There are at least seven Greek words that are translated as “love.” In one form or another, two of these are in the original Greek texts of the New Testament: agape and phileo. Other variations, root forms, and/or similar Greek words are: agapao, philia, philos, philadelphia, philandros, & philoteknos.
Here are three others: ludus, or playful love, philautia, or self-love, and pragma, or long-lasting love (as a commitment instead of a feeling).
The four Greek words translated as “love” that might be the most important are:
Agape – love without qualification. This is love that is based on the character of the one doing the loving, and not on the character and/or actions of the one being loved. This is how God loves us. This is the love shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. This is the love we, as Christians, are to have for one another. This is based on a decision to love, rather than any feeling or emotion. We would have fewer divorces, possibly no divorces, if the two would walk in this love.
Phileo (philia) – the love of a friend (brotherly love). This love, contrasted with agape, is based on the character of the one being loved. Someone treats you right, you love them. Someone has qualities you admire, you love them. You enjoy the company of someone, you love them. Too many marriages are solely based on this kind of love. Without agape, when your spouse no longer treats you the way you love, divorce can occur. But with agape, the love that is based on a decision, you’ll continue to love the other person regardless of how you’re treated. And the love in you, if you’ll act on that love, will respond with kindness even when mistreated.
Storge – the show of affection. This love can be demonstrated as a hug or handshake, or when you’d pet your dog or cat. I might mention, if you mix storge with phileo, without agape, you might get into trouble and end up in eros.
Eros – sexual love. This love is physical, emotional, sensual, and sexual. Again, too many marriages are based on this love. And so, when it ends, or when it cools down, their marriage isn’t based on much else, and they have trouble.
All four of these should be in a Christian marriage. Three of these might be in other relationships. Agape is the most important. Let us love one another. – Tony McCanless