The New Testament gospels and epistles were written in the Greek. Several words are used to describe different loves. This is not intended to be a treatise or extremely in depth look at each. Merely a foundation to examine I Cor. 13: 4 – 8. To determine the manner, each love may exist or not, in pertaining to loving as God.
Eros in Greek is romantic love and the root word for erotic, named after the Greek god of fertility. In the Kingdom of God, Eros is right in physical intimacy expressed between a husband and wife. In consecrating marriage and continue to develop physical and emotional closeness. God intended a husband and wife relationship, to express the mystery of Christ's relationship with the church.
Eph. 5:31 – 32 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery - but I am talking about Christ and the church.
The immediate danger is very evident today. Many interpret and advertising reinforces, 'love' is an emotional or hormonal driven experience. The door to lust is opened and many fall prey to fornication or adultery. The counterfeit physical gratification releases people into greater levels of promiscuity. Falling to this sin, it is not only against God and another. It is sin against us.
I Cor. 6: 18 – 20 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
We through His Spirit, we must remain a pure and holy vessel consecrated to the Lord.
Phileo or Philia is brotherly love. The Greeks typically defined Phileo or brotherly love as friendship in one of three categories; utility, pleasure, or good (based on Aristotle's views). A friendship of utility can be mother's rotating turns watching each other's children. This can lead to development of a deeper Phileo love and friendship of pleasure and good. To share more deeply feelings while building loyalty and sacrifice, one to the other.
A passage contrasting Pilieo and Agape unconditional love (Charity) is Christ's and Peter after the resurrection.
John 21: 15 – 17 Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend My lambs." He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Shepherd My sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Tend My sheep.
Three times Jesus asks Peter if he agape's Him? Agape translated from the Latin is Charity. It is considered the highest form of love, being unconditional and for all mankind. On each of the three inquires Christ makes of Peter. He responds, 'Yes Lord, I Phileo You.
How often has God asked me in Agape love to do or say something for Him. And I do as Peter, choosing Phileo.
The next Greek love Storge, enters as Phileo love becomes greater. A verse providing this picture:
I Thess. 5:26 – Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss
Understanding cultural sensitivity, the real question is how far away from the expression of Christ's love and affection He desires the body to demonstrate have we gotten? I understand appearances, propriety and not causing another to stumble. My belief is the world is observing a genuine expression of God's love one to another. If shocked, only because a love they long for exists.
In recollection, the final orders for a Nazi solider to carry out prior to impending surrender. Execute remaining Jewish slave laborers. Obeying and then running a great distance. Reaching a house in the darkness, he forced a way inside. A man stood while the soldier related what occurred.
The man's wife awoke. He told her the soldier killed many Jews including ones likely related. A Jewish Christian, she walked over hugging and kissing him on the cheek. Saying all was forgiven as she prepared food to eat. She stood before a killers eye's, while the soldier saw Jesus serving.
Storge typically is associated with affection in relationship of a parent to a child but not limited to this relationsship. Affection grows in Phileo frendships of understanding and good as closeness develops. Another love of affection falling under the umbrella of Storge is Ludus. This is seen mostly as affection of young adults moving into a deeper connection or courtship towards marriage.
Considering Storge, the story of The Prodigal Son and His Father immediately enters the mind :
Luke 15: 20, 21 – But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
Two final loves are Pragma and Philautia. Pragma is a love of compromises over time to make a relationship flourish. Typically, thought of in context of a long marriage. Scripturally, this is not necessarily the case as this passage indicates:
Phil. 2: 3 – 5 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus
Philautia is love of self. The Greeks quickly realized this can be a dreadful, narcissistic love. Or a healthy love which we attain and assists in giving to others. Upon coming to God in Christ, we now begin to love ourselves as God intended. Seeing as God, clothed in Christ and His righteousness, we can now love others with the love God has for us.
Matt. 22:39 – The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'
A final note, we should never confuse love with like. If we do, the 'love' can easily become lust of the flesh and area of disobedience. Then require repentance for the Spirit's fruit of self-control.
Gal. 5: 22, 23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.