“Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.”
— C.S. Lewis
Greek is one of the richest languages in the world with an extensive vocabulary.
However, love is often more complicated than any words can describe.
Whereas we have one word for love in English, the Greeks have nine.
Agape is the God kind of Love, but the Greeks have eight other types of love as well.
1. EROS: SEXUAL DESIRE
In Ancient Greek mythology, Eros (ἔρως) was a mischievous god of passion and fertility, who was shooting arrows into the hearts of people and immortals and making them feel a sudden overwhelming desire for each other.
Although this desire can be interpreted as love, it is primarily physical attraction.
That’s where the terms “erotic” and “erotica” came from that nowadays describe human sexuality.
It is common to mistake lust – or sexual desire – for romantic love.
2. PHILIA: SOUL CONNECTION
In contrast to the physical, sexual nature of Eros, Philia (φιλία) is a platonic feeling.
This Greek word for love implies spiritual connection, trust, and sharing of the same values.
Philia usually grows between friends or family members.
While it is not as overwhelming, euphoric, or exciting as Eros, it is often more fulfilling and rewarding in the long term.
3. STORGE: DEVOTED LOVE
Storge (στοργή) can be classified as a variation of Philia and usually relates to love within a family.
4. PRAGMA: MATURE LOVE
Although probably the least exciting type of love, Pragma (πράγμα) is an essential component of making relationships work in the long term.
Pragma is love based on duty, reason, and shared goals.
5. LUDUS: PLAYFUL LOVE
Ludus (Παιχνίδια) is another Greek word for love that is perhaps the polar opposite of Pragma.
While Pragma is long-term, cerebral, and based around responsibilities, Ludus is carefree and playful love.
6. MANIA: OBSESSIVE LOVE
Have you ever met anybody obsessed with a particular individual to the point where it seems unhealthy?
And maybe you even called them a maniac? Greek philosophers labeled this type of love as Mania (μανία).
7. MERAKI (MODERN GREEK): CREATIVE ENDEAVORS
A modern Greek word, derived from the Turkish “Merak” (μεράκι) means to do something with love, creativity, and devotion when you wholeheartedly put yourself into what you are doing.
8. PHILAUTIA: SELF-LOVE
The Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that self-love or Philautia (φιλαυτία) is a prerequisite to loving others.
Healthy self-love is beneficial to every aspect of life, including relationships, and individuals who love themselves are usually more capable of both giving and receiving all kinds of love.
Many destructive behaviors in a relationship can often be rooted in a lack of self-love.
However, self-love can quickly turn into an unhealthy form when a person loves themselves more than anyone else.
Unhealthy self-love can be expressed through an inflated ego and usually dependent on social status, abilities, or accomplishments rather than genuine virtues.
9. AGAPE: UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
Agape (ἀγάπη) is an unconditional love that is not dependent on any external factors.
Acts of charity and altruism are often born out of Agape love.
It seems fair to argue that a society without Agape would be unable to function, as we are dependent on one another as a species.
Agape is the least selfish form of love and does not require anything in return.
AGAPE and PHILIA are the only two types of love that are mentioned in the Bible.
And as God’s covenant children, we are ALL to be distributors of His Agape-love and Light into all the dark areas of this world.
And as noted below, this Agape-love has nothing whatsoever to do with our feelings towards that other person, rather it is based upon our treating that other person based on the value God places upon them.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
4 Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud,
5 Never haughty or selfish or rude.
Love does not demand its own way.
It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong.
6 It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out.
7 If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost.
You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.
Our society confuses love and lust.
Unlike lust, God’s kind of love is directed outward toward others, not inward toward ourselves.
It is utterly unselfish. This kind of love goes against our natural inclinations.
It is impossible to have this kind of love unless God helps us set aside our own natural desires so that we can love without expecting anything in return.
We can’t manufacture this kind of love when we don’t feel it.
We gain it only through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).
We never love perfectly; only Jesus can.
Thus, the more we become like Christ, die to our flesh (our self nature), and give God permission to use us as His conduit, the more Agape-love we will show to others.
Paul says that love “is not irritable.” Sometimes we’re irritated or angered by others, and we don’t know why.
Not all irritability stems from sinful or selfish motives, although the irritable treatment of others is surely wrong.
Much irritability comes from a love of perfection, a deep desire for programs, plans, meetings, and structures to be run perfectly.
A desire to run things perfectly can erupt into anger at those who get in the way or ruin an outcome.
When we get easily irritated, it helps to remember that perfection exists only in God.
We need to love Him and our fellow Christians, not the visions we have for perfection here on earth.
After all, we’re all still under construction.
Before we trivialize these words about love by assuming they can easily fit us, we should pause to consider that they actually describe God’s character.
These are not sugary claims. They are substantial descriptions of the way God perfectly relates to us.
The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write a breathtakingly beautiful description of the nature of God.
Only God can put His character in us and help us love like this.
Come join the Adventure!