In a 70’s era television show, a young boy was talking about his relationship with a girl and said, “I like her, but I don’t like, like her.” In the show, the quote made sense, but is there a better way to indicate our feelings of affection? The fact is, using a single word to distinguish one kind of “love” from another is difficult, and can lead to misunderstanding. Fortunately, God did not leave the word “love” as an ambiguous concept for us to figure out. By observing the Bible verses about love, we learn more about what love is.
There are four different words used for love in the Bible: Philos, Agape, Storge, and Eros.
Bible Verses about Love using Agape
Agape is best described in the relationship between the Heavenly Father and his Son. Jesus used this when he prayed, in John 17:27, we read, “I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and I myself may be in them.” The Father had Agape for his son. It is also the love that the Son has for us.
This familiar Bible verse about love also demonstrated Agape: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God loved the world with the same feelings he had for his own Son. What a beautiful expression of how much the Heavenly Father want’s to have a relationship with us. The writer to the Romans understood the depth of the Father’s love when he wrote,
“But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
We learn Agape through our understanding of God’s love for us. It never gives up, and never walks away. It gives sacrificially for the good of those we love. It is, therefore, a word which is known by the action that it prompts in the one who loves. Agape is described well in the song, One Thing Remains:
Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
constant in the trial and the change
One thing remains
Your love never fails
It never gives up
It never runs out on me.
(by Jesus Culture from the album Come Away, Bethel/Integrity)
Because Jesus has agape for us, we must respond.
“For Christ’s love (agape) compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died“ (2 Corinthians 5:14).
Agape is deliberate, consistent, and transparent. It does not change by the way we feel on any given day. It always seeks the good of those we are called to love. It compels us toward action.
Bible Verses about Love using Phileo / Philos
Philos is distinguished from Agape in that it is better described as tender mercy or affection. While John 3:16 uses agape, John 5:20 describes phileo: “For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these so that you will be amazed.” Picture the father, tenderly and lovingly showing his son what to do, and how to do it. The verse describes a progressive action of a father helping his son along.
Philos is the kind of love which can be expressed between friends. It also expresses itself through tenderness. Through Philos we help our brothers and sisters grow in Christ, through progressive discipleship, not giving a new believer more than they can handle, but lovingly and patiently leading them to maturity. Philos is never given as a command to love God, but it is used in warnings about not loving him: “If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed! Come, Lord!” (1 Corinthians 16:22).
Philos must also be directed toward the right objective as is illustrated in John 12:25. “Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
Bible Verses about Love using Storge
In the same category of Philos we place “Storge”, which is more a family love. It expresses the relationship of a mother, or father, to their children. Like Philos, it is complete love, but teaches progressively. It has a vision for what the child can become, and leads them lovingly leads them toward the ultimate goal.
In the Bible, storge is the Greek word for family love, like the affection among mother, fathers, sisters and brothers. An example of this is in Romans 12:10 in the word, philostorgos, which is a compound word made up of philos (the noun form of phileo) and storge. Romans 12:10 directs us to, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” (NKJV).
Bible Verses about Love using Eros
Eros is a physical form of love shared between a husband and wife. When God created man and woman in the garden, he built in them an eros form of love, with the goal that they would have a desire for each other. Perhaps it is best described in the Song of Solomon. In the beginning of the book, we hear the female voice saying:
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
for your love is more delightful than wine.
Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;
your name is like perfume poured out.
No wonder the young women love you!
Take me away with you—let us hurry!
Let the king bring me into his chambers.
Song of Solomon 1:1-4
More Bible Verses about Love
Here are some additional examples of scriptures about love in the Bible:
1. Philos Love: affectionate/ brotherly/ friendship
“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who Loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
“ This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. So the sisters sent word to Jesus,‘Lord, the one you love is sick.”
“Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him.”
2. Agape Love: unconditional, selfless love as God has for his people
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But, I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
“Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
“Love is patient, love is kind, It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’, you are doing right.”
Christian Quotes about Love
“If we want the advantages of love, then we must be willing to take the risks of love. And that requires vulnerability. Of course, we can refuse this path and trod another one devoid of openness. But the toll on such a road is extremely high.” — Charles Swindoll
“Forgive and give as if it were your last opportunity. Love like there’s no tomorrow, and if tomorrow comes, love again.” — Max Lucado in Great Day Every Day
“If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning… Face it, friend. He is crazy about you! ” — Max Lucado
“Without love, she reacts without respect. Without respect, he reacts without love.” — Emerson Eggerichs in The Love & Respect Experience: A Husband-Friendly Devotional that Wives Truly Love