Mark 12:30-31 - Agapae, Philos and Our Neighbour

The Greek word agapae is commonly understood as the love which God has for us or the kind of love which characterises God. But this is incorrect, because the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament), uses the word agapae to describe the love which Amnon had for Tamar (2 Sam. 13:4). However, Amnon later raped Tamar (2 Sam. 13:14), which is hardly a demonstration of "God's love"! In fact, the Bible uses the word agapae interchangeably with philos, another Greek word for love, indicating that the two words basically mean the same thing. The only possible distinction is that agapae is often used to indicate love which is based on deep appreciation and high regard for its object, rather than on interpersonal association. It is significant that whenever the Bible commands us to love one another (eg. Matt. 5:44, 19:19, 22:37-39, Rom. 13:8, Eph. 4:2), it is always with agapae love rather than philos love. Therefore, our motivation and basis for loving should be our deep appreciation and high regard for our fellow man who is made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength". The second is this: "Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30-31).

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