Often we think about love and it seems that we all have a different definition for what it actually is! Some people may not even know how to define it! Love is complicated a lot of people like to say…and yes actually it can be!
Honestly if you want to know what sparked me to do a bible study on love I will tell you that I personally struggled with it and so I wanted to challenge myself. I’m sure we all could say we struggle with it in one way or another because after all love is complicated, or at least it can be. I often find myself questioning the love that I give to people and the guilt I feel when I don’t feel love, what’s wrong with me I think, why can’t I feel this love that I’m supposed to feel. This “brotherly” or “sisterly” love that we are supposed to have for one another in the church, the love that we are to have for our children, the love for our families or maybe even the love for our spouses or God.
Do you ever question yourself on those things why can’t I feel love, or am I doing this right?
Let me start with some research that I did on love which may help you all understand the complication of it! There are 4 different Greek words for love.
eros, storge, phileo, and agape.
Let that sink in for just one moment 4 words in Greek that define one word in English!
No wonder it’s complicated!
I will start with the Greek word Eros this word is not actually used in the New Testament, which was originally written in Greek, but I think it is important to understand this word and its meaning because in the world we live in today a lot of people may fall trap to this idea and think it is LOVE.
In English the Greek word Eros translates erotic, it is a “love” or passion, that can overwhelm our mind creating a strong desire for something. This idea may often get confused by LUST which is also a strong desire or passionate longing for something usually forbidden, coming from the Greek word epithumia (lust).
Eros mainly seeks after its own self, or if it gives it gives in order to receive. It can be very short and temporal, as well as conditional. The philosophy of Eros is that being loved depends on being attractive in some way to another person . The basic idea of this love is self satisfaction and if it fails to get what it wants or expects bitterness or resentment can develop. Now as I read about this. It doesn’t sound like the kind of love that God wants for us or from us!
Where you would see this love being used (that is the passion and desire) is obviously in relationships and I think it is safe to say the only proper relationship this should be in is in a marriage and a marriage between a man and woman.
God does allow husband and wife’s the gift of this type of love as we see in
Hebrews 13:4 KJV
Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled : but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.
God understands that we were given a desire for this naturally,
1 Corinthians 7:4-5 NASB
The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
So I think we can definitely see the idea, and how we may use our desire for this properly. With the world that we live in today driven by selfish desires I think a lot of people believe that this is LOVE, but think it’s safe to say that a marriage relationship built on this type of love set as a foundation will eventually develop problems.
So Moving on, the next Greek word for love is storge. This is a natural love that you have! The love of family, parent/child, brother, sister or any relatives that you may feel a strong bond between because you know that naturally you are connected through blood or maybe even just through the family name. It is a quiet, abiding feeling within a person that rests on something close to them that they feel good about. When we see this word in the New Testament it is not written as love but it is used in a negative context as, “without natural affection”.
See following verses:
2 Timothy 3:2-7 KJV
“For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection (STORGE) , trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Romans 1:28-32 KJV
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection (STORGE), implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”
other versions of the bible, use the terms unloving (NASB), or no love (NIV)
We can think positivly of this natural affection that we have or are asked of to have, when we think of the the idea of “brotherly love” philadelphia which is a love that we as christians are asked to have for on another.
Naturally we understand that as humans, we come with this sort of “love”
an unconditional love, and it is probably one of the hardest loves to break or separate yourself from and because of that I think that this love can also hinder our relationship with God as well, if we are not careful. And what I mean by that is
Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN ‘ S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD. “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.
To understand this thought better, we need to understand that this verse is not telling us that we should not love our family, but what it is saying is that sometimes the love that we have for our family is so strong that we will make exceptions for things that are contradictory to the Word of God (TRUTH) in order to please our family because we love them so much. We are afraid we might lose them so instead we choose to disobey the will of God. We all grew up with certain traditions, beliefs, and lifestyles, some good and some bad, and as we continue to walk through life we witnesss our loved ones making choices that are sometimes hard to see and accept, the question is do we need to accept those choices? The answer is what does the Bible tell you, we are to love God and follow his will. The rest will fall into place when his plan is fulfilled!
You are not in control of what others around you choose to do especially those you love and that is a hard thing to realize, but also your actions if bad may hurt others who don’t understand, and if good may help! God has a plan though our lives, he knows far more than we can comprehend at one point, sometimes when we look at the world we live in we are quick to get discouraged by circumstances that are out of our control, they hurt us! Christ gives us a comfort through all of that, but the comfort only comes when we choose to surrender ourselves to the will of GOD, and understanding that many people may disagree with that!
Moving on we come to the word Phileo …phileo is a love mentioned in the New Testament. Phileo is a love that you feel. It speaks of affection, fondness or liking. It is more of a strong liking for something, or someone, rather than true love, when you have a strong emotional connection to a person, place, or even thing. This is what causes us to care for each other. When you feel cared for by another person a lot of the time, you will phileo care for or “love them” back. The problem with this love is that when it is greatly strained it can collapse in crisis. But it is important to have this love for one another because naturally we are emotional people, and our feelings do cause us to make decisions a lot of the time especially to those who don’t fully understand Gods word, so if we do not feel a phileo love for one another, family, friends, God what are we left with. But at the same time phileo can also hinder us if we have it for the wrong things.
You will see this in
“Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves (phileo) and practices lying.”
“He who loves (phileo) his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.”
Understand this is talking about a love for the world with maybe a “you only live once” type of attitude where you just have so much fun and are careless you live life to the fullest in a way that does not coincide with Gods word.
It’s is very important to understand this type of love and difference between what is good and what is bad. Gods word will provide that! Phileo is not a bad love it is very important to show it the Bible also tells us that God loves (phileo) us!
“Those whom I love,(Phileo/care for) I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.”
But more than the love of Phileo, God also agape loves us. Which brings me to the last Greek word for “love”, And that is agape. Agape is not a feeling. Agape is everything that God is.
1 John 4:8
“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (Agape)
Agape is the noblest word for love in the Greek language. It is a love that is not kindled by merit or worth of its object but it originates in its own God-given nature. It delights in giving. It keeps on loving even when the loved one is unresponsive, unkind, unlovable, and unworthy. It is true unconditional love. It only desires good of the one loved. It is a consuming passion for the well being of others. The word agape is used approximately 320 times in the New Testament (important you would think)
We only know agape because of God! Because of the things that he has done for us.
1 John 4:9-10
“By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
And what Christ did for us…
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”
So how do we conclude this. We must take action, understand the loves that we feel that may confuse or skew our thinking. We are now aware of Eros, storge, Phileo, and agape.
We are commanded to show others agape as well as to care for each other with brotherly love.
2 Peter 1:5-7
“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.”
So if you have faith and believe in God the next step is the morals that the faith provides where do you find those morals? Through knowledge (found in the word of God) …once you gain knowledge…you need self control (the I’m not gonna do this because it is bad for me self control) maybe once or twice or whenever we feel like we want to practice self control? No! Through perseverance (that is continually, all the time, perseverance that is hard work right) through that perseverance we practice godliness (having a respect for God and therefore following his word, but not just any respect a deep respect, a respect so strong that we begin to exhibit in our own behavior a constant piety towards God, not wanting to follow Gods will but actually doing it because there is a difference) and through the godliness you then will find the brotherly kindness, the care that I have been wondering about the care that you naturally have for your family, to have that for everyone, because of godliness. And from brotherly kindness you will find love.
The love that God wants for each one of us! The love that God has for us! The true agape love. The love that loves no matter what! The greatest commandment love! The second greatest commandment love!
“And He said to him, ” ‘Y OU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR G OD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘Y OU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.””
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
It makes such perfect sense to me now! The Bible is perfect, I found this study so eye opening to so many questions! I want to leave you with one more thought because I know this task of love is not always the easiest of things to do is it?
So as I explained our English version of the Bible has the word love which can sometimes be so vague in our English language. But there was a conversation with Jesus and Peter that you will find in
“So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love (agape) Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love (Phileo)You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love (agape) Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love (Phileo)You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love (Phileo)Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love (Phileo) Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love (Phileo)You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.
So Jesus asked Peter 2 times if he agape loved him and Peter responded yes lord you know that I Phileo love you (care about you) after each time Jesus asked Peter to tend my lambs and shepherd my sheep!
So what happened the third time Jesus asked Peter, well first of all Jesus stopped asking Peter if he agaped him, instead he asked if he Phileo (cared for) him. I don’t know about you but I have questioned people before on this one! Do you really love me because your not showing it so I really don’t feel it! Do you think maybe that is what Jesus was doing in this conversation. Well let’s see what happened to Peter, what was his response. (Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time do you love (Phileo) me) why do you think Peter became grieved,
Peters heart was challenged! Grief of the heart is not bad unless you choose from it to be hardened.. Peter did not become hardened but instead chose to grow from his grief!
Jesus works through us in ways like the way that he challenged Peter, it’s not blunt, but he challenges our hearts, he wants to know that we love him in a way that we will take action, not give up, and work for!
“”Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them. So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.””
Jesus is love, he showed us love we must follow him, God is love he showed us love he sent his son Jesus so that we may know that true agape love. And what are we to but to love.
1 John 4:7-21
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.”
Im constantly baffled by the mindset of the world we live in wanting to remove God from the picture, telling the world that God is not important, and obeying him is not necessary, His truth was given to us for one simple purpose, because, we are his and he loves us….
but why do we turn away from it like its the plague. Because giving up ourselves is hard, but so rewarding. Each day that I choose to look to God is when I find the most peace, comfort, and love in a way that cannot simply be explained by the English definition according to google:
- an intense feeling of deep affection
- a person or thing that one loves
1. feel deep romantic or sexual attachment to (someone)
It is much, much more than that, as always I hope you too would desire the Truth! Not for me or anyone else, but for you so that you too may know love, a true agape “LOVE” that gives you so much worth. May God Bless You!