The Christian Life
"This is My commandment, that you LOVE ONE ANOTHER as I have LOVED YOU." John 15:12-14
"And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is LOVE." 1 Corinthians 13:13
Read all of 1 Corinthians chapter 13.
In the past many have insisted that the Greek word 'agape' which has been translated 'love' and 'charity' in our English Bibles, refers to 'Christian love' only. It should be noted that 'agape' is used in a good and an evil sense in Scripture. All of the following references are using 'agape' in the evil sense:
"for Demas has forsaken me, having LOVED this present world..." 2 Timothy 4:10
"Woe to you Pharisees! For you LOVE the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces." Luke 12:43
"For even sinners LOVE those who LOVE them." Luke 6:32
"Do not LOVE the world or the things in the world." 1 John 2:15
The best way to understand this word is that it refers to a self sacrificing love or desire in a particular area. Demas sacrificed his future hope in God's Kingdom for the enjoyment of this present world. That was indeed a self sacrifice of great proportions. The lesson we can learn from this is that we have to sacrifice personal gain and comfort many times in our life in order to demonstrate this agape love in a good sense for God and others who come our way.
Love and obedience
"He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is HE WHO LOVES ME." John 14:21
"If you keep My commandments, you will ABIDE IN MY LOVE just as I have kept My Fathers commandments and ABIDE IN HIS LOVE." John 15:10
The concept of love and obedience going hand in hand is clear. True agape starts with obedience to Jesus' Word.
The impartiality of agape love
In Acts 10:34 Peter says that 'God shows no partiality'. If you read 1Corinthians 13, you will notice how that agape love is portrayed as being completely impartial or to put it another way, we have to work at not showing favouritism and not allowing decisions to be based on personal bias. This is probably one of the hardest things for us to do as disciples of Jesus. This 'impartiality' though is based on what God requires of us and this may appear to be biased by those who do not have a knowledge of God's will. We are most assuredly accused of bias and lack of love for our country, when we state our case for objection to military service. This decision though is based on our agape love for Jesus and an impartial desire to serve and obey Him. (See Matthew5:39, 26:52; John 18:36) There are other facets of discipleship that people will not connect with love if they do not know God's will. (See 1 Peter 4:4)
'phileo' is the kind affection
The Greek word 'phileo' refers to a 'kind affection' for others, but does not carry the impartial self sacrifice concept of 'agape'. This is a much easier love to show because it is more than likely generated by personal taste rather than a love for God, and hence can be partial. We have a 'phileo' for our family members and special friends. The true test of course is that if we are, or think we are mistreated by our friends, the need then is for us to show the unbiased agape love.
Extra info and Bible references
Love in the Bible means 'a kind affection for' or in the most important sense 'impartial love' which is prepared to sacrifice selfish ambitions for others.
'phileo' in the Greek is the 'kind affection' and is translated: 'love' and 'kiss' in the New Testament. John 11:3,36, 12:25; Luke 24:47, 1Corinthians16.22; Titus 3:15; Revelation3:19, 22:15
'agape' (noun) and 'agapao' (verb) show no partiality and are translated: 'love', 'dear', 'charity', 'feast of charity' and 'beloved' in the New Testament. Matthew 5:43,44,46, 19:19; Colossians 1:13; 1 Corinthians 8:1; Jude v12; Romans 9:25, Ephesians 1:6; Colossians3:12
All Scripture quoted is from the N.K.J.V.
If you would like to find out more about this topic, go to the Online Bible Course