1 Cor.13:13 – And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
I had the privilege of spending a lot of time over the years with an awesome man of God by the name of Dick Mills. Brother Mills had an insatiable appetite for God’s word and spent endless amounts of time researching Bibles words. I caught an appetite for studying the scripture in a different way from spending time with my old friend. Every time he came to New Orleans he would bring me a new translation of the Bible, a word study book, or some old commentaries he may have picked up in Europe. When Brother Mills came to town it was kind of like Christmas. One of the first word studies I remember Brother Dick ministering on was the word love. I was amazed that there are four Greek words that we translate love in English. Those words are storge, Philadelphia, Eros, and agape. Here is a brief definition of these four words.
Storge or familial love refers to natural or instinctual affection, such as the love of a parent towards offspring and vice versa. In social psychology, another term for love between good friends is philia.
Loving one’s brother, brotherly affectionate. In a wider sense it meant love of one’s fellow countrymen. In the strictly Christian sense of loving as brothers. Philádelphoi sums up the bearing of Christians to each other, and the adj. which follow describe what their behavior should be.
This is the passionate love that desires the other for itself. The god Eros compels all but is compelled by none. In Plato érōs symbolizes fulfilment, in Plotinus desire for union with the one. What is sought in érōs is intoxication or ecstasy. Reflection is good, but ecstatic frenzy, while sometimes viewed with horror, is greater. érōs masters us and confers supreme bliss thereby.
Love, affectionate regard, goodwill, benevolence. With reference to God’s love, it is God’s willful direction toward man. It involves God doing what He knows is best for man and not necessarily what man desires. For example, John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world, that he gave.” What did He give? Not what man wanted, but what God knew man needed, i.e., His Son to bring forgiveness to man.
I was amazed when I first saw this. Agape, of course, is a supernatural love. Storge, Eros, and Philadelphia, can all be experienced by the natural man. Agape is supernatural in nature. When we are born again the love (agape) of God is poured into our hearts. It is from this love that we love and worship God and also love and serve our neighbor. Stay filled with Him and you will begin to live in the agape love of God that pours from the Lord.