Love is a curious thing and it can get very confusing. In our society it is said that people can make love. We can love all sorts of things like books, food, clothes, brothers, friends, children, cigarettes, the list is endless really. Love can get extremely confusing. In fact some of our youth believe that in order to express love intercourse is required to be involved. What of the ancients, specifically how is love used in the Bible?
In the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts that comprise the Bible different words are used. In our language we use one word to encompass these different types of love. I believe when people express love they understand the different types, but when love is interpreted the meaning gets lost. I believe that more than one broken heart has come from someone who was told that they were loved. One type of love was meant and the other type was understood.
The first word for love that I wanted to cover is Agape. Agape is a decision type of love. I mean decision because it is unconditional. This love will sacrifice for someone else and that is a choice that we decide to do or not do. In a previous write up (punishment vs. discipline) I wrote about someone who had love taken away from them. This would be the opposite of Agape love. An example of Agape love is found in John 3:16 God so loved (Agape) the world that he gave his only begotten son. God did not enjoy giving His Son, but it was worth it to Him. Agape is an action and not a feeling. So we can love our enemies or anyone who disappoints us because we choose to.
The second word for love that I wanted to cover is Phileo. This word is more of a brotherly type of love. It is the kind of love that expresses our feeling of love with warmth and affection, for this reason we can’t have Phileo love toward an enemy without the help of God. We are commanded as Christians to Agape our enemies because it is a decision. We can’t Phileo our enemies. Agape and Phileo are the two types of love that are chiefly in the Bible. A good example of these two types of love is found in John chapter 21 Jesus asks Peter 3 times if he loves Him. Peter three times seems to agree. Why does Jesus ask three times? I have heard people say that he asked three times because Peter denied Jesus three times. Jesus said that Peter would do it in John 13:38. This is possibly true, but it is purely opinion and not expressly stated in scripture. If we plug the original words in this passage it makes vastly more sense. In John 21:15 Jesus asks Peter if he has Agape for Jesus. Peter responds that he has Phileo for Jesus. In verse 16 Jesus asks Peter if he has Agape for Jesus. Peter responds that he has Phileo for Jesus. In John 21:17 Jesus asked if Peter had Phileo for Him. This is why Peter was grieved. Jesus went to Peter’s level and asked Peter do you Phileo me. I believe that I can feel the grief that Peter is showing when he tells Jesus that he knew all things and again he confirmed that he had Phileo for Jesus. For Peter to not make the decision to Agape Jesus, that must have been terrible to admit. I believe the restoration of Peter came in verse 18. Jesus foretells the future and explains how Peter’s death would glorify God. In other words Jesus basically states “Peter you may not Agape me know, but you will.”
The third type of love is Eros. Eros is the same root that we get erotic from. Eros means sexual love or arousal. To be aroused is natural and is self serving. Eros is a self serving kind of love, but is not wrong if used correctly. After all, the Lord made our spouses attractive to us. As Phileo is the feeling and Agape is the decision. Eros is the feeling and lust is the decision. Eros exists in a healthy marriage and is a good thing, but lust does not and is not. Many times people confuse Eros and other types of love and when this takes place it usually helps us to feel used and possibly foolish. Eros is not one of the types of love that are specifically mentioned in the Bible.
Storge is the fourth and final type of love that I wanted to cover. Storge is the type of love that occurs naturally between parents and children or siblings. Storge is a love that is shown with affection and to be protective. This love can be looked at as a “Motherly” type of love. Romans 12:10 is an example of Storge and Phileo. The verse states to be kindly affectionate or philostorgos one to another. There is only one relationship that I am aware of that will include every type of love all put together in one.
In marriage we are to sacrifice for our spouse, for example I have never seen a marriage last when one member of the marriage doesn’t want to sacrifice anything. Marriages of convenience rarely last. As an example of someone who doesn’t want to sacrifice, imagine a married person who still wants to live like a single person. As we discussed Agape is a decision so this person is choosing to not sacrifice. As far as Phileo we will feel a love toward our spouse that is warmth and consider them as a friend. I know in my life my wife is still my best friend. I won’t spend too much time on Eros. I will only point out that it should be present as well with our spouse and not a decision to have a wandering eye for others. Storge is present in the way that we want to take care of the other or protect them. I know after my accident my wife became very protective and she would demonstrate it in different ways. When I was unable to take care of myself or speak for myself she took over. In fact she had a hard time surrendering that back to me when I was ready. If Storge is dominant in a marriage I could see how it would be hard to keep it going. I will be always grateful to my wife for taking over because I couldn’t do it myself. I will add this though, I am confident that I could not live that way our whole marriage. I find a study of love and the ancient way of looking at it to be helpful in my life. With the types of love listed love becomes more clear and harder to confuse. In my opinion it is also a big help to have things that might confuse us like Eros and lust. I wanted to write this to see if you could find it instructive as I have.
Remember I value your input. I have been contacted by email and comments. Please keep in touch! You can like us on Face book and please pray for us. Feel free to share any of this with anyone who might be blessed by it. If there is anything you would like to have me write about I would love to know about it! I hope to see you just beyond the bend!