There are mainly THREE “kinds of love” expressed in the Bible. We will look at them briefly, starting with the “highest form of love.”

AGAPE: This Greek word (and its Hebrew equivalent CHESED) is used to describe the LOVE that God has for the world in John 3:16, “For God so LOVED the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (NKJV). This verse shows us that it is a “self-sacrificing love” that is unconditional and seeks the blessing of others. We learn in 1st John 4:8 that “God is LOVE,” which means that love is part of His Divine nature. When a person believes on Jesus Christ as their Savior they too receive this Divine nature and are capable of manifesting this same “self-sacrificing and unconditional love.” This highest form of love is expressed in some detail in 1st Corinthians 13, which has been called the “LOVE chapter.” I will quote verses 4-8a, “LOVE suffers longs and is kind; LOVE does not envy; LOVE does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. LOVE never fails.”

It should be noted that on a few rare occasions this same word is used in a “negative context.” In 1st John 2:15 believers are commanded, “Do NOT LOVE the world or the things in the world. If anyone LOVES THE WORLD, the love of the Father is not in Him.” Here the word AGAPAO means “to HIGHLY ESTEEM something.” Of course, one can “highly esteem” something in a “positive context” but here the thought is to “highly esteem the things of the world.” To do so takes one’s affections away from loving God the Father. Luke 11:43 is another example of this kind of LOVE, “Woe to you Pharisees! For you LOVE the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.” The Pharisees “highly esteemed” the “praises of men” instead of receiving “praise from God.”

PHILEO: This Greek word and its Hebrew counterpart AHABAH is “the LOVE of FRIENDS.” It is a love based on EMOTIONS (i.e. tender affections) that exist between persons. An example from the Old Testament is found in 1st Samuel 20:17, “Now Jonathan again caused David to vow, because he LOVED him; for he LOVED him as he LOVED his own soul.” Jesus had this kind of LOVE for His good friend Lazarus where we read in John 11:36, “See how He LOVED him!” It is the love all Christians should have for one another as brothers in Christ. “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in SINCERE LOVE OF THE BRETHREN” (1st Peter 1:22). There was a city in Asia Minor (and we have a city here in America in the State of Pennsylvania) called “Philadelphia” which illustrates this love, for it means “city of BROTHERLY LOVE” (Phileo=love and Adelpho=a brother).

EROS: This is a Greek word used to express “physical/romantic LOVE.” It is not used at all in the New Testament but the Hebrew word YADA has the same meaning. In Genesis 4:1 we read that “Adam KNEW Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain.” The word “knew” is the word YADA and it means “to have sexual intercourse with.”  We often hear it referred to as “making LOVE.” It is the romantic love described so intimately in Song of Solomon. Of course, this form of love has been so abused by a world obsessed with sex and thus it is often looked upon merely as a “sexual act” without the true intimacy that should accompany the act. Perhaps this is why it is never mentioned in the New Testament.  (386.3)  (DO)