4 Types of Love in the Bible

Explore the meaning of eros, storge, philia, and agape

the four types of love in the bible: eros, storge, philia, agape

Learn Religions / Vin Ganapathy

The Bible says that God is love and that humans crave love from the moment of existence. But the word love describes an emotion with vastly differing degrees of intensity.

Four unique forms of love are found in Scripture. They are communicated through four Greek words (Eros, Storge, Philia, and Agape) and are characterized by romantic love, family love, brotherly love, and God's divine love. We'll explore these different types of love in the Bible, and, as we do, we'll discover what love truly means and how to follow Jesus Christ's command to "love one another."

What Is Eros Love in the Bible?

A Catholic bride and groom exchange vows.
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Eros (Pronounced: AIR-ohs) is the Greek word for sensual or romantic love. The term originated from the mythological Greek god of love, sexual desire, physical attraction, and physical love, Eros, whose Roman counterpart was Cupid.

Love in the form of Eros seeks its own interest and satisfaction—to possess the object of love. God is very clear in the Bible that eros love is reserved for marriage. Promiscuity of all types was rampant in ancient Greek culture and was one of the obstacles the apostle Paul had to battle when planting churches in the eastern Mediterranean. Paul warned young believers against succumbing to immorality: "So I say to those who aren’t married and to widows—it’s better to stay unmarried, just as I am. But if they can’t control themselves, they should go ahead and marry. It’s better to marry than to burn with lust." (1 Corinthians 7:8–9) 

But within the boundary of marriage, eros love is to be celebrated and enjoyed as beautiful blessing from God: "Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love." (Proverbs 5:18–19; see also Hebrews 13:4; 1 Corinthians 7:5; Ecclesiastes 9:9)

Even though the term eros is not found in the Old Testament, Song of Solomon vividly portrays the passion of erotic love.

What Is Storge Love in the Bible?

Family Ties That Keep You Strong
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Storge (Pronounced: STOR-jay) is a term for love in the Bible that you may not be familiar with. This Greek word describes family love, the affectionate bond that develops naturally between parents and children, and brothers and sisters.

Many examples of family love are found in Scripture, such as the mutual protection among Noah and his wife, the love of Jacob for his sons, and the strong love the sisters Martha and Mary had for their brother Lazarus. An interesting compound word using storge, "philostorgos," is found in Romans 12:10, which commands believers to "be devoted" to one another with brotherly affection.

Christians are members of God's family. Our lives are knit together by something stronger than physical ties—the bonds of the Spirit. We are related by something more powerful than human blood—the blood of Jesus Christ. God calls his children to love each other with the deep affection of storge love. 

What Is Philia Love in the Bible?

Philial love
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Philia (Pronounced: FILL-ee-uh) is the type of intimate love in the Bible that most Christians practice toward each other. This Greek term describes the powerful emotional bond seen in deep friendships.

Philia originates from the Greek term phílos, a noun meaning "beloved, dear ... a friend; someone dearly loved (prized) in a personal, intimate way; a trusted confidant held dear in a close bond of personal affection." Philia expresses experience-based love. 

Philia is the most general type of love in Scripture, encompassing love for fellow humans, care, respect, and compassion for people in need. The concept of brotherly love that unites believers is unique to Christianity. Jesus said philia would be an identifier of his followers: "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another." (John 13:35, NIV)

What Is Agape Love in the Bible?

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Agape (Pronounced: Uh-GAH-pay) is the highest of the four types of love in the Bible. This term defines God's immeasurable, incomparable love for humankind. It is the divine love that comes from God. Agape love is perfect, unconditional, sacrificial, and pure.

Jesus Christ demonstrated this kind of divine love to his Father and to all humanity in the way he lived and died: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

Following his resurrection, Jesus asked the apostle Peter if he loved him (agape). Peter replied three times that he did, but the word he used was phileo or brotherly love (John 21:15–19). Peter had not yet received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost; he was incapable of agape love. But after Pentecost, Peter was so full of God's love that he spoke from his heart and 3,000 people were converted.

Love is one of the most powerful emotions humans can experience. For Christian believers, love is the truest test of genuine faith. Through the Bible, we discover how to experience love in its many forms and to share it with others as God intended.