Well, my dear friend, much depends on the intended meaning when the word “love” is used. The word “love” in English can be used for a variety of different types of love, and understanding which type of love is being cited depends pretty much on the context of its use, at least in the English language. Now, as you might know, the New Testament was translated into English from the original Greek, and in that language, different Greek words are used to differentiate between the various types of love that we find in the Bible. The main Greek words that I will reference are: eros, philia, and agape. There are other Greek words as well, but I believe these will suffice. Eros describes the romantic, passionate love between a man and a woman. Clearly this is not the concept being suggested in your question, because the Bible never condones romantic, passionate love between two men (see Romans 1:27). Then, there is philia, which means brotherly love, friendship, fondness for, or an affectionate regard for another person, male or female. As you might know, Philadelphia means “city of brotherly love. This type of love can certainly and very appropriately exist between two males as it simply indicates a strong friendship or bond of respect for another. You might find this between soldiers who have fought and struggled together in battle, between students and their teachers, or perhaps between athletes and their coaches. This word does not at all indicate eros. Finally, agape is a selfless, self-sacrificing love, such as Christ’s love for men and women, whereby He gave Himself at Calvary’s cross to redeem us. It is used to describe the love of God for men, man’s love for God, or that love for others that causes one to care about another’s wellbeing.  An example might be one who risks one’s life to rescue another from some harm, or perhaps gives all they have to help another who is poor (see Acts 2:45).

I believe that one of the most descriptive portions in the NT regarding the various uses of the word “love” is found in John 21:15-18. In verse 15 we read: “…Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord; Thou knowest that I love Thee….”  Now, the Lord Jesus is true man and true God, of Whom we read in John 1:14 that “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…”. So, when the Lord Jesus said to Peter, “lovest Me more than these,” He was asking about the level of this agape love in Peter’s heart for Himself. Now, in Peter’s response to the Lord in the King James Version, his use of “love” was translated from a different Greek word. We read: “…Yea, Lord; Thou knowest that I love Thee….” But, what did Peter actually mean when he said “I love Thee”? I believe that the word and concept of Philia was intended by Peter, as the MacDonald Bible Commentary indicates the better translation of Peter’s statement to the Lord: “yea, Lord, Thou Knowest that I am ‘fond of Thee’. Jesus would require Peter to love Him with that agape, or the self-sacrificing love that Peter would need for his future service to the Lord after Christ Jesus ascended into heaven. The Lord told Peter that he was to “feed my sheep”, and in verse 18, the Lord actually indicated that in his service to the Lord, one day, Peter would be led by others where he did not wish to go, or in other words, Peter’s life would someday be poured out in his role as an apostle. There is no thought whatsoever of “eros” in any of these verses, but instead that God-like love which would bring one to sacrifice even one’s own life or comfort to help another. Moreover, this type of love is expected of Christians, not only between God and man, but also between brothers and sisters in Christ. We read in 1 John 4:7,8: “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” The “love” spoken of here is clearly agape. In Matthew 22:37-40, we see another example of that agape love that man should have for God.

And thus, to summarize, the love of the Lord Jesus for Peter, and Peter’s love towards the Son of God was perfectly appropriate (agape). The Lord Jesus was willing to give up his life at Calvary for Peter and all mankind; Peter was willing to serve the Lord with his whole heart, even though it would mean a life of poverty and danger for him and would ultimately require him to give up his own life because of his service to Christ and to the church. I also believe that we Christians should love other Christians with an agape love, which I believe you would see of the Apostle Paul as he went on his long, arduous, and even dangerous missionary journeys for the purpose of spreading the Gospel, and for encouraging and instructing the saints. Now, there can certainly be a philia love between men, which is a fondness or high regard for another—a strong friendship. I would think this would be like the love that David had for Jonathan in the OT. Either of these would be an appropriate, Scriptural way for a man to love another man. (SF)  (557.2)