All humans have a strong affection or association with either humans or other objects. In the different hundreds of languages, the word “love” is used flexibly on different object/humans to express various emotions. The Greek language is one that has popularly given the word love other names, to show what exactly they mean. There are agape love , storge love, eros love and finally philia love.
Phileo love (which is essentially how the term “philia love” evolved with bibilical writings so it is conceptually similar), is used to describe a strong affection to someone without expecting any favors in return. It is a strong sense of loyalty.
When you read the story of the modern city of Philadelphia, you will learn the name was derived from phileo love to mean the city of brotherly love. However, phileo love has nothing to do with brotherly love; it is a deep emotional connection. This association goes beyond the friendship, family or gender. It is stronger than romantic or erotic love.
The Bible has one of the best examples of phileo love since a good part was written in a Greek set up and language. From the old testament to the new testament, the term “love” was used several occasions to describing different association.
In the book of First Samuel chapter 18, after David had killed Goliath, it brought animosity between him and King Soul. Soul’s popularity and control were dwindling. His son Jonathan sabotaged his plan to kill David. Despite being the son of the king, Jonathan had a great connection with David that he found it satisfying to save David’s life at the expense of the Kingdom.
In the new testament, Jesus is regarded to be loving. Many accounts show his affection for humanity. In one of the incidences, He was so troubled by some of the things that bothered the people.
The story of Jesus and Lazarus is another excellent illustration of phileo love. After Jesus was informed of Lazarus’ deteriorating health, it took him delayed to see his friend, that by the time he arrived, he was dead and placed in a tomb. The shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35 “Jesus wept,” shows the phileo love he had for his friend. Even the Jews who saw him crying acknowledge the close relationship the two had.
Phileo love is demonstrated again later in the story of Jesus after his resurrection. In the final days of Jesus’ life, he had told his disciple, Simon Peter, that he would betray him three times before the cork crows. Peter was hurt so much by the fulfillment of the prophecy.
When Jesus had resurrected, he had a conversation with Peter to affirm that this was indeed a phileo love. Though Jesus started the conversation question the agape love Simon Peter had for him; Peter answered him three times implying their relationship was based on nothing but phileo love which Jesus also finally confirmed.
Phileo love is genuine and unconditional love. As the examples above, it is not tied down to anything. Though we are encouraged to love everyone, that is only possible with agape love. Phileo is a deep connection that you can have with a few selected people.