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What is love and why is it so important in the Bible? 

 November 6, 2020

By  Trey Murray

Introduction

Love is a very central theme to the Bible, in fact, the Bible is the story of God’s love for his creation.

Everyone wants to know what love is, both Christian and non-Christian alike

In this post we’ll cover the various types of love in the Greek language and what the Bible say about each of these types.

What is love?

Love is more than an emotion; it is an action. It requires sacrifice and patience. It provides hope and produces faith. It binds people together and forgives all wrongs. Love conquers all.

To quote the Christian band D.C. Talk, “Luv Is A Verb” (sic). Love requires action. So many people talk about it as if it were an emotion, something over which they have no control. You may even feel this way yourself.

Do you ever find yourself saying you “fell into” or “fell out of” love? The act of loving requires work and sacrifice. There is no falling with it. You work at it.

So, do you believe love is one of the base human emotions? Do you think that it just happens and isn’t the result of hard work and effort?

I have heard many an advisor say marriage is not 50-50. That’s what divorce is. Marriage is 100-100. Both parties in marriage must give the relationship their all-in order for it to have a chance of working.

Marriages aren’t the only relationships that require full commitment from both parties. Friendships, brother bonds, familial relationships, they all require both parties to invest time and patience to flourish.

What is love? It is action, not emotion.

Why is love Important?

Love is one of the most central themes in the Bible. In fact, the most famous Bible verse says:

For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16 (HCSB)

In fact, the King James Version (KJV) version of the Bible mentions this word 310 times. Newer translations taken from older source material has even more instances of love in the text.

Much of the mention of love in the Old Testament focuses on God’s agape for his creation, specifically the Hebrew people. Solomon’s books of wisdom (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon) does cover the 4 types i've covered below.

Other books make mention of it, but the overarching theme is God’s unconditional love for creation.

The New Testament tells not only the story of a loving God, but his creation's love for him in return.

This central theme throughout the New Testament inspired the apostle Paul, who hunted down and imprisoned early Christians. He wrote a whole chapter in 1st Corinthians about love.

Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (HCSB)

The 4 types of love

There were many words in ancient Greek for love. The New Testament of the Bible was originally written in Greek, and used 4 of these words. I will cover these below:

1

Storge - this is familial type. It is instinctual and usually occurs naturally.

Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Romans 12:10 (HCSB)

2

Philio - this is brotherly type, like a friend who is as close as a brother.

About brotherly love: You don’t need me to write you because you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.

1 Thessalonians 4:9 (HCSB)

3

Eros - this is physical or romantic desire. It is passionate but only skin deep. 

This is what the Lord God says: Because your lust was poured out and your nakedness exposed by your acts of prostitution with your lovers, and because of all your detestable idols and the blood of your children that you gave to them,

Ezekiel 16:36 (HCSB)

4

Agape - this is unconditional. It is the kind God has for his creation.

Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.

1 John 2:15 (HCSB)

Conclusion

Now, what is love? The usage of the word in today’s society can be super confusing. Do we love french fries the same way we do our family? Do we display the same for our spouse or partner?

I hope this post helped you understand that there are several answers to what is love. Love can be many different things, but it always requires some sort of action.

Whether you are talking familial (storge), brotherly (philio), physical desire (eros), or unconditional (agape), some amount of sacrifice is required to maintain the relationship.

What is love? It takes effort by both parties.

Now it's your turn!

Do you agree or disagree with this answer to “What is love?” Leave me a comment below and let me know!

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About the author

Trey Murray focuses his writing talents on lessons for his life group. He utilizes his life experience and draws from year of experience both in and out of Faith in God.

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