Biblical Meaning Of Love (Christian Definition Of Love)

As a theologian, I have a strong interest in Biblical concepts. Some years ago, I was specifically intrigued by the Word love in the Bible.

Therefore, I visited the local clergy to help me understand why God emphasized that Love is the greatest in all His teachings and commandments.

In our interactive theology class last week, one of my theology students asked about the Biblical meaning of Love in the Bible. While trying to answer him, most of his theology classmates understood Love from their life experiences.

They explained Love as having an intimate admiration towards others, personal affection, sexual attraction toward others, brotherly loyalty, benevolent concern, or spiritual adoration.

But, because I had done enough research as a theologian, I had all the answers to this question and earnestly explained them in detail.

So, what is the Biblical meaning of Love?

The Bible does not directly give the meaning of Love. However, we learn from various Biblical teachings how Love manifests and its purpose. In the book of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Paul narrates the multiple situations through which we can live and practice Love in our lives. In his teachings (1 Corinthians 16:14), Paul tells us that we must do everything in Love for us to live in harmony. In the gospel of Mathew 22:36-40, God teaches that Love is the greatest commandment.

I encourage you to continue reading this article to get answers on what the Bible says about Love, how the Hebrews and the Greeks define Love, how many times the word love appears in the Bible, some of the bible verses about Love, the various spiritual levels of Love and many more.

What does the Bible say about Love?

The word Love has been widely used in the Bible. According to the scriptures 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Paul says that Love is patient, Love is kind, Love does not envy, it is not boastful, Love is not self-seeking, it is not easy to anger, Love has no records of wrongs.

Love does not see pleasure in evil but rejoices with the truth. Love carries all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never ends.

Through this scripture, Paul humbly guides us through what we need to live with and what not to hold onto while living in Love. It is a clear framework through which we learn to respond to situations.

He teaches us that, through any case, Love must be more significant and the guiding tool. The primary teaching from Paul is that Love gives us the power to respond to situations beyond our feelings so that we may positively live with each other, care for each other, and impart life to others.

The scriptures in 1 John 4:16 states that God is Love and that whoever abides in Him, God abides in Him. The book of Genesis taught us that we are made in the image and likeness of God.

We are God’s copy. So, having been made in his form, we possess that which manifests in Him. For He is Love, then we are His subjects.

We share in His Love through everything He has created, both living and non-living. Having Christ in our lives gives us full access to His gifts, such as Wisdom and knowledge.

They ensure that we live in Love and harmony with each other while trusting in God. We are God’s children; therefore, we must continuously walk in His unconditional Love.

Further, the Bible says in the gospel of John 3:16 that Love is sacrificial. God loved the world so much that He gave us His only begotten son to come and endure suffering and die for the sake of our sins.

It is pure Love from the creator of the entire universe. The Bible teaches that, even in our sinful state, God still chose to pardon our sins by allowing His only son to die for our sins.

Through His passion on the cross, we have received pardon and mercy. All our sins have been washed through Jesus’ blood on the cross. We learn that Love is sacrifice.

We must all be ready and willing to let go of what we deeply love for the sake of Love itself.

The Bible also teaches us that Love should be our most extraordinary guide. Through His teachings (Mathew 22:39), Jesus says that one must love His neighbour more than he loves himself.

We are called to remind ourselves of God’s Love for us and that before putting ourselves first, we should think of God’s Love towards us and be our brothers’ keeper in Love.

What is the Hebrew definition of Love?

Ahavah is a common word in ancient Hebrew that means “Love.” Ideally, the concept of Love in the Old Testament differs significantly from that in our contemporary culture today.

Hebrews defines Love from its natural meaning and shows how it inspires us to love God and others. In Jeremiah 31:3, God tells us that He has an everlasting love towards us, His people and that through His unending Love, he has drawn us to Himself.

According to the Hebrews, God’s Love is genuine. It originates from His character as the Supernatural being. The Love that God has is now a duty; it is a fond feeling, an affection that God himself experiences.

The Hebrews also define that Love is demonstrated in action. Showing our steadfast Love to God through our actions impacts our ability to love others as it pleases God.

Deuteronomy 10:12-13 states that the Lord requires us to fear Him and live in a way that pleases him. We are reminded to love and serve Him with our hearts and souls. We must also obey the Lord’s commandments.

What is the Greek definition of Love?

Christian Definition Of Love
What is the Greek definition of Love? Image source: Pixabay


Eros is used by the Greeks to express physical Love or sexual passion towards someone. In most cases, Eros involves the feeling of lust and romance.

It is entirely a sensual love between people who are sexually attracted to one another. In ancient Greece, Eros was also the name of a love god, Cupid. (Roman name). He was responsible for shooting magic arrows at people in a way that would make them fall in Love.


The ancient Greek love word Philia means having an affectionate kind of friendship. It is very usual between equals.

In most cases, Philia is expressed as loyalty to friends (to be more specific, “brotherly love”) between family and in one’s community. Philia love requires close regard to equality, virtues, and familiarity.

Notably, Philia emanates from Philautia, which means deriving from self-love and arising from it.


Agape refers to an unconditional, sacrificial love. It is a kind of Love shown by a person willing to do anything for another, including sacrificing themselves while not expecting anything in return.

For instance, Jesus showed us Agape love by accepting to die for our sins. Christians use agape love to express the unconditional Love of God towards His people.

Through His passion and death on the cross, we received salvation. God gave us mercy and pardoned all our sins. Other Philosophers also define Agape as the selfless Love that a person feels for strangers and humanity in general.


Storge is a natural and affectionate love that family members have towards each other. It is familial. For instance, it is the mutual Love shown between parents and their offspring.

Also, Storge’s Love is described as the kind of Love that siblings have towards each other and the connecting Love that even distant kin has members of the same blood, such as the Love of a grandparent to a grandchild or that of an uncle towards a nephew or a niece.


Ludus refers to a playful love. It is simply Love that has no severe dimensions and no romance. It involves no commitment to the relationship.

In today’s culture, a good example would be the “friends with benefits” kind of relationship. Ludus may eventually lead to Eros, of course, if feelings of romance and passion start to emerge during the relationship.


In ancient Greece, Pragma refers to a committed and long-term romantic relationship. It is the kind of Love experienced by people or partners who have been in a solid relationship that still stands the test of time.

Partners who share Pragma are in Love and endeavor to work through problems with a close eye toward a shared future.

They are more patient with each other while expressing kindness to each other. They are also willing to compromise and let things settle for the sake of their Love.

Pragma‘s Love is based on duty or obligation. It is the kind of Love you find in some political or arranged marriage. In such kind of Love, there is more reason to what brings partners together than that which unites them.

For instance, two people or parties may be in a relationship for financial reasons or even involve situations where one partner’s infidelity is tolerated or ignored based on their economic well-being.


Philautia refers to self-love. It is entirely a feeling of how a person views themselves and how they feel about their own physical, emotional, and spiritual being.

Philautia comes up in two states: those who feel positive about themselves, are proud, and have a healthy practice. On the other hand, some are Egomaniacs. They see themselves as better than everybody else.


Mania is a Greek term that refers to obsessive Love. It is having an excessive love that reaches the extreme point of madness. In simple terms, it is the exact Love that a jilted lover has when they are purposely jealous of a rival. Such kind of obsession with Love can lead to mental illness.

What is God’s definition of Love?

God states that He is Love. God, the creator of the entire universe, is also the designer of Love. He teaches that He is the source of Love.

To demonstrate that He loves us, God humbly offers His Only Son as the sacrificial lamb unto which humankind received salvation (John 3:16).

God’s teachings on Love teach us that many of our sins are covered through Love. The book of 1 Peter 4:8 states that we should love each other deeply because Love covers a multitude of sins).

Additionally, God’s Love manifests through His son Jesus Christ. Though He was born and lived among ordinary men, he had the same power as God.

In everything Jesus did, Love was seen, from performing miracles such as healing the blind (John 9:1-7) to accepting to be humiliated in passion and die for the sake of the sins of mankind.

He still loved us all and even forgave those who crucified Him on the cross (Luke 23:34). Jesus taught His disciples that they must all love one another as He loves them. (John 15:12)

How many times does the word Love appear in the Bible?

The exact number of times the word Love appears in the Bible cannot be quantified. The Bible has been and continues to be translated into different languages.

In the original Greek language, there were four words: Agape, Eros, Philia, and Storge.

However, as the Bible was translated, more love words were mentioned. The following is an approximate list of the number of times the word Love appears in the most popular translations of the Bible.

  • The English Standard Version has 684 words
  • King James Version has 442 words
  • The New American Standard Bible has 479 words
  • The New Living Translation has 759 words
  • The New International Version has 686 words

15 Bible verses about Love in the Bible

  • 1 John 4:7-8 The Bible says we should love each other because Love is from God. Whoever shows Love then is born of God and knows God.
  • John 14:15 God says that if we show him Love, we will keep His commandments.
  • Colossians 3:14, Love binds everything together in harmony.
  • John 15:13 states that there is no greater love than someone sacrificing his life on behalf of his friends.
  • In the book of 1 John 4:19, the Bible says that we love because God first loved us.
  • God says He has given us a new, greater commandment to love another just as He has loved us. It is through this that all people will get to learn that we are His disciples. Only if we show Love to one another. John 13:34-35
  • In Deuteronomy 7:9, we learn from the scriptures that the Lord is God, he is a faithful God, and that His covenant is kept in steadfast Love for those who love Him and keep His commandments.
  • God showed His Love for us by allowing His son, Jesus Christ, to die for the sake of our sins. Romans 5:8
  • Because of His fullness of mercy and His great Love for us, God has restored life in us and forgiven our sins. Ephesians 2:4-5
  • God teaches that all we do must be done in Love. 1 Corinthians 16:14
  • The Bible says in the book of 1 John 4:18 that Love casts out all fear and that with Love, you experience anxiety.
  • In John 3:16, the Bible says that God loved the whole world so much that He gave us His son, Jesus Christ, to die on behalf of our sins. By His passion and death on the cross, he has wiped away our trespasses and brought salvation to the world.
  • In 1 Peter 4:8, God says we should keep loving one another because Love covers many sins.
  • The book of 1 Corinthians 13:13 says that even though faith, hope, and Love abide, Love is more significant among them all.
  • Proverbs 10:12 says that hatred brings about all evil, while Love covers all offences.

How do we show Love according to the Bible?

Biblical Meaning Of Love 
How do we show Love according to the Bible? Image source: Pixabay

As Christians, we can allow Love to manifest in us by:

Being devoted to Christ and serving one another

Devotion to God through prayer is an excellent way of showing Love (Romans 12:12). Through prayer, Christians can ask God for guidance and compassion.

He is greatly at work and keeps reconciling the world to Himself. God has to journey with us through the storms of our lives and lead us to the rightful path.

We must also offer our devotion in prayer on behalf of our enemies.

Being patient with others

In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, God teaches that Love is patient. We are called to be tolerant of each other while remaining steadfast in prayer and trusting in God’s word of never abandoning us.

Additionally, we must learn to live in tolerance with our brothers and sisters. Even those that offend us are still part of our life. Living intolerance with them means living in harmony with God.

We also have to sacrifice and put the needs of others ahead of our own. Even though they may be simple or grand, they must be done humbly and with an open heart.

Showing grace and kindness

Christians are called to show mercy and pardon by forgiving others. In Ephesians 4:32, the scripture encourages us to be kind to one another while forgiving one another as God set us free through Christ.

Forgiveness is an example given to us by Jesus Christ when he accepted to die for the sake of our sins. Therefore, we must live with a promise to forgive every time we pray to God for guidance.

Sharing the Gospel

As Christians, we must share the Word of God with others. God instructs us to use whatever gifts we have received in serving others (1 Peter 4:10-11).

Also, Jesus informed His disciples that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to them (Mathew 28:18). Sharing in the encouraging gospel is like being part of the body of Christ.

Being in communion with the gospel means winning more souls to the Kingdom of God, which is excellent for showing Love.

What are the Spiritual levels of Love?

The levels of Spiritual Love include:

Servile Love

The word servile is derived from “servant,” meaning an employee. Just like how a servant serves his master with the fear of punishment, it is the same with the beginners in the spiritual life.

They obey God’s commandments, avoid sin, and attend religious gatherings because otherwise, they fear God’s wrath upon them. This stage is necessary for our spiritual growth.

For instance, when a child matures, there comes a step where the child does the right thing and avoids doing it because otherwise, a responsible parent would discipline or punish them for their wrongdoing.

Mercenary Love

A mercenary refers to a soldier who fights not because of his commitment to the cause of defending his home and country but because of the wages paid to him in return.

In this stage, our Love towards God is pegged on our gain rather than what we hope to gain from God. As Christians, we must always work to strengthen our faith in God and serve Him for what He is yet to do for us, entirely for His greater glory—not serving Him for what He has already done for us.

Filial Love

It is the affectionate Love of a son or daughter for their father. God is the source of all goodness. Everything on earth is by His grace. In ancient Greece, filial Love is referred to as Agape love.

It is a divine love. Jesus lives it, and it is only through His grace that we can live. Our survival relies totally on Him, and if we constantly practice the Love of God and neighbor, then His grace enables us to do everything out of the pure Love of God.

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