Love . . . it’s all Greek to me

As the world celebrates valentines day today, love no doubt fills the air. It is but fitting that we talk about this word love in the days to come. Let is therefore explore the meaning and the depth of the word itself and in order to fully understand it we have to go to the source of love which is God himself as expressed in his Word. The New Testament was written in the Greek language. Unlike English wherein we only have one word for love the Greeks have 5 different words for love. In the English language the context of the sentence conveys what we mean. However in New Testament Greek or “koine Greek” the word itself conveys the full meaning. To illustrate, in English when we say we love our dog, we love our country, we love our parents and we love our wife, we obviously do not refer to the same kind of love. But in Koine greek different words for the word love is used for different purposes. I do not claim to be a Koine greek scholar or an expert in languages. But the semantics of both the English and the koine greek language just fascinates me. If there are Koine greek scholars out there feel free to comment on this post if you feel the substance of this post needs corrections. English is undoubtedly the “lingua franca” of the world, but I believe the ancient Greeks did a better job of expressing the word love than the English language does.

1.) Agape – This refers to a “pure” and “ideal” type of love. Often used to refer to the love of God or “such love that is willing to sacrifice one’s life for another person.” The single word “Agapo” itself could be used to say “I love you”.

2.) Eros – Refers to passionate love, or sensual desire and longing. This is the kind of love being commonly referred to by most lovers.

3.) Philia – Commonly known as “brotherly love” This concept of “virtuous love”, was developed by Aristotle. This is the “love” felt for family, friends and the community as a whole.

4.) Storge – Known as natural affection. This is the kind of love a child feels for his or her parents.

5.) Xenia – Refers to “hospitality” and is best described as a bond of friendship formed between a host and their guest who are previously strangers.

Now don’t you agree with me that the Greeks did a better job of expressing “Love” than we do in the English ?

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