ANSWER: There are at least three categories of love mentioned in the Bible that each use a different Greek word. This is one reason why it is a very good idea to understand a little bit about the translating of words from one language to another. There are also differing manifestations of this feeling in Scripture, such as towards one's parents, children, god or for one's fellow man.First, however, did you know that the English word "love" occurs more than 311 times in the King James Bible? Of these, 180 occurences are in the New Testament. The Biblical writer with the most references to this word is, not suprisingly, the apostle John.
The scriptures that delineate two out of the three categories that the New Testament writers discuss are in Jesus' short talk, after his resurrection, with Peter. The purpose of Jesus' discussion with Peter, who had denied him three times before he was crucified (Matthew 26:34), was not to test him but rather to encourage and strengthen him for the work God wanted him to do.
As they were eating Jesus turned to Simon and asked 'do you love (Greek: agapao) me more than these others do?' Peter, surprised by the question, said that he did, but he used the Greek word phileo to reference his feelings. Christ quickly responded that he should then take care of his lambs (John 21:15).
The first word Jesus used for this feeling was agapao. This word is Strong's Concordance #G25, which is the root for the Greek word agape (Strong's Concordance #G26). The best translation for Agape is that it means a caring or godly concern for someone even if you do not know or like him or her. According to the Bible only God himself can give it.
|16. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish, but may have everlasting life. 17. For God sent not His Son into the world that He might judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him (John 3:16 - 17, HBFV)|
Nearly all of the references in Jesus' teachings use the word agapao for love.
The word Peter used in the Bible to state the feelings he had toward Jesus (in all his responses) is phileo. It is Strong's Concordance #G5368. Its definition is 'to show signs of or otherwise denote brotherly affection.' This word is part of the name of the United States city known as Philadelphia. Humans, without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, can only give this emotion toward their fellow man.
The last of the three types of love in the Greek, which is absent from John 21, is eros. Although used in the classical Greek language the word does not appear in the Bible. We get the word erotic from this Greek word. Its use is usually in reference to sex. Part of the reason why this word is not in the New Testament is that God is more concerned about how we treat him AND each other rather than on our physical sensations. I hope this helps your understanding.