Love is one of the most important themes in the Bible. It is the essence of God’s nature and character, and the foundation of his relationship with us. But what does love mean in the biblical context? How can we understand and practice love according to God’s will?
The Bible uses different words to describe different types of love. These words reflect the various aspects and dimensions of love that God has revealed to us through his word and his actions. In this blog post, we will explore four types of love in the Bible: eros, storge, philia, and agape.
Eros: Romantic Love
Eros is the Greek word for romantic or sexual love. It is the type of love that involves attraction, passion, desire, and intimacy. Eros is not a bad or sinful type of love, as some may think. God created eros as a gift for married couples to enjoy and express their mutual commitment and affection. Eros is also a reflection of God’s creativity and beauty, as he made us in his image and likeness.
However, eros is not the highest or most important type of love. Eros can be distorted and abused by selfishness, lust, idolatry, and immorality. Eros needs to be guided and guarded by God’s principles and boundaries. Eros should never replace or overshadow our love for God or our love for others.
Some biblical examples of eros are:
– The Song of Solomon, which celebrates the erotic love between a husband and a wife.
– The marriage between Adam and Eve, which was blessed by God and intended to be a model for all human relationships.
– The warning against adultery and sexual immorality in the Ten Commandments and other passages (Exodus 20:14; Proverbs 5; 1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
Storge: Family Love
Storge is the Greek word for family love. It is the type of love that involves affection, loyalty, devotion, and respect. Storge is the natural bond that forms between parents and children, siblings, relatives, and even pets. Storge is also a reflection of God’s care and protection, as he adopted us into his family through Christ.
However, storge is not the only or sufficient type of love. Storge can be broken or corrupted by sin, conflict, abuse, neglect, or betrayal. Storge needs to be nurtured and strengthened by God’s grace and forgiveness. Storge should also expand beyond our biological or legal ties to include our spiritual family—the church.
Some biblical examples of storge are:
– The love between Noah and his wife, who supported each other through the flood.
– The love between Jacob and his sons, especially Joseph, whom he favored above all.
– The love between Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, who were close friends of Jesus.
Philia: Friendship Love
Philia is the Greek word for friendship love. It is the type of love that involves companionship, mutual support, trust, and shared interests. Philia is the bond that forms between friends who choose to be together because they enjoy each other’s company and benefit from each other’s presence. Philia is also a reflection of God’s fellowship and friendship with us through his Spirit.
However, philia is not the ultimate or perfect type of love. Philia can be damaged or destroyed by envy, jealousy, rivalry, gossip, or betrayal. Philia needs to be cultivated and maintained by honesty.
What is Biblical Agape Love?
One of the most profound concepts in the Bible is the idea of agape love. Agape is a Greek word that is often translated as “love” in the New Testament, but it has a deeper and richer meaning than our English word. Agape love is not based on feelings, emotions, attraction, or personal benefit. It is a selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love that reflects the very nature and character of God.
According to Britannica, agape love is “the fatherly love of God for humans, as well as the human reciprocal love for God.” It is the highest form of love and is contrasted with eros (erotic love) and philia (brotherly love). Agape love involves faithfulness, commitment, and an act of the will. It is a love that seeks the best for others, even at a cost to oneself.
The Bible tells us that God is the source and example of agape love. 1 John 4:8 says that “God is love” (agape). Everything God does flows from His love. He loves us not because we are lovable or worthy, but because He chooses to love us as His creation and His children. He demonstrated His agape love by sending His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16). He offers us forgiveness, grace, and eternal life as a gift of His agape love (Ephesians 2:4-5).
Jesus also showed us what agape love looks like in His life and teachings. He loved His Father with all His heart, soul, mind, and strength (Luke 10:27). He loved His disciples and friends with a loyal and tender affection (John 13:1). He loved His enemies and prayed for those who persecuted Him (Luke 23:34). He loved the world and gave Himself up for its salvation (John 15:13). He commanded His followers to love one another as He loved them (John 13:34-35). He also taught them to love God with their whole being and to love their neighbors as themselves (Matthew 22:37-39).
Agape love is not something we can produce on our own. It is a supernatural gift of the Holy Spirit that enables us to love as God loves (Romans 5:5; Galatians 5:22). As we abide in Christ and His Word, we grow in our capacity to love God and others with agape love (John 15:9-12; 1 John 4:7-21). Agape love transforms our hearts, minds, and actions. It makes us more like Jesus and more pleasing to God.
Agape love is the most excellent way of living as Christians (1 Corinthians 13). It is the mark of true discipleship and the evidence of genuine faith. It is the greatest commandment and the fulfillment of the law (Matthew 22:40; Romans 13:10). It is the ultimate goal and purpose of our existence. To know God’s agape love and to share it with others is to experience the true meaning of life.