What About Love?


You just have to “Love” that question. What does it even mean; love that is? Let’s look at some definitions and decide just what we are talking about.


From the American Heritage Dictionary:

1. A deep, tender, ineffable (Inexpressible) feeling of affection and solicitude (Care or concern) toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness.

 2. A feeling of intense desire and attraction toward a person with whom one is disposed to make a pair; the emotion of sex and romance.


a. Sexual passion.

b. Sexual intercourse.

c. A love affair.

 4. An intense emotional attachment, as for a pet or treasured object.

 5. A person who is the object of deep or intense affection or attraction; beloved. Often used as a term of endearment.

 6. An expression of one's affection: Send him my love.


a. A strong predilection (Preference) or enthusiasm: a love of language.

b. The object of such an enthusiasm: The outdoors is her greatest love.


None of these actually defines Bible love precisely although Bible love contains some of these elements


OK, let’s look at “Love” in the Bible, particularly in the New Testament. The first thing we will see is “Love” is an important concept in as much as it is used 179 times in KJV and 232 times in NIV and 217 times in RSV which is based on KJV. But is all “Love” the same or are their differences even as there are in English. The answer is clearly yes, but with some differences. The Greek tends to be more explicit, but not without some ambiguity. There are three words most often translated into our one word, “Love.” The matter is far more complex than we can explore in this sermon. Here are the three words with a brief, and incomplete/oversimplified, explanation of each.

1.      Phileo: Brotherly love or an affection for something.

2.      Agapao: The act of Agape. That is, a verb form of Agape.

3.      Agape: A deep inexpressible concern and caring. May contain emotion but the essence is mind and choice. Definitely not romantic love in the Hollywood sense.


Definitions are always poor even in the best of circumstances. Let’s look at some scriptures that illustrate each term.

1.      Phileo, occurs 26 times.

*   (Mat 6:5 KJV)  And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

*   (Mat 10:37 KJV)  He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

*   (John 5:20 KJV)  For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that himself doeth: and he will show him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.

2.      Agapao, occurs 142 times.

*   (Mat 5:44 KJV)  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

*   (Mat 19:19 KJV)  Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

*   (Mat 22:37 KJV)  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

*   (Luke 11:43 KJV)  Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.

*   (John 3:16 KJV)  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

*   (John 3:35 KJV)  The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.

3.      Agape, occurs 116 times.

*   (John 13:35 KJV)  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

*   (John 15:9 KJV)  As the Father hath loved (Agapao) me, so have I loved (Agapao) you: continue ye in my love (Agape).

*   (John 15:12 KJV)  This is my commandment, That ye love (Agape) one another, as I have loved (Agapao) you.

*   (1 John 4:8 KJV)  He that loveth (Agapao) not knoweth not God; for God is love (Agape).

So the Greek may be a bit better than the English but it still is subject to ambiguity if used without context and understanding.


Now KJV uses the term “Charity” through out 1 Corinthians 13. Modern translations say “Love.” What kind of love is this? It’s not phileo nor agapao but agape. Why? Simply because it’s talking about love as an object not as an action. Which is to say it’s talking about love as a noun not as a verb.


Now here is a question to consider. Can you love someone but not like him? Maybe it will help if we define like as “To find pleasant or attractive; enjoy.” I will answer yes; you can love someone without liking him. God so loved the world that He sent His Son to die for it, yet He did not like what the world was doing.


Here are a few more questions and I will leave it up to you to answer them.

*   If you love me then shouldn’t you love my children?

*   If we must love your enemy shouldn’t we at least like our brother?

*   By this shall people know you are my disciples, that you have love for one another. How will people know you love your brother if they also know you don’t like him?

*   God is love, love of the deepest kind. Isn’t this the kind of love we should have for each other?


Hear is an explanation I like that I got from the web. It makes the point that “Love is more a choice and less an emotion. More about what we do than about how we feel.


The love that Jesus commands us to exercise in Matthew 5:44 is agapao, or what we commonly call agape (noun form) or agapao (verb form). Agape is not rooted in emotion, but in obedient action. In our society when we say the word “love” the first thing that we think of is a warm, fuzzy emotional sense of well being. But Biblical love is not emotional, but it is to “do the highest good toward another party” regardless of emotion.

Christians are commanded to agapao, exercise the Love of God both Godward as well as Manward (Matthew 22:37-40). The love that we Christians are commanded to do is based on obedience, not emotion. We may not like someone, or emotionally love someone, but we are to do love toward them anyway (Matthew 5:44). This is emphasized by the fact that Jesus said “love (agapao) your enemies (echthros {pronounced ech-thros’}, hateful or hate filled person). It is impossible to emotionally have “warm and fuzzy feelings” about people who are attacking you – but you can do the highest good toward them, regardless of emotion, if you are obedient to the command of Christ.


James talking about faith said,

(James 2:18 RSV)  But some one will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.


The same is true of love.

Show me your love apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my love.