Love is a central theme in the Bible, and it encompasses a wide range of expressions and meanings. The ancient Greek language provides a helpful framework for understanding the various types of love mentioned in the Bible. In this blog post, we will explore seven types of love as described in the Bible and their significance in the context of faith and relationships.
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Exploring the 7 Types of Love in the Bible
- Agape Love: Unconditional Love
Agape is the highest form of love and is often referred to as divine or unconditional love. It represents God’s love for humanity and is the type of love that Christians are encouraged to cultivate in their relationships. The most famous verse associated with agape love is John 3:16, which emphasizes God’s sacrificial love for the world.
- Philia Love: Friendship Love
Philia is a love that denotes deep friendship and affection. It’s about the bond between friends, family members, or people who share common values and interests. The Bible encourages the development of strong friendships, such as the deep friendship between David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1-4).
- Storge Love: Familial Love
Storge represents the love found in family relationships, particularly the natural affection between parents and children. This love is seen in passages like Proverbs 31:28, where a mother’s love for her children is honored.
- Eros Love: Romantic Love
Eros is passionate and romantic love, often associated with desire and attraction. While the Bible does not explicitly use the term “eros,” it speaks of the importance of marital love, as in the Song of Solomon, a poetic book that celebrates the love between a bride and groom.
- Phileo Love: Brotherly Love
Phileo is a type of love that signifies brotherly affection and is linked to close-knit relationships. The Bible uses “phileo” in passages like Romans 12:10, encouraging believers to be devoted to one another in brotherly love.
- Xenia Love: Hospitality Love
Xenia is the love of hospitality and welcoming strangers. In the Bible, this type of love is emphasized as a Christian virtue, as seen in Hebrews 13:2, which encourages showing love to strangers and practicing hospitality.
- Thelemic Love: Willful Love
Thelemic love is the love of one’s will and choice. It involves a conscious decision to love and act in love, irrespective of emotions or circumstances. It is often associated with the love commandments found in the Bible, such as “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).
3 LIFE TRUTHS
1. To say that agape love is the highest form of love is not to say other kinds of love are insignificant or trivial.
God created sexual love (eros) to be expressed in marriage between husbands and wives. He also created us to be connected to friends (philos)—to live in community. We are not trivializing these other kinds of love by saying agapē is the highest form of love. We want to affirm romantic love and friendship love as significant and meaningful.
2. All genuine love comes from God because God is love.
A biblical definition of love must start with God. Whether that love is romantic—between husband and wife—or the bond between friends, love that is genuine comes from God because “God is love” (1 John 4:16). If God is love, then we love others best by loving Him most.
3. Followers of Christ are to be known by the way they love.
Jesus commanded His followers: “Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35, CSB). The word Jesus used for love is the verb form of agapē. The pattern of our love is “as I have loved you.” In other words, we are to be known by our self-giving, sacrificial, unconditional love for one another. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13, describes what such love looks like, practically speaking.
The Bible offers a rich and multifaceted understanding of love, encompassing various types of love that apply to different aspects of life and relationships. Understanding these types of love can help us appreciate the depth and diversity of love in the context of our faith, families, friendships, and the wider world. It reminds us that love, in all its forms, is a central theme in the Bible and a guiding principle for Christian living.