Question: What is Love?
Answer: God is Love
1 John 4:7-21
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
What do you Love? Take a serious inventory of the things that you speak. I Love my bed. At least I did until I made a huge dent in it because of my size. I Love whiskey, at least until I’ve had too much, then we really don’t like each other too much. I Love the Cardinals, even when they drive me insane… even though I may shout out that I hate them when they act like they have never played football before. I Love steak, at least when it is cooked and seasoned properly. I Love church, unless I’m stuck doing something that drives me insane or doing something with or for someone who drives me insane.
Of course we are taught that God is Love. But do we actually apply that meaning behind the words that we speak, the actions that we continually take? What else is Love? Well, as you most likely know, the Bible uses more than one word for what we interpret as love.
Eros love is the physical, sensual intimacy between a husband and wife (or not husband and wife). It expresses sexual, romantic attraction. Eros is also the name of the mythological Greek god of love, sexual desire, physical attraction, and physical love.
Eros in Scripture
Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.
Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun.
Philia conveys a strong feeling of attraction, with its antonym or opposite being phobia. It is the most general form of love in the Bible, encompassing love for fellow humans, care, respect, and compassion for people in need. The most common form of philia is friendship.
Philia and other forms of this Greek noun are found throughout the New Testament. Christians are frequently exhorted to love their fellow Christians. Philadelphia (brotherly love) appears a handful of times, and philia (friendship) appears once in James.
Philia in Scripture
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
1 Thessalonians 4:9
Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another…
Let brotherly love continue
2 Peter 1:7
And godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
1 Peter 1:22
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart
1 Peter 3:8
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Storge is family love, the bond among mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, and brothers.
The Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon defines storge as “cherishing one’s kindred, especially parents or children; the mutual love of parents and children and wives and husbands; loving affection; prone to love; loving tenderly; chiefly of the reciprocal tenderness of parents and children.”
Storge Love in Scripture
As with eros, the exact Greek term storge does not appear in the Bible. However, the opposite form is used twice in the New Testament. Astorgos means “without love, devoid of affection, without affection to kindred, hard-hearted, unfeeling,” and is found in the book of Romans and 2 Timothy.
In Romans 1:31, unrighteous people are described as “foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless” (ESV). The Greek word translated “heartless” is astorgos. And in 2 Timothy 3:3, the disobedient generation living in the last days is marked as “heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good” (ESV). Again, “heartless” is translated astorgos. So, a lack of storge, the natural love among family members, is a sign of end times.
A compound form of storge is found in Romans 12:10: “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (ESV) In this verse, the Greek word translated “love” is philostorgos, putting together philos and storge. It means “loving dearly, being devoted, being very affectionate, loving in a way characteristic of the relationship between husband and wife, mother and child, father and son, etc.”
Agape love is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love. It is the highest of the four types of love in the Bible.
This Greek word, agápē, and variations of it are frequently found throughout the New Testament. Agape perfectly describes the kind of love Jesus Christ has for his Father and for his followers.
Agape is the term that defines God’s immeasurable, incomparable Love for humankind. It is his ongoing, outgoing, self-sacrificing concern for lost and fallen people. God gives this love without condition, unreservedly to those who are undeserving and inferior to himself.
Agape in Scripture
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted;
Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.
I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
1 Corinthians 16:14
Let all that you do be done in love.
God Loves us due to the nature of who and what God is. We attempt to Love like God does, however, we are incapable of this… These next five weeks we will explore how we Love as individuals, how we Love as Christians, how we Love as husbands, wives, siblings, children… and most importantly, children of God.