1 2 3
FO UR LO VE
STORGE PHILA στοργή Affection or φιλία The love fondness that comes through familiarity such as family or group people who have met by chance.
that exist between friends, the bond existing between people of common interest or activity.
EROS ἔρως The sense of “being in love” or “loving” someone particular as opposed to raw sexuality defined as Venus.
THE FOUR LOVES Understanding the power of the loves of God and how they work practically in our lives.
Approximately 53 years after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul writes to the Church of Corinth, which is confused by the opinions of men and cultural norms. After addressing his right of apostleship, false doctrines, lawsuits among believers, the Corinthians gorging themselves on the Lords supper and sexual immorality; Paul in the pinnacle of his letter, declares, that love is the greatest of all. Compared to the spiritual gifts of speaking in tongues, prophecy, and position, greater. Lined up side by side with faith that moves mountains, superior. Compared to
ones sacrifice, infinite knowledge, and generosity towards the poor, the Apostle Paul declared in the absence of love, one was rendered, hollow, empty and of no significance. He declared that love in all ways without cause or reason was patient, kind, unresentful, humble, polite, and preferred others before ones self. This love forgives, rejoices in justice, never abandons, but is brave and in faith, it hopes and endures through every circumstance. (1 Cor. 13) Among Christians, this is a very familiar passage. However, in order to get a clearer picture of
AGAPE ἀγάπη The love that brings forth caring regardless of the circumstance. Also known as the “God” kind of love.
what the Apostle Paul was writing we must understand the scene; when he is writing it and to who He is writing.
Eros & Venus
In the Corinthian culture, sex and love were often viewed as one and the same. Growing up in this culture you would have been exposed to all types of ideologies, religions and worship, especially that of the Pantheon, a temple of the Roman’s, dedicated to “all gods”. The biggest and most obvious of all gods worshiped was Aphrodite also known as Venusher temple was the most prominent religious fixture in the city sitting on the acropolis, some 1,500 feet above the city. No matter where you were in Corinth you could see the temple of Aphrodite.
Aphrodite was the goddess of love, but what kind of love? She was the goddess of venus love. In other words, she was the goddess of sensuality, passion, beauty and sexual pleasure. Every evening around 1,000 priestesses or temple prostitutes would descend from Aphrodite’s temple to the town of Corinth to offer their services to the residents—to “help” them in their worship experience. If you lived in the Corinthian culture 2000 years ago you would naturally assume that if you wanted to experience love, the best way would have been through sex. Sound like any other culture you know? Even among Christians, Venus love is often confused with Eros love. The difference? Venus love is simply raw sexuality. It solely seeks the personal gratification of sexual and emotional pleasure. Unlike Eros which is “being in love” or “loving” someone particularly such as in a marriage between a man and a woman, Venus can be describe in the actions of those who practice sexual immorality such as bestiality, rape, pedophilia, homosexuality, and many other various kinds of perverted “loves” that are driven by self gratification. Although the pursuit of Venus love is primarily sexual, one may not be seeking personal gratification physically but emotionally. This is often seen in the lives of religious young adults who dare not cross the boundary line of “sexual immorality” but in an attempt to feel love or express love, may use, manipulate and influence others seductively in order to gratify personal emotional needs pressing boundaries but never “crossing” the line. There is nothing evil in itself about having a healthily sex drive or desiring to feel love. In fact, God designed us to be sexual and emotional. However, unlike the ideologies of our culture venus does not provide a solid foundation for a long-term love relationship. Nor was eros, the love that the Apostle Paul was speaking about.
BIBLICAL ACCOUNTS OF THE LOVE OF GOD The love the Apostle Paul was speaking about was the love, whom God the Father is, the love that Jesus demonstrated through His life and it is the very love that is imparted into the Son’s of God through his Holy Spirit. (1 John 4:8, John 15:9-12, Gal. 5:22-25) 16-17This
is how we’ve come to understand & experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us! This is why we ought to live “sacrificially” for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear… This love, “agape” is set apart from all the others “loves” because it is completely exclusive to Christianity. 18-20WHEN
We Practice Real Love, My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. [This] is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves….
friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us. 1 John 3:13-24 The Message Bible Are you so blind as to underestimate the wealth of God’s generosity, tolerance and patience? Don’t you realize that God’s kindness is purposed to lead you to repentance that is to change your heart and life? Romans 2:24 AMP/CEB 16 “For
God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NLT
Storge, Phila & Agape… Unlike the other two loves mentioned in this lesson, storge, an affection or fondness that comes through familiarity such as in a family or a group of people that have met by chance and phila, the love that exist between friends or often known as brotherly love, the agape love of God is extended towards us unconditionally and regardless of circumstance. According the previous scriptures, it is through this unrelenting, unconditional, and perfected love that we as Christians understand, experience and can demonstrate the love of God.
Experiential & Understandable In various ways the agape love of God is revealed to us. It may be through reading the Bible, or hearing someone sing a song or preach a sermon. Maybe like most us you have experienced the love of God by royally blowing it, and then in the presence of shame and guilt, stand before God in the place of judgment only to hear the words, “Your sins are forgiven”, “I love you”, and “go sin no more”. As this love is continually revealed to us and experienced, we understand what real love is, the very nature of God.
Divine Nature Can it get any better than this? Oh yes, much better! Not only do we get to be recipients of this love but as we are born gain and filled with the Spirit of God, this very God nature becomes our own and not only do we receive the power of God but the very nature of God. (1 Corinthians 12-13, Acts 1-2:1-47, 10:1-48, 19:6, Matthew 3:11) 25 “‘Then
it will be as though I had sprinkled clean water on you, for you will be clean—your filthiness will be washed away, your idol worship gone.26 And I will give you a new heart—I will give you new and right desires— and put a new spirit within you. I will take out your stony hearts of sin and give you new hearts of love. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you so that you will obey my laws and do whatever I command. Ezekiel 36:25-27 NLT 3 By
his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. 2 Peter 1:3-4 NLT
Real Thoughts & Real Talk… §
Consider the following statement. As young adults, some of the greatest areas of struggles of our lives are directly connected to love, the lack of it or a skewed perception of it. In a journal write how this statement may be true in your own life.
Take a moment and reflect on the relationships you have previous been in or may presently involved in, (example: family, friends, & romantic relationships), and ask you self this question. Is it possible that I have through misconceptions placed someone in the wrong category of relationships, and therefore had the wrong expectation of expressed “love” for them? Example: Ended up dating someone thus pursuing a romantic relationship, when really they were just meant to be a friend. In your journal write down your response to this question. Then write down 5 personal questions that you could ask yourself to help define future relationships.
The love of God is often expressed and experienced in various ways. In your journal, write down when, where and how this may be true for you.
Often young adults who are attracted to each other, skip the stage of building and developing a genuine friendship, with no strings attached, or simply use friendship as a quick stepping stone into a “dating” / “romantic” relationship. In your journal write down what the pros and cons of this may be.
It is a natural desire in any relationship to express love back to someone you receive love from. In your journal write down how you can express love back to God, family, friends & spouses if married.
In your journal write down the 5 major differences between love and lust.
What is the single most important element that makes any relationship successful?
Mother Teresa said, “Hunger for love is much harder to remove than a hunger for bread”. It is the heart cry of our generation to be loved. Do you believe this is true? If yes, share what it means practically to be loved from your perspective.
Scripture Focus & Meditation: Highlight and meditate, consider or think about, the following verses… Romans 5:8, 8:37-39, John 15:9-17, Song of Solomon 8:6-7, 1 John 3:18, Matthew 22:37-39, 1 John 4:8, John 3:16, Matthew 5:43-35, 1 Corinthians 2:9
Faith In Action As you take the next month to focus on the different kinds of loves seek to get everything you can out of it by implementing the following … § § § § §
Intentionally journal the answers to all the questions asked in this lesson, thoughts & what you feel God is speaking to you. Intentionally highlight each scripture noted in this lesson and to go deeper read before and after to get a full panoramic view of the scriptures in context. Intentionally set apart time to pray and seek God and specifically ask the Holy Spirit to teach you truth about the different kinds of love, and how to put your faith into action. Intentionally ask God to get involved in your LOVE life and to give you the strength and courage to make what whatever adjustments He would desire of you to make if any. Intentionally know, that the Holy Spirit is your teacher and that He will speak to you.