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Thursday, November 24, 2005

How Do I Love Thee?

I’ve been challenged recently to examine my love in all things and I’ve been surprised by my research. I have always imagined that, while there are many different type of love, the love that a believer gives is the same toward everyone. After studying the Greek Lexicon to examine the text where we are commanded to love I’ve found that the Greek terms are more definitive and give a better understanding of how we are to love. So far I seem to have isolated three general types of love in these commandments, Agape, Phileo and Agapao. If my suspicions are correct I’ve been applying Agape where Phileo was called for. I wanted to throw this out for your consideration. I’ve never heard anyone make these distinctions but they seem critical to His plan. Any thoughts?

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22 Comments:

Blogger Pia said...

i'm not so sure about this but this is what i remembered back in school.

agapao (verb)/agape (noun) - a word representing the divine love of God toward His Son, human beings in general and believers.

phileo (verb) - natural human type of love and affection that we have for a friend. also called brotherly love.

eros (verb) - refers to sexual, erotic love or desire.

as far as i can remember, God wants us to love unconditionally, the way He loves us.

just a thought.

11/24/2005 10:07:00 PM  
Blogger Pia said...

hey, nice layout. c",)

11/25/2005 12:03:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Pia thanks so much for the input. It seems you’re not only well educated and intelligent but you have excellent taste as well! (grin)

Thanks for pointing out the distinction between verb and noun. I’ve come to perceive them as kinetic love (verb) and potential love (noun), with kinetic love being the expression of the potential love. Do you think that would work from a scriptural viewpoint?

11/25/2005 04:36:00 AM  
Blogger jeff said...

KC,

I've done a little study on these, also.

While 'phileo' is brotherly love, agape/agapao (both from same root) are the forms used to speak of God's covenant love. The Hebrew counterpart to agape is HSD or hesed/chesed. This type of love is usually in conjunction with covenant promises (ie- the 'love' between Jonathon & David)

In my estimation, agape is what sent Jesus to the cross. Phileo is what prompted him to tell John to take care of his mom.

Is that right? It's been a while since I looked any of it up.

I'm curious to hear your view...

11/25/2005 07:59:00 AM  
Blogger Zeke said...

I think we understand that agape is commanded of us (Rom 13:10). If we believed that phileo fulfilled the law, then I think we would be misled because the references I saw to phileo implied the affection that comes with familiarity, as opposed to the unconditional love that is ultimately required of us toward all our neighbors.

11/25/2005 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

Kc,

Great subject! There are many different terms. For example, when Paul refers to "the love of money" in 1 Timothy 6, that word is philaguria. The word means "a greed for wealth."

Our word love is used so loosely and indiscriminately that it is truly appalling.

True love is a responsibility, not a feeling. Our Lord did not feel like enduring that pain on the cross; look at His prayer in Matt. 26. Yet, His love for His Father compelled Him to be obedient.

One of the worst terms that I hear is "I am in love with so and so." I tell people all the time if you fall in love, you can fall out of love. Love is not a feeling; if it was, I would have been married and divorced numerous times!

I constantly work to use the word appropriately, not referring to emotion, but rather to my responsibility to another human being.

Kc, I hope you and all of my other fellow bloggers had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I have plenty to be thankful to the Lord for, and I appreciate how He moves through people like you to cause me to grow in Him.

Stay blessed!

11/25/2005 10:50:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Guys thanks for helping here. I’m focusing on our love specifically.

I’m coming up with a different take on these words and it’s got me a little concerned. In the text where Agape is used it seems to signify the love that we have or hold for Christ and for one another. I would call this brotherly love and it is a thing we possess or have. Phileo love seems to be used to indicate a preferential love for those people or things we actively or currently find attractive, likable and that we approve of. While Agapao is derived from Agape it seems to be predominantly used to define the act of loving as hospitality and endearment. This is all well and good but nowhere do I find this to be a sacrificial act or one that would require us to accept responsibility for the welfare of another. The text that addresses sacrificial acts seem to apply specifically to Christ and our fellow believers.

Jeff I like the concept of Agape as covenantal in that I see it as committed and caring. I appreciate the OT reference too.

Zeke I agree our love for all men should be unconditional but I think it’s Agapao love.

Ron I really want to talk out the responsibility issue, maybe even a separate blog on responsibility in love. That understanding seems to have gotten lost somewhere along the way.

Great thoughts all and I we will continue this discussion.

11/25/2005 03:08:00 PM  
Blogger Zeke said...

kc, isn't agapao the verb form of agape?

11/25/2005 07:59:00 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Is a technical distinction always intended when a different word is used for love?

11/26/2005 03:37:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Zeke it seems that Agape is something inside of us, part of us. Agapao is something we do and Phileo is something we prefer. The remaining forms seem to be more descriptive of each of these three. Am I seeing this wrong?

DP I would really appreciate your input on this. Take the verse that Zeke mentioned in Romans 13:10. In vs. 9 Agapao is used to command and define the positive action of loving our neighbor and vs. 10 explains how that having Agape prevents any negative action thereby fulfilling the law. Am I making too much of this?

11/26/2005 06:30:00 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

Kc,

When you say you are focusing on our love, what love are you referring to? The affectionate love that we have for friends or family, or the God kind of love that God commands us to have for mankind? I do not have my reference materials with me, for I am out of town, but if you will allow me, let me use this as an analogy:

I am in Washington, DC with some friends that we met in New Jersey. We have been closer than brothers for over 15 years. When we first met, they had no furniture when they arrived in New Jersey. We helped them get all kinds of furniture and other things to help them get settled. This was the agape love in action. We did not expect anything in return; we simply wanted to be a blessing. A few years later, in 1993, when we had no place to stay while we were waiting for our house to close, this same family brought us into their home and allowed us to stay there for about 6 weeks. Imagine, 9 people staying in a two bedroom house! Yet, they had a desire to be a blessing to us when we were in need. This was both phileo and agape.

I do not want to go on too long, but this issue is a crucial issue for the body of Christ. When I get back to Cincinnati, I would like to provide some more information.

God Bless!

11/26/2005 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger Dee O'Neil Andrews said...

I just stumbled on your blog here from Corry's and am reading with interest what everyone has to say about the various types of love signified by the different greek words used in the Bible.

However, I am really astounded that not one person here has even mentioned, nor apparently read the best book I've ever read on this subject, C. S. Lewis's classic The Four Loves.

In The Four Loves, Lewis summarizes four kinds of human love--affection, friendship, erotic love, and the love of God. [The four Greek words for our word love are "storge" (affection), "philia" (friendship), "eros" (sexual or romantic love) and "agape" (selfless love)].

As Amazon's editorial review states about Lewis's The Four Loves: Masterful without being magisterial, this book's wise, gentle, candid reflections on the virtues and dangers of love draw on sources from Jane Austen to St. Augustine. The chapter on charity (love of God) may be the best thing Lewis ever wrote about Christianity."

If you've never read the book, I'd urge you to go today to get a copy to read and then all come back here and discuss the different types of love as set forth by Lewis and compare his views and yours with the Biblical examples we're given over and over.

I think you will find it a much more productive and satisfying study and that your understanding and spirituality will be magnified in the light of God's great gifts of love to all of us who will receive them.

I'd also highly recommend you read, if you haven't already Lewis's Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain, The Great Divorce, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life, and The Screwtape Letters.

They are all just marvelous, wonderful books that I have read over and over through the years and have gained much insight from. I think I've read just about every book Lewis ever wrote, except for perhaps the Narnia Chronicles. I do want to go see the movie, though, for sure when we get the chance.

Hope you all are having a good Thanksgiving weekend. Things are tough here in "Katrina Zone," but we're hanging in there.

11/26/2005 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

I've always been a big fan of eros myself (after marriage, of course! shame on you!) Agapao is the verb form and literally means "I love." See what $2,000 worth of Greek One will get you- not much more than a lexicon....

11/26/2005 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I come to this from a respectful KJV-Only perspective. God knew that the Word would be brought to the nations through English, not through Greek. Hence, maybe He did not intend to put too much technical distinction on words like 'love', which are the same in English. God's word gives wisdom to the simple. Not much good if your not familiar with a dead language.

God Bless

11/26/2005 01:00:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Dee thanks so much for the visit and the recommendations. I appreciate seeing your encouraging words on many of the blogs I follow.

Matt I take this as an honor knowing your current disposition and I hope I can always count on your wisdom even with your worthless and expensive education. (grin)

I still have a problem with the term “verb form of the word”, not that I think it isn’t, but what specifically does that mean? If Agape is a noun, a thing, then how is that “thing” put in to action from a scriptural perspective?

DF if anyone else had said that I would likely have written it off but I know your opinion is not without merit so I need to question you further on it. You said, “God knew that the Word would be brought to the nations through English”. Even the TBS uses the “Textus Receptus” for all their translations. With the English word love having such a broad application wouldn’t it be of value to examine its use in translation?

11/26/2005 03:32:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Ron, I'll be looking forward to your input. I think this is important too but we seem to be in the minority on that. ;-)

11/26/2005 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

I'm not sure how to answer really. I have lately been pondering putting others before myself, not an easy thing to do always. Thanks for the info re favorites... I was thinking there was a favorites category at blogspot and did not realize it was the favorites section in the browser. Oops. Anyway some blogs have a section in the blog itself where you can subscribe to different people and just click on one link and look at all the blogs you subscribe to..one after the next. I guess blogspot does not have that?

11/26/2005 05:21:00 PM  
Blogger pecheur said...

Most of what I read by others here has been mostly correct.

I would suggest another resource, CS Lewis' The Four Loves. It develves into all four types.

Pia is right agape is a noun agapaeo is a verb (I love as Matt has so eloquently stated).

KJVers tried to distinguish by using the word "charity" but that has just confused matters. But "love" does not help us out either. But there realy are no way to express it as it is expressed in Greek. But of course that is true when any language is translated into another

11/26/2005 09:02:00 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

Dyspraxic-
I appreciate your different take on the situation, it's definitely different than I see it (but then again, I had to look up "dyspraxic" ;-) ). I just can't let the notion that God used English to bring the gospel to the world go, though. I'm afraid that sometimes we don't see far enough past ourselves... God used English to bring the gospel to us, but did you know it was hundreds of years before the Bible ever appeared in English! God doesn't use English to bring the gospel to the world nowadays, either- it must be translated into the receivers' languages. Many of those languages have multiple words and layered meanings for the concept of "love," just like Greek. How do we translate "love" accurately for these people? We have to understand the original New Testament language: Greek. Things are never as simple as we wish, particularly in matters of religion. God bless.

11/26/2005 10:08:00 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I suppose if other languages make use of different words for love, then perhaps there may be value in using the Greek to differentiate them.

I suppose the context of the word used may give us soem clues as to nuances in meaning. I am not really a Bible scholar, so I am a bit out of my depth.

I would just question the assumption that the Greek words are always used in a consistent manner.

11/27/2005 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

DF I agree and I think that's what is holding me back. I'm uncertain about the definitions to start with and then trying to determine which of, or how many of, the alternate meanings is specifically or generally intended in each verse is a chore. I'll keep knocking. ;-)

11/27/2005 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

oops Pech I nearly missed you!

Well that's two votes for me to get my head out of historical translations and in to some modern verse. Dee had the same suggestion. Given the source I might have to force myself but I'll have to break and take a chapter of John Foxe now and again to get throught it! (or maybe a bit o' the TOB? hehe) ;-)

Matt and Matthew thanks again for your input. ;-)

11/28/2005 03:05:00 AM  

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