pride and doing good to be seen of others, Y'shua said,

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand does: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which sees in secret himself shall reward thee openly. (Matt. 6:1-4)

The greatest gift of God is wisdom, but the sinners who become wealthy through sin (such as unequal weights) may have gathered to give to to the poor.

For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him that is good before God. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit. (Ecclesiastes 2:26)

Whether one is wealthy or not, all the law asked was that if you knew of one who was poor and had need that you lend to him.

If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth. (Deut. 15:7-8)

It also asked that the firstfuits be for God and the edges and remainder of the crops were to be for the stranger in the land, the fatherless and widow. This required that life be one of extended love to Yahweh Elohim and others about one. Clearly there is going to be more profit if one takes all the corners of the fields and every piece of fruit and sells it, and if one keeps ones money to oneself to buy more fields and/or lend with usury. People could be wealthy if they take all and every advantage of the brethren and so then achieve greatness via wealth, to then give to the poor, who might not have been so poor if they had taken of the fields and been lent money for their needs.

Which brings us to philanthropy.


The one occurrence of the word 'to extend kindness to man' is from Luke,

And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously (philanthrōpōs) entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself. (Acts 27:3)

Philanthrōpōs is the adverb from a compound of 'affection' and 'anthropos' man. The one who extends it is Julius the centurion. Julius was not a friend to Paul, but his gaoler. Julius was not in any way a brother to Paul, though both were Romans, as he later is not persuaded by Paul though safety of the ship was dependant on it. Luke is very accurate. He was also an eye witness.

He might also have known where the word came from,

The word was first coined as an adjective, by Aeschylus in Prometheus Bound (line 11, 460 BC), to describe Prometheus' character as "humanity loving" (philanthropos tropos), for having given to the earliest proto-humans, who had no culture, fire (symbolizing all the arts civilization) and "blind hope" (optimism). Together, they would be used to improve the human condition, to save mankind from destruction. Thus humans were distinguished from all other animals by civilization the power to complete their own creation through education (self-development) and culture (civic development), expressed in good works benefitting others. Wikipedia

Julius' motive was to be 'humanity loving' and he felt it was a good work to let Paul be refreshed. He would go to be 'warmed' by his friends and have a 'blind hope', as in Julius' eyes he was a prisoner, and none who knew would be sanguine about slow moving Roman justice. Fundamentally the Greek thinking was utterly at odds with the Jewish thinking.

Lo, this only have I found, that God has made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions. (Ecc 7:29)

Greek culture said there has been improvement via invention, the Hebrew culture said humans began upright and sought out inventions. They are an opposite viewpoint. Luke is not subscribing to this, he merely shows what Julius believed.

We might suspect Luke knew the origins of the meaning as he next uses the noun version of the word philanthrōpia, (love towards man) of Barbarians who offer fire..

And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness (philanthrōpia): for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold. (Acts 28:2)

Luke is precise in his history and his words, but Paul is more likely to use words in less conventional ways. This last use of the noun version. It is interesting to note wikipedia's entry,

The first use of the noun form philanthrôpía came shortly thereafter (ca. 390 BC) in the early Platonic dialogue Euthyphro, where Socrates is reported to have said that his "pouring out" of his thoughts freely (without charge) to his listeners was his philanthrôpía.

This might be thought somewhat arrogant as it assumes his thoughts were of benefit. Paul directs our thoughts on human thoughts and provides a warning,

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, (Romans 1:21-22)

Then when writing to Titus, while thinking of having been foolish and deceived, Paul throws in the word philanthrōpia,

For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love toward man (philanthrōpia) of God our Saviour appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; (Titus 3:3-5)

He then says not by works of righteousness. Note that the meaning of philanthropos from its first use that has been found was of works of giving (fire) and 'blind hope' intended for improving the human condition. The Greek word meant giving things (including non-material) for improvement for others (to their salvation) or a process of 'saving' others by ones works.

Paul must have known this for he notes immediately that there is no benefit by our works. In addition he clarifies that salvation is due to the mercy of God, which was manifest, or made known.

But nowhere are the servants of Christ asked to extend philanthropos or show philanthropia. Why is this so?

Is it because fundamentally the idea from which the word came is flawed? It is about giving ones own (superior) culture and ideas, or things, to another who is lesser in some way to be in need of 'improving'. Whose idea is it that the other needs improving? Is it Christlike to think in terms of removing the speck of timber in others eyes when we have a beam in our own? What thinking of the Greeks led then to believe that their culture and arts 'improved' others? Why has philanthropy emerged from a humanistic value system? Why is so much modern philanthropy about achieving general human ideals? Most aid projects have very general ideals about bringing water, or electricity or some other 'improvement' to the lives of a group people. Some have targeted giving, but still an overall aim of what constitutes 'improvement'. Do any who donate for such 'causes' think that many lived long lives without modern improvements? What is in some thinking that the way we live will improve other's life also? Isn't that thinking we are better in some way? Do we live better than quiet village life farming when our food comes from far away and has lost most of its nutrients, when we are in utter chaos and can't eat in the event of a prolonged power failure? Many projects with grand aims at 'improving' things have unintended issues as consequences.

They have such poor consequences as few of the donors think of the ones they give to as as their 'brother'. People may say 'I care for them as a brother', but to be a brother you have to know that person. The ideal for brethren is to 'Let each esteem other better than themselves' (Phil 2:3). If you can't do that because you know they are in sin, they aren't truly your brother. The implication is that can't 'improve' a brother, you help them achieve what they need. The most successful venture in any case is micro loans. We can give all our goods to the poor but it be of no benefit to them, or in the end, to us.

The greatest command to us is to seek those who are not our brethren, to be our brethren,

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (Mark 16:15-16)

There is no 'improvement' of the human lot over the era of Abraham. It has been found every 'advance' has consequences so that invention is needed to overcome the ill effects of invention, and many lives are shortened. None can keep alive their soul. There is merely salvation or damnation, life or death. Paul in Athens had one message, that of the day of judgement.

Because he has appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he has ordained; whereof he has given assurance unto all men, in that he has raised him from the dead. (Acts 17:31)

The servants of Christ are commanded to show philadelphia.

With right motives what is done is more likely achieve good, but it is best that none forget that all things come from the Holy One of Israel, and He only is the giver of life.

Other Love

The word 'phila' makes up the word for covetous 'philarguros' literally 'lover of silver'

Pharisees, who were covetous (philarguros), heard all these things: and they derided him. (Luke 16:14)
Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous philarguros; (1Timothy 3:3)
For the love of money philarguros is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1Timothy 6:10)

Let your conversation be without covetousness (aphilarguros); and be content with such things as ye have: for he has said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (Hebrews 13:5)

The greatest blessing is that the Creator will never leave or forsake us, if we love him and keep and do his commands. But we can't give that to others. We might tell others about it, but they have to seek it also.

It might also be surmised that the love of humanity (philanthropos) might be related to love of self, for if we love our own ideals we might wish that we give them to others, that they be like us.

For men anthropos shall be lovers of their own selves (philautos), covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good (aphilagathos lit: hater of virtue), (2Timothy 3:2-3)

It is interesting that love of self (philautos) ends with despising those that are virtuous (aphilagathos).

Human thought and brotherhood

Paul made one speech at Athens to the great thinkers of that age who loved human thought, but they mostly mocked him with only a few who heard. It is written that “he departed from them” (Acts 17:33). He left, as they were not his brethren, and would never be his brethren. He had offered them the rejoining to the family of the sons of God, as his offspring, in a spirit of philadelphia, as he said “God

has made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men every where to repent: Because he has appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he has ordained; whereof he has given assurance unto all men, in that he has raised him from the dead. (Acts 17:26-31)

Peter was asked if he loved his Lord to feed the sheep. Peter when he wrote to his brethren later, implies a difference between general attitudes to all and philadelphia. He differentiated between 'all' and the 'brotherhood' and between God and the king.

For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour (value) all. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour (value) the king. (1Peter 2:15-17)

Picture is from Israel Museum's "Ahava" Love by Robert Indiana.

You may obtain this keyring by donating $15 to the work the Bible Focus team support in Israel. See Faith in Action

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