In the English language the word love is somewhat muddied. We use it for everything. We say, “I love fried chicken.” “I love my job…my wife…God.” We use that same word for all those contexts. But the Greek language has four words for love, and each one takes us to a different place in the expression of the word.
- Storge: love of parents for children
- Philadelphia: love of friends, brotherhood
- Eros: sexual love
- Agape: love from God; not for God
Christianity essentially developed the idea of agape love. Agape love is divine. It is supremely higher and richer than any of the other four Greek words. Agape did not originate on earth with man, but was created in heaven by God Himself. The greatest verse in the Bible that beautifully sums up agape love is John 3:16: “For GOD SO LOVED the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
God so loved…
It’s something very deep and passionate. It is expressed through giving. God loved us so much He gave His greatest gift—His only Son.
John, the writer of the Gospel that bears his name, was often called the Apostle of Love—and what a great reputation to have! It was almost as it John was obsessed with agape love. It came out in everything he did, said or wrote.
He was obsessed with agape love. He wrote about agape far more than any other writer in all the Bible. In the Epistle of John he wrote; “So we know that God loves us. We depend on it. God is love. Anyone who leads a life of love shows that he is joined to God. And God is joined to him . . . . We love because He loved us first.” God IS Love—the essence of who He is.
Theologian O.C. Quick said that agape is so deep, so divine, it cannot fully be grasped or understood by mere humans. He wrote: “God loves people purely for their own sake, not because of any need or desire of His own. God’s love desires their goodness and yet loves them completely, as they are at this moment, and for what He knows they can become because of His deep love for them.”
Agape love is so powerful that it actually transforms people.
Most of us love people if they live up to our code of acceptance. But God’s love accepts people AS THEY ARE with an eye towards what they can become. God’s love is powerful enough to love us IN our sin, but loves us TOO MUCH to leave us in our sin.
Agape love is the kind of love that should be found in the church. If we are going to live the life God wants for us, then we must enter the risky zone of relationships.
Listen to the full message here.
 1 John 4:16, 19 NIRV