The Different Words for “Love” in The Bible
What is the difference between the two kinds of love that the Bible speaks of?
Actually, in the Greek language there were at least three kinds of love. And the most popular one in the Greek language was the word eros, from which we get the word erotic. And it had to do with sensual love. It was the kind of love wherein we love someone because they make us feel so good. We love them because they are so beautiful. We love them because they complement us, or whatever. It is the love that most romances are built on, and it has no enduring quality of any kind.
And the Bible does not use the word eros in speaking about love. That was in the secular world.
In the Biblical language one of the words that was less frequently used is the word phileo. It’s the word that we get Philadelphia from. Philadelphia means brotherly love. Adelphia is brother, and phileo is love. It is the love of one brother for another. It’s the love of a father for his child. It is the love that runs along bloodlines, if you will.
A deeper and more intense and eternal love is agape love, that we read about very frequently in the Bible. Most of the references, or a high percentage of the references to love in the Bible is the word agape. Agape love is love that is patterned after the love of God. One aspect of that love is intense love for the unlovable, in that God loved us when we were in our sins, and there was nothing lovable about us. It is the love that is based upon the keeping of the commandments of God. It is the love that God certainly expects between husband and wife. Once we love this way, then we’ve got a marriage that will never fail, because we’re going to love. We’re going to make it our business to love. We’re going to make it our business to do the very best for our marriage partner, regardless of whether they love us or not.