No Word for Love

Saturday Edition: On Saturday I often give updates or share an article that I have previously written. I write often about love and want those who read Interruptions to understand the significance of “agape”, which is the Greek word most often used for “love” in the New Testament.

Words often fail us.

We cannot express ourselves; we misspeak and say one thing and mean another. Sometimes we can’t remember the word that we want to use.

The writers of the New Testament struggled to find a word for love!

The Greek language, in which the New Testament was written, didn’t have an adequate word for how Jesus described love.

The Greek had the word “storge”, which is love of something familiar. It could be used of a dog, or even worse, a cat. Have you ever been around someone and then thought one day, “I guess we are becoming friends?”

Storge wasn’t used in the New Testament because the love Jesus taught was so intense that you knew it when you experienced it.

The Greek also had the world “eros”. This is an intense love of desire. In English we say erotic, and we know what that means, and those who spoke Greek in the time of Jesus knew it too.

The world “lust” couldn’t be used. It is a taking love that rarely gives back and is seldom fulfilling. This is not the word used by the Apostle Paul for love in 1 Corinthians 13!!!

The Greek language had the word “phileo” – friendship. Philadelphia means “city of brotherly love”. Friendship is and should be, enjoyed by everyone. We value our friends and say we will do anything for them.

But “phileo” can be fickle. Have you ever said, “I’m your best friend” and then a day later said, “I never want to see you again”? Friendship is needed by all but tends to be tied to our expectations of the other person. No, “phileo” is not the primary word used for love in the New Testament.

In the Greek language there is an obscure word – “agape”. This is the word used by the New Testament writers for love. John 3:16 says, “For God so “agape” the world that He gave His only Son that whosever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”

Agape, in the New Testament, becomes more familiar and intense the more you agape.  This love can be passionate along with a willingness to die for the other person. Ultimately agape love is serving, not taking; giving, and not anger, at unfulfilled expectations.

The word “agape” as a word was barely used in the first century. The New Testament writers pulled a dusty word out their vocabulary closet and said, “Let’s use ‘agape’ to describe the most exciting concept ever expressed in the history of the world. Love needs supernatural power; it is a fruit of the Spirit. Yep, ‘agape’ it is!”

Agape love is our message series for the next month entitled “The Real Issue is Love”. In each message we will encourage those listening to say:

Few people have ever been judged into change, but many have been loved into it!

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