In case you were wondering, Sundays are not officially part of Lent. That is why today’s posting is listed as 4S; it is not yet the fifth day of Lent and it is Sunday. That said, let us move on to the three biblical Greek words for love: agapao-agape, philios, and storgē.
I do have one correction to yesterday’s posting. See my update about the use of Eros in the Septuagint.
As we noted on Friday, storgē is natural affection, the kind that is commonly found in family or social relationships, even among animals. It includes the love of one’s tribe, clan, kindred, or country and is the root of duty and responsibility. It seems, at least to some degree, to be innate, instinctive. It is used of parents love for their children or children for their parents, even when it is not deserved. Because of this, it is the one love that is expected from us all, seen to be part of our humanity, part of being normal.
Interestingly, it is not found in the New Testament or in the Septuagint. Only its compound forms, astorgos (a – not, without) without natural affection (Romans 1:31, 2 Timothy 3:3), and philostorgos (philo -brotherly) brotherly/loving affection (Romans 12:10), are used in the New Testament.
Astorgos, in the two times it is used, emphasizes a heartless, almost inhuman lack of affection. Indeed, the English Standard version translates it in both places as heartless.
Philostorgos is used by Paul as he adds together words for emphasis in Romans 12:10 (be devoted to one another in loving/brotherly affection).
While it is interesting that storgē is never use biblically. It may be because it is assumed (except where missing and therefore noted). The condemnation of the negative, does logically assume the acceptance of the normative, but it is hard to garner anything from silence, unless that silence is obviously premeditated, such as when Jesus stands silent before Pilate. What can be said is that the Bible condemns heartlessness and commands loving/brotherly affection among the brethren.
While commonly seen as friendship, it is a broad term that applies to many relationship where the thing they have in common is choice and a sense of mutual well-doing. We choose our friends, our business partners, our comrades. It is more than companionship of people who share a common interest or activity (associates), though friends usually share those things.
It was very commonly used in Greek to make compound forms (e.g. philostorgos above) and in English we use it to mean the love of, such as in a bibliophile, who is a lover of books or a xenophile, who is a lover of foreign things.
Biblically friends are often seen as being closer than brothers (e.g. A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24 ). Jesus made a significant upgrade in his relationship with his disciples when he called them friends in John 15:15.
No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:15
They had passed over to a new level of intimacy in their relationship with Jesus.
Tomorrow I will discuss agape, and then I will begin fleshing out some of the significant passages that help define the biblical use of those words, which in turn helps us to see how God wants us to understand their significance and meaning.
May God bless your efforts to understand the meaning of love and demands that it makes on our lives. May grace and peace find you in every corner of your day today and may God meet you in some form or fashion.