Summary: a sermon on the meaning of love

1 Corinthians 13 - What is Love?

My rendering of the text:

1Although I might use really nice words, and biblical language but do not love, I’m just making noise.

2I can be really good at saying things that seem religious, and even understand what the Bible means, or even to great things that seem really hard to do, but if I do not love like God does, I am of no value to God. 3I could give all I have to feed the poor or make the sacrifice to help others and get hurt in the process, but if I do not love unconditionally, there is no real advantage to doing so. 4Unconditional love means being patient for others, even when they are not. Love means we will do our very best to be benevolent or beneficial to others even when we may feel as though we have our own issues. 5Love like this will not be opposite of godly, it will not even be about what we want or how we feel. Love is not easily exasperated or annoyed. When we love our thoughts are going to be good and not evil.

6Love does not take joy in acting unjust, meaning that when I am wrong I repent and try to honor the Lord. Love takes joy in the truth of God, and this means we want to live and love as Jesus loves us.

7Unconditional love is the protection for our souls to provide shelter when we think the world is against us. (I have felt this many times through the years since my salvation.)

When we love like this we have placed our trust (same believe here as John 3.16) in the Savior. Hope here means we can be confident that God can do all that He has promised.

Love helps us to handle spiritual trials in this fallen world.

8Love never fails and this means that unconditional love does not disappear from us. (Remember - this is about our intentional love.) This is true even though predictions do not always come true or a language comes to an end, or even if we cannot remember a lot of things.

9We really only know very little about God and we certainly can only offer an opinion on what the future holds.

10But when the eternal kingdom is established, that is when all of the imperfection will be gone. (Only then. Until that time we can choose to love or not).

11When we are immature believers we speak spoke out of ignorance because our thinking was not yet developed. But as we grow more spiritually mature, we put away childish things. (We get rid of childish things.)

12Right now we can only see what God has for us and all the world as if we are sitting in the dark. We only know a small portion of what God has for us. But when we reach maturity in the faith we will know just as God knows us.

13So now continue to remain faithful, live with His promise and His love, these three things are important. The most important thing to remember here is to love unconditionally.


Unconditional love is never easy.

There are four Greek words for love that are important for Christians to understand. Pg2

They are agape, phileo, storge, and eros. Three of them appear in the Bible. If we are going to understand the Bible and the biblical world, it is important that we understand what these words mean and how they differ. Lets look at the four Greek words for love.

1) Yileo (Phileo) (This is about people only)

Phileo is the love of companionship and fellowship; an intellectual, emotional bond that occurs between two people. Its brotherly love. This love speaks of affection, fondness, or liking someone. It is an emotion that comes from one’s heart as a response to the pleasure one takes in a person. Phileo is the emotion that responds to kindness, appreciation, or acceptance. It involves giving as well as receiving; but when it is greatly strained, it can (and often does) collapse in a crisis. Phileo is a higher love than eros because it involves OUR happiness rather than MY happiness.

Phileo is drawn out of one’s heart by the qualities in the other, the things you like about them and is quite different than agape (unconditional love). Its liking someone else because you feel they are nice to you, or because you feel they like you, or they appreciate you.

Read: John 21:15-17: 15So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” 16He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” 17He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” Pg3

Where Peter uses love, he meant phileo not agape, like Jesus did. Every time that Jesus asked Peter if he loved (agape), Peter said he loved (phileo). After 3 tries, Peter still did not get it. This tells us we have the ability to experience agape (unconditional love) but our human instinct is to experience phileo - the affection and fondness we have for others.

Upside: We are created for and able to experience and offer brotherly love.

Downside: This is an emotional response to the pleasure we feel from others. When we are displeased with others, when people feel no pleasure, they feel as though they no longer love that object of affection.

Its possible to think someone does not love you simply because you do not understand them. Because Phileo is based on emotion, people often feel loved or unloved based upon their own perception. (This happens to people of all ages.)

2) sτοργή (Storge) (How many of you love your mom and dad? Your sibling(s)? How about a pet? What about cookies? Its actually all the same...

Storge has a very simple meaning. This is the type of love, the affectionate moving of the soul for one’s spouse, child or pet, or even an inanimate object.

When we say we love our dog or bacon, it’s the same feeling as when we say we love our spouse, children, relatives or our car.

Even though this is based in human nature, and we are created in the image of God, our fallen nature causes us to experience this emotion.

It is a feeling of happiness that comes from someone or something close to us and that we might feel good about. Pg4

Upside: Storge is the affection that brings us a feeling of well-being. It makes us feel really good. Like when we snuggle our pets or get a new car.

Downside: Storge can be temporary, and often is.

If what made us happy or feel good no longer provides this feeling, there is no longer any “love”.

3) eροσ (Eros) This is the carnal instinct of desire. This is based upon coveting selfishness and lust and has no place in the life of a believer. Eros is never acceptable, not even within the bonds of marriage because it goes against the will of God because it only involves a selfish physical attraction people have that is devoid of any other emotion.

It is an emotional response of passion, an overwhelming passion that seizes and

absorbs itself into the mind and soul. It manifests as lust, meaning insatiable want for physical intimacy.

It is the physical response that is an emotional involvement based only on body chemistry.

The focus of eros is only self-satisfaction.

Though Eros is directed towards another, it actually has self in mind. For example: “I love you because I like how you look.” This is not similar to storge or phileo in any way.

The foundation of eros is that some characteristic in the other person which physically pleases you, but only temporarily.

This can be short term or even long term, but Eros is always temporary.

If the characteristic would cease to exist, the reason for the attraction would be gone, and the result would be,

“I don’t love you anymore”. Pg5

Eros looks only for what it can receive. If it does give, it gives only in order to receive.

Example: provocative pictures is part of eros. This is not even acceptable in marriage.

If eros fails to get what it wants or expects, bitterness or resentment most often develops.

The philosophy of eros is that it depends on being attracted to another person. Example: If you like the way someone looks, you say you love them. If you find them unattractive, you feel as though you do not love. Because of this dependency, eros is a conditional type of love.

Eros is never used in the Bible, not even in the Song of Solomon. .One example of eros is found in 1 Samuel 13.1-4 where Amnon raped Tamar, 2 Samuel 13.1-4.

Where Amon uses the word for love, this is the equivalent of loving kindness (filostorgov, philostorgos)

Upside: There is no upside to eros, ever.

Downside: In every way, this degrades people and relationships. (Because people are susceptible to emotions, it can seem as though phileo or storge is experienced but its not. Also, it can seem as though someone is only offering Eros but that may also not be true.)

4. γάπη or .γαπάω (Agape or Agapao)

Unconditional love, the greatest, most pure form of affection. Agape is only applied to people.

Agape is called out of one’s heart by the preciousness esteem and respect for the object loved.

It is a love of esteem, of evaluation. It has the idea of cherishing above all else. Pg6

It is the noblest word for love in the Greek language.

Agape is not kindled by the merit or worth of it’s object, but it originates in it’s own God-given nature. Just as God is love, Agape is to love as the Lord loves, in spite of what we do, or even if we love Him. Think John 3.16...

Agape delights in giving of self for the sake of another.

Agape loves even when the loved one is unresponsive or unkind. It is unconditional love.

Agape desires only the needs of the person loved.

It is a powerful desire for the well-being of another, only wants what is best for another.

The hard thing to understand is that we do not always know what is best for another person. Most of the time, this takes years to develop the discernment (perceptiveness) of what God would have us do for that other person.

(In my opinion, a Christian married couple will develop this deeper, the longer they are together.)

Upside: Everything about unconditional love is positive. When we love unconditionally, our soul bears the Spirit of God and we will be able to love this way.

When we love someone unconditionally, they are the beneficiary of grace, mercy, patience and forgiveness. It defines the fellowship the Lord desires believers to have with other people, especially other believers at every level - Christian friends and family, a husband to his wife and the wife to her husband; parents to children; children to parents - when they are capable of making such a decision.

Downside: Agape is not learned. It is not something we can learn or practice and get good at it. It is a decision to trust in the Lord and love as He does. Pg7

This is hard to do. The use in Ephesians 5.2 - we are to “walk in love”, and in Ephesians 5.22 - “husbands love your wives”, is agape.

We as believers we are to love one another unconditionally, and when married we are to love unconditionally.

(Now) What do you believe the Biblical meaning of love really is?

Eros is always wrong to experience the emotional response to anyone or anything. There is nothing good that comes from this type of attraction.

Storge is a natural response to how we feel about someone else or even a pet. It is actually equal in the eyes of God.

We will experience a feeling of well being from something but when it gone, so are we.

Phileo is the emotion we feel for a companion or friend. This is based on what we might have in common with someone else, a mutual appreciation and acceptance.


Biblical love, Agape, is unconditional love. What does unconditional mean? Without conditions. We will love even when there is no feeling of well being, no attraction or acceptance offered in return.

1 John 4.18: There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

Please remember that when the Lord spoke of love that He meant how we love, not how we are loved.

Love is an action, a decision we make to offer ourselves to others. Prayer Pg8

This means we do not place conditions on our love for another.

1 Corinthians 13.8: Agape never fails... Unconditional love cannot be lost.

The reason I believe that every believer can experience giving Agape is because the Lord commands us to love this way.

Our God never commands us to something we are incapable of.

I pray that you will each bow to the Lord, today, and ask Him to help you with offering unconditional love in the way He loves you.



After all of this study, I believe that believers can have a healthy attraction to someone they “agape”. This attraction, in my opinion, will take the form of “storge”, “phileo” and “agape” combined because the other person will be of most importance.

A marriage will not survive unless this takes place.

Marriage is a combination of finding happiness in companionship (phileo),

affection or fondness (storge), and offering unconditional love (agape).

The greatest, of course, is agape. Once you build that into who you are, it will help preserve you in your walk with the Lord and with others.

To hear this: