ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Agape and the Bible

Updated on July 21, 2015
BlossomSB profile image

Bronwen was a teacher for over forty years. Degrees include School Librarianship, Psycholinguistics and Theology, and Applied Linguistics.

Garden at St. George's Hostel, Jerusalem
Garden at St. George's Hostel, Jerusalem | Source

The Best Until Last

In this series of different Greek words for our English word of 'love,' we have looked at Eros and the Bible, Phileo and the Bible, but we've saved the best until last: Agape love and the Bible.

Agape is the highest possible form of love; it is altruistic love, that is, it is the kind of love that shows unselfish concern and thoughtfulness for the needs and well-being of other people; it is God's unconditional love.

If we go back to the Old Testament and the time of Moses, we can learn much about how to live and love from the Ten Commandments that God gave His people so long ago. However, in the New Testament we find just one commandment from Jesus and that sums up all the others in one brief sentence:

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you" (John 13.34).

What wonderful love that is! Jesus loves us so much that He gave HIs life for us so we could be forgiven and made holy so that we can come close to our Heavenly Father who is so pure, and have fellowship with Him. When we believe and live that commandment of Jesus, we can have abundant life here on earth and when we die we will have everlasting life and be with our Father forever.

In the World Council of Churches Chapel, Switzerland
In the World Council of Churches Chapel, Switzerland | Source

Word-building Time

This time, I have been unable to find other words that are built on the word 'agape.' It stands alone as it is so special. However, the word itself can have other meanings:

Firstly, with a different pronunciation, it is agape:

  • having the mouth wide open in astonishment
  • wide open, like a gate

Secondly, and this is the one that we are concerned with here, and it is pronounced 'agapé'. It has two meanings:

  • What we have described as altruistic love
  • A meal the early Christians shared in fellowship together

This kind of love is the Greek agape and the wonder of it can leave us with mouths wide open, agape, in astonishment!


Painting in the church in Lakes Entrance
Painting in the church in Lakes Entrance | Source

Jesus and Peter

Remember that puzzling story of Jesus asking Peter three times 'Do you love me?'

It is said that two different Greek words were used here: Twice Jesus asks Peter using 'agape', but Peter found this difficult to answer, and used 'phileo' in his reply. The third time Jesus used 'phileo' and Peter was able to answer this happily: Yes, he did love Jesus as an affectionate brother.

The Highest Kind of Love in the Bible

Agape describes divine love, the highest and purest kind of love in the Bible. It is a mature love when we take pleasure in replacing things in our lives, like selfishness, pride and possessions, with unselfishness, humility, generosity and putting others and their needs first.

The quoted commandment of Jesus is from John's Gospel. St. John is often known as 'the Apostle of love.' In his three letters further on in the New Testament we find even more about agape love, especially in 1 John:

  • As God loves us, so we should love Him and one another.
  • Our agape love is evidence of our love of God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We learn from St. John that love without action is of little value; our agape love needs to be seen in the way we live our lives and share that love with others. When we obey God's law of love by doing His will and loving Him and one another, His Holy Spirit will come into our hearts and we will become more like Jesus.

May we, as Christians, obey that law, totally relying on God's enabling grace, so that His love in us is apparent in our truth, sincerity, humility, holiness.


© 2015 Bronwen Scott-Branagan

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Purpose Embraced: It is so wonderful, and such a privilege to be able to pass it on. Thank you for your lovely comments. God bless you.

    • Purpose Embraced profile image

      Yvette Stupart PhD 2 years ago from Jamaica

      Thanks BlossomSB for reminding me of agape love - the God kind of love that he freely lavishes on us. I can never tire of listening or reading about God divine' love. But it also challenges me to freely pass on the love I so freely receive.

      Blessings.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      The Stages Of ME: Thank you and may He bless you!

    • The Stages Of ME profile image

      The Stages Of ME 2 years ago

      Oh, Sweet Blossom ~

      I love your heart for God and sharing of the good news of His Agape Love, God bless sweet friend today and always :)

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      teaches12345: Our God is faithful and loving - praise Him! And bless you for your kind comments.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

      A wonderful and inspiring article, dear lady. I have am reminded of the faithful love of our God.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      aviannovice: I know how you feel. Some say that the numbers in churches are dwindling, but that is not so where I live. I think people are beginning to wake up to what is happening in the world and to realise that they need to stand up for what they believe. It's up to us to share God's love in our communities, as you say, by praying, yes, but not by keeping our Christianity to ourselves, but by lending a helping hand wherever we can.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      If this is so important, why does not the world embrace it? For our undoing is the road to a quick end. If people in general don't take that fork in the road now, nothing will be left on this planet the way that it is now heading. Nobody respects anyone else, and money seems to be the root of everything instead of helping each other, like we should.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      cat on a soapbox: That garden was such an oasis of peace in a land of turmoil. Yes, I remember the words, but have forgotten who said them, but he was going off to battle and prayed, 'Lord, I may forget Thee this day, but never forget Thou me,' or something similar. We do go about our day and it's only when we come to a sticky spot that we remember the One who watches over His children. God bless you!

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 2 years ago from Los Angeles

      Your beautiful picture of the garden at St. George's is so beautiful! Excellent explanation and examples of agape from the Bible. It's easy to get caught up in our day to day routines and forget just how much God loves us and how important it is for us to put Him first in our lives.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Ericdierker: What a beautiful interpretation of a much-loved text! We do strive and we certainly do fall short. If that's prattling, I love it! God bless you.

      Faith Reaper: Dear Faith! Thank you for your beautiful comments - and for sharing, too. Sharing God's wonderful love is such a privilege. May He bless you richly.

      Frank Atanacio: Thank you! Glad you enjoyed my photos, too - happy memories of times past.

      MsDora: That's it - in a nutshell! But there's always so much more to learn about our amazing God. I remember those Billy Graham crusades in Australia way back in the late 1950s! So uplifting and truly a Man of God.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Blossom, thanks for the education on the various forms of love. An understanding of agape does leave us indeed with mouths open in amazement. Billy Graham is credited with saying that the greatest truth he learned from the Bible is that God loves him/us.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

      photos are wonderful and the hub spiritually inspirational blossom

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

      Oh, my favorite kind of love, agape ...divine love! It just doesn't get any better than agape love. Thank for this beautiful hub here to glorify His divine love for us.

      Beautifully penned. Your photos are always stellar and interesting.

      Up and across except funny and shared everywhere

      God bless you and agape love to you dear lady

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      If I dedicate my whole life to striving for agape and yet fail, my life shall not have been a waste. This wondrous notion is indeed a practice that is attainable and yet much of this world seems to struggle not with it but against it. It is my feeling that when a Bible verse is read to mean something that seems counter to agape then we need to reread it. While the Holy Spirit is our guide to understanding agape must be the lens through which we see understanding. Oops I prattle on -- Thank you for a wonderful article.

    • BlossomSB profile image
      Author

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      sandeep15r: Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

      billybuc: We're always learning, it's one of the wonderful things of life on this planet. Thank you.

      Larry Rankin: Thank you and God bless.

      frankcofrah: Yes, agape is the highest form of love and it is what we strive to reach - and so often miss the mark, too, or at least, I do! Thank you.

      whonunuwho: Thank you and God bless you. I'm glad you liked the pictures, too.

      always exploring: 'Where two or three are gathered together'! How lovely!

      serenityjmiller: Yes, this especially shows how the English language is lacking in its words for love: without knowing the original words, we are left wondering. Thank you for your comment and may God bless you.

    • serenityjmiller profile image

      Serenity Miller 2 years ago from Brookings, SD

      Thank you for your thoughtful exploration of agape love as seen in the Bible. I love, love, love this point: "Twice Jesus asks Peter using 'agape', but Peter found this difficult to answer, and used 'phileo' in his reply. The third time Jesus used 'phileo' and Peter was able to answer this happily: Yes, he did love Jesus as an affectionate brother." An understanding of the original language completely changes the significance of this little story in the gospel! Thanks for writing on this topic.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us. I was in a little country church this past Sunday. There were only eight people in attendance and you could feel the love you are writing about. Well done Blossom...

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 2 years ago from United States

      Great work my friend and this was so informative with beautiful pictures. Nicely done. whonu

    • frankcofrah profile image

      frank nangame 2 years ago from western

      True,agape turns to be best type of love.Agape seems, to have no shortcomings and more demands as other types of love.

      Nice and worth information to share Bronwen.

      And thanks for sharing.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Great definition article.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very interesting information, my friend, much of which I did not know. Thank you!

    • sandeep15r profile image

      Sandeep Rathore 2 years ago from New Delhi

      Thanks for writing such a wonderful hub!