We know that God is love but what is agape love that is described in the Bible? There are several types of love mentioned in the Bible. What are they and how does it compare with agape love?
The first love is called “phileo” love and it is the love that gave the city of Philadelphia its name… brotherly love. This type of love is the one that friends have for each other. This type of love can also exist between siblings, aunts and uncles and other family members, but it is most often associated with a deep and lasting friendship … a love shared between best friends, much like that of King David and Jonathan, son of King Saul. This is, or at least should be, the kind of love that exists among church members. It is a love that is not passionate like that between a husband and a wife. After Jesus’ resurrection, he came to the disciples and asked Peter if he loved him. The word Jesus used to know if Peter loved him was “agapao” but Peter must have been caught off guard and said “Yes Lord, you know I love you” (John 21:15) but the word Peter used was the Greek “phileo” which is brotherly love. Peter didn’t understand. Jesus used the strongest of all types of love, agape.
The next type of love is what is called in Greek “eros” which is love that concerns sex. You can probably see that this is the root of the word erotic. Surprisingly, this word is not used at all in the New Testament, but this type of love is the one that occurs between a man and a woman and there is nothing sinful about “eros” love, as long as it is within the marriage limits.
Most people probably haven’t heard of this kind of love, but they don’t even know it when they show it. This kind of love is what a sister and a brother to each other and the kind they have to their siblings and like phileo, it is not a passionate love but a love that has strong feelings between family members. This can include the love of a parent, sibling, aunt or uncle, grandparent, or cousins. This love is the love most people in the world have in family relationships.
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It is the Greek word for love at its peak. Agape love is not like brotherly love or love between a husband and a wife. It is the most devoted love there is. This type of love is the love that God has for his own children. This type of love is what was manifested on the cross by Jesus Christ. In John 3:16 it is written that “God so loved (agapao) the world that he gave his only begotten Son so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” If a husband and father had the choice of having his family and children die or he died and he chose to die for them. it is similar to what “agape” love is, but the love of God is even greater than that.
Agape love is what is always associated with the love of God and it seldom occurs when it involves one person in relationships with another. The Greek word agape has hardly ever been used in Greek-speaking societies, but in the New Testament it occurs 320 times.
Agape love in the scriptures
Here are some scriptures that use the word agape. You have already read about agape love in John 3:16. It is the type of love that is still the highest, most supreme love out there. It is a love where one is ready to die for the other, even if that person is unworthy, sinful, unworthy and is an enemy of the one who died for him.
1 John 4: 8 “Whoever does not love (agape) does not know God, for God is love (agape).”
Romans 5: 5 “and hope does not make us ashamed, because the love of God (agape) has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
John 10:17 “This is why the Father loves me (agape), because I give my life to take it back. “
Second Peter 1:17 “For when he received the honor and the glory of God the Father, and his voice was brought to him by the majestic glory:” This is my beloved son (agapetos), of whom I am satisfied. “
John 21:20 “Peter turned around and saw following them the disciple whom Jesus loved (agapao), the one who also had leaned against him during supper and had said: ‘Lord, who is going to betray you? “
Agape is the kind of love that is not of human origin. For example, we can say that this love is found in Romans 5:10 “For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more so, now that we are reconciled, we will be saved by his life. “ Dying for an enemy is not what humans do. It is divine type love. Jesus died for us while we were still his enemies and we were sinners. He loved us first. He took the initiative. We did not do it. Agape love is the kind of love God had for us while we were still dead in our sins. Agape love is love of God. This love is a love that Jesus manifested by willingly giving his life for us; the type of love that the Father and Jesus have for each other; a love that is shed for us as the blood of Jesus was shed for sinners. If you have not repented and do not trust Christ then you will have to pay for your own sins and since you can never pay enough you will be separated from God for all eternity. Why not be reconciled to God today and bend your knee, repent of your sins, confess them to God, and then trust Jesus Christ who loved (agapeo) enough to die for you.
Another Patheos Read to Check Out: What Jesus Really Was Like: A Look at the Biblical Facts
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is the pastor of Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the senior editor of What Christians Want To Know, whose mission is to equip, encourage and energize Christians and answer questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon.