Agape: The Love of Responsibility



Oh, love to some is like a cloud
To some as strong as steel
For some a way of living
For some a way to feel
And some say love is holding on
And some say letting go
And some say love is everything
And some say they don't know

Perhaps Love, by John Denver

For the song and lyrics see The Greatest of These is Love Under the category, Original Research.


Agape:  The Love of Responsibility

This is one of a three-part series on the doctrine of love in the New Testament:

  • The Two Greek Terms for Love in the New Testament

In this article, under the category Bible Exposition, I present the exegesis and exposition of the topic. I draw the conclusion that there are only two terms together with their cognates, agape and philia, that define biblical love.

  • Agape: The Love of Responsibility

In this article listed under the category, Christian Living, I apply to abiding principles of agape to the Christian life.

  • Affection in an Age of Disaffection

In this article listed under the category, Current Issues, I apply the principles of philia, to current issues facing the Christian in an age that not only experience alienation of affection but promotes it.


Any command to love is a responsibility. Of the two Greek terms for biblical love in the New Testament, agape and Philia, Philia and its cognates is never commanded. On the other hand, any command to love is the verb of agape.

The command to love is unconditional because agape is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life (Gal 5:22) and the result of walking in the Spirit. Walking in the Spirit is a command (Gal 5:16). What determines the unconditional nature of agape is not because it refers to loving those who are not worthy of love but because it is a command.

Agape is the foundational principle of the Christian life. Carnal agape is man centered, earthy and temporary. Spiritual agape relates to every aspect of life under the sun and because it is Holy Spirit generated, it is making righteous choices in obedience to God. On the other hand, carnal agape is self-willed and selfish. Because it is fleshly and centers on temporal things, it will pass away. Agape is eternal and as such is a communicable attribute of God operating in our lives.

When studying the Doctrine of Biblical Love in the New Testament, I omitted 1 Corinthians 13. The reason was because Paul, in poetical form, was expressing what agape does. The purpose of my research was to determine what the Bible says love is. From there I sought to discover what love does through the progress of illumination, which included understanding 1 Corinthians 13, in my life as the Holy Spirit led me, and to relate these insights to my life.

From the progress I have the privilege to enjoy in coming to a fuller understand of agape, I have come to see agape, not simply as an act of the will but the result of being set free from the slavery of sin and becoming a slave of righteousness (Rom 6:17-18). It requires a step-by-step, moment-by-moment obedience to God’s will revealed in His Word. It is the foundation of our relationship with God, the overall purpose of creation and God’s plan of salvation. God is seeking a people who respond to Him from a heart of obedience.

For an expanded study regarding The Doctrine of Love In the New Testament, see the article under the category, "Bible Exposition" on this website.