What does agape love mean?


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Agapē is a Greek word for love. This is the higher type of love, which recognizes something of value in the person that is loved. Agape is distinguished from the other types of love by its lofty moral nature and strong character. It is not used in the New Testament to refer to romantic or sexual love, the Greek word for that sort of love is eros. Nor does it refer to close friendship or brotherly love, for which the Greek word philia is used. Agape love is the kind of love that is based on principle, not on emotion. It is the love that grows out of respect for the admirable qualities of its object.

God Is Love

The Bible tells us that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). He does not merely love; He is the essence of love itself. Everything God does is motivated by love. This love is that which is seen between the Father and Jesus (John 15:10; 17:26). It is the redeeming love of the Godhead for lost humanity (John 15:9; 1 John 3:1; 4:9, 16). It is also used to signify the believer’s relation to God (1 John 2:5; 4:12; 5:3). And love for God is shown by conformity to His will for this is the real proof of love (1 John 2:4, 5; John 14:15; 1 John 5:3).

Description of Agape Love

Agape love is beautifully described in 1 Corinthians 13. The apostle Paul wrote:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 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, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away” (ch. 13:1-8)

The word charity (agapē) in 1 Corinthians 13, is not comprehensive enough to indicate the wide sweep of interest in the well-being of others that is contained in the word agape. Therefore, it should be understood in the light of all that is said in this chapter concerning it. Agape is the special quality demonstrated in the dealings of Christians with one another (John 13:34, 35; 15:12–14; 1 John 3:16) and even with their enemies (Matthew 5:44).

Agape love does not come naturally to us. It is the love that “has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5 also Galatians 5:22). It is God’s love toward us, that enables us to love one another. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness” (Galatians 5:22-23).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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