Divry's English-Greek Greek-English Dictionary
What is the meaning of the Greek word for love―agape (αγάπη, η)―as
it appears in the Bible? Is it a superior kind of love that is unique to
God, as some believe? Consider the use of the "agape" in the Scriptures:
agape: (αγάπη, η)
love, affection, fondness
philadelphia: (φιλαδελφία, η)
philostorgia: (φιλoστoργία, η)
Agape (αγάπη, η) as used in the Bible according to the New World Translation, Greek version (Printed 1997):
-God is agape, 1 John 4:16
-God's agape for us, John 3:16
-Our agape for God, Matt. 22:37
-Agape for neighbor, Matt. 19:19
-Agape for the world, 1 John 2:15
-Agape for our enemies, Matt. 5:44
-Agape for the darkness, John 3:19
-Agape for glory of men, John 12:43
-Agape of dishonest gain: 1 Peter 5:2
-Agape of a false oath: Zech. 8:17
-Agape for one's wife, Eph 5:28, 33; such as Isaac's agape for Rebekah, Gen 24:67; and Jacob's agape for Rachel, Gen 29:18, 20
-Agape of the Shulamite Maiden and her lover, Song of Solomon 2:3,5,7; 8:6,7
-Agape as sexual pleasure with ones wife: Prov. 5:19;
"the bed of expression of agape" Ezekiel 23:17
-Agape as Lust, such as Amnon had.for Tamar, 2 Sam 13:1,4,15
Note that the Greek word agape is more than just godly or principled love. It also means romantic love. Even the lust that Amnon felt for his half-sister Tamar is translated as agape in the Greek New World Translation.
2 Sam 13:1, 4, 15:
1 "...and Amnon the son of David fell in love (αγάπη) with [Tamar]...
4 ...At this Amnon said to him: "With Tamar the sister of Absalom my brother I am in love (αγάπη)."
And after he had violated her:
15 "And Amnon began hating her with a very great hatred, because the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love (αγάπη) with which he had loved (αγάπη) her..."
This is what the Hastings. J Dictionary of the Bible, under the reference for Love in the LXX says:
All these varieties of love, human and divine, may in the LXX be expressed by the verb agapao and noun 'agape'. In the story of Samson and Delilah agapao describes sexual relationship (Judges 16 v 4, 15) not to mention Solomon's legalised lust (3 K 11 v 2), besides expressing love in its higher reaches . In the Greek Bible in the form that it must have been known to the NT writers, agapao does duty for every shade and variety of love, for divine pity and preference for Israel right down to erotic passion. It is true that agapao is not the only verb to express erotic love in the LXX, for there are also pro-aireomai and enthumeomai (Heb hshk ethelo hps); but it is very commonly used to render Hebrew hb when the context makes plain that this very type of love or passion is intended. Nor has agapao the monopoly for rendering what may be described as reasoning attachment; thus the more usual verbs for divine pity are eleeo and oikterio. The noun 'agape' is usually connected with sex, or at least with the love of women; or it is a passion comparable in intensity with hatred; it is not at all a higher love than philia. Indeed in the LXX agapesis may be said to be a higher type of love than AGAPE (c.f. especially Hosea 11 v 4, Zephaniah 3 v 17, Jeremiah 38 (31) v 3)
To teach that the Greek word agape is a special
kind of love finds no support in the Scriptures.