Thursday, November 27, 2014

Agape

A photo from archives: Me and my little brother

When I am with my brother now, I feel a new and different channel open between us. As brothers, we have experienced a wide range of communication channels over the years. We have been buddies, rivals, and siblings, and we have expressed love, joy, and anger. The common bond of shared parents and shared--even intertwined--life experiences has kept us close all these years. Now it is a different bond that unites us. Today, we share a bond of spiritual love, the type of love that transcends our mortality.



The Greek word agape is often translated "love" in the New Testament. But there are many different types of love--different modes of expressing affection. How is "agape love" different from other types of love? 

Ancient authors have used forms of the word agape to denote love of a spouse or family, or affection for a particular activity. Agape is in contrast to philia, an affection that could denote friendship, brotherhood or generally non-sexual affection, and eros, an affection of a sexual nature. Neither does agape mean “charity,” a term which the King James translators carried over from the Latin. Agape love is unique and is distinguished by its nature and character.

"Agape became appropriated in Christian theology as the love of God or Christ for humankind. In the New Testament, it refers to the covenant love of God for humans, as well as the human reciprocal love for God; the term necessarily extends to the love of one's fellow man." [1]

"Agape is love which is of and from God, whose very nature is love itself. The apostle John affirms this in 1 John 4:8: “God is love.” God does not merely love; He is love itself. Everything God does flows from His love. God loves because that is His nature and the expression of His being. He loves the unlovable and the unlovely (us!), not because we deserve to be loved, but because it is His nature to love us, and He must be true to His nature and character. 

"If we are to love as God loves, that love—that agape—can only come from its true Source. This is the love which “has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us” when we became His children (Romans 5:5). Because that love is now in our hearts, we can obey Jesus who said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. As I have loved you, you should also love one another” (John 13:34). This new commandment involves loving one another as He loved us sacrificially, even to the point of death. 

"[I]t is clear that only God can generate within us the kind of self-sacrificing love which is the proof that we are His children. “By this we have known the love of God, because He laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16). Because of God’s love toward us, we are now able to love one another." [2]




Read more: