New Testament Church Proliferation Digest

Spreading the Gospel via House Churches

Dec 18, 2001 Vol 01 : 117

NT Church Proliferation Digest Tuesday, December 18 2001 Vol 01 : 117

RE: [ntcp] One aspect the need for Love in church planting
[ntcp] Christmas Story from Guayaquil, Ecuador
RE: [ntcp] One aspect the need for Love in church planting
Re: [ntcp] One aspect the need for Love in church planting
[ntcp] Possible Jerusalem contact
[ntcp] Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Date: Mon, 17 Dec 2001 12:53:05 +0200
From: "Deborah"
Subject: RE: [ntcp] One aspect the need for Love in church planting

To press my point further, that biblical "love words" must be defined by
their individual contexts in Scripture-- and pop definitions which do not
match the biblical evidence, abandoned-- I invite you all to look with me at
some more synonymous usages of various verbal forms of AGAPE and PHILEO.
These demonstrate that there are places in the NT where AGAPE and PHILEO
mean essentially the *same* thing. Remember, I had already mentioned Joh.
20:2 ...

"... the other disciple, whom Jesus *loved* (EPHILEI-- from PHILEO)...".

... and compared it with:

"... one of His disciples, whom Jesus *loved*..." (EGAPA-- from AGAPE, Joh.
13:23; see also Joh. 19:26; 21:7: 21:20 which all use EGAPA).

Now let's look at some new examples. For instance, Matthew writes
about those scribes and Pharisees who were hypocritical, that they ...

"... *love* (PHILOUSIN-- from PHILEO) the best places at feasts, the best
seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces ..." (Mat. 23:6, 7).

However, which word does Luke choose when translating a similar indictment
by Jesus?

"... [You hypocritical Pharisees] *love* (AGAPETE-- from AGAPE) the best
seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces ..." (Luk. 11:43).

Even in the *same book*, in a similar context, Luke changed "love words"
(from AGAPE to PHILEO) to describe the actions of those scribes who were

"[They] *love* (PHILOUNTON-- from PHILEO) greetings in the marketplaces, the
best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts ..." (Luk.

It should be clear that both PHILEO and AGAPE mean the same thing in these
verses. And neither kind of love here is very wholesome. The above shows
that AGAPE and PHILEO can be synonymous in *some* contexts, and that this is
only clarified by their *usages* in Scripture, ... not by some simplistic
definition imposed on the data from the outside.
Now let's turn again to John's gospel. First we'll look at John 3:35:

"The Father loves (AGAPA-- from AGAPE) the Son and has placed everything in
his hands".

Then we'll examine the very similar sentence:

"For the Father loves (PHILEI-- from PHILEO) the Son and shows him all he
does" (Joh. 5:20).

Both verbs are in the same essential slot in the sentence, with the same
syntactic structure (for those interested-- ind. pres. act. 3PS), and
fulfilling the same semantic role. If AGAPE and PHILEO were automatically
different kinds of love-- by virtue of the *words alone*-- you would not
expect to find this kind of synonymous usage. But there it is for all to
see. In some passages of Scripture PHILEO and AGAPE simply mean the same
thing; the *contexts* provide the clues. Not some contrived definitions
which do not match the biblical evidence.
A couple more examples will suffice. In 1 Peter 4:8 we read:

"... 'love will cover a multitude of sins' ".

This is easily confirmed as a loose quote or allusion to Proverbs 10:12:

"... but love covers all sins".

However, the LXX (Greek OT) rendition of the Proverbs passage uses the word
PHILIA (from PHILEO) while Peter's version employs the precise noun AGAPE.
More evidence that AGAPE and PHILEO are synonymous in some contexts.
However, lest someone think that Peter simply "upgraded" the love from
the "lower OT PHILEO" to the "higher NT AGAPE," let me provide an example of
the opposite, where a form of AGAPE was used in the LXX OT, then a NT
allusion to that very OT verse has PHILEO:

"As many as I love (PHILO-- from PHILEO), I rebuke and chasten" (Rev. 3:19).

"My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor detest His
correction; for whom the LORD loves (AGAPA-- from AGAPE) He corrects, "
(Prov. 3:11, 12).

In both OT to NT and NT to OT, the same observation as I made above
holds true. There are times when various forms of the "love words" AGAPE
and PHILEO are used to mean the very same thing. Therefore, attempts to
assign these words a hierarchy, where PHILEO is necessarily lower than
AGAPE, are effectively nullified. The contexts, not the etymologies (root
meanings) are what provide us with the clues on how to evaluate which
love(s) are best. And in which scenarios.
Now please understand what I have been trying to say through this
series of quasi-technical posts on "love words".

1) NT writers were influenced by the way words were used in the OT. They
did not invent a whole new "post-cross" vocabulary, or assign old words
*completely* new meanings. We have only one Bible and there is a continuity
(although not uniformity) of revealed truth from Genesis to Revelation.

2) Biblical words (and concepts-- barring those words used only once in
Scripture) must be understood, not by definitions assigned to them by some
non-biblical someone we've heard or read, but by the way those words are
used in individual contexts. This especially applies to the word/concept
"love". Clues are usually provided by the biblical writers (and ultimately
the Holy Spirit) to allow us to know the meaning in context and whether or
not this is a love we as believers in Jesus should emulate. Again, AGAPE
can mean "sexual desire" (even "lust," see LXX of Gen. 34:3; Jdg. 16:4; 2
Sam. 13:1, 15), as can PHILEO (see LXX of Prov. 5:19; 7:18). Sex is not the
sole domain of EROS.

Now let's make application to church planting.

1) I am a sinner saved by grace. But there is still a lot of room for me to
grow in my understanding and practice of love. God's ways are not my ways
so I cannot trust my own understanding of what love truly is since my
concept of love is often a carry-over from my old way of life. I must
depend on God's perspective illuminated by His Holy Spirit-- not on a
teacher with a good oratory, not on some enlightening book I've read, not on
some listserve message by a wordy guy in Israel. God's own inspired book is
my measuring stick.

2) If I do not have a basic understanding of the full range of biblical
love(s) in their varying forms, then I will simply be one dimensional.
AGAPE is not the only, or necessarily the highest love that God shows in
every situation; if I want to be an imitator of Him "as [a] dear child[]"
(Eph 5:1), then I must forsake my prejudice against the other "love words"--
denigrating them, as I may do, to second or third-class loves-- and find the
means to properly express the particular dimensions they each represent. IN
different contexts. This requires (... dare I say it?) better study in
order to be a better lover.

3) If I have an unclear understanding of what biblical love(s) is, then I
cannot fully exemplify God's love to those to whom I am ministering. In
outreach to the lost. In teaching the saints. In my motivation(s) for Church Planting
at all. If I bring with me some wordly definition(s) of love (e.g. [1] love
is "unconditional," [2] love does not seek to change people, [3] love always
makes other people feel "comfortable," [4] love does not wound people), then
I will be ministering according to a "hollow and deceptive philosophy, which
depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather
than on Christ" (Col. 2:8). Not a firm foundation for any church or Church Planting

4) If I am operating on what *I* think love is (or should be), and my
concept of love is unbiblical, then all my relationships will likewise be
impacted. My life is my greatest teaching tool, but if I am living out a
defective brand of love, yet ministering in the name of Christ, then I am
guilty of "teaching" false doctrine and-- once I know better-- I should
repent. I cannot teach the world the love of God when it has not yet been
distilled in my own life. I may have experienced His love, but I cannot
always adequately communicate it. Again, this requires me to go back to the

You might say, "Well, that all sounds very complicated, Michael. Love
shouldn't be so hard". But your reaction would demonstrate that you were
operating in a natural mindset. Who said love shouldn't be so hard? True
enough, we know a measure of love instinctively, but God's love has been
shown to go way beyond the little snatches that we can grasp by instinct.

We needed more than mere instinct. Though God gave it to us. We
needed more than commandments telling us to love God or people. Though He
gave them to us. We needed a supreme example of God's love that we could
apprehend. This is found in Jesus Christ. And we needed that example, once
embraced, to be impressed upon our consciousnesses by the Holy Spirit, and
for this impression to work its way outward in tangible demonstrations of
the same quality of love as Christ has shown.

All the various expressions of love)s) in the Bible are valuable.
God's love manifested through His Son is *invaluable* and should be the
standard by which we judge all our own attempts at love. That requires that
we know that word well which give us those examples. Hard work. But oh
what a great love! And isn't Christ worth it?


------- <><><> -------

Date: Mon, 17 Dec 2001 14:22:32 -0600
From: "J. Guy Muse"
Subject: [ntcp] Christmas Story from Guayaquil, Ecuador

Christmas Story from Guayaquil, Ecuador...

PATRICIA is one of our new house church leaders. Recently she
shared her testimony during one of the training sessions.

Patricia grew up on the street in one of the poorest parts of
Guayaquil. Her mother worked during the day and had little time or
energy to give to her young daughter. Patricia shared that she
longed to be like the other children she would see with their clean
clothes and shoes to wear. But her greatest yearning was to have a

One day at Christmas she sat on the curbside of the street and
poured out her heart in a child's prayer that Jesus would adopt her
and become her daddy since she didn't have one. God heard that
prayer and truly became her Heavenly Father and has watched over
her all these years. Today she is a dynamic house church leader
winning people to Christ and discipling them in the same part of the
city where she grew up as a child of the street.

Two weeks ago Patricia's mother died. Right before she passed
away, she was able to win her mother to the Lord putting into
practice the evangelism training she has been learning as a house
church leader.

As she shared this part of her testimony my heart overflowed in
gratitude to the Lord as the realization came over me that her story
is what Christmas is all about--sharing the Good News that Christ
has come to save that which was lost.

In Him,

Guy Muse

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
J. Guy & Linda Muse
IMB-SBC Missionaries
Casilla 09-01-3236
Guayaquil, ECUADOR

tlf: (direct dial from USA) 011-593-4-238-2386
fax: (efax number in USA) 1-509-275-0721

"God's plan in these last days is revival
in His worldwide church and through the
revived church the reaping of a final great
harvest of souls." --N. Grubb

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

------- <><><> -------

Date: Mon, 17 Dec 2001 14:34:40 -0500
From: David Anderson
Subject: RE: [ntcp] One aspect the need for Love in church planting

Hi there all ye concerned reader-writers,

Am enjoying this thread very much.

Now, let me not say/suggest anything against the supreme virtue of love.
Just would like to issue a caution that might keep your expectations in

--- Sometimes love will s not be immediately reciprocated -- sometimes it
will never be. ---

Thus Paul:

2 Cor. 11:11 Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth.

2 Cor. 12:15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you,
though the more abundantly I love you, the LESS I be loved.

This fact should not discourage us to be slack in our charitable roles
but will help us keep our expectations from becoming unrealistic.
Remember too that God treated us in a loving way for many years and we
did not respond either.

Many fine people feel guilty when love does not come back, particularly
those women who have been divorced. Most teenagers usually flip for at
least one other teen who does not even notice them, remember?

We love because God has ordered it - not that we would be paid back. Even
Pharisees could do that much.

blessings to thy whole house on this December day,

David Anderson

------- <><><> -------

Date: Mon, 17 Dec 2001 15:58:19 EST
Subject: Re: [ntcp] One aspect the need for Love in church planting

Dear Michael,

Thank you for your highly insightful explanation of agape vs. philos.

But you've totally lost me. All I picked up from you was that they're
the same thing.

Jim Rutz

------- <><><> -------

Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2001 03:19:57 -0500
From: David Anderson
Subject: [ntcp] Possible Jerusalem contact

Hi Michael,

Thank you for that very informative post. The "love" words have been
oversimplified indeed.

Pop Christianity, btw, often leads us to believe that what's true is
always "simple." As you have demonstrated this is not always the case.

Simpleton... Hmmmmm...

Anyway, I received this email below from Gary Hull. Perhaps you and he
could correspond.


David Anderson


From: (Gary Hull)

Living Stones is a ministry that aims at establishing home churches in
northern Galilee and the Golan Heights among the Druze, Alawites, and
Israelis. I am looking for people who can encourage us in this endeavor.

- ----snip

If you or your friends would like to receive our newsletters, either by
e-mail or regular mail, please let us know so we can add them to our list
of prayer partners. I have seen by the Spirit that difficult days lie
ahead for us here on Israel's northern border. But the Lord will be
glorified and will display His mighty power as He continues to gather
"living stones" into His holy temple. Thank you for your prayerful
partnership in this ministry.

You may also write direct to me at
Gary Hull
PO Box 587
Metulla, Israel

------- <><><> -------

Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2001 08:29:54 EST
From: Steffasong
Subject: [ntcp] Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Hi friends,

For a long time I've noticed that one of the things that destroys our
fellowship with one another is our preoccupation with the fellowship rather
than our occupation with Christ, our Lord. Bonhoeffer backs this premise up
in his little book, Life Together. Have many of you read it? If so, how do
you think it lines up with the idea of planting a church?

Here's a little quote from ol' DB:

"Just as the Christian should not be constantly feeling his spirtual pulse,
so too, the Christian community has not been given to us by God for us to be
constantly taking it's temperature." (From: Life Together)

I like that.
We are so prone to be self-occupied. Instead of just letting the Lord live
His life through us as a community, we want to protect, guard and micromanage
it. This simply translates into micro-managing each other. I think the Lord
is big enough to do that in a group of people. How 'bout you? Is the Lord
big enough to be Lord over the Body of Believers you help plant in a given
locale? If you say, "of course," then when do 'we' leave and let the saints
be the saints and live and dwell with each other as they look to the Lord for
answers instead of the worker?

In Maslow's hierarchy of human needs safety is one of the most basic things
we seek. It is only natural for us to want to seek safety and security for
the fellowship of believers, after all, Jesus said "Feed my Lambs." However,
can we truly keep the flock safe? Is it our job?

What say you?


"When our life together ceases to be a gift for which we thank God, we become
the protectors, and eventually the destroyers of the very thing that we
cannot keep safe. For what we have can only continue to be given by God and
appreciated by us." Charles Ringma

Stephanie Bennett

Horizon Creative Services & Consulting
Marketing Solutions for the 21st Century

End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V1 #117

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