agape, brotherly love, Eros, family love, mental love, natural affection, passionate love, Philia, physical, sensual, spiritual Divine Love, Storge, temple harlotry, temple of Aphrodite, unconditional love of God
We ourselves love now because he loved us first. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar. For if a person does not love his brother, whom he has seen, then he cannot love God, whom he has not seen. Yes, this is the command we have from him: whoever loves God must love his brother too. ~ 1 John 4:19-21, CJB
Long before God ever created us in His image He loved us. Since love is reciprocal, it should be obvious that God created us primarily so that we would choose to love Him back. He also created us so that we would choose to love everyone He created. In other words, both our temporal life (limited by time) and our eternal life (existing outside of time) are about LOVE—God’s love for us and our love for Him and others.
Since love started with God (cf. 1 John 4:19), who graciously gave us the ability to love, we should seek to understand how much God loves us, as well as learn how to recognize His love, especially during those times when we don’t seem to feel His love. We also should seek to understand why it is impossible for us to love God and not sincerely demonstrate to EVERY person the same kind of love He shows us.
In this world we live in, there are many different kinds of love. Some of these types of love are addressed in the New Testament. In the New Testament we find:
- Agápe, which is the highest type of love. In the Holy Bible, this spiritual kind of Divine Love (the unconditional love of God) is the love that Christ Jesus showed Father God and humanity.
- Philia, which is a general type of love that usually is used between family members and friends, plus used when a person is conveying a desire or the enjoyment of an activity. In the Holy Bible, this mental kind of brotherly love is the love that the early Christians showed one another.
- Storge, which is a natural affection type of love that parents show to their children. Storge also expresses patience (putting up with) or acceptance of situations. Throughout the Holy Bible, this caring kind of family love is seen, even though storge is a word that is never mentioned in the Holy Bible.
- Eros, which is the basest type of love. This sensual, physical, passionate love usually is shared between individuals who are physically attracted to one another. In the Holy Bible, in particular in 1 Corinthians, this kind of intimate sexual love is forbidden, even though the word eros is not used. In 1 Corinthians, the apostle Paul admonishes the Corinthian believers who were engaging in temple harlotry—fornicating with the temple prostitutes in Corinth, who were priestesses of the temple of Aphrodite (see 1 Corinthians 6:15-20). Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of erotic (eros) love.
Of these four types of love, God’s agápe love is the kind of love He commands us to demonstrate. Even Christ Jesus commanded us to show the agápe kind of love to God, ourselves, our neighbors, and our fellow believing brothers and sisters (see Matthew 22:37-39; John 13:34; 1 Thessalonians 4:9). Indeed, to make sure that we could fulfill this command to love with the agápe kind of love, God gave us His Holy Spirit, and His Holy Spirit then poured into our hearts/spirits this unconditional love of God. As proof, the apostle Paul writes that “…God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5, ESV).
Lastly, since God’s agápe love is a sign that we are Christians (see 1 John 5:1-2), let us who are born again, saved, justified, filled with the Holy Spirit, and being sanctified believers seek to please God not only with the Faith He has given us, but also by loving Him with our whole heart, strength, mind and soul, and by loving others as we love ourselves.