The word translated “love” in our English Bible has four different meanings in the original languages of the Bible. In the Old Testament, there is a Hebrew word for love that means “caring” – so that when certain scriptures refer to God’s love, they are interpreted to mean “God cares” or “God is a caring God.”
In the New Testament, there is a Greek word “eros”- translated in English as “love”- and this word has reference to “romantic love” between a man and a woman.
Another Greek word “phileo” – translated “love”- has to do with “friendship” – for example, “phileo” is the root word in the name of the city of Philadelphia, which is known as “the city of brotherly love” – a motto intended to promote friendship among that city’s population.
Yet another Greek word “agape” – translated “love” in the English New Testament – means “divine love” – the kind God demonstrated to us when He gave His Son to be our Savior.
Now, John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave . . ..” This kind of “sacrificial giving” is known as “agape” – DIVINE love.
What “agape” means is this: I am committed to doing that which is in the best interests of another person, so that the other person can fulfill his or her God-given potential of becoming the person God wants him or her to be – even if giving of yourself requires sacrifice on your part.
As a mother or father, you understand what “agape” means . . . As a wife or husband, you understand what “agape” means . . . A child of God understandS what “agape” means . . .. You gave of yourself many times throughout your life on behalf of the well-being of another person.
“Agape” – divine love – is the kind of love that God has shown to us, and the kind of love He expects us to show to others.
It seems to me that the apostle John – whose life epitomized the true meaning of love in its specific applications – caring, friendship, and sacrifice – has given us the admonition that we all need to heed:
“Let us love one another, for love is of God . . . He that does not love does not know God, for God is love . . . Herein is love – not that we loved God but that He loved us and gave His Son to die for our sins . . . God is love, and anyone who dwells in love dwells in God . . . There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear . . . Brothers and sisters, I repeat that we love God because He first loved us . . . and he or she who loves God loves his brother and sister in Christ.” (I John 4)