“About Love”

 

Breaking down the types of love in Scripture. (By Charles F. Stanley)

 

In the 105 verses in 1 John, love is mentioned more than forty times. That’s a lot of verses in such a short epistle about love. With seven words, however, the apostle John summarizes his teaching on this important topic, “We love, because He first loved us.” We love Him because He first loved us, and we love others because He first loved us.

 

Love starts and stops with God. He is the Author. He created it out of His very nature, and He desires that we share and experience this wonderful gift to humankind.

 

When you think about it, our similarities to God are few. We are not omniscient, omnipresent, or omnipotent. But God is love, and He wants us to share that attribute with Him and with others. What a marvelous privilege! We are most like God when we love.

 

I think it is interesting to compare the most familiar verse in the Bible with another verse that John wrote. Most people can quote John 3:16John 3:16
Spanish: Biblia Reina Valera - revisión de 1995 - RVR95

De tal manera amó Dios al mundo 16 »De tal manera amó Dios al mundo, que ha dado a su Hijo unigénito, para que todo aquel que en él creej no se pierda,k sino que tenga vida eterna.l

WP-Bible plugin
, but look at 1 John 3:161 John 3:16
Spanish: Biblia Reina Valera - revisión de 1995 - RVR95

16 En esto hemos conocido el amor, en que él puso su vida por nosotros;p también nosotros debemos poner nuestras vidas por los hermanos.

WP-Bible plugin
: “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

 

I understand that the numbers or references on the verses are not in the original, but the two 3:16 verses have a complementary message: love gives sacrificially. The world knows little about sacrificial love. In defining love, I needed to provide three different definitions to give the full scope. That, in itself, shows how complex the subject is.

 

Agape is the highest form of love. Of the many times love is referred to in the New Testament, most of the references are to agape love. This is what John 3:16John 3:16
Spanish: Biblia Reina Valera - revisión de 1995 - RVR95

De tal manera amó Dios al mundo 16 »De tal manera amó Dios al mundo, que ha dado a su Hijo unigénito, para que todo aquel que en él creej no se pierda,k sino que tenga vida eterna.l

WP-Bible plugin
speaks about. This love is totally sacrificial and committed to the well-being of another. This is God’s kind of love. It is a fruit of the Spirit who indwells us Gal. 5:22Gal. 5:22
Spanish: Biblia Reina Valera - revisión de 1995 - RVR95

22 Pero el fruto del Espíritus es amor, gozo, paz, paciencia, benignidad, bondad, fe,

WP-Bible plugin
. When we look at the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22Galatians 5:22
Spanish: Biblia Reina Valera - revisión de 1995 - RVR95

22 Pero el fruto del Espíritus es amor, gozo, paz, paciencia, benignidad, bondad, fe,

WP-Bible plugin
, we can look at it like this:

1. Joy is love enjoying.
2. Peace is love resting.
3. Patience (or longsuffering) is love waiting.
4. Kindness is love reacting.
5. Goodness is love choosing.
6. Faithfulness is love keeping its word.
7. Gentleness is love being able to empathize.
8. Self control is love being in charge.

 

This kind of love is not something we can work up on our own; it is an outflow of the Holy Spirit.

 

The second kind of love mentioned is phileo. This is a brotherly kind of love. The Bible says to “be kindly affectionate to one to another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” Romans 12:10Romans 12:10
Spanish: Biblia Reina Valera - revisión de 1995 - RVR95

10 Amaos los unos a los otros con amor fraternal; en cuanto a honra, prefiriéndoos los unos a los otros.n

WP-Bible plugin
. Furthermore, we are admonished to “let brotherly love continue” Hebrews 13:1Hebrews 13:1
Spanish: Biblia Reina Valera - revisión de 1995 - RVR95

4. LA VIDA CRISTIANA 13 1 Permanezca el amor fraternal.

WP-Bible plugin
, implying that it can diminish if not watched over and cultivated. This healthy form of love should saturate the body of Christ.

 

The third type of love is eros. This is sensual or sexual love. Though this word is not used specifically in Scripture, it is certainly implied through the admonitions concerning marriage. Although the world has tried its best to distort this—and this seems to be the type of love that is written about, sung about, and acted out the most—God invented eros love for the most intimate part of marriage.

 

I think that sums up the definitions and also gives us the background that John was setting for us. It is amazing that love is so complex we cannot define it easily, and yet John, “that apostle whom Jesus loved,” summarizes it so beautifully by saying, “We love, because He first loved us.”