“Love” is a word that is most common and yet most complex. It is often most used
but least understood. “LOVE” does not have one or two sides to it but many sides.
When we say we love something or somebody we either mean that we have
affection for such or that we derive pleasure from such. So love may mean giving
or getting, which is either selfless or selfish. Experience shows that people love
what they once hated or hate what they once loved, so love is variable in its object.
People also love certain things or persons more than others, so love has variations
I had once defined love in its various ramifications thus:
“To LOVE is to give your best for the good of another. So, LOVE is
kindness that is ready to endure and suffer for another to enjoy
and benefit. LOVE is benevolence that delights to offer pleasure and
benefit to another. At its deepest or highest level, LOVE is the
compassion that is determined to offer service and goodness to
On the other hand, LOVE is fondness that delights to derive and
share pleasure and benefit among one another.”
We have all manner of fanciful concepts and romantic ideas about what LOVE
means – much of which borders on (sensual) passion, (sociable) affection,
(mutual) satisfaction, (intimate) gratification, (selfish) derivation and
(sacrificial) benefaction. However, Christ’s concept of LOVE could be
paraphrased as “benevolently giving your life and all sacrificially for someone
else’s betterment”. In Christ’s view, LOVE is not about getting but about giving,
not about enjoying someone but about suffering for someone to enjoy.
“God so loved … that He gave His only begotten Son…” (John 3:16);
“Greater love has no man than … lay down his life…” (John 15:13);
“Do you love me? Tend my…” (John 21:16).
WRONG USE OF ‘LOVE’ TODAY
The first thing that comes to mind when “LOVE” is used today is passion and lust
of sexual relationships. However, in the Scriptures when “LOVE” is mentioned, it
means something much more sublime. As a mater of fact, the Bible hardly refers to
sexual intercourse as Love or Love-making. If sexual passion were love to
another and not lust for selfish pleasure from another, it should be openly and
freely shared with all without restriction or discrimination, without charge or
pay. But even animals seem to know that sexual mating is not love but
reproductive or procreational duty. We all know that sexual intercourse could be
“hate-making” when it is a rape or cheat. So, when referring to sexual intercourse
the Scriptures prefer to use other words such as:
“KNOW” (Gen 4.1), “WHOREDOM/ADULTERY” (Heb. 13:4b),
“PLAY” (Exd. 32:6), “MARITAL-COITUS” (Heb. 13:4a),
“DEFILE” (Lev 18:20-25), “OBLIGATION/DUE of marriage” (1Cor. 7:3),
“CHEER” (Deut 24:5); “RAPE/RAVISH” (Isa 13:16),
“IMMORALITY/LEWDNESS” (Ezk 23:21).
Only in one circumstance (which is in marriage) is sexual intercourse described as
part of true love in the Scriptures, otherwise sexual intercourse is not actually
“love-making” as pagan cultures promote it to seem. It could either be ‘sin-
making’ or ‘hate-making’ when outside marriage.
THE MEANING OF “LOVE”
There are two main aspects to LOVE or two types of LOVE.
1. Ravishing Love/Lower love/Hot-blooded love/Koites love whose pursuit
is to derive happiness. This is lustful love whose devious motive is to satisfy
selfish preferences and profit personal prizes.
This “KOITAL” concupiscent type of love shall be discussed under:
and (2) Epithumia
2. Rational Love/Higher love/Cool-headed love/Koinonia love whose
pursuit is to dispense kindness. This is faithful Love whose devout motive is to
satisfy divine purposes and proffer personal prices.
This “KOINONIAL” compassionate type of love shall be discussed under:
and (2) Agape
1. RAVISHING (LOWER) LOVE (Heb. 13:4b)
This is the KOITAL love that is sexual. It involves sexual desire, arousal,
seduction, satisfaction, attraction, infatuation, inflammation and the like.
Ravishing love is low enough for animals and the insane to engage in it
This aspect of love is exclusively permitted between a man and woman in
the context of marriage. Otherwise, it is evil, sinful, destructive and
This is the love that could either be yielded to intentionally when one lets it
(Prov. 5:19a) or could over-take or overwhelm one unintentionally when it
enraptures one off-guard (Prov. 15:9b).
Those who have the Spirit of God and give heed to God’s Word must not
only resist and watch against this lasciviousness but also flee from the
possibility of fornication and all its appearances (1Cor. 16:18; 10:14).
Within marriage ravishing love is not defiled (Heb 13:4a). In fact it is an
obligation for married couples (1Cor 7:3).
Two Greek words describe the two stages or aspects of this type of ravishing
This word does not appear in the Bible but matches some description of
amorous love in the Bible for instance:
−Sensual desire (Song 1:2; 4:9)
−Romantic fantasy (Prov. 5:19)
Eros describes the affectionate feeling of “falling in love” or infatuation
fantasy that involves admiration and attraction, with a desire to posses and
own the object of such love.
Outside marriage, Eros is inordinate affection (Col. 3:5) or vile affection
(Rom 1:26) or lewdness/lasciviousness/evil concupiscence (Ezk 23:11)
Eros is the grabbing infatuation that desires to HAVE
– Sexual love or carnal passion or lust (Col. 3:5; Rom 7:8; 1Thes 4:5)
− Craving for conjugal or coital pleasure (Heb 13:4: Deut 2:4-5)
− Strong passionate desire for a good need or goal (Matt 13:17; Luk 22:15;
Php 1:23; 1Thes 2:17).
Epithumia is desire or concupiscence that craves passionately to use the
object of such longing for self-satisfaction, especially of sexual desires or
needs. This describes the desire of “making love”, inflammation with
passion that seeks for lustful satisfaction.
Sexual Epithumia is only sanctified when it is for one’s married spouse,
otherwise it is defiled. Epithumia in marriage is for the coital cleaving of
It must be made clear that sexual concupiscence (Epithumia) is not
needed in life except for marital reproduction (Matt 19:10-11; 1Cor 7:1, 7-
8, 26-27, 37-38). The carnal and pagan inflammation and provocation of
sexual Epithumia as if one should not or cannot do without it in life, is a
demonic lie to excite lasciviousness and satanic rebellion to promote
sexual incontinency and defile humanity (Rom 1:26-29). But fortunately,
Christians have been given the grace to mortify sexual concupiscence (Rom
6:6, 14; Col 3:5).
Epithumia is the deriving concupiscence that
craves to HAVE and HOLD.
2. RATIONAL (HIGHER) LOVE (Heb 13:1; John 21:15-17)
This is the KOINONIAL love that is communal and congenial, mutual and
sacrificial, fondly and fraternal, sharing and caring, selfless and kind.
Rational Love is applied to friends and foes. It is offered to the good and the
bad, though only the good is able to offer or appreciate (and benefit from)
this high level love.
While Ravishing Love is instinctively carnal and necessarily regulated,
Rational Love is a grace given without regulation. There is no law against
Agape and its entire offspring (Gal. 5:22-23) and there is no fear in Agape
This is the love that can be taught and learned (Eph. 4:20-21; 5:25, Tit 2:8)
as well as shed abroad from God to be received (Rom 5:5). This is the love
bond that unites people in a peaceful, joyful and caring relationship (Col.
3:14). This world describes this kind of love as peacefulness and kindness.
Whenever LOVE is mentioned in the Church or in the Scriptures, this is the
LOVE that is meant. For, this is the only LOVE that could be received from
Christ or be shown to God.
– This is a biblical word for “LOVE”
– Fraternal/Friendly fondness (John 13:23; 21:17)
– Familial/Uniting affection
– Rom 12:10 – Philostorgos (Affectionate love)
− Heb 13:1 – Philadelphos (Brotherly love)
– John 5:20 – Father and Son (Filial love)
Phileo describes the love that desires and delights in sharing and being
attached in oneness, unity and peace. This love rejoices in giving and taking
in a congenial atmosphere, offering what it has and receiving what it lacks.
Phileo is the sharing fondness that delights to HAVE
-This is the love that is found only in God and received only from
God, by His Spirit (Rom 5:5).
-Agape is supernatural and infallible (1Cor. 13:5). It is
outgoing, self-giving, sacrificial and benevolent to the
-Agape is a peculiar Biblical love and its definition is found in
the Odes of Love in 1Corinthians 13 and 1John 4.
-Agape favours, provides, protects, supports, helps, comforts,
motivates and condones the object of its loves for their good.
-Although Agape is ultimately destructive to evil and the ungodly; yet
it is eternally blissful to the godly and blends with good.
-To posses Agape is to blend with infallible eternity (1Cor 13:13).
Agape describes a compelling sense of commitment to help and care: to
spend and be spent.
“And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you, though the more
abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.” (2 Corinthians 12:15)
Agape is a caring concern that is committed to SERVE
“Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister,
and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)
Agape moved God with compassion to give His Son, Jesus Christ for our salvation
(John 3:16, 35; Rom 5:5, 8)
God is LOVE and God’s LOVE is in Christ, the Son (1John 4:8, 16).
When you receive Christ, divine Agape is given to you from God.
By Right Revd Dr. I. U. Ibeme