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Bible Verses About Love

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The different types of 'love' in the bible:-

 

One of the restrictions of the English language is that we only have one word for love - and this word can mean a number of things in different contexts. For example, the love that a mother feels for her child would be quite different in nature to her (hopefully!) romantic attachment to her partner. Yet the English vocabulary only offers us this one word. The Greek language (which the New Testament was written in) has four different words for love ('agapē', 'philia', 'eros' and 'storge') all of which have slightly different meanings. The Hebrew language of the Old Testament had three different words - ahab, hesed, and raham. Let's look at the New Testament words a little more closely.

 

Agapē

 

This is a word created in the Greek language to describe God's love, which is selfless, unconditional and 'true' love. There are over 250 instances of this word in the New Testament. One of the most famous example is in 1 Corinthians 13, often known as the 'hymn of love'.
Here the Apostle Paul delves into the attributes and values of God's agapē - this kind of love is patient and kind, and always protects, trusts, hopes and endures.

 

Some bible verse examples of 'agapē' love from the New Testament

 

""You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you, that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven." (Matt 5:43-44,, WEB)

 

" I give you a new law: Have love one for another; even as I have had love for you, so are you to have love one for another. By this it will be clear to all men that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another. " (John 13:34-35, BBE)

"Jesus answered, "The greatest is, 'Hear, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one: you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. The second is like this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."" (Mark 12:30-31, WEB)

 

"But if you keep the greatest law of all, as it is given in the holy Writings, Have love for your neighbour as for yourself, you do well..." (James 2:8, BBE)

 

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, a quiet mind, kind acts, well-doing, faith..." (Gal 5:22, BBE)

 

Philia

 

In the Greek language, this kind love is about the way that we might love our friends, family and community - with an affectionate, brotherly love.

 

Some bible verse examples of 'philia' love from the New Testament

 

There is a useful example in the NT which helps us to understand the difference between 'agapē' and 'philia', in a conversation between Jesus and Peter:

 

"Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, is your love (agapaô) for me greater than the love (agapaô) of these others? He said to him, Yes, Lord; you are certain of my love (phileô) for you. He said to him, Then give my lambs food. Again, a second time, he said to him, Simon, son of John, have you any love (agapaô) for me? Yes, Lord, he said, you are certain of my love (phileô) for you. Then take care of my sheep, said Jesus. He said to him a third time, Simon, son of John, am I dear (phileô) to you? Now Peter was troubled in his heart because he put the question a third time, Am I dear (phileô) to you? And he said to him, Lord, you have knowledge of all things; you see that you are dear (phileô) to me. Jesus said to him, Then give my sheep food." (John 21:15-17, BBE)

Notice then that in this post-resurrection encounter with Christ, Peter is asked whether or not he has agape for Jesus (selfless, unconditional love) above all others . Peter does not say 'yes' but rather replies that he has 'philo' love for Christ. The second time Jesus poses the question, he drops the 'greater than..the others' element. On third time of asking, Jesus subtly changes the question - does Peter have 'philo' love for him? The answer, of course is 'yes' - Peter is certain that he loves Christ with an affectionate, brotherly move. Before Christ's death Peter had implied that his devotion was greater than anybody else's. Peter, somewhat humbled by his denial of Christ, answers the resurrected Jesus in an honest and transparent way.


Some other examples of 'philo' love in the New Testament:

Matthew 10:37; John 11:3 and John 11:36

 

storgê

 

'Storgê ' means 'affection' and is concerned with the natural affection that exists between relationships e.g. the affection that a parent might feel for their child.

 

There are two negative instances of this in the New Testament, and one compound instance.

 

Storge in the negative occurs in 2 Timothy 3:3 and Romans 1:31 as 'astorgos' meaning to lack natural affection:-

 

"without natural affection, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good..." (2 Timothy 3:3, WEB)

"without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, unforgiving, unmerciful..." (Romans 1:31, WEB)

 

Storge occurs as a compound word with 'philo' to become 'philostorgos', used by Paul in his letter to the Romans:

 

"In love of the brothers be tenderly affectionate (philostorgos) one to another; in honor preferring one another" (Romans 12:10, WEB)

 

Eros

 

This greek term for love is linked with the notion of desire, and is concerned with passionate love and sensual longing. Although often linked with sexual desire, it can also be concerned with love in relationships that are more than 'philo'.

 

This Greek word for love is not found in the New Testament.

 

 

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