The Back Page – Love

The Back Page


“Love is a many-splendored thing.” Because it is, the Greeks had four words for it:
1. erōs (ε»ρως). Erōs was used mostly for sexual passion. Capitalized, it is the name of the god of love.
Erōs has come into the English language in such words as “erotic.” God designed sex, so there is
nothing wrong with erotic love (read Song of Solomon if you doubt this). The problems are that for many
people, eroticism is the only love they practice, or they engage in erotic love with other than their
(heterosexual) spouses. Such a limited view of love impoverishes the one who holds it. 2. storgē
(στοργη’ ). Storgē is love or affection especially between parents and children. It is family affection, or
“blood is thicker than water” love. This also has its proper place in our lives. Paul complained that
godless people are often α»στοργοι—not having storgē, or as the KJV translated it, “without natural
affection.” 3. philia (φιλι’α). This is the word for “affectionate regard” or “friendship.” It is love for things or
people that we like, usually between equals. Philia is fondness for special friends and activities, love for
what is beautiful. We find it in English words such as “philosophy” (love of wisdom) or “Philadelphia” (love
of brothers; brotherly love). It is a great blessing when God gives us friends we truly like. 4. agapē (α γα’
πη). The New Testament uses agapē and the related verb agapaō and adjective agapētos (“beloved”)
more than 300 times. This is the word used when we are commanded to love God and others. So, even
though it should include warm feelings, agapē at heart is an act of the will. It is the love of John 3:16, in
which God chose to do what was necessary, even at great personal cost, to seek the good of those he
loved, whether they responded or not. We are told to do the same.

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