John 3: 16
(A Valentines Day Sermon?)
by Robert Brooks
“What the world needs now is love, sweet love” (song by Burt Bacharach).
In the English language we use one word for “love.” We say, “I love my cat, I love my house, I love my car, I love my wife, I love God,” many different kinds of love with just the one word.
The Greek language is so rich it has four words for love. We will examine these four words briefly. The ancient Greek language took three forms. There was the classical Greek such as was used by Plato and the intellectuals of the day. Classical Greek ruled until 300 BC, after which it was displaced by Hellenistic Greek (this dominated culture as a result of the conquest of the world by Alexander The Great). Then there was Koinē Greek such as was used by the common people. The New Testament was written in Koinē Greek.
I. The Greeks, signifying depth and shades, had at least four words for love.
A. Philia, from which we get the word philosophy (the love of wisdom). It is the classical Greek word which expresses intimate love relationships—intimate relationships of the body, mind and soul. Philia may even express kissing or caressing.
B. There is the word storgē, referring to the love for family.
C. Erōs is the classical Greek word referring to sexual love.
D. Then there is agapē. Agapē is the Koinē New Testament word for God-created love.
Hardly does the word exist in secular or classical Greek. It is born through revelation.
Agapē (love) is not possible except in Christian fellowship. God’s agapē is universal:
He loved the whole world by sacrificial death. The Father gave the Son by way of the
II. “Now abideth faith, hope, and agapē (love), but the greatest of these is agapē.” I Corinthians 13. God created and sustains love. “God is Love.”
III. The rich word for love in the Old Testament is hesed.
Note Psalm 136. There was a time when I did not appreciate this psalm. I felt it was too
repetitive! But then I saw its message of the overflowing love of God. The Hebrew word
for love (hesed) is translated in the King James version as “mercy,” but this word is many-
facetted, almost untranslatable. It is sometimes rendered as “loving Kindness,” at other
times “steadfast love.”
Christians, let God’s agapē love guide your life by the Holy Spirit. Reach out in true fellowship (agapē) to your neighbors.
Lost person, accept God’s unmerited love and allow that love to invade your life!
“What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing we have too little of.”