Translating love

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Translating Love
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SERMONS, ESSAYS AND OPINIONS
CONTENTS

In the New Testament, the word love has been translated from three different Koine Greek words: philia, agape and storge.

Love is the fundamental essence of God. 1 John 4:8 says

He who doesn't love doesn't know God, for God is love. (agape)

Philia

Philia is often used in a sense that means the brotherly love of friendship.

Agape

Agape is often used to describe love that is unconditional and limitless.

William Barclay notes that "Agape has to do with the mind, it is not an emotion which rises unbidden in our hearts; it is a principle by which we deliberately live"

Note that Jesus said "Woe to you Pharisees! For you love [agape] the front seats in the synagogues, and the respectful greetings in the market places" in Luke 11:43. Agape tends to mean the total commitment and dedication to something and does not necessarily mean divine love.

The Koine Greek agape is used in this passage on love from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is patient and is kind; love doesn't envy. Love doesn't brag, is not proud, doesn't behave itself inappropriately, doesn't seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil; doesn't rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will be done away with. Where there are various languages, they will cease. Where there is knowledge, it will be done away with.

Storge

Storge is often used for the natural affection of families.

Eros

Eros is usually used to mean sexual love, and is also the love of beauty. The word is not found in the New Testament.

Resources

The Four Loves is an excellent study by C.S. Lewis

Quotes

William Barclay on Agape

Agape has to do with the mind, it is not an emotion which rises unbidden in our hearts; it is a principle by which we deliberately live

Links



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