As we celebrate the “Love Month” – February (Valentine’s Day is on the 14th), it is good to go back to the Bible and see the different meanings of the word “love.” According to the Greek language used during the New Testament times, there are four major words for love: agape, phileo, stergo or storge, and eros. Based on the New Testament Greek Lexicon, the word agape appeared 259 times as a verb or as a noun while phileo appeared 54 times. The other two – eros and stergo did not appear in the New Testament.
Agape means unconditional love or the complete giving of love to another person. Phileo is love expressed to someone whom you like. It is usually used to describe the love between friends. Eros is intimate love as expressed sexually. Stergo or storge is love between parents and children.
The most-often memorized verse – John 3:16 used agape to express the love of God to all of us. The famous love chapter 1 Corinthians 13 read during wedding ceremonies used the Greek word agape to explain what love is.
In my homily during weddings I would oftentimes use this illustration – substitute the word “love” by your name in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. To emphasize it, I will leave it blank so that you can read it and personally feel what it means to express agape love. I encountered this challenge in the book of Victor Knowles – Together in Christ, More than a Dream.
“____ is patient and kind. ____ is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. ____ does not demand its own way. ____ is not irritable, and ____ keeps no record of being wronged. ____ does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. ____ never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
Let us pray that as followers of Jesus Christ, and by God’s grace, we can commit ourselves to an agape kind of love.