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Agapē



Agape love - the strongest form of love described within scripture. It is a covenant type of love versus a contract type of love. A contract love says I will love you if ; a covenant love says I will love you despite and for no specific reason at all. The covenant type of love, agape love, is the love of our Father God that we get to abide in. Agape is selfless. Once we grasp the type of love that our God holds for us we will be able to rest in His love as we abide in Him as well as pour out that same kind of love to others. The purpose of this word study is to help us grow to know the love of our Father so that we will grow in our love for Him in hopes that abiding in Him will become the most natural thing for us to do. We are called to love because He loves us.

This love that God has towards us is faithful. The agape love of our Father is that of faithfulness and “an act of will”.[1] When we think of this we see the true personality of our heavenly Father. He is faithful to us in all of His ways and He also loves us willfully. God does not love us because HE NEEDS to. No, God does not owe us anything; He doesn’t owe us the cross or His unending love. He willfully gives His love to us. This kind of love should encourage us to abide in Him and grow in our love for Him.

1 Corinthians 13 defines love when it states - “4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”[2] Love in agape form does not require any gain from loving someone rather true love goes against the nature of our sinful flesh. We are meant to love in this way because we are made in the image of God but thanks to the fall even the way we love has been corrupted. We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit in order to love in this way. Romans 5:5 says “For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.”[3] We know His love thanks to the filling of the Spirit, it is through Scripture and the revelation we gain from the Holy Spirit (special revelation[4]) that we get to know the love of our Father. Scripture not only tells us that God loves us but tells us how He loves us.

God loves us in the midst of our mess knowing that all we have to give Him is our heart and our obedience - which is how we show God we love Him (John 15:9-10). God’s love is the love of a Father for His children. He loves us enough to call us His children - “See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him.”[5] Our very identity is found in the agape of our God, our good Father who calls us His children. He loves us so much that He gives us the identity of “children of God”. We are known by Him and loved by Him and in that love and In His image, we gain our very identity. 1 John 4:7-8 reiterates us as children of God and confirms we are children of God by the way we love others by the love given to us by God - “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”[6] Because God is love, we love. It is in our very nature to love the way God has loved because we are made in His image. It is God’s intrinsic nature to love, thus because we are made in the likeness of Him we are drawn to Him, drawn to love Him.

It is vital to note that the greatest action of love is the cross; Christ died for us while we were still sinners without the guarantee that we would accept His sacrifice. His type of love fulfills the promises of the Old Testament. God’s covenant made with Abraham in Genesis becomes complete throughout scripture giving us true testament to the faithful agape love of God.[7] God gave us His only begotten son so that we may have life and have it abundantly. John 15:13 says “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”.[8] Agape love is shown by actions and Christ backed His love with the greatest action known to mankind. The cross is the ultimate demonstration of love for me and the rest of His children. Christ asked if the cup could be removed from Him but it was not God’s will so He sacrificed Himself for us. This type of love is the love of the Father whom we are called to love in the same way - not to death on a cross but with selfless devotion in our lives. We are to abide in the precious love of our sweet, selfless God. Ephesians 2:4-5 says: “But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead.”[9] It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved! Romans 5: 6-8 demonstrates the agape love of the Holy Trinity so perfectly when it says: “ When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”[10] When we were helpless God helped us. We still have nothing to give but our love yet He gave us the gift of the cross. This passage goes on to say that most would not be willing to die for an upright person but maybe just maybe someone really good but Christ still went to the cross when we were filthy. God’s love, His type of love, His AGAPE love is the love that sent Christ to us while we were still dirty in our sins. Now, because of that great love, we are made clean; God sees Christ and His cleanliness before us, made clean in the presence of God all thanks to the works of the cross.

We ought to be moved by the work of the cross to love God and others the way that God loves us. Because we are image bearers and because we are redeemed we are commanded to love others. Luke 10:27 says “The man answered, ‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your strength, and all your mind. And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”[11] With our whole being, we are commanded to love God: all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind. We are to love God in this way so that we are not double minded serving both God and the world[12]; we cannot have one foot in the word and one foot in the world; this is not the love God deserves from His children. Matthew 6:24 confirms this by stating - “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.”[13] This gives emphasis on loving God above all else. We are to love God more than anything; He is the ruler of our hearts. We serve a “jealous” God. He has no rival or equal and that goes for His place in our hearts and lives. Our one and only master is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let’s not neglect the “love your neighbor as yourself” part of Luke 10:27. We show our love towards God by loving our neighbor as ourselves because each person is made in His image. Loving God goes beyond our praise and worship on Sunday mornings, it is how we treat one another and how we think in our mind which affects our soul and so on. We are supposed to love God and others in this same type of love God shows us because of who we are as image-bearers but it is because of our fallen nature that we are not able to do so by our own strength. We cannot pour from an empty cup thus we cannot love others from an empty cup. We need our life source, Jesus, in order to love others the way we are supposed to. Agape love does not come naturally to us due to the distortion of our imago dei[14] thanks to the fall in Genesis 3. If we are to love others with this agape love, we must gain this love from our agape love source - God. This love is freely given to us when we claim our identities as His children (if you have not claimed this identity yet, I encourage you to do so to experience the love and freedom only He can give).“ Because of God’s love toward us, we are able to love one another. Our hearts are filled with love through the hope of the Holy Spirit according to Romans 5:5. Agape love is a fruit of the Spirit that is poured out from us when we have spent time abiding in our Holy God. Galatians 5:22 states the fruit of the Spirit which includes love which is a byproduct of being filled with the spirit allowing us to love others the way God wants us to.

Agape love is a faithful, active love that our heavenly Father so generously gives us. The purest form of agape is shown through the sacrifice on the cross. By the work of the cross God re-connected us mere humans with Himself through our mediator, Christ Jesus. I hope that through this glimpse into agape love you can see the love that the Father has for you and that it will encourage you to abide in Him and actively pursue His love. God’s unconditional love gives us freedom from sin and the freedom to pursue Him with our whole hearts. I pray that as you actively pursue His agape you show our glorious God the same love in return in the ways He commands us - by loving our neighbors in the same way He loves us and loving God with all of our being above all else. It will take constant abiding in Christ to be able to pour out an agape type of love to God and others. Remember we cannot pour from an empty cup. We must feed ourselves truth through Scriptures, worship, and solitude so that we may serve others well.

For further study please see links within the footnotes. The Bible nerd in me sometime forgets my audience and my husband was quick to point that out thus I hope the footnotes provide clarification where needed.

[1] GotQuestions.org, “Home,” GotQuestions.org, October 10, 2015, https://www.gotquestions.org/agape-love.html. [2] 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NLT [3] Romans 5:5, NLT [4] GotQuestions.org, “Home,” GotQuestions.org, February 5, 2007, https://www.gotquestions.org/general-special-revelation.html. [5] 1 John 3:1, NLT [6] 1 John 4:7-8, NLT, emphasis added [7] GotQuestions.org, “Home,” GotQuestions.org, November 11, 2004, https://www.gotquestions.org/Abrahamic-covenant.html. [8] John 15:13, NLT [9] Ephesians 2:4-5, NLT [10] Romans 5:6-8, NLT [11] Luke 10:27,NLT, emphasis added [12] Special thank you to my Nana Gloria who always engrained this into my heart from a young age. [13] Matthew 6:24, NLT [14] “Glossary Definition: Imago Dei (‘Image of God’),” PBS (Public Broadcasting Service), accessed February 9, 2022, https://www.pbs.org/faithandreason/theogloss/imago-body.html#:~:text=(%22image%20of%20God%22)%3A%20A%20theological%20term%2C,relation%20between%20God%20and%20humanity.&text=Imago%20Dei%20%2D%20Longer%20definition%3A%20The,second%2C%20God's%20care%20for%20humankind.


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