Different Types of Love

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What are the different types of love found in the New Testament? Who teaches, other than Jesus, about the topic the most?

The English word "love" occurs 311 times in 281 King James Bible verses. The 1611 English word "loveth" is recorded an additional 27 times in 23 verses. This articles explores ten Greek words used to convey different types or kinds of love in the King James Bible!

Godly Caring

The Greek word agapao (Strong's Concordance #G25) is recorded 142 times in 109 Greek New Testament verses. It is found the most in the gospel of John (37 times) followed by 1John (28) and Luke (13). The word is usually translated as either "love" or "beloved" in the King James New Testament.

Agapao means a caring or godly love for someone even if you do not know or like him or her. It is sometimes used in the New Testament to refer to man's feelings toward God. Christ, in almost all of his teachings, used agapao. The first use of this word is found in Jesus' well-known Sermon on the Mount.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love (agapao) thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy (Matthew 5:43, KJV).


The Greek agape (Strong's #G26), a slight variation on agapao, is used 116 times in 106 Greek New Testament verses. It is written the most in 1John (18 times) followed by 1Corinthians (14) and the book of Ephesians (10). Although it is usually translated as "love" in the KJV, it is sometimes written as "charity." Its first use is in Matthew 24 where Christ gives his famous Mount Olivet prophecies.

Statue of Saint Peter
Statue of Saint Peter
Arnolfo Di Cambio, c. 1300

And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love (agape) of many shall wax cold (Matthew 24:11 - 12, KJV).

Brotherly Affection

The Greek phileo (Strong's #G5368) is recorded 25 times in 21 New Testament verses. Although it is usually used to convey a person's affection and friendliness toward another, it can be used to represent a strong desire to promote or exalt oneself.

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love (phileo) to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men (Matthew 6:5, KJV).

A Perfect Contrast

The contrast between agapao and phileo is perfectly seen in the discussion Christ has with Peter after his resurrection. The Lord first asks if he has the highest godly love (agapao) for him. Peter responds, not by using the same Greek word Christ did, but by using the less intense phileo. The third time Peter is asked about the relationship Jesus uses phileo.

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (agapao) thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love (phileo) thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs . . .

He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (phileo) thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love (phileo) thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep (John 21:15, 17, KJV).

Christian Affection

The Greek philadelphia (Strong's #G5360) is utilized 6 times in 5 KJV verses. The word refers to fraternal affection, the kind of brotherly love that ought to be between true Christians within the church of God. The Apostle Paul stressed the importance of this trait when he wrote the following.

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love (philadelphia); in honor preferring one another (Romans 12:10, KJV).

One of Revelation's seven churches given a spiritual assessment by Jesus was located in the city of Philadelphia. The city's name, a combination of the Greek phileein and adelphos means "city of brotherly love" (Wiktionary).

Closely related to philadelphia is philadelphos (Strong's #G5361) which is used only once. Peter uses the word, like Paul, to convey the need for brotherly affection among believers.

Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren (philadelphos), be pitiful, be courteous (1Peter 3:8, KJV).


Philanthropia, Strong's #G5363, is used only twice in the New Testament. In its first use it is translated as "kindness" in Acts 28. In its other use, however, it is part of a Greek phrase that is translated as "love of God our Savior toward man" in Titus 3.

And the barbarous people (of Malta) shewed us (Apostle Paul and the others who were shipwrecked) no little kindness (philanthropia): for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold (Acts 28:2, KJV).

But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man (philanthropia theos hemon soter) appeared . . . (Titus 3:4, KJV).

A Strong Desire

The Greek thelo (Strong's #G2309) is used to convey a strong or determined desire to do something. It is only translated as "love" in the King James version of Mark 12:38.

And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love (thelo) to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces . . . (Mark 12:38. KJV).


The Greek philarguria, Strong's #G5365, is recorded only once in the Greek New Testament. The Apostle Paul, in his first letter to Timothy, uses it to warn that greed (the love of money) is one of the motivating factors that leads people to sin and suffer.

For the love of money (philarguria) is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1Timothy 6:10, KJV).

Marriage Affection

The Greek philandros, Strong's #G5362, and philoteknos (#G5388), are used only once in Scripture. Paul uses them to instruct Titus that older women should be encouraged to teach young married women to love their husbands affectionately and their children maternally.

The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands (philandros), to love their children (philoteknos) (Titus 2:3 - 4, KJV).

The Loving Apostle

The Apostle John, of all the writers of the New Testament, by far teaches the most about different types of love. In 1John he refers to the word 33 times in a single epistle! He even refers to it three times in three separate verses.

Love (agapao) not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love (agapao) the world, the love (agape) of the Father is not in him (1John 2:15, KJV, see also 4:16, 18).

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