What does divine love mean?

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There are four Greek words for love that are important for Christians to know. They are agape, phileostorge, and eros. The first three appear in the Bible. The fourth is the “erotic” kind.

The Greek word that refers to the love of God or the spiritual kind, one of the kinds of love we are to have for people, is agapeAgape is the very nature of God, for God is love (1 John 4:7-12, 16b). The big key to understanding agape is to realize that it can be known from the action it prompts.

People are accustomed to thinking of love as a feeling, but that is not necessarily the case with agape love. Agape is love because of what it does, not because of how it feels. Agape is an exercise of the will, a deliberate choice. This is why God can command us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44; Exodus 23:1-5). He is not commanding us to “have a good feeling” for our enemies, but to act in a loving way toward them.

God so “loved” (agape) that He gave His Son (John 3:16). It did not feel good for God to do that, but it was the loving thing to do. Christ so loved (agape) that He gave His life. He did not want to die, but He loved us, so He did what was required to save us from death.

The test of our love to God is that we keep His commandments. Jesus said, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me…” (John 14:21a). There are Christians who say they love God, but their life goes contrary to the will of God. These people mistake their feeling of affection for God for true agape love. Jesus made this clear: “He who does not love me will not obey my teaching” (John 14:24). And He added, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

This new agape nature is also a gift from God to all that seek it “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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