THE BIBLICAL MEAING OF LOVE
“As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – John 13:34
Webster dictionary provides the world’s idea of love. It says that love is “strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties.” It also defines love as “attraction based on sexual desires,” or “affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interest.”
But the word LOVE in scripture is different……….
Christian love is not a feeling of emotional attraction or affection. On the contrary, Biblical love is what you do, not what you feel. According to the Scriptures, Christian "agape" love toward both God and man is expressed by how you act toward each.
The Greek language, in which the New Testament was written, is much more precise. There are four Greek words that are typically translated “love” in English. Three of these are used in the New Testament.
1 – Phileo
The first type of love is phileo, which is used to describe affection or fondness. It have been called “brotherly love”. A good way to describe this kind of love is to feel a deep connection with someone so that we desire to help, encourage, and show kindness to them.
An example is found in the New Testament of the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. When Lazarus becomes very ill, his sisters send for Jesus and say, “Lord, the one you love is sick” (John 11:3). Jesus loved this family as He would love his own brothers and sisters.
2 – Storge
A second Greek word for love is storge. It means to feel obligated to someone or something because we care for them. I might say, “I love my cat.” My cat brings me cowmanship, keeps the critters away, and shows me affection (or what seems like affection). So I care for him and show him affection in return (by making sure that his litter is clean, giving him clean water to drink and making sure that he eats every day).
This word is not used often in Scripture, but one reference is found in Romans 12:10: “Be devoted to one another in love”.
3 – Eros
A third word in Greek that is often translated love is Eros. We get the word “erotic” from it, which gives a good understanding of its meaning. It is a passion that seizes and absorbs into the mind. It impacts the body and feelings. We may say “I love you”, but we really mean “You make me feel good.”
This kind of love is based on some characteristics in the other person that pleases us and attracts us to them. But if that characteristic ceases, then the Eros – or love-ceases.
This kind type of love we think of most often in our culture when we say we love someone. It’s why we most often refer to as romantic love – a love totally dependent upon attraction and feeling. Therefore, Eros love is conditional.
4 – Agape
The fourth Greek word translated love is the word we find most often in Scripture. It is the most important word for understanding marital love. It the word agape.
Agape love does not depend on the merit or worth of the other person. It begins in the truth that God is love (1 John 4:8, 16). This love continues even when the one being loved does not return that love – when they are unkind, unlovable, and unworthy. It is a love that always and only desires the best for the other person. Agape love has a consuming passion for the other person’s well-being and delights in giving, wanting nothing in return.