Prepare for Your Bible Class by Mastering These 8 Secret Greek Words for Love

Love is the most freeing feeling in the world. It is fluid and everchanging; we share love for our sons and daughters, our mothers and fathers, our lovers and friends, and most importantly, ourselves. And as Christians, love is the driving force behind everything we do.

1 John 3:1 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”

Unsurprisingly, it is a core value of the Ancient Greeks, with love being used in many different ways and contexts in the New Testament. Since it was originally written in Koine Greek, there are language grammaticisms that aren’t fully translatable into English. In our Biblical Greek courses, we learn the Greek alphabet and then move on to common Greek vocabulary—as well as these more intricate, interchanging terms like “love.”

Let’s embrace the eight most popular Greek words in all of their glory below.

Agape (ἀγάπη)

Agape is arguably the most mentioned and important term for love in the Greek New Testament. It is ultimate, unconditional, and universal—all things we feel under God. He who is selfless and self-sacrificial for the sake of strangers, family members, or nature is sharing agape love. And it is the highest manifestation of love achieved, which flows through others and God with boundless compassion and charity. 

Philia (φιλία)

Philia is a friendly love. It is a highly affectionate feeling shared with people, objects, places, and ideas. Philia comes and goes like the tides and is constantly forming and fizzling out. It grows stronger among people who fuel your energy and lavish on your existence. It is the second most frequently used love word in the New Testament and is best observed in the friendship between David and Jonathan.

Eros (ἔρως)

Those butterflies you feel around a romantic partner are Eros. It is a passionate, lustful love transferred through a sensual relationship with a love interest, husband, or wife. Us humans love to love and incorporate Eros into romance novels and films like Romeo and Juliet. It comes from the English term “erotic” and is named after the Greek God of fertility. The ancient Greeks coined Eros to be powerful and feared, often eliciting a loss of control and the primal arousal to procreate.

Storge (στοργή)

Storge is familial. It is a warm, natural love born from special bonds between family members. It is a deep, often undying soul tie a mother and father have with their child and vice versa, or it is shared between a sibling relationship. But storge-love isn’t just for family members; it’s a kinship for people who feel like family too. Storge is given to beloved pets, coworkers, friends (where philia evolves into storge), or teammates. In 2 Timothy 3:3, it transcribes a “natural affection.”

Philautia (φιλαυτία)

Philautia is self-love. In 2 Timothy 3:1-5, philautia is described as “lovers of self.” It is the man kissing the reflection of himself in the mirror. But the Ancient Greeks knew it was a necessary kind of love that we must constantly nurture throughout life without turning selfish.

Mania (μανία)

Mania is an unstable kind of love. It is when love turns into obsession, and admiring turns into stalking. It is a feeling that can stem from extreme jealousy, co-dependency, and hopelessness and often exhibits among a person who was rejected or dismissed by their love interest.

Ludus (Παιχνίδια)

Ludus is a playful love—a puppy dog love. It endears high-chemistry people who have crushes on each other. It is the affectionate teasing and pulling of one’s heartstrings that radiates off young, flirting couples.

Pragma (πράγμα)

Pragma is a mature type of love. It is another Greek vocabulary word found in our Bible Greek dictionary, categorized as a love that has endured life’s turbulences. A couple that has pragma-love has developed and grown over time and has learned to make compromises for the sake of the relationship together. Pragma attaches itself to older, committed couples.

Uncover More Beloved Greek Vocabulary With Greek To Me

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