(John 21:15) So 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.”
Our English language is so limited when it comes to expressing true love. You can say I love tacos, I love Cocker Spaniels, and I love my wife! That put together will never impress your lover, that’s for sure! So to define what true love is, it’s best to go to the Greek and dig a little deeper. There are four basic words for love in the Greek language:
EROS - A word that was not actually used in the New Testament but was alluded to. It meant physical passion; its gratification and fulfillment. The Greek word is probably not used in the New Testament because the origin of the word came from the mythical god Eros, the god of love. It is inferred in many scriptures and is the only kind of love that God restricts to a one-man, one-woman relationship within the bounds of marriage. (Heb 13:4) Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
STORGE – Storge means "affection" in ancient and modern Greek. Storge is the natural bond between mother and infant, father, children, and kin. It was rarely used in ancient writings, and then almost exclusively as a description of relationships within the family. The New Testament does not even use the word, except for two occurrences of the negative form, astorgos, translated "without natural affection" (Rom 1:31; 2 Tim 3:3 KJV).
PHILEO - Phileo love is a love of the affections. In ancient texts, phileo denoted a general type of love, used for love between family and friends. It is delighting to be in the presence of another person you naturally get along with and receive benefit from. The Bible encourages it but it is never a direct command. God never commands phileo since this type of love is based on the feelings. (John 11:3) Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love (phileo) is sick.”
AGAPE - Agape love is God's kind of love. It is seeking the welfare and betterment of another regardless of how we feel. Agape does not have the primary meaning of feelings or affection. Agape is a self-sacrificing love, giving love to all--both friend and enemy. Jesus displayed it when He went to the cross and died for you and me regardless of how He felt. It’s a “one-way” love and keeps on loving even when that love is not reciprocated. It wasn’t nails that held Jesus to the cross . . . it was His agape love!
Agape is used in Matthew 22:39, "Love your neighbour as yourself," and in John 15:12, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you," and in 1 John 4:8, "God is love." It is also used in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Of course the greatest study of the word agape is in the “love chapter” (1 Cor 13). Go over there and spend some time in thought and prayer regarding the greatest love of all.
So wouldn’t it be better to say I love you and then take out the trash? Honey, I love you and fill her tank up with gas? Honey, I adore you and then take her out to her favorite restaurant? (1 John 3:18) My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. Agape love is always on the give. It’s the kind of love God demonstrated by sending the greatest gift He could ever give. God’s answer to “How do I love thee?” is: (John 3:16) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Therefore let us love (agape) one another!