In Greek there are at least three words for our word ‘love’, and their meanings are slightly different. Firstly there’s eros, which is the fireworks type love of infatuation. Next there’s phileo, which is the love of families, and close friends, a feeling of togetherness, mutual respect, and belonging together. Finally, there’s also a word ‘agape’ and this is different again, this is a higher love, a commitment, an action rather than an emotion, a dedication.
When Jesus asked Peter ‘Do you love me?’ three times, the first two times, Peter answered in such a way that when the Gospels were written, the word ‘phileo’ was used. It was only at the third asking, that Peter responded with ‘agape’.
Thanks to Uncle Chuck Swindoll for this, and for his excellent book: ‘The Greatest Life of All: Jesus’.