What is Love (pt 3)

As we define the word ‘love’ as used in the Bible, we search the original languages. In Hebrew, we had the words ‘ahab’, ‘raham’ and ‘hessed’.

And in the Greek, we have

1. eros – our English word “erotic” is derived from this word.

a. Eros was Greek god of love – sensual, sexual, impulsive

b. Plato defined this love as aspiring for and delighting in the value of its object; loving that which is lovable.

c. This Greek word not found in New Testament

Eros coincides with the most base and sensual of meanings of the Hebrew word ‘ahab’. It is the simplest of feelings and most easily felt. This is one of the areas that Satan uses to attack mankind and keep them from taking Christ as Saviour. As we have seen through the ages and as we are seeing divulged before our very eyes, the sexual sins are compulsive and addictive to those too weak to resist. And without God, we are all too weak. Eros is the love Hedonists worship. This is using others as an object for our own pleasure and gratification.

2. philia – We get our English words philosophy, philanthropy, philology, bibliophile, Philadelphia, Philip, etc.

Greeks used as love for friend, spouse, children

Matt 10:37 “He that loveth (philos) father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth (philos) son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

Luke 12:4 “And I say unto you my friends (philos), Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.”

Luke 14:12 ¶Then said he also to him that bade him, “When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends (philos), nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee.”

John 11:3 3 Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest (philies, verb of philos) is sick

John 13: 36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved (ephilei) him!

3. agape This is know as the ‘Godly kind of Love’

Here are some interesting facts about ‘agape’:

a. It is seldom used in secular Greek literature. There is little need for Yaweh in a Pagan world, at least in their minds.

b. When used referred to conscious discriminatory desire for something or someone. It is a clear choice of one over others.

c. In the Greek OT (LXX) it is used over 300 times and always refers to God’s selective and exclusive love for Israelite people.

d. This is the predominant word for love in new covenant (over 250 occurrences in NT). This is the ‘love’ that God is all about.

Here is the prime example of what that love is.

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

Here is a contrast between ‘agape’ and ‘philos’

John 15:13 “Greater love (agape) hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (philos).”

If we were to look at a chart of where these words in Hebrew and Greek compare, it would look something like this..

Ahab Raham Hesed


Eros Philos Agape

In both instances of Hesed and Agape, we do them disservice in trying to define them with mere mortal words. As Moses encountered the Burning Bush on Mt. Sinai, we must take our shoes off, know we are on Holy Ground and encounter God and His Agape/Hesed. The only way to define Agape is.. Agape and Hesed.. Hesed.. If you know God, you understand that love. If you don’t know him, you will never understand that love until you encounter Him.

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.


Now that we have looked at the meaning of the word ‘Love’ we will begin to understand how it affects our lives and how should we then live, as Francis Schaeffer asked.

May God bless the reading of this teaching. Amen!

If you need to know Christ or share Christ with others, here is a link to find out how.

Roman Road to Salvation


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