The Greek word agape is the word chiefly used in the New Testament to depict the love of God. The word agape is so filled with deep emotion and meaning that it is one of the most difficult words to translate in the New Testament.
Agape occurs when an individuals sees, recognizes, understands, or appreciates the value of an object or a person, causing the viewer to behold this person or object in great esteem, awe, admiration, wonder, and sincere appreciation. Such great respect is awakened in the heart of the observer for the object or person he is beholding that he is compelled to love it. In fact, his love for that person or object is so strong that it is irresistible.
In the New Testament, the best example of agape is found in John 3:16. "For God so loved the world...," the word love is the word agape.
This means when God looked upon the human race, He stood in awe of mankind, even though man was lost in sin. God admired man, He wondered at man; He held mankind in the highest appreciation. God looked upon the world and saw His own image in man. The human race was so precious to God and He loved man so deeply that His heart was stirred to reach out and do something to save him. In other words, God's love drove Him to action.
You see, agape is love that loves so profoundly that it know no limits or boundaries in how far, wide, high, and deep it will go to show that love to its recipient. If necessary, agape love will even sacrifice itself for the sake of that object or person it so deeply cherishes. Agape is the highest form of love -- a sacrificial type of love that moves the lover to action.
Agape is a love that has no strings attached. It isn't looking for what it can get, but for what it can give. Its awe of the one who is loved is so deep it is compelled to shower love upon that object or person regardless of the response. This is the profound love God has for the human race, for He loved man when he was still lost in sin with no ability to love Him back. God simply loved mankind without an thought or expectation of receiving love in return.
The Father loved us to the point of self-sacrifice. Jesus' agape drove Him to lay down His life for us. In the same way, we are to agape others to such a high extent that would be willing to lay down our lives for them. If we are truly operating in agape and they don't respond in like fashion, it won't offend or hurt us. We are not looking for what others can do for us; we are simply focused on how to love others with no strings attached. The way other people respond to us has no effect on our desire to shower them with agape love.
Stay tuned for more description of the fruit of the Spirit this week, Greek week, here on Ironstrikes.
This post was adapted from the writings of Rick Renner as found in his book: Sparkling Gems from the Greek