What Does Agape Love Mean?

Agape love is not human love but divine love. It doesn’t rely on emotions but is active and conveyed through personal intention.

When we think of true love, we usually think of it in a romantic sense. It is driven by strong emotions and physical attraction towards the other; that’s how the world views true love. Hence, God’s definition of true love is complex for us to grasp. 

What is Agape Love?

Agape love is entirely different from the world’s view of love. It’s more profound, genuine, and unconditional, regardless of our emotions. There’s so much to discover about God’s perfect agape love, and here’s everything you need to know.

Agape Love

What does Agape mean?

According to Britannica, agape has a Greek origin that translates into love and charity in English. Agape describes the unselfish and fatherly love of God for humans. It can also be defined as the reciprocal love of humans to God. In the Bible, the verse that perfectly describes agape is John 3:16

How does Agape Love differ from the other types of love?

Agape love is the highest form of love out of all the types in the Bible. In the New Testament, agape refers to a love of will and choice rather than emotions or feelings. Agape love is not human love but divine love. It is activated by the personal choice of our intention to seek the benefit of the one who is loved and is self-sacrificial by nature. 

What does Agape Love Mean in the Bible?

In the Bible, agape is the love that comes from and is God (1 John 4:8). Agape is a part of God’s character; He is the source of this undeserved, unconditional, and sacrificial love (1 John 4:19). Agape love is also active and is the type of love demonstrated through actions. We also dwell in His agape love whenever we obey Jesus’ commandments and teachings (John 15:9-10). But the most excellent example of all is John 3:16. There is no other verse in the Bible that can explain and convey God’s love for all human beings.

Examples of Agape Love in the Bible

1 John 4:7-8

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love.

1 John 4:16-18

And so we know and rely on God’s love for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world, we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates his love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Psalms 86:15

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

Ephesians 2:4-5

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”

1 Corinthians 13:13

“And now, these three remain faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Types of Love in the Bible

Agape Love

Storge

Storge means affection and is the kind of love described between family members. It’s a type of affection that comes naturally, like how a mother instantly cares for her newborn. Storge is not mistaken for phileo or brotherly love, as it describes a more in-depth love between family relationships. One of the most well-known Bible verses about storge love is Exodus 20:12.

Notable stories in the Bible that convey storge love are the mutual protection between Noah and his family (Genesis 6:9-22; 7:1-24; 8:1-22) and the love portrayed by Martha and Mary for Lazarus (John 11:1-43). 

Eros

Eros is the passionate, healthy, and physical expression of arousal and sexual love between husband and wife. It also pertains to the Greek mythological god of love, sexual desire, and physical attraction. It is imperative to note that God intends eros love to be reserved for marriage only (1 Corinthians 7:8-9). For it is a gift God designed as a source of delight and a blessing of procreation shared between married couples (Ecclesiastes 9:9). 

Philia

Philia or phileo is a Greek word that means a strong affection between friends and companions. It is a type of appreciation and enjoyment that stems from a deep connection. It is described as genuine love and care for another person, though not as deep as love within the family and not romantically intense as eros. The best example of philia love in the Bible is the friendship of David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1-3).

Agape

Agape is sacrificial love and is the noblest and most powerful type of love because it is done with a choice to put someone’s interest above your own. It is a love of choice and of serving with humility. Agape love is driven by actions and extends beyond a person’s emotions. Besides John 3:16, Jesus’ commandment to the disciples is an example of agape love that we, too, can practice with those around us (John 13:34-35).

How Do We Apply Agape Love in All Our Relationships?

Respect the other person

We’ve always known that respect isn’t given. It’s earned; that’s not the case with God. God respects all human beings, regardless of their race and background. Why? Because He created all of us in His image, we deserve respect. In short, agape love comes with respect towards the other person because this type of love always trusts, hopes, and perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:7). 

Forgive them, and don’t hold a grudge.

God’s love is forgiving and abundant. When He forgives, there are no conditions or doubts; God forgives us, and He doesn’t hold a grudge. That’s how we should do it as well. However, as humans, we overlook but still keep a record of the wrongdoing in the back of our minds. According to the last part of 1 Corinthians 13:5, that should not be the case. Like how Jesus loved us, we should love without doubt and judgment in our hearts and minds. 

Put their needs above your own.

Giving love doesn’t have to cost us money; giving our time and efforts is more than enough. Offering your time to help on a project or providing emotional support when they’re feeling down are some things you can do to put their needs above your own. Giving up a piece of your time and effort will be greatly appreciated by the other party. It shows that you actively participate in their journey and are more than willing to help them get through it.

Agape Love

In Summary

Though agape love does not instinctively come to us due to our sinful nature as human beings, God gave this love into our hearts when we became His children (Romans 5:5). We can only love as God loves if we constantly seek God. It is difficult for our minds and hearts to comprehend His perfect and unconditional love on our own, and only through God can we show and experience this kind of love. 

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Alex Shute
EDITOR
Alex Shute, MBA
Alex is a family man and entrepreneur based in Los Angeles. His passion is to serve the global Church and bring people of diverse backgrounds together to learn & grow.