Monday, July 17, 2017

What Type of Love is in Your Marriage?

There are four Greek words for love that are important for Christians to understand. They are agape, phileo, storge, and eros. Three of them appear in the Bible. Since love is the foundation of relationships it is important for us to understand what these words mean and how they differ.

Agape is the very nature of God, for God is love (1 John 4:7-12, 16b). We are accustomed to thinking of love as a feeling, but that is not the case with agape love. Agape love is unconditional love; it is love because of what it does, not because of how it feels. Unlike our English word love, agape is not used in the New Testament to refer to romantic or sexual love. Nor does it refer to close friendship or brotherly love, for which the Greek word phileo is used. Agape love involves faithfulness, commitment, and an act of the will. It is distinguished from the other types of love by its lofty moral nature and strong character. Agape love is beautifully described in 1 Corinthians 13. This type of love can only be displayed through the Spirit of God, but when it is shared it establishes a substructure for a good strong marriage!

Phileo love refers to brotherly love and is most often exhibited in a close friendship. The friendship of David and Jonathan is an excellent illustration of phileo love: “After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. . . . And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself” (1 Samuel 18:1-3). Such friendships are rare but ought to be seen amongst the people of God! Since phileo love involves feelings of warmth and affection toward another person, it ought to be part of every marriage.

Eros is Greek word for sexual love or passionate love. We get English word “erotic” from this Greek word. When eros was used as a proper noun, it referred to the Greek god of love, whom the Romans called Cupid. The Greek word eros does not appear in the Bible, but we understand it to be the love of passion, excitement and sex. This is also part of marriage.

Storge refers to 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."

The word storge appears in the noun or verb form with the preifx “a” and therefore negates the love, and means without this type of love. It is translated in Romans 1:31 and 2 Timothy 3:3 as “unloving” (without natural affection). In Romans 12:10, storge is compounded with philos and is translated “devoted” (kindly affectionate).

There are many examples of family love found throughout the Bible and certainly this type of love should be in every marriage!

Tim Hadley Sr.

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