Home Bible Word StudyLove – Agape
Love – Agape

Love – Agape

Jesus had this famous quote many call the Golden Rule. It goes like this:

“Do to Others what you want them to do to you.”

Luke 6:31

This was derived from a teaching Jesus called the summation of the Torah:

“Love God and Love Your Neighbor and Yourself.”

Mark 12:31

What did he mean by the word LOVE?

What is Love?

The word “love” is one of the most unspecific words in the English Language. A guy can say he loves his wife. He can also say he loves pizza (I love pizza, honestly).

Would you say because He used the word “love” for both of them that the feeling for he has for his wife is the exactly the same as the feeling He has for pizza? Guess how his wife would feel if she hears that.

Now the word Love that Jesus quoted was from the Hebrew SCRIPTURES. This is the Hebrew word AHAVAH. However, in Jesus’ day, he spoke and taught a familiar language to the Hebrew called Aramaic. The word that He actually used for love was RAKHMAH.

However, when Jesus’ followers spread his teachings across, they used a Greek translation and derivative that most suited the meaning in Aramaic and Hebrew. They chose the Greek Word “Agape.”


The disciples of Jesus looked to the teachings and acts of Jesus and used his life to redefine the concept of what “love” is all about.

Let’s go deeper.

One day, a Pharisee asked Jesus a question.

What is the greatest commandment in the Hebrew Scriptures?

Matthew 22:35-40

Jesus then quoted the ancient prayer in the Torah called the Shema. He said:

“Love the Lord Your God with all of your heart, soul and mind.”

Deteronomy 6:5

So the greatest commandment is to LOVE GOD. Got it.

Immediately, Jesus followed up with another command from the Hebrew Scriptures.

“Love Your Neighbor as yourself.”

Leviticus 19:18

So which is the most important? Love God? or Love Your Neighbor?

Jesus taught that the second command was just like the first (Matthew 22:39-40). They are equally important. Asking which was more important means you don’t get the point.

Love God, Love People

agape love

For Jesus, the two commands were both sides of the same coin. They are inseparable.

Your love for God is expressed by your love for people and vice versa

His disciple John the Beloved reiterated that point in his writing:

“If anyone boasts, ‘I love God,’ and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he’s a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love God he can’t see?

The command we have from Christ is blunt. Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.”

John 4:20-21


For Jesus, agape love is not a feeling; like one you may have for a lover. It’s not about falling in love.

For Jesus, agape love is in ACTION.

Love is a CHOICE that you make to seek the well being of others other than yourself.

Jesus also taught what genuine love is also about:

Seeking people’s well being without expecting anything in return.

This especially goes for people don’t have the means to pay you back even if they want to. That is the kind of love that reflects God’s heart to others.

(Check out our article on the ancient biblical Hebrew word – ahavah / love)

Jesus then goes deeper into his teachings. The ultimate form of this agape love is when you seek the well being of someone you can’t stand.

How well you treat your enemy reveals the intensity of agape love you have for God. Jesus said:

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in Heaven…”

Matthew 5:43-44

For Jesus, this kind of love imitates the character of God.


Jesus wasn’t just all talk. He actually lived what he taught. He was always helping and serving people around him. Jesus enjoyed helping the poor, despised, outcast and sick people who could give him nothing in return.

Jesus went further and allowed his enemies to kill him. This is because he loved them and all humanity for whom he died to save.


Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection was God’s display of His AGAPE to everyone. Paul the apostle puts it this way:

“God demonstrates His own AGAPE for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:8

John puts it this way:

“God’s own AGAPE was revealed when he sent his one and only son into the world so that through Him, we could have life.”

1 John 4:9

It’s on this same note that John concludes.

“Believed ones, if that’s how God has loved us then we ought to show LOVE for one another.”

1 John 4:11

According the Christian faith on God’s purpose for humanity,  God demonstrated and gave us his love through Jesus so that we will use this love and distribute it to others, recreating a much better world.

Imagine a world full of selfless and others-focused love. No more crime, injustice and so much more. This happens with Jesus as Lord over all, and it begins with you.