For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16, ESV
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. ~ John 13:34-35, ESV
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. ~ John 15:13, ESV
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends… ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, ESV
The main way that agápe differs with the other kinds of love that are in this world is that agápe means self-sacrifice. Thus, when God commands us to show agápe love, He is telling us to show His nature and His character—God is love (cf. 1 John 4:8, ESV). Put differently, just like God demonstrated His agápe love for us when He sent His son into this world to die for us, and just like Christ Jesus demonstrated His agápe love for us by willingly dying on the cross in our place, God is demanding that we love each other the same way—sacrificially (altruistically), unselfishly putting other people and their needs first (read about sacrificial love in the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37, ESV).
Love doesn’t get any nobler than agápe. For sure, agápe is the highest type of love there is. No other kind of love can come close to God’s unconditional, self-denying, long-suffering, kind, and supportive type of love. Also there is no other type of earthly love that can come close to being the kind of love we are commanded to show our God and all mankind, which means even our enemies are included in every love command (see Matthew 5:44; Matthew 22:37-39).
Furthermore, very few people would die for an enemy, let alone for people they love with a lesser kind of love than agápe. Yet, this is exactly what God’s agápe has moved Him to do. We were sinners, rebels, children of the devil and thus enemies of God who didn’t deserve to be redeemed. For this reason, we not only are to sacrifice our good for the good of our brothers and sisters in Christ, but also we are to sacrifice our good for the greater good—for the good of all mankind.
In addition to the self-sacrifice meaning, agápe also means long-sufferance. In other words, agápe is patient. It takes a person with agápe love a very long time to get angry. In the case of loving one’s enemy, the person who has agápe love endures insults and injuries while patiently attempting to win over his or her adversary.
Agápe also means kindness. When a person is kind to others, he or she usually is demonstrating true compassion and/or tenderness, as well as being sincerely generous and/or friendly. For sure, kindness holds in check every kind of abuse. Thus, when any Scripture tells us that we are to be kind to every person, that Word of God only is reiterating that we must agápe each other—show love to everybody.
Agápe also means support (it bears all things; puts up with anything). The person who has agápe love is supportive either by being slow to expose the sins and mistakes of others or, figuratively speaking, by standing under the person who has fallen or who is in trouble and lifting that individual up with encouragement and help.
Since agápe means self-sacrifice, long-sufferance, kindness, and support, the person who displays agápe love definitely will not be envious, boastful, arrogant, rude, self-centered (always “me” first), cantankerous (easy to provoke), or resentful/bitter (a recorder or keeper of other people’s sins and/or the hurts they cause). Additionally, this person who has agápe love won’t rejoice in what’s wrong but will rejoice in the truth. Ultimately, because the person who is displaying agápe love also is demonstrating the God kind of Trust (gives the benefit of the doubt; believes all things; always trusts God), is demonstrating the God kind of Hope (has the highest expectations; hopes all things), and is demonstrating the God kind of Determination (never gives up; endures all things; never looks back), as a result, the agápe love this person shows others is the kind of love that keeps going until the end—never fades, never becomes obsolete, and never is done/finished.
The bottom line is that it takes God pouring into us His agápe love before we ever would be able to release agápe love to Him or to all humanity. That’s why His agápe love commands are painlessly achievable and not burdensome in the least bit. We can love God and others the way God loves us, because He first loved us enough to decide He would give us a part of His nature and His character.