Have you ever heard the popular song by Black Eyed Peas called “Where is the Love?” The question that song asks is one that many people ask. One reason we struggle to understand what love is, is that people often think that all love is the same. But to really understand what love is we have to realize that there are four different kinds of love. The New Testament reveals those different kinds of love through the use of four different Greek words.
The four kinds of love found in the New Testament:
• στοργή – storgē
• φιλία – phileo
• ἔρως – érōs
• ἀγάπη – agape
I just want to talk about the first two types of love in this post.
1. στοργή – storgē love
• This love is a “familial love” and is characterized by affection and the ability to transcend discriminating factors.
• It is the love of parents toward their offspring and vice versa. Ephesians 6:1-4, Proverbs 22:6, Colossians 3:20-21, 1 Timothy 5:8
• Many examples of family love are found in scripture: such as the love and mutual protection among Noah and his wife, their sons and daughters-in-law in Genesis, the love of Jacob for his sons, and the strong love of the sisters, Mary and Martha in the gospels, had for their brother Lazarus.
• Family was a vital part of ancient Jewish culture.
• In the 10 Commandments God charges his people to: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12
• One great example of this type of love is found in the relationship of the prodigal son and his father.
• Healthy families always love each other no matter what. They may disagree with each other and have different opinions, but they must continue to love each other.
• Parents may not always like their children’s behavior, but they are always to love and care for their children. Parents may have to punish their children in order to teach them right from wrong, but they must never stop loving them. When children do not have this type of love, it influences all the other relationships in a negative way.
2. φιλία – phileo love
· This love is typically what you would find between friends and includes the strong bond and commitment of deep friendship.
· Jesus had a lot to say about Friendship
· John 15:12-15 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”
· God gives us this advice when it comes to choosing Friends
· Proverbs 12:26 “One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”
· Proverbs 13:20 “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”
· Proverbs 14:6-7 “A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain, but knowledge is easy for a man of understanding. Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge.”
· Proverbs 22:24-25 “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.”
· 1 Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.”
· If we have Phileo love, it will impact how we treat our friends
· Luke 6:31 “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”
· Romans 12:10 “Love one another with brotherly affection. Out do one another in showing honor.”
· Ephesians 4:29-32 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
· Colossians 3:12-14 “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
· Proverbs 11:14 “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”
· Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
· Proverbs 19:20 “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.”
· Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”
· This kind of love does not happen overnight. It takes both a commitment of time and work for it to develop. But as a friendship grows stronger, we develop bonds that last a lifetime. Once we have this type of love for our friends, we are often loyal to them even when they don’t deserve it.
· Sadly, some people never develop this type of friendship and therefore they will never know phileo love.
Experiencing these two types of love is one of the reasons why it is important to be part of a local church. The body of Christ should be a healthy incubator for both of these types of love. Family love and friendship love should naturally spring forth in the “family” of Christ in which we have “brothers,” “sisters,” and eternal friends.