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"Love" in Greek

1 Corinthians 13:13
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

There are four Greek words for love:

Eros -- This is the word used for sensual or physical love. Eros was the Greek god of love. This word does not appear in the New Testament.

Stergo -- This word means to feel affection, especially the affection between parents and children. It is also used of the affection of a people for their king or a dog for his master. It does not appear in the New Testament, except in compound form in Romans 12:10 (philostorgos) where it is translated as "devoted." The negative form (astorgos) appears in Romans 1:31 ("heartless," "unloving") and 2 Timothy 3:3 ("without love," "unloving").

Philo -- This is the general word for love and affection. It is used for attraction of people to one another without regard for family relationships, such as philadelphia, the love of a friend or brother, 2 Pet 2:17. It is frequently used in compound forms and, as such, may be used for attraction to inanimate objects -- philosophia -- the love of knowledge, Col 2:8.

Agape (noun) and agapao (verb) -- This is the word of Godly love. This special significance really comes in the New Testament period. Agape is not found in secular literature, at least to any great extent, during the biblical period. The writers of the Septuagint use the noun some twenty times, but use the verb form over 250 times. In general terms, the Septuagint translators "invented" a new meaning for agape by using in to replace the Hebrew hesed, a word meaning loving-kindness.

The New Testament writers continued the use of agape. While there are situations where agape and philo seem to be used interchangeably, most notably in John’s writings, in general, agape has become the love of God shown to His creation. In more than one sense of the word, agape becomes grace in action.

The point of this is that agape is a verb or noun of action. Men must choose to exercise agape, the same as God has chosen. It is not an emotional or passive position, but one of deciding to love. This is how we can love our unsaved neighbors as well as our enemies. We choose to exercise the same agape towards them that God has shown us!




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