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The Biblical Concepts Of Love

The New Testament of the Bible was written in Greek. Translating a 2000 year old Greek word into a modern English equivalent is not a precise science. That is a glaring reality of comparing our American ideas of love with the Palestinian-Jewish understanding of love during the Roman Empire of the Caesars.

The Greeks had more than a dozen words for the vast variety of concepts that are encompassed by the word love. Mania was used to describe an obsessive type of love and zelos meant to “boil over”, a reference to a fanatical zeal for someone or something. Ludus, on the other hand, was a playful, lighthearted type of love. Philautia indicated someone who loved themself more than others.

Pragma was based on obligation and duty. Erotoropia was used to describe puppy love, or the kindling of a romance. This is just a sampling of how the Greek language expresses love. Although the Bible contains these many ideas of love, it narrows its use of the Greek love language to three primary words.

The depth of knowledge and wisdom gained from the study of those three words is one of the greatest joys of Bible study. According to 1 John 4:8, God is love. How better, then, to learn about the nature of God than by examining the love vocabulary of the language by which He chose to reveal Himself to the world?

God sent His son into the world at a time when the structure and organization of the Romans combined with the Hebrew moral teachings and knowledge of God found their expression through the language of the Greek philosophers. This perfect concoction of cultures literally changed how you and I would see the world forever.

Concepts like darkness and light, good and evil, weakness and power, order and chaos, love and hatred all found their ultimate expression in the writers of the Greek Bible. You will never see love in the same way once you understand what the Bible teaches about the words agápe, philos, storge and eros.