What is agape love?

The word agape means love, but in the Greek language used when the New Testament was written, there are four different words for love — each describing a specific attitude and application. Agape love is one of the four. It refers to God’s in-depth love for people, and people’s love for both God and others.

Why a special word?

In the English language we have only one word for love. It can mean a lot of things — from loving your spouse to loving something on your favorite take-out menu.

According to 1 John 4:8, God is love or “agape”. The verse also says that “he who does not love” — meaning someone who does not respond with that depth of love — does not really “know” the full depth of friendship, family love, or even sexual love. Wikipedia describes Agape love as:

“The highest form of love. The love of God for man and of man for God.... It embraces a universal, unconditional love that transcends and persists regardless of circumstance.” (See wikipedia.org/wiki/Agape.)

Only God Himself is 100% Agape love, but He does assist those who wish to learn what it is and helps them put it into practice. It is always a good thing to be on the Lord’s side. The opposite side always loses!

Greek words for love

The Greek language of the New Testament uses four different words for “love.” In English we have to explain all these different types of love using just one word.

  • Phileo – This is a word that means friendship and family relationships. It is often translated into English as “brotherly love.” That’s where the city of Philadelphia originally got its name.
  • Storge – This is the word for more in-depth family relationships than even phileo. Romans 12:10 says “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love (philostorgos), in honor giving preference to one another.”
  • Eros – This is a word that means romantic, sexual love or passionate love. One of the Greek gods was even named “Eros.” All you have to do is turn on the TV to see “eros” in action.
    • The word “eros” does not appear in the Bible. The Bible approves of sexual relations within marriage between a man and a woman, but it doesn’t even discuss the type of “love” inherent to the word “eros.”
  • Agape – That is the word we discussed above. The best there is in the world of love!

The Love of God

The Old Testament talks quite a bit about “the outstretched arm of God” (Deuteronomy 26:8). That’s a depiction of what some people call “God the warrior.” God is always looking out for His people, and He has the armies (angels – 2 Kings 19:35) and weapons (His own innate power and the forces of nature – Joshua 10:11) to do it.

The motivation behind this warfare language and protective activity is God’s love for His people. His “people” means anyone who has chosen to be on His side.

God specifically showed His Agape love through Jesus’ life, teachings, and sacrifice on the cross. Paul recognized this when he wrote: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

What does all this have to do with me?

All of us deal with “love” in our lives, regardless of how we use or apply the word. Christian followers of the Lord are admonished to love God and each other with an agape attitude. The Lord is ready and willing to help anyone who requests to develop that kind of agape love in their hearts and lives. All you have to do is ask, and then go do it!