We require love in the form of care and attention from the moment we are conceived, and we continue to need love to thrive after that. When discussing different types of love, the Bible gets right to the point: “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8).
Jesus summarized the entire Bible into two love commands: love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments,” Jesus explained (Matthew 22:34-40).
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God created the world and everything out of love, declaring all of His creations good—including us!—before blessing us and the rest of Creation (Genesis 1). Given that God is love and we are made in His image, we must reflect His love in all our interactions. According to the Bible, when we love one another, “God lives in us, and His love is made complete in us” (1 John 4:12).
The New Testament, originally written in Greek, mentions various types of love. The Greeks distinguished four types and intensities of honey with four words: agape, storge, phileo, and eros.
As Christians, we should become acquainted with the four types of love described in the Bible, which God intended for us to express in various situations in our lives. Let us look at four different types of love in the Bible.
4 Types of love in the Bible
According to the Bible, God is love, and humans crave love from the moment they are born. However, the term “love” refers to a range of emotions with varying degrees of intensity.
The Bible mentions four distinct types of love. They are defined by four Greek words (Eros, Storge, Philia, and Agape) and include romantic love, family love, brotherly love, and God’s divine love. We’ll look at these four types of love in the Bible to learn more about what love is and how to follow Jesus Christ’s command to “love one another.”
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What Does the Bible Say About Eros Love?
Eros is the Greek word for sensual or romantic love (pronounced AIR-ohs). The term derives from Eros, the mythological Greek god of love, sexual desire, physical attraction, and physical love, who had a Roman counterpart in Cupid.
Love in the form of Eros seeks its own satisfaction and interest—to possess the object of love. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that Eros love is reserved for marriage. Promiscuity of all types was common in ancient Greek culture, and it was one of the challenges the apostle Paul faced when establishing churches in the eastern Mediterranean.
Paul warned young believers not to engage in immoral behavior: “So I tell those who aren’t married or widows that it’s better to remain unmarried, as I am. However, if they are unable to control themselves, they should marry. It is preferable to marry than to be consumed by lust.” (See 1 Corinthians 7:8–9)
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However, within the boundaries of marriage, Eros’s love is to be celebrated and enjoyed as a beautiful God-given blessing: “Allow your fountain to be blessed, and rejoice in your youth’s wife, a lovely deer, a graceful doe.” “Allow her breasts to delight you at all times; be intoxicated by her love at all times.” (See also Proverbs 5:18–19; Hebrews 13:4; 1 Corinthians 7:5; Ecclesiastes 9:9)
Even though the term “Eros” does not appear in the Old Testament, the Song of Solomon vividly depicts the passion of erotic love.
What Does the Bible Say About Storge Love?
Storge (pronounced STOR-jay) is a biblical term for love that you may not be familiar with. This Greek term refers to family love, the affectionate bond that develops naturally between parents and children and brothers and sisters.
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Many examples of family love can be found in the Bible, such as Noah and his wife’s mutual protection, Jacob’s love for his sons, and the sisters Martha and Mary’s strong love for their brother Lazarus. The compound word “philostorgos,” which uses storage, is found in Romans 12:10, which commands believers to “be devoted” to one another with brotherly affection.
Christians are members of the family of God. The bonds of the Spirit bind our lives together in a way that is stronger than physical ties. We are linked by something more powerful than human blood—Jesus Christ’s blood. God instructs his children to love one another with the deep affection of storge love.
What Does the Bible Say About Philia Love?
What of the last Greek word for love? Φιλία is the love of friendship, often called brotherly love. Its polar opposite is known as phobia. Something hydrophilic is something that mixes with or attracts water, whereas something hydrophobic repels or does not mix with water. So it is with humans: we mix with and are attracted to certain people with whom we quickly become fast friends.
This is not a kinship or long-term relationship affection. This is the type of love that is chosen; you do not choose your family, but you do choose your friends.
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Lewis contends that, in most cases, a shared interest, viewpoint, or activity promotes friendship development. In Eros, lovers stand face-to-face, engulfed in each other, while friends stand side by side, destroyed by the same third thing—word, God’s politics, art, or a sport. Of course, friends are interested in each other, but this is usually secondary to the shared thing, at least among men.
Paul encourages us in Romans 12:10 to be devoted to one another (literally, to be ‘family-lovers’ of one another, using storage) in brotherly Philia. According to James (4:4), whoever wishes to be a friend (Philos) of the world makes himself an enemy of God. For this section, the first example of powerful friend love that came to mind was David and Johnathan. Their souls were “knit together,” according to 1 Samuel 18:1.
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Greater agape has no one than this, says Jesus in John 15:13, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Agape appears in Philia as well. This is a high honor that Jesus bestows on friendship; in it, we are capable of the most profound love, manifested in self-sacrifice.
That is precisely what Jesus did. “No longer do I call you servants… but I have called you friends,” He said to His disciples (and to all who believe in Him today) (John 15:15). When Jesus died on the cross for us, His friends, He fulfilled His own words from two verses earlier.
What Does the Bible Say About Agape Love?
Agape (pronounced Uh-GAH-pay) is the highest of the four biblical types of love. This phrase expresses God’s unfathomable, incomparable love for humanity. God is the source of divine love. Agape love is perfect, unconditional, sacrificial, and pure.
In the way he lived and died, Jesus Christ demonstrated this kind of divine love to his Father and to all humanity: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (See John 3:16)
Jesus asked the apostle Peter if he loved him after his resurrection (agape). Peter replied three times that he did, but he used the word phileo, which means “brotherly love” (John 21:15–19). At Pentecost, Peter had not yet received the Holy Spirit, so he was incapable of agape love. However, after Pentecost, Peter was so filled with God’s love that he spoke from the heart, and 3,000 people were converted.
Love is one of the most powerful emotions a person can feel. For Christian believers, the truest test of genuine faith is love. The Bible teaches us how to experience love in all of its forms and to share it with others in the way that God intended.
All the loves, of course, bleed into each other and overlap in some ways. Some can exist in certain relationships at the same time. I would argue that Agape is required in some measure in every loving relationship. Agape is needed for Eros, Storge, and Philia to be true loves. In a strict definitional sense, we can isolate; what distinguishes each of the four types of love in the Bible and get to the essence of it. In practice, however, I believe that at least two of the four will or should be present at all times.
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Whatever you do in life, you will be living on, observing, or receiving at least one of the four types of love described in the Bible as you go through each day. They are unavoidable aspects of life and divine blessings. What’s more, they’re reflections of His divine nature. After all, God is the embodiment of love (1 John 4:8). Let us be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1) and love all those around us, as He has done.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is God's love type?
Many people have never known true love, agape love, which is the love of God. A person who has not been born again relies on human love to get through this life; all too often, they are disappointed by broken relationships or even abused by those they care about the most.
What is agape love in Bible?
In the New Testament, agape refers to God’s fatherly love for humans and humans’ reciprocal love for God. The highest form of love in Scripture is transcendent agape love, which is contrasted with Eros, or erotic love, and philia, or brotherly love.
What is the difference between Agape and Phileo love?
The Bible uses the ‘agape’ form of love the first two times, which is understood to be a general meaning of the word. However, the third time Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him, He uses the word ‘phileo,’ which means affection, fondness, or like the other. This is companionable and relational love.
What is a good Bible verse for love?
1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, love one another deeply, for love covers a multitude of sins.” Ephesians 5:21 says, “Submit to one another in reverence for Christ.” 1 John 4:8 says that anyone who does not love does not know God because God is love. And now these three remain faith, hope, and love, according to 1 Corinthians 13:13.
Who is the God of the love?
Eros is the Greek god of love.