The kind of love which the believer is to have for all people is agapē love, the great love of God Himself. The meaning of agapē love is more clearly seen by contrasting it with the various kinds of love. There are essentially four kinds of love. Whereas the English language has only one word for love to describe all the affectionate experiences of men, the Greek language had a different word to describe each kind of love or affectionate experience.
- There is passionate love or eros love. This is the physical love between sexes; the patriotic love of a person for his nation; the ambition of a person for power, wealth, or fame. Briefly stated, eros love is the base love of a man that arises from his own inner passion. Sometimes eros love is focused upon good and other times it is focused upon bad. It should be noted that eros love is never used in the New Testament.
- There is affectionate love or storge love. This is the kind of love that exists between parent and child and between loyal citizens and a trustworthy ruler. Storge love is also not used in the New Testament.
- There is an endearing love or phileo love. Phileo love is the love of a husband and wife for each other, of a brother for a brother, of a friend for the dearest of friends. It is the love that cherishes, that holds someone or something ever so dear to one’s heart.
- There is selfless and sacrificial love or agapē love. Agapē love is the love of the mind, of the reason, of the will. It is the love that goes so far…
- That it loves a person even if he does not deserve to be loved.
- That it actually loves the person who is utterly unworthy of being loved.
Note four significant points about agapē love.
- Selfless or agapē love is the love of God, the very love possessed by God Himself. It is the love demonstrated in the cross of Christ.
- It is the love of God for the ungodly.
- It is the love of God for unworthy sinners.
- It is the love of God for undeserving enemies.
- Selfless or agapē love is a gift of God. It can be experienced only if a person knows God personally—only if a person has received the love of God into his heart and life. Agapē love has to be shed abroad (poured out, flooded, spread about) by the Spirit of God within the heart of a person.
- Selfless or agapē love is the greatest thing in all of life according to the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Selfless or agapē love is the greatest possession and gift in human life according to the Scripture (1 Cor. 13:1-13).
True love (agapē love)—does not originate in the nature of man, but in the nature of God. God is love; love is the basic trait of His nature. The very existence of man is due to the fact that God is love, not to the fact that God believed or held hope for man. Therefore love, which is the basic trait of God’s nature, is far superior to faith and hope.
As believers in the Lord we have a responsibility to display agapé love in all our dealings with our fellowmen, agapé love is part of the image of Christ that each believer should seek to show more fully as each day passes.