What does Agape Love Mean?

What Kind of Love is Agape Love?

A well-known line is God is love. But both of those words, God and love are ambiguous in today’s culture. God can mean a multitude of religions and love can mean a gamut of definitions. A more biblical interpretation is God is Jesus; and love is Agape (the Greek word for God’s love).

The way that the word agape works in historical literature—it was only used for a commander in a high position to be revered or honored by the people or country. Other than that, there’s not too much illustration for agape. What Jesus did throughout the Bible, from the point of His ministry and onwards, defined agape by His lifestyle and message.  God is love or Jesus is agape.

What are the four types of love?

In the Greek culture, there’s actually four major definitions of what we use in the Western culture for the word love:

  1. Phileo
  2. Storgē
  3. Eros
  4. Agapē

It’s important to know that when people said the word love in the Greek culture, during Jesus’ times, they weren’t actually saying the word love. They were saying agape. Every time Jesus commands us to love, He is commanding us in Greek to agape. The other four terms for love in Greek is in the next section.

What does phileo love mean?

Friendship and companionship Love

Phileo love is defined as friendship or companionship. It’s often defined by a common affinity such as passion, interest, activities, and it’s what we’re most familiar with when we think about our best friend.

What does storgē love mean?

Affection or belonging, family love

The next love is storgē, which has to do with family love. You’re basically born into storgē love because it’s basically your family. It’s not necessarily by choice so much but it’s about your birth and who you love and the people that you can’t change around you simply by your family legacy.

What does eros love mean?

Romantic love or sexual love

Eros love is romantic or sexual erotic love, which is actually in the Christian value system. It’s the only love that is actually ordained to be inside of marriage. Eros Love is not meant to be outside of marriage in the context of any other type of relationship because it’s sexual.

What does agape love mean?

Highest form, divine love

Agapē love is the diligence of the will to another’s highest good.

Agape love is always caring about the other individual, no matter what your situation or condition is. It’s unconditional and unselfish. Even to the point of sacrifice, or death. Hence, Jesus says that the greatest love is to die for your brother, which is what He modeled to us.

Greater love [agapē] has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. – John 15:13

What is an example of agape love?

When we think about agape love, we can see it in the whole story of Jesus. The reason why we wanted to find it from Jesus is because there is no historical context to define the Word of God from. Besides, the life of Jesus Christ is love and that’s why God says He is love, because He’s able to actually embody it.

Genesis 1:1 (ESV)  In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

There was basically nothing, then God decides over a period of six days to create everything for His creation, which is mankind. He creates everything for mankind from heaven and earth to the water and the land to the beast of the air to the beach to the sea to the beasts of the land. But then He tells them to take dominion over everything.  

Genesis 1:27 (ESV)  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Mankind is made in the image of God which basically means like a shadow of God. Since he is made in a shadow of God, it means that they’re made in the shadow of agape.

Genesis 1:28 (ESV)  And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

The ultimate point in the way man supposed to take dominion over everything is in the same way that God modeled for mankind, creating everything for an abundance of blessing and the highest good. In a sense, they are supposed to take dominion over everything and do that for all of creation as well.

Whereas, what happens is they end up taking the fruit. Then instead of exhibiting the highest form of love to all of creation, they fight for their own self-preservation and their own egotistical focus.

We see that even through creation, God has constantly been pouring out His agape love on His creation. God models agape love throughout all the Old Testament. The genealogy of Jesus showed God’s faithfulness even when we are unfaithful.

Jesus knowing that the highest good for mankind in the midst of their unfaithfulness is Him actually standing in the gap to take the punishment for their sin.

John 3:16 (ESV)  “For God so loved [agape] the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Jesus was sent by the agape love of the Father to the world. His purpose was for the greatest good of all of His creation. It wasn’t about Himself, it was about the people. God always has this unconditional, unselfish love, because He is love. He is agape. He is constantly fighting for the greatest good for all of creation. Even if it means correcting the sin that He never did and taking the punishment for a crime He never committed. Agape—Jesus, is completely selfless.

Revelation 21:3-4 (ESV)  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  [4]  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

In the end, what we see is that God has been man and He’s now together with men, which is what He wanted. The highest form of good that God was fighting for throughout all of time, all of this age, was that God will wipe away every tear, there’ll be no more death, no more sorrow no more crying; no more pain and all the former things will pass away. The Church coming into the picture and exhibiting the agape love was God’s ultimate plan; through Jesus’ death and resurrection. That was the only way that He was going to have agape love be the ultimate lifestyle of everything.

What we see here is that agape love is defined in all of its characteristics, attributes and actions of God, the Alpha Omega, the beginning and the end. When we want to define agape, then we have to define Jesus.

John 13:35 (ESV)  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love [agape] for one another.”

For us to live out agape, we have to live the life of Jesus which puts us as disciples. How do you know that you are a disciple of Jesus? By the way that you ‘agape.’ How do you agape? The way that Jesus agape, the way that Jesus loved.

How to achieve agape love

There are three things that we have to do so that we could actually walk out agape love. This is a journey, it’s a process for us as we are being renewed in our mind, and as we are walking from glory to glory to the image of God which is agape. God being agape, or love, it’s us becoming more like maturing into our design.

2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV)  And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Jesus Himself had to mature in agape love, as He was 100% God and 100% man. Satan tempted Jesus to operate outside of agape love in three major categories – spirit, soul and body (physical). We see this in the temptation of Jesus.

Characteristics of agape love #1-  Body (Physical)

The first place that one has to make sure that one has completely conquered any physical desire one has for the self-preservation is the physical body. Jesus went on a 40-day fast, which is to say that after the 40 days or during the 40-day fast, He was hungry. His physical body is exactly like ours, but He didn’t fall into temptation by trying to feed it, but instead He referred to the Word of God.

Matthew 4:3-4 (ESV)  And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”  [4]  But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Jesus conquered the temptation of His physical body through the Word of God, as a result, He obeyed the commandments to agape love God and agape love your neighbor.

Is there any time where you have self-preservation for yourself that prevents you from loving others? Can you sacrifice self-preservation so that you could see somebody else live in the abundance of God?

Characteristics of agape love #2 – Soul

The soul is what tells us that we want to be very important. It’s where we get our internal reputation; it’s where we define ourselves, where we define our identity. What the devil is trying to do here is tempt Jesus into taking what is His, but by his own way. That’s why he reminded Jesus that God shall give His angels charge over Jesus to bear Him up so He does not dash His foot against a stone. In other words, he was telling Jesus, “Jesus, You are all powerful, you are the Son of God. Why don’t You throw Yourself down, let the angels save You?” Then Jesus responded, “Do not tempt the Lord, your God.”

Matthew 4:6-7 (ESV)  and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”  [7]  Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

What Jesus was saying: “There is a specific plan that fits into the agape-love God, and He wants to fulfill it that way. I will use My power and authority according to the way God intends it. What was being defined in Jesus at this point, because He is 100% God and 100% man, is He is overcoming the temptation of allowing His soul, His self-reputation, self-authority to become more powerful than who He is in God.

Do you care more about your authority, power, gifts, and skills for yourself or do you want to use it all for God’s will, glory, and building up of everyone around you?

Characteristics of agape love #3 – Spiritual

Jesus was tested with His eternal, spiritual destiny by Satan. He could either achieve His selfish desires with Satan, quicker, or He could achieve with God, selflessness, with persecution and suffering. Jesus chose the latter. Jesus is saying that that’s not what He wants to do, He only serve God. At that point, He put His spiritual destiny under the control of God, which allowed Him to walk out the situation in agape love instead of self-centered love.

And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”  (Mat 4:9-10, ESV)

Are you only focused on your destiny, and your success, or do you care about the destiny and success of others?

Agape Alignment

Even Jesus, the Son of God constantly did not have to think about Himself and think about somebody else which in this point is going to be the Father in heaven. He lived in the fullness of agape love. He conquered these three areas, His physical desires, soulful desires and spiritual desires. Then He aligned with God’s will and was able to sacrificially and unconditionally fulfill God’s purpose.

1 Corinthians 15:24 (ESV)  Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.

When we have those three major things aligned, where it’s focused not on ourselves, but focused on the greater good of everybody else, then what we see is that we begin stepping toward a foundation laid on agape love.

Growing in Agape Love

The ultimate conclusion of agape love is basically what the world can try to define what love is, but then it will always fall short. Anytime that the world tries to define what love is, we always find ourselves falling into sin, which is what Adam was trying to do in the Garden of Eden. He was trying to redefine the world on his own terms which is why all of the badness entered into the world. The only place that we’ll be able to define what the highest form of love is, is in Jesus Christ.

By understanding more of who Jesus Christ is, the word that He’s given us, the lifestyle that He’s modeled to us, and the Holy Spirit that He allows to live inside of us by His grace, that’s when we’re able to truly understand what agape love is.

Philippians 1:9-11 (ESV)  And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,  [10]  so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,  [11]  filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Ephesians 3:18-19 (ESV)  may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  [19]  and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

In the same way that Jesus taught us, God taught Apostle Paul to pray over the churches to understand the length, the width, the depth, the height of God’s knowledge. That’s the same prayer that we have for us that we would also understand the length, the width, the depth, the height of God’s love. We would have His love with a bound more and more in us, the infinite love that God has and as we understand more of agape love that transforms us to agape others around us. God is love. Jesus is agape. The more we know Jesus, the more we will grow in agape love for God and others.

2 Replies to “What does Agape Love Mean?”

Leave a Reply