[GospelWeb.net Globe]

"That Love Which Is Of God"

Chapter II


The first thing necessary and somewhat mechanical is to recognize love. There are three Greek words which we will look at which in the English are generally translated by the one word "love." (The word charity is also found in some places for the love of agape).

First we will define the Greek usages and words as a foundation. Eros, phileo, and agape are the three pre-biblical words for love. 1 Eros is not found in Biblical usage, but it is where the English word "erotic" is derived and has to do with the sensual passions. Eros was "the name of the little demon deity whose image dances on the Valentines of our time. Among the Romans his name was Cupid, the lusty off-spring of the voluptuous goddess, Venus."

2 The ancient Greeks considered the demon Eros as the central driving force, motivation, all that man is in attitude, ambition and action.The worship of Eros also brought much of the music into the Greek culture and was designed for the temples of fertility to stimulate sensual ecstasy.The dance of modern burlesque was performed by the prostitute priestesses to call the male worshippers to sexual frenzy, whereby they sought to lose themselves from their "dismal daily lives." 3 Male prostitute priests danced the same to call the female worshipper and homosexual worshipper to the same place. Eros was the god of the ancient fertility cults where sexual intercourse was performed between men and women demons.

The second Greek usage, one which we do find in our NewTestament, is the word "phileo." Where erotic-love is the demonic lust of the flesh for flesh, phileo-love is the natural affection in all people for the appetite of the senses. Eros is Immoral, so phileois ammoral. It can be both good and bad, both wicked or right, depending on the moral condition of the lovers. Such as meant by Paul in Titus 1:15,"Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled."

"The chief characteristic of phileo is that its strengthis directly related to the desirability of the object of its affection." 4This is where the 50-50 marriage affairs enter into the scene. Thisis the deepest affection that an unsaved person can every know. In I John 4:7,8, it tells us, "Beloved, let us love (agape) one another:for love (agape) is of God; and everyone that loveth (agape) is born ofGod, and knoweth God. He that loveth (agape) not knoweth not God; for God is love (agape)." There is another kind of love that enters the scene when a person has God (love-agape) in salvation. Therefore, itis an unchangeable fact that phileo-affection is the deepest affection known by the unconverted. It is no wonder God warned against "mixed" marriages between the saved and the lost. More will be said about this later when discussing agape.

To continue with phileo, it is a very emotional centered affection and an affection based upon one being satisfied by the object. Once this satisfaction is gone, so is the phileo. If the object of phileo assumes any attitudes or actions which are displeasing, the phileo disappears in direct proportion to the displeasure. Marriages based on phileo can be very fulfilling, only if both spouses continue to satisfy the pleasures of the other spouse and do not begin to become very critical or negative.

The third Greek word to define, and the one which this book will dwell mostly upon, is "agape," (pronounced ah - gop- ay). As eros is demonic lust or passion, and phileo is the normal human affection of self gratification, agape is the divine nature which only the child of God has access to in this life, through receiving the Holy Spirit in salvation. Agape is, though Lexicons do attempt to define it, beyond all understanding, as it is the very character of the Godhead.

Eros releases his demonic powers and drags man below the level of beasts. Heraclitus, a citizen of Ephesus, the "weeping Philosopher," declared that the morals of the temple of Artemis (Diana, the Goddess of Fertility) were worse than the filthy beasts. 5 Phileo is released by human responses and may produce acts of nobility or shame, depending on the character of the "lover" and his object.

Agape is from God, and God alone. There is no natural agape within any man. Agape, therefore, must be an implanted characteristic if found within any man. Let it be repeated: there isn't any agape ever in any unsaved person, nor can agape be understood by the unsaved. "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1Corinthians 2:14)." What does agape mean? God defines agape for us in John 3:16 by saying, "For God so loved the world,that He gave His only . . . " A very simple definition and explanation of agape therefore is, "the giving of oneself." But this is inadequate, because there are lost people who would qualify by this kind of action,if left here with no further explanation.

Agape is eternal, hence never failing, totally independentof the object of its favor. Agape has its own character and is not dependent upon being "pleasured" as with phileo. Agape is an affection which stands in spite of any element of attractiveness, desirability, or even value. It also can even be hated by the object of its affection, without damaging its intensity or character. We learn in Romans 5:8 that God's love extended through our sin nature, without diminishing at all. "But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners,Christ died for us." Who died in Christ? We are told in I John3:16 that God died; "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us...."

It is amazing to make note of just some of the attitudes sinners hold toward God and His loving them. Romans 3:11; "...there is none that seeketh after God." No one even wants love, but gets it any way. What love is that love which is of God?

Agape is not held by emotional infatuation or highs, but is as constant as God. How inconsistent many, even professing "Christians" are, in their display of affection toward those to whom they are obligated by God to love; spouse, children, pastor, brethren, etc.

Another good, yet very deep, explanation of agape by God, Himself, is found in Matthew 5:44: "But I say unto you, love (agape) your enemies. Bless them that curse you and do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use and persecute you." Only agape love can fulfill the command of thisverse and without the divine nature, it could never be accomplished or obeyed. Phileo only loves when loved. Agape can love while being hated.

To compare agape to phileo in a marriage situation isto say that one spouse has that love which will independently be givenand given, without regard or reward, without lessening its intensity. Even when mistreated, it will continue. On the other hand, the other spouse,with phileo love, will only perform affectionately as long as spouse number one continues to bring pleasure to their life. Any displeasure can cause their affection to turn off immediately. While one is constant, the other is unpredictable. While one is longsuffering, the other is shortsuffering.While one is a giver, the other is a taker. This generally weakens the saved and God gave commands against the mixed marriage.

Agape is a love which does not wait to be acted upon, because it is active. God is active. He is life and that which is of God is of life. Therefore, divine agape is living love, and active love. Agape acts first and draws the object to action.

To summarize, the three Greek words which separate thoseissues which are generally associated with love, are eros, phileo and agape. Eros is physical, passion-beyond-normal, demon-activated (associated withthe pornography crowd in the modern culture). Phileo, on the other hand,is the normal human affection toward anything, used by Paul in II Timothy3:2-4: "For men shall be Phileo-self (lovers of self), covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful and unholy. A (no) Phileo, (without natural affection), truce breakers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady highminded,Phileo-pleasures (lovers of pleasures) more than Theos-Phileo (lovers of God)." This could be further explained in that we have phileo love towards good we "like." We phileo-love certain car makes,designs, etc. Agape is totally set apart and above these other two displays of emotional affections and its briefest definition is "giving," active giving of one to an object beyond even the realm of life itself. The English word, "charity" occurs in the Word of God and before the modernization of the word, it did quite well define agape. Agape is invisible and is never truly known, except by the action it inspires. 6"Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us:and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." (1John 3:16). Agape is perceived by its acting.

In following chapters, different acts or fruits of agape will be studied with the hope that perception of and practice of agape can be more clear to the reader.