Love is a timeless emotion that is an intricate part of the human experience, and the most powerful form of the emotion is something called "agape" love.
In this article, we'll explore agape love meaning and examples of agape love in the Bible. So, let's explore agape meaning so we can better understand it and its application to biblical teaching and our lives.
READ ALSO: 20 Bible Verses About Love
Definition of Agape
To begin, let's look at agape meaning in detail. First, you should know that it is a Greek word, with Encyclopedia Britannica explaining that agape meaning centers on "the fatherly love of God for humans, as well as the human reciprocal love for God." The outlet also notes that agape love in the Bible refers to the highest and more important form of love.
That said, GotQuestions.org offers another helpful definition, explaining that agape meaning "involves faithfulness, commitment, and an act of the will."
Britannica also provides a powerful example of agape love in the Bible that perfectly illustrates this meaning. In John 3:16 — arguably one of the most important and transformative Bible verses — agape is the word that is used to illustrate the love of God that caused the Lord to send his son to die on the cross for humanity's sins.
And it seems agape loves shows up throughout scripture, as it is apparently referenced more than 200 times in the New Testament.
Agape Meaning: Exploring Greek Words for Love
Agape love in the Bible isn't the only type of love, of course. Christianity.com notes that there are a number of Greek words for "love." While all of them translate into English the same way, those meanings are actually a bit different.
As we explore agape love meaning as the ultimate form of love, let's also consider the word eros. While the word doesn't specifically present itself in scripture, it refers to romantic love — a very different kind of love.
Then there's philia, which refers to the love that comes from friendship. Interestingly, Christianity.com notes that one could draw a connection between agape love and philia love:
Philia is often overlooked in modern culture, but it is exhorted in the Bible. In Romans 12:10, Paul urges the believers to be devoted to one another in brotherly philia. Philia can be strongly associated with agape as well. In John 15:13, Jesus said that there is no greater agape than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
It's helpful to explore these meanings as we look at agape love in the Bible.
Examples of Agape in the Bible
As we explore agape love meaning, let's look at various scriptures where we can find the Greek word. We already covered John 3:16 (read the chapter on Biblica), but we can also look at additional verses to see agape love in the Bible.
Romans 5:8 (NIV) reads, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." This, too, points back to Christ's selfless death for humanity.
There's also 1 John 4:8 (NIV), which reads, "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."
Below, there are other examples where we can discern important lessons from agape meaning:
"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." - John 15:13 (NIV)
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." - 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)
Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone." - Luke 11:42 (NIV)
"But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." - Matthew 5:44 (NIV)
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness." - Galatians 5:22 (NIV)
"Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them." - Colossians 3:19 (NIV)
These are just some of the verses that shed light on the importance and prevalence of agape meaning. Want to see agape love in action? Watch powerful faith and family-friendly movies like "God's Compass" right now on Pure Flix!
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