“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
This is one of the very first verses I ever memorized from the Bible. In fact, it’s quoted so often that it’s become a bit of a cliché. It’s just something that’s said without thinking or feeling. However, this verse is one of the core beliefs of the Christian faith.
I find myself repeating this automatically many times. I have to admit, when others have said it to me, I’ve rolled my eyes and thought, “I know, I know…” Yet, I wonder…do I REALLY know?
What is love? Oh brother. Isn’t that a LOADED question! Who can honestly define it so simply? Outside of Jesus, I don’t think it’s truly possible to define clearly. This doesn’t mean that we can’t “feel” love or experience a form of love in some way or another.
I once heard someone say love is a verb. In other words, our actions will show our love towards others. But that leads to another enigma. Who defines what love is and how it should be shown? Where can we find a perfect example of how love is supposed to be? There has to be some way to measure true love.
God’s Word is full of descriptions of love. From what I have come to understand, there are four kinds mentioned throughout Scripture. There are Eros, Agape, Storge, and Philos. Before you start to think I’m philosophical or scholarly in any way…I am SO far out of my element…lol. Honestly, I can’t remember squat when it comes to timelines, Greek, or Hebrew terminology. I enjoy studying them. I enjoy studying, PERIOD. This is just my attempt to get my brain flowing and trying to figure things out for myself. I am a seeker of truth. That’s all.
With this said, let me get back to the definitions of the four types of love I’ve discovered in the Bible from my own understanding. Eros is the Greek word for desire and longing. Eros was also the god of love and is often referred to as erotic. A wonderful example of this form of love can be found in Song of Solomon (Song of Songs) 1:1-4.
“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
for your love is more delightful than wine.
Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;
your name is like perfume poured out.
No wonder the young women love you!
Take me away with you—let us hurry!
Let the king bring me into his chambers.”
Agape is another form of love. This describes the divine love God has for His Son, human beings, and all believers. John 3:16 gives us a little bit of an understanding about God’s love. Another verse is Romans 5:8.
“But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Philos and Storge can be intertwined. They aren’t the same but they are similar. Philos is the unique mercy and affection one has between friends. John 5:20 says,
“For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these so that you will be amazed.”
Storge is the Greek word for family love. The reason Philos and Storge are often placed together is because, as Christians, we are brothers and sisters in Christ. Romans 12:10 says,
“Love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor.”
So, I guess love is multi-faceted. Love is complex but simple. Love is action but it is also emotion. Love is pure and undefiled.
I won’t pretend to know EVERYTHING on love. In fact, love evolves over time. I’m learning more and more each day what it means to love God. More importantly, I’m learning more about God’s love for me. Perhaps John 3:16 is a little more complex than I thought.
I am finding that when I focus on my relationship with Jesus, I love others more. I am free to be the person God is refining me to be. I don’t get hung up on what others think of me. Yes, He loves me. He loves you too.