What Does It Mean to Love One Another with God’s Love?
- Author James Rondinone
- Published December 31, 2022
- Word count 3,288
PART 5 TESTIMONY
What Does It Mean to Love One Another with God’s Love?
GOD’S SPECIFIC PLAN
Now that we know what God’s general plan is for the believer, we need to learn what His specific plan is all about. In this particular instance, we are looking to address the opinion of a male who was involved in a Christian megachurch that expressed his belief about having a relationship with another man that he contends would be full of love like any other relationship between two adults.
It’s understandable when some Christians are not sure as to whether operating in God’s love condones fornication, adultery, homosexuality, lesbianism, etc. Like any other biblical topic, we need to be taught by someone in leadership as to what Scripture has to say about this. I’m not writing on this study entitled TESTIMONY to give you my opinions, but what Scripture has to say on this topic.
What I have found out in attempting to determine what are the characteristics and expressions of God’s love is that there are other words that are used in Scripture to denote affection. So, what we will attempt to do is look at each of these and try to determine which ones reflect godly qualities and actions and which ones do not.
The first one we will look at pertains to God’s love.
Agape is the noun form, and agapao is the verb form.
What kind of love is this?
When we consider how Christians operate in this love, what are the thoughts and actions that they should be thinking and expressing toward others?
Please go to the book of Galatians.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
This is God’s love that is a fruit of the Spirit. The word fruit, which we talked about earlier in this study, can also mean elements of character. There are nine elements of character that God wants to produce in us, become operational in us, and be expressive to others. The first element of character is called love. The Greek rendering of this word in the noun form is transliterated (to change letters from one language to another) into English and written as agape.
Because most of our English New Testament is derived from Koine Greek (the common language of the Greeks during the time of Christ) and in certain minimal instances Aramaic, all we need to do is find this particular word love in Scripture by using a concordance, which will indicate to us every place it appears. We’ll also be able to find out whether this word was used to signify God’s agape love or another expression for love. And along with this, wherever this word love appears, we will be made aware as to whether it was used as a noun or verb.
So, this particular word for love means divine love, which is a love produced in the heart of the yielded believer by the Holy Spirit; its chief ingredient, self-sacrifice for the benefit of the one loved.43
Are you ready to find out more about what this word love means, whether in the form of a noun or a verb?
Please go to the book of 1 Corinthians.
Suggested Reading: 1 Corinthians 13:1-8
The word used as synonymous with the word love in these verses is charity, and it’s used primarily as a noun. There is much to say about God’s love when a Christian is operating in it toward others and whether the recipients of such are believers or unbelievers.
1 Corinthians 13:4 Charity suffereth long…
Charity (God’s agape love) is patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others. It has a long mind.44 Stay with me in looking at another part of the same verse.
1 Corinthians 13:4 …charity envieth not…
God’s love is not [grieved] because another possesses a greater portion of earthly, intellectual, or spiritual blessings.45 Take a look at the next verse, which follows this one.
1 Corinthians 13:5 …seeketh not her own…
Charity does not seek one’s own happiness to the injury of another.
To find out another perspective about God’s love, please go to the book of Romans.
Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
This is an interesting verse, which talks about the fact that if we owe someone a debt, we must make sure we pay it back. Why? Because this is an expression of God’s love in interpersonal relationships. God’s love is responsible for its actions.
Go forward in your Bible to the book of 1 John.
1 John 3:16
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.
As we perceive (gain spiritual knowledge by experience) the love of God expressed in the laying down of His life for us, because of our response to such, we will have become the recipients of salvation.46 And likewise, we should lay down our life (by giving our time, care, prayers, substance47) for the brethren.
What else can we learn about God’s love?
1 John is where we should go next.
Suggested Reading: 1 John 4:7-19
7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
The apostle John instructed believers to habitually love one another (be ready to promote each other's welfare, both spiritual and temporal48).
The next verse talks about God’s love operating in marriage.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
Husbands are instructed by the apostle Paul to love their wives (to give himself in self-sacrifice for the well-being of the one who is loved;49 to promote the salvation of their wives, and their constant edification in righteousness;50 to seek the highest good for another person51), even as Christ loved the church and gave of Himself to redeem it.
Let’s proceed onward to the book of Galatians.
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
Brethren, you have been called unto liberty (through the Spirit free from the power of sin in his daily life; and free from the Law with its demands and threats52). Only use not this liberty for an occasion to the flesh (to indulge the sinful nature or as a furtherance to corrupt passions53), but by the love of the Spirit (divine love; [such love] means death to self, and that means defeat for [sin] since the essence of sin is self-will and self-gratification54) serve one another (to do that which is for the advantage of someone else55).
Now that we know some of the thought patterns and subsequent expressions of divine love, the next question we can seek an answer for will help us determine what is contrary to it.
What are the thought patterns and subsequent expressions that are contrary to divine love, which a Christian should no longer be entertaining in their mind and thus committing in their actions?
Let’s begin by going to the book of 1 John.
1 John 2:15-16
15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
God’s love commands us as to what we should not love. We are not to love the world (the ordered system of which Satan is the head, his fallen angels and demons are his emissaries, and the unsaved of the human race are his subjects, together with those purposes, pursuits, pleasures, practices, and places where God is not wanted.56
16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
We are also commanded to not love what is in the world, which consists of the lust (sensual and impure desires) of the flesh (of the depraved nature), and the lust (the mental pleasure) of the eyes, and the pride of life (includes the desire to gain credit which does not belong to us, and outshine our [neighbors];57 an insolent and vain assurance in one's own resources, or in the stability of earthly things58).
What stood out to me is that we are commanded not to love the sensual and impure desires of the depraved nature. And we can speculate that whatever these desires are that may occupy us will express themselves in sensual and impure actions. What actions are considered sensual and impure in Scripture? Keep on reading, and hopefully, we’ll find out.
I don’t know about you, but I found learning about God’s agape love enlightening. Here is a summary of it.
God’s agape love:
Self-sacrifices for the benefit of someone else.
Operating in a husband seeks the spiritual well-being of his wife.
Is patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others.
Is not grieved because another possesses a greater portion of earthly, intellectual, or spiritual blessings.59
Does not seek one’s own happiness to the injury of another.
Lays down its life (by giving our time, care, prayers, substance60) for the brethren.
Does not operate in the sin nature and continue in corrupt passions.
Does not love the sensual and impure desires of the depraved nature.
Is not kindled by the merit or worth of its object, but it originates in its own God-given nature.61
Does not find assurance in one's own resources or in earthly things.
Did you know that there is another word for love that Scripture mentions? Any idea what this love is all about? Let’s find out.
Philia, a noun, is the transliteration of the Greek word. The verb form is phileo.
What is Philadelphia love all about?
How is it different from agape love?
Please go to the book of Titus.
That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
Titus is instructing the aged Christian women (those advanced in years) that they teach the young Christian women, who are married, to be sober (to have their desires and passions well-regulated or under proper control62), to philia love their husbands (not be fond of other men than their own), and to philia love their children (maternal affection; used to describe feelings or actions which are typical of those of a kind mother [toward] her child63). This love is described as being that of a philia type of love, a love for one’s family.
Why wasn’t this love mentioned as being agape?
I can only assume, based on what we know about agape love is that it is a love that is self-sacrificing, i.e., it loves irrespective of the person loved or their response to it, whereas philia love appears to be a love based on something about the person who is loved which causes us to love them. Let’s see if what I just said is true about philia love by looking at more verses where this type of love is being illustrated.
The book of 1 Peter is where we should go next.
1 Peter 1:22
Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
Apparently, there were some Christians who had issues with philia loving their fellow believers. Unfortunately, they were operating in feigned (hypocritical) love. This love was described as being like a mask of feigned love placed over their usual countenances when associating with certain others of their brethren.64 Their only way out of living in this counterfeit love was by continual obedience to God’s Word while operating under the influences of the Holy Spirit.
By choosing to appropriate and think with God’s Word, this caused them to operate in the fruit of the Spirit, and as such, they evidenced God’s love toward their brethren, which was characterized as being a philia unfeigned love (an unhypocritical love). This love is characterized as liking someone else because that person is like himself [herself] in the sense that this person reflects in his (her) own personality the same characteristics, the same likes and dislikes that he [she] himself [herself] has65). Based on the context, these characteristics would be those exemplified by the Word of God.
Then, the apostle Peter said to them to see to it that they agape love one another with a pure [not for the love of ourselves; to not use for our advantage; free from hypocrisy (a pretense of having a virtuous character66)] heart (mind) fervently (in an all-out manner).
This is interesting in that both philia and agape love are mentioned in the same verse. This seems to be saying that we should always be operating in divine love toward our fellow believers. And when we love them, because of something about them, this love can be described as a philia type love of the brethren.
Where should we go next? How about the book of 1 Thessalonians?
1 Thessalonians 4:9
But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.
This verse talks about both agapao divine and philia brotherly love. The reason why I included it is that in this context, it is referred to as a love that is shown in relieving distressed brethren.67
So, to recap, philia love is a deep friendship kind of love, where we love the brethren or a family member because that person is like ourselves as to our personality or they have the same likes or dislikes that we do. We could also say that this love is called out of one’s heart by qualities in another.68
Is there any other Greek word for love that we need to look at?
Believe it or not, there is another one. Are you ready to take a look at this?
Sterge is the noun form, and stergo is the verb form.
How can this type of love be explained?
Please go to the book of Romans.
9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
The Apostle Paul was instructing the believers at Rome that their agape love be without dissimulation (without hypocrisy; a love that puts self aside in an effort to help and bless others. Yes, a love that goes to the point of suffering if that is necessary in order to bless others69). They were also instructed to Abhor (turn away from) that which is evil (whatever is unkind or injurious to a brother70) and to cleave (hold fast) to that which is good (sharing the burdens and the blessing of others so that we all grow together and glorify the Lord71).
10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Along with this, they were admonished to show tender affection to one another with philia storge brotherly love (the warmth of family affection72). One evidence of such is in showing honour (respect shown [to] another which is measured by one’s evaluation of another73) by preferring one another (every act of friendly kindness74).
In this context, we are to agape love the brethren with genuine love and philia storge family affection. Believe it or not, storge love, the love for one’s family, is found nowhere else in the Epistles. You might ask, then how do you know that it means family love? We can determine this by finding out what the antitheses of this word mean. The antithesis Greek word astorgos means to be heartless, without affection to kindred, and lacking natural love among family members. The transliteration of this Greek word is found in only two places in Scripture, where the words without natural affection refer to the lack of love in the family.
Romans 1:31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
2 Timothy 3:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
We can conclude, therefore, that storge love is natural family affection for husband, wife, child, and fellow believers.
I know you are not going to believe this, but there is one more word in Greek that refers to love. Really? What kind of love?
Eros is the noun form, and eros is the verb form.
This kind of love is passionate love. It’s comprised of pleasure. The basic idea of this love is self-satisfaction.75 This love looks for whatever it is in another person that makes them happy. If for whatever reason that which makes one happy is gone or has somehow changed into that which is undesirable, then this love no longer expresses itself toward the other person and subsequently seeks someone else to make them happy.
The transliteration of the original Greek word, which in its English form is eros, is not found in the New Testament. However, I do think that the way to characterize this kind of love is that of it being a sensual love, which in the expression of its action could be considered moral or immoral based on societal norms. Are societal norms God’s norms? If society approves of a certain sexual behavior, does this mean that God’s people should approve of it?
Based on this study on the four different types of love according to the Koine Greek language, we have learned that each of these has their own characteristics. We know that God would desire for us to operate in His agape love toward believers and unbelievers, philia friendship brotherly love, and in storge love toward family. But what about eros love? Does He desire for us to operate in this type of love, which is a sensual type love that could seek its pleasure in such sexual avenues as marriage, polygamy, fornication, prostitution, adultery, homosexuality, lesbianism, incest, and pedophilia?
You should know the drill by now. The only way to answer this question or any other pertaining to whatever the topic is to find out what Scripture says about these sexual practices. But before we do, let’s take a look at societal norms concerning sexual behavior. I think this would be an interesting avenue that will allow us to gain perspective on one very important principle. What is that principle, you ask? Please go to the next chapter and find out.
44 Thayer’s Greek Lexicon.
45 Adam Clarke’s Commentary.
47 Jamieson, Faucet, and Brown Commentary Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005. BIBLESOFT. WEB. 27 February 2019 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
48 Adam Clarke’s Commentary.
50 Adam Clarke’s Commentary.
51 Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament.
52 The Bible Exposition Commentary/New Testament.
57 The Pulpit Commentary.
59 Adam Clarke’s Commentary.
60 Jamieson, Faucet, and Brown Commentary.
61 “Four Greek Words for “Love”,” .
67 Jamieson, Faucet, and Brown.
68 Four Greek Words for “Love”.
70 Jamieson, Faucet, and Brown Commentary.
71 The Bible Exposition Commentary/New Testament.
72 The Pulpit Commentary.
74 Calvin's Commentaries. Pc Study Bible version 5, 2006. BIBLESOFT. WEB. 20 March 2019 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
75 Four Greek Words for “Love”.
New Covenant Ministries - Ministerios NuevoPacto - Harbor Church, Block Island
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My name is James Rondinone. I am a husband, father, and spiritual leader.
I grew up in Massachusetts and began my own spiritual journey early on in life.
I attended Bible college, having completed a two-year Christian Leadership Course of Study and graduated as valedictorian (Summa Cum Laude).
Studying and teaching the Word of God has been a passion of mine for over 20 years.Article source: https://articlebiz.com
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