Biblical Love

Biblical Love

Biblical Love

William Stout / General

Biblical Christianity / Love


Biblical Love

  • There are several Greek Words in the New Testament which are translated as “love”
  • To understand “biblical love” it might help to look at these words
  • The main three words in the ancient Greek language of the New Testament times were 1. Phileo, 2. Agape (or Agapao), and 3. Eros.
  • I would like to take a look at these three words today, to understand:
  • The definition of each term as it would have been understood and intended
  • Then zero in on what the Biblical understanding of Love is, as described in the Word
  • And finally, to consider some examples of Love in practice from a Biblical viewpoint

Eros: Love

  • This type of love is based in feelings – physical attraction
  • though directed toward another, has “self” in mind
  • The foundation of this type of love is some characteristic in the other person that pleases you – if gone the love also is gone
  • Eros looks for what it can receive –
  • Eros is not used in the New Testament at all


Phileo: Love

  • This is “companionable love”
  • This type of love has to do with affection for, liking, to consider someone a friend etc.
  • You might even use this word to express your love for an object: “I love my car” for instance.
  • This type of love has to do with a feeling of appreciation and kindness, involves both giving and receiving
  • Greek New Testament Dictionary :

philĕō,  to be a friend to (fond of [an individual or an object]), i.e. have affection for (denoting personal attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling;

  • This particular word for love is only used about 25 times in the New Testament of the bible
  • Some of the examples of its use are:

Matthew 10:37 NKJV

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

  • So here we can see that When Jesus says if we love father or mother more than Him, he is using the “Phileo” sense of love, not the “agape” sense that we will discuss later.
  • He is saying that are appreciation for, feelings of friendship, affection, etc. (Our liking for) others must not be greater than these feelings we have toward Him. He must have preeminence

Luke 20:46 NKJV

“Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts,

  • These scribes “love” greetings, the best seats, etc. – beware of these type of pseudo Christians today

John 12:25 NKJV

He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

  • This type of love is not merely a “shallow love”, although it can be
  • But it has to do with a love based on feelings, or mutual friendship, or relationship
  • It is sometimes used in regard to our relationship with Jesus also, as He should be our friend

John 16:27 NKJV

for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.


1 Corinthians 16:22 NKJV

If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come!


Revelation 3:19 NKJV

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.


Agape: Love

  • Selfless love, to Cherish, have affection for
  • This is the noblest word for love in the greek language
  • It is a love of esteem, of valuation
  • This love is not based in the value of the object of it, but flows from God’s own self – God is love
  • This love delights in giving
  • This is unconditional love
  • Agape love desires only the good of the one loved. It is a consuming passion for the wellbeing of others
  • Charity
  • This is the Word most often used for Love in the New Testament
  • Used more than 250 time in the New Testament
  • Interestingly this Word is not often used for love outside of the bible
  • In other words, they didn’t use this word very often in extra-biblical writings
  • Yet, it is most often the word used for love in the bible
  • This is the God kind of love.
  • And it is the word that we will focus on today to describe “Biblical Love”

Agape is Biblical Love

  • Agape Love is required of all Christians
  • We touched on this briefly last week:

John 13:34–35 NKJV

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”


1 John 4:7–8 NKJV

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.


1 John 4:20–21 NKJV

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?

And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.


  • Each of these references to love is a form of the word “agape”, so this is the kind of “love” that we must have, both for God, and for each other.
  • This love is a commandment, not a suggestion.
  • This Biblical Love is not based on “feelings”
  • Is also not based on reciprocation: There might very well be times when you love as Jesus Loved, and yet are not loved back.


2 Corinthians 12:15 NKJV

And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.


  • Paul provides us with a list of characteristics of this type of love
  • often referred to as the love chapter
  • sometimes considered a definition of love, although it should better be understood as a list of some of loves attributes

1 Corinthians 13:1–8 NKJV

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.

2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;

5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;

6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;

7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.


  • Here in these verses Paul describes, not only the necessity, but also the value of Biblical Love
  • Even if he could speak in tongues, have great faith and great wisdom, without love, we are nothing
  • Like a clanging symbol – useless
  • I’m afraid there are many pseudo Christians who are like that in the church today
  • though they have enough faith to receive blessing
  • enough talents to get attention
  • enough assets to build big things
  • Yet, lacking love, they are only taking up space –
  • like a tree that bears no fruit
  • We must Love fervently, and always
  • must always return to this value

1 Corinthians 13:3 NKJV

3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

  • It profits me nothing
  • Love is a benefit tot he person giving the love, perhaps even more than tot he person receiving love
  • Paul didn’t say “If I give all my good to the poor and have not love, it profits them nothing”
  • He said “it profits me nothing”
  • You will benefit from Biblical Love.
  • Since “God is Love” when you Love with agape Love, you are allowing God to love through you
  • How could this not benefit you?

1 Corinthians 13:4 NKJV

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;

  • If we want “God in us” kind of love, then we must allow these attributes to be present in our love
  • Suffers long – love is patient
  • we want everyone to repent right now
  • but God was patient with us
  • We should be patient with others
  • Kindness, is not only a good quality – it is an attribute of love
  • Christians should be “kind” to each other
  • to the world around us
  • Some of us struggle in this area, myself included
  • Envy – being Jealous of others –
  • this was a problem with Cain
  • Envy is not rooted in Love
  • we must love, so we must be on guard for envy
  • Love does not boast, is not prideful
  • Love is Humble, the opposite of boasting
  • not prideful – not “look at me”
  • It can be scary when we read these attributes, because sometimes I find myself not well described – so I repent

1 Corinthians 13:5 NKJV

5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;

  • Biblical Love does not behave rudely
  • sometimes I really have to struggle to remember this in my telephone conversations and other business dealings
  • Biblical Love is not easily provoked
  • How many of us are ready to snap someone’s head off at the first sign of offence
  • Do you know anyone like that?
  • “don’t tread on me” attitudes are not rooted in Biblical love
  • Remember, this “agape” love is not just a neat self help principle
  • It is a requirement of all Christians
  • Biblical love “thinks no evil”
  • Love is not constantly accusing each other (falsely)
  • thinking evil of each other – finding fault

1 Corinthians 13:6 NKJV

6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;

  • Biblical love does not “rejoice in iniquity”
  • how can so many of us who call ourselves Christians, “rejoice” or enjoy so much the evil that is portrayed in so much of today’s entertainment?
  • The sexual sin portrayed in movies? Why do you enjoy that (or rejoice in that iniquity)
  • The cursing and taking the Lord’s name in vain –
  • The violence, killing and maiming – why is this so entertaining?
  • And, to make matters even worse, since we have become so numb to the “iniquity” that we rejoice in, it has to keep on increasing in order to continue to stimulate –
  • and even many you who agree with me, will still turn on one of these ungodly forms of entertainment before this very day is finished.
  • But that is not “agape” love

1 Corinthians 13:7 NKJV

7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

  • Love, the agape Kind
  • Bears all things – continues to love through these things
  • Believes – continues in faith through all things
  • Continues in hope through all things
  • endures – continuing in love – through all things


  • Some examples of Biblical Love


Matthew 14:12–14 NKJV

12 Then his disciples came and took away the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus.

13 When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities.

14 And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.

  • This is what Love sometimes looks like
  • Jesus had every reason not to have compassion on the multitude
  • His cousin and friend had just died – horribly
  • He was tired, had gone out there to avoid the crowd
  • In fact, he had reason to be irritated at them
  • How do you respond when people ask “more” of you?
  • Jesus wasn’t rude, was not provoked by their insensitivity and importunity
  • Jesus did not seek His own
  • Jesus was kind, and patient with them
  • He endured, and continued to love

Another Example of Love:


Mark 10:17–22 NKJV

17 Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”

18 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.

19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ ”

20 And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.”

21 Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”

22 But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.


  • Here Jesus said something that offended the person
  • so much so that he left sad and unsaved
  • But Jesus was not angry or rude, was not boastful or selfish
  • Instead, He was seeking this man’s good – “He loved him”
  • If Jesus’ love here had only been a Phileo type of love, He would not have said these words
  • Since that would likely harm the friendship –
  • But since the love was agape, unconditional love, seeking the benefit of the other, then frinedship became secondary
  • Jesus knew this covetessness was in the way of the man receiving eternal life
  • Loves rejoices in the truth – so He told him the truth
  • Jesus knew this covetousness was in the way of the man receiving eternal life, then friendship became secondary

John 8:7–11 NKJV

7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”

8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”

11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”


  • Jesus showed “agape” love for this woman
  • Yes she deserved to be stoned
  • She was caught in the very act
  • The law condemned her
  • the people were willing to condemn her
  • But Jesus would rather see her “go and sin no more”
  • This is God’s heart. This is His desire
  • Is this our desire also?



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