Faith, Hope, Love – Part 5

Do you want to go the heaven?  If so, you should understand that one must have faith, hope, and above all, love.  These things are essentials to one’s spiritual success.

Types of Love

Much of the confusion which exists, concerning love, has to do with confusing different types of love.  The Greeks had a variety of words to describe different types of love.  However, in English, we use the same term “love” to describe different types of love,  Our lack of variety can lead to confusion.

One word the Greeks had was “storge” (family love).  This word refers to the type of love which should uniquely be in the home.  We have a duty to care for our family members before other humans (e.g. 1 Timothy 5:3-16).  This word appears in the negative form in Romans 1:31 and 2 Timothy 3:3, where it is rendered: “Without natural affection” (KJV), or “unloving” (NKJV, NASB), or “heartless” (ESV).  The literal meaning is “without love” ,that is family love.

They also used the word “eros” (romantic, physical, or sexual love).  God approves of such within the sanctity of marriage (Proverbs 5:15-21; Song of Solomon; Hebrews 13:4).  ‘Eros’ is not found in the New Testament at all.  This is not because the inspired writers rejected or despised physical love per se.  Probably, it was because that by New Testament times this word had become associated with lust rather than love” (Nelson Smith, What is This Thing Called Love?, p. 12).

Another word used was “phileo” (Friendship love, warm relationship, liking another).  This word appears in some form many times in the New Testament.  It is used of: (1) Love of friends (John 11:3, 26; 20:2); (2) Love of family members (Matthew 10:37; Titus 2:4); (3) Love of Christian brethren (Titus 3:15).  The term “brotherly love” appears a few times (Romans 12:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; Hebrews 13:1; 1 Peter 1:22; 2 Peter 1:7)..  A special closeness should exist among us.  After family obligations (1 Timothy 5:3-16), the next priority is toward brethren (Galatians 6:10).  (4) The love we’re to have for Jesus (1 Corinthians 16:22). The Father has such love for Jesus` followers (John 16:27). Jesus has such love for us (Revelation 3:19). (5) Inanimate objects or things (Matthew 23:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:4; 1 Timothy 6:10).  The word always has to do with emotional closeness, warm affection.

Finally, there is “agape” (godly love, Christian love).  This word is not necessarily describing an emotional closeness, or a warm friendly relationship.  It is, perhaps, best viewed as a consideration, care, concern, or regard for another which  effects behavior and response to that one.  The use of this word, comparatively speaking, was rare before the advent of Christianity.  This type of love is owed to: (1) God (Matthew 22:37; John 14:15, 21, 23; 15:9-10; Romans 8:28; 1 John 2:5; 5:3).  He certainly so loved us (John 3:16; 13:34; Romans 8:37; Galatians 2:20; 1 John 4:10); (2) Family members (Ephesians 5:25, 28; 33; Colossians 3:19);  (3) Christian brethren (John 13:34; 15:12, 17; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22; 2:17; 1 John 2:9-10; 4:20);  (4) All of humanity (Matthew 5:43-48; Romans 13:8-10; 1 Thessalonians 3:12).  We are to be a people who seek, where ever, and when ever possible to show kindness and compassion toward our fellow man (This includes our brother in Adam, and especially our brother in Christ).  We should love (agape) everyone, even though, we might not like (phileo) everyone as a close friend.

Note: One may have more than one type of love for another. The Father has both agape and phileo love for the Son [ John 3:35 (agape); John 5:20 (phileo)]. He has both agape and phileo love for believers [ John 14:21 (agape); John 16:27 (phileo)]. Jesus had both agape and phileo love for John [ John 13:23 (agape); John 20:2 (phileo)].

The Importance of Agape Love

Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.  Steve Williams has written, “To put it in modern terms, if you take the Lord’s Supper every Sunday but have no love, you gain nothing.  If you have proper church organization but have no love you profit nothing.  If you practice baptism by immersion for the remission of sins but have no love, you benefit nothing.  Do not get me wrong.  all of these… are very important.  Essential to all of these and to everything else associated with being a Christian is love… Christian love is that something without which everything else is nothing” (The More Excellent Way, p. 13).  I have seen with my eyes those who were very knowledgable in the scriptures who seem to be lacking love for their  fellow man, or their brethren, or even for God.   Their actions manifest such to me.  Let us remember that without love, we’re nothing – spiritually speaking.

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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