The 4 Types Of Love In The Bible (and What They Mean)

What does the Bible say about love? In short, A LOT. 

Love is a central theme in the Bible and is a primary attribute of God. But we often fail to see the true beauty and depth of what God’s Word is communicating. Our language only has 1 word for love, whereas there are 4 types of love in the Greek language (Philia, Eros, Storge, and Agape). 

These 4 types of love teach us the depth of God’s love and how we show love to those around us. 

We are going to look at what the Bible says about love and then we will break down each of the 4 types of love in the Bible.

What Does The Bible Say About Love?

There are far too many Bible verses about love to break down in a single blog post. What we are going to do is look at some of the highlights so that we can understand what the Bible is communicating to us today. 

If you want to read more Bible verses about love you can check out this list: The 39 Best Bible Verses About Love

Bible Verses About Love 

Here are some of the highlights of love in the Bible: 

  • From the beginning the precedent is set about God’s faithfulness and love. (Deuteronomy 7:9)
  • God commands his people love their neighbors. (Leviticus 19:18) 
  • Song Of Solomon centers around the love between a husband and a wife. (Song Of Solomon 8:6-7)
  • Proverbs talks about the healing qualities of love. (Proverbs 17:9)
  • David praises God for his steadfast love throughout the Psalms. (Psalm 86:15)
  • John 3:16 is one of the most famous verses in the Bible and centers around God’s love for us. 
  • Paul beautifully illustrates the attributes of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. 
  • Jesus gives a new commandment to love each other. (John 13:34) 
  • Jesus teaches that the marker for a Christian’s life is how we love each other. (John 13:35)
  • God is love. (1 John 4:8) 
  • We aren’t to just love those easy to love, but also our enemies. (Matthew 5:43-48) 
  • Love must be the center of all we do. (1 Corinthians 13:1) 
  • The greatest commandment is to love God and love those around us. (Matthew 22:36-40) 

This is only a small sampling of the Bible verses that talk about love, but I think this gives us an overview of this topic.

4 Types Of Love In The Bible

Now that we know what love is according to the Bible, I want to switch gears to look at the 4 types of love in the Bible. 

These 4 words are found in the New Testament and each are Greek words that illustrate a different aspect of love. 

Philia – Brotherly Love 

Philia (φιλία) = friendship 

You might recognize this word. It’s where the city of brotherly love gets its name, Philadelphia. Philia is the kind of love found in friendships. This Greek word describes the powerful bond among friends. 

Philia is the most general type of love found in the Bible and is used to show how Christians should interact with one another. It’s Philia love that Jesus said should be the marker for his followers’ lives (John 13:35). The church should be known for this kind of love that centers around care, respect, compassion, and deep connections among each other. 

Eros – Sensual or Romantic Love 

Eros (ρε)= sensual or romantic love

Eros originated from the mythological Greek god of love and sexual desire. And it’s where we get our English word erotic. 

This Greek word doesn’t appear in the Bible, however, it was a very common word in culture. The Bible does talk at length about eros love without using the word. The Bible applies this kind of love to the relationship between a husband and wife. Promiscuity was rampant in Bible times, just as it is today, and the Bible continually reserves eros love for marriage. 

This is what Paul is referring to in 1 Corinthians 7:8-9; he’s warning young believers to follow God’s plan for eros love. Within the boundaries of marriage, this kind of love is to be celebrated and enjoyed as a blessing from God. But outside God’s design, much harm can be done. 

For more check out: What Does The Bible Say About Sex? (4 surprising truths)

Storge – Familial Love 

Storge (storgē) = Love for family

This term for love is one that most are unfamiliar with. This Greek word describes the love family members have for one another. 

This kind of love mostly happens naturally. A parent can’t help but love their child and a child’s bond to their parents happen without effort. It’s a special and unique kind of family love. 

Similar to eros, storge does not appear in the New Testament. However, the concept of this love is found throughout scripture.

Romans 12:10 presents an interesting combination of storge and philia in which Paul commands the church to practice familiar love within the church. In other words, we are to have that familiar love with our brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Followers of Jesus are part of God’s family; we are knit together not by blood but by Spirit. Therefore we should love each other with deep affection of storge love. 

Agape – Unconditional Love 

Agape (γάπη) = Perfect/unconditional love

Agape is the most well-known of the 4 types of love in the Bible and is also the highest form of love. This is a divine kind of love that can only come from God. This word shows God’s immeasurable and incomprehensible love for us. 

John 3:16 shows us how Jesus perfectly encapsulates agape love. God loves us because it’s who he is. It’s all he can do. And it’s this perfect love that saves us. 

Agape love is found perfectly in Jesus. But with the help of the Holy Spirit we can experience and show this kind of love. 

Closing Thoughts About Love In The Bible 

Love is one of the most powerful emotions a person can experience. And the Bible talks at length about it. The above 4 types of love in the Bible show us the beauty and depth that encompasses so many aspects of our life. 

The central message about love in the Bible is God’s love for us. His perfect love doesn’t wane. It’s not tied to our obedience, and it is where our hope is found. While the love we find in our families, spouses, and friends are good gifts from God, they all fall short. But God’s love will never fail us. 

Throughout the Bible we see God’s love displayed and are invited to accept it. It’s through his love that we are transformed. For followers of Jesus we are made new and now our call is to do the same for those around us. We are to love others in the same way that we have been loved. 

The Bible doesn’t just teach us about God’s love, it challenges us to live in light of what he has done for us. Take some time to reflect on God’s love for you. And ask yourself if are extending the same love to those around you. 

Jeffery Curtis Poor
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