What does the Bible say about love? In short, A LOT.
Love is a central theme in the Bible and is a primary attribute of God. But we often fail to see the true beauty and depth of what God’s Word is communicating. Our language only has 1 word for love, whereas there are 4 types of love in the Bible (Philia, Eros, Storge, and Agape).
These 4 unique forms of love found in Scripture show us both what God has done for us and how we show love to those around us.
In this blog post we are going to look at what the Bible says about love and then we will break down each of the 4 types of love in the Bible.
What Does The Bible Say About Love?
There’s far too many Bible verses about love to break down in a single blog post. What we are going to do is look at some of the highlights so that we can understand what the Bible is communicating to us today.
If you want to read more Bible verses about love you can check out this list: Bible Verses About Love
Bible Verses About Love
Here’s some of the highlights about love in the Bible:
From the beginning the precedent is set about God’s faithfulness and love. (Deuteronomy 7:9)God commands his people love their neighbors. (Leviticus 19:18) Song Of Solomon centers around the love between a husband and a wife. (Song Of Solomon 8:6-7)Proverbs talks about the healing qualities of love. (Proverbs 17:9)David praises God for his steadfast love throughout the Psalms. (Psalm 86:15)John 3:16 is one of the most famous verses in the Bible and centers around God’s love for us. Paul beautifully illustrates the attributes of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Jesus gives a new commandment to love each other. (John 13:34) Jesus teaches that the marker for a Christian’s life is how we love each other. (John 13:35)God is love. (1 John 4:8) We aren’t to just love those easy to love, but also our enemies. (Matthew 5:43-48) Love must be the center of all we do. (1 Corinthians 13:1) The greatest commandment is to love God and love those around us. (Matthew 22:36-40)
This is only a small sampling of the Bible verses that talk about love, but I think this gives us an overview of this topic.
What Is Love According To The Bible
If I could sum up what the Bible teaches us about love it’s that God loves us and in response we are to love God AND love those around us. Our love for God is shown by keeping his commandments and loving our neighbors.
Our culture has a skewed view of love. Loving someone means that you accept them and never critique them. Love is something that is earned in our culture. We love those who love us. But our enemies? They don’t deserve love.
The Bible teaches us a different way to love. Love is about doing what is best for the person, not always what’s easiest. The Bible challenges us to not only love our friends, but also our enemies. Our love must extend to those who do not deserve it.
This is what Jesus modeled. He never shied away from telling the truth, even when it hurt. Nor did he ever lack extending love and grace. It was love that motivated him. And the same should be true for his followers today.
Here’s the way I would sum up how we can apply this to our life in our interactions with others.
Because I love you, I must show you grace. Because I love you, I must tell you the truth.
You can’t do one without the other. That’s what love according to the Bible teaches us. God has shown us endless love and grace, and he continually tells us the truth. We are to do the same for those around us.
4 Types Of Love In The Bible
Now that we know what love is according to the Bible, I want to switch gears to look at the 4 types of love in the Bible.
These 4 words are found in the New Testament and each are Greek words that illustrate a different aspect of love.
Philia – Brotherly Love
Philia (φιλία) = friendship
You might recognize this word. It’s where the city of brotherly love gets its name, Philadelphia. Philia is the kind of love found in friendships. This Greek word describes the powerful bond among friends.
Philia is the most general type of love found in the Bible and is used to show how Christians should interact with one another. It’s Philia love that Jesus said should be the marker for his followers’ lives (John 13:35). The church should be known for this kind of love that centers around care, respect, compassion, and deep connections among each other.
Eros – Sensual or Romantic Love
Eros (ἐρεῶ)= sensual or romantic love
Eros originated from the mythological Greek god of love and sexual desire. And it’s where we get our English word erotic.
The Bible takes this Greek word and applies to the relationship between a husband and wife. Promiscuity was rampant in Bible times, just as it is today, and the Bible continually reserves eros love for marriage.
This is what Paul is referring to in 1 Corinthians 7:8-9; he’s warning young believers to follow God’s plan for eros love. Within the boundaries of marriage this kind of love is to be celebrated and enjoyed as a blessing form God. But outside God’s design much harm can be done.
For more check out: What Does The Bible Say About Sex? (4 surprising truths)
Storge – Familial Love
Storge (storgē) = Love for family
This term for love is one that most are unfamiliar with. This Greek word describes the love family members have for one another.
This kind of love mostly happens naturally. A parent can’t help but love their child and a child’s bond to their parents happen without effort. It’s a special and unique kind of family love.
Romans 12:10 presents an interesting combination of storge and philia in which Paul commands the church to practice familiar love within the church. In other words, we are to have that familiar love with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Followers of Jesus are part of God’s family; we are knit together not by blood but by Spirit. Therefore we should love with each other with deep affection of storge love.
Agape – Unconditional Love
Agape (ἀγάπη) = Perfect/unconditional love
Agape is the most well-known of the 4 types of love in the Bible and is also the highest form of love. This is a divine kind of love that can only come from God. This word shows God’s immeasurable and incomprehensible love for us.
John 3:16 shows us how Jesus perfectly encapsulates agape love. God loves us because it’s who he is. It’s all he can do. And it’s this perfect love that saves us.
Agape love is found perfectly in Jesus. But with the help of the Holy Spirit we can experience and show this kind of love.
Closing Thoughts About Love In The Bible
Love is one of the most powerful emotions a person can experience. And the Bible talks at length about it. The above 4 types of love in the Bible show us the beauty and depth that encompasses so many aspects of our life.
The central message about love in the Bible is God’s love for us. His perfect love doesn’t wane. It’s not tied to our obedience, and it is where our hope is found. While the love we find in our families, spouses, and friends are good gifts from God, they all fall short. But God’s love will never fail us.
Throughout the Bible we see God’s love displayed and are invited to accept it. It’s through his love that we are transformed. For followers of Jesus we are made new and now our call is to do the same for those around us. We are to love others in the same way that we have been loved.
The Bible doesn’t just teach us about God’s love, it challenges us to live in light of what he has done for us. Take some time to reflect on God’s love for you. And ask yourself if are extending the same love to those around you.