The Meaning of Agape!

Matthew 5.pngYou have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you. love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get” Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.                                              Matthew 5:43-48

 The Greek word agape is often translated “love” in the New Testament. How is “agape love” different from other types of love? The essence of agape love is goodwill, benevolence, and willful delight in the object of love. Unlike our English word loveagape is not used in the New Testament to refer to romantic or sexual love. Nor does it refer to close friendship or brotherly love, for which the Greek word philia is used. Agape love involves faithfulness, commitment, and an act of the will. It is distinguished from the other types of love by its lofty moral nature and strong character. Agape love is beautifully described in 1 Corinthians 13.

Jesus never said to love our enemies with the same love we have for our loved ones. It would be totally impossible and it wouldn’t be right. The essence of the word is different. This is quite another kind of love. For example, our love for our loved ones is different, we can’t help loving them. Then there is love that we describe as falling in love. We don’t have to go and look for this love. It comes to us and it is born from the emotions in the heart. But in the case of our enemies, love is not only something from the heart, it also includes something of the will. It is not something that comes spontaneously, we must will ourselves to do it. It is a victory and triumph over what comes to us instinctively.

Agape doesn’t mean the feeling of the heart, that which we cannot help and which is born without us asking for it. It is through determination of the mind that we want to demonstrate unconquerable good to those who wish to harm us. Agape is the ability to love those we don’t like and who don’t like us. We can only have agape if Christ enables us to overcome our natural tendency towards anger and bitterness.

So it is clear and explicit that the last thing agape or Christian love means is to allow others to do exactly as they please. This means that Christian discipline and punishment should not be aimed at vengeance, but at healing.

Love of God is the root, love our neighbor the fruit of the Tree of Life. Neither can exist without the other, but the one is cause and the other effect. (William Temple)

 

Prayer: Holy Spirit of God, help me to have the ability to love my enemies with Christian love.            Amen

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

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