On this blog, I have spoken of Love vs. love, the difference between the Love of God and emotional love. While emotional love is a reflection of the first, it is a pale one.

Recently, I ran into a discussion on the word Agape. It has a number of meanings, including the mouth wide open in wonder or awe (usually pronounced differently), but broadly it is used to mean unconditional or selfless love. In Christian theology, it is the love of God. We could say Agape is an alternative word for capital L Love as I’ve used it.

However, there is still a difference to observe. Unconditional emotional love is still an emotion. The fullness of Love is much deeper. It underlies life itself. It is the recognition and movement of spirit that drives all of creation.

In some ways this is a meaningless thing, to differentiate kinds of love. The point I’m trying to emphasize though is that there is a big difference between the emotional love a single heart might feel for those close to us and the kind of love we can feel when the spiritual heart opens. This Love is not only unconditional but it is unbounded, infinite, and totally intimate. It is Rapturous.

In some ways, we could use romantic love or love of a child as a comparison point. But we’d have to use your best example and ramp it up exponentially. How big is this Agape? You’re sitting in it. The entire world and everything in it, including you, is being created and sustained at every moment by Love. The opened heart can feel it, the opened mind can see it.

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  1. Arius

    Interesting piece-albeit, I would convey that a true agape love is sacrificial-when self preservation becomes the reversal of nature itself.

    My daughters have that from me-tangible and concrete-without the fallibility of abstract apparitions.

    Humanity itself is divine-no need to look beyond our own luster-it is apparently sensational.

  2. Davidya

    Hi Arius
    Thanks for your thoughts. I would agree that Agape love would be sacrificial. I’d probably use the word surrender relative to unconditional.

    I also agree that “apparitions” are not necessary and that the deepest reality can be found right here on the surface. This is what some describe as the “impersonal” perspective.

    But there are other equally valid perspectives, each with their pros and cons. And there’s no reason for any of it to be abstract. God can be concrete too. (laughs)

  3. Share

    As today is beginning of 9 days of Mother Divine in some traditions, will offer the feminine view of agape. Tho admit am not expert in that. Agape fr Greek also means love-feast, according to dictionary on hand. Above that was the adjective agape, meaning wide open. Wondering if agape as sacrifice came during early Christian times, an attempt to Romanize Christ’s teachings. He of course is the embodiment of the ultimate sacrifice. But also appreciate Ayn Rand who says that a loss has not occurred unless a higher value has been sacrificed for a lower one. Those who love expandedly do not experience loving actions as sacrificial. The true sacrifice would be to refrain from those actions. Which is not to say that they aren’t quite a stretch sometimes! (-;

  4. Davidya

    Well, we could get into a debate about Christs teachings. I think it would be better to describe his teachings as being about Agape love. From a perspective of love, he made no sacrifice at all. Some Christian churches have made a huge deal out of that one aspect of his life though, made it about his suffering and our sins. Even put up a graven image of it at the front of all their churches.

    Not sure exactly what you mean with Rand but in some ways we seem to be saying the same thing. Refraining from action – isn’t that what’s called austerity? (laughs)

  5. I found your blog because I’ve been studying comments about agape on the Internet. There has been a virtual explosion of uses of the Greek word by non-Greeks. Most of the uses have been putting into the word what people want it to mean, even though originally it didn’t mean that.
    I started studying this when I read that “agape” was NOT a common word for “love” in ancient Greece. The first time it began to be used a lot was when Jewish scriptures were translated from Hebrew into Greek. I have put the results of my studying into a blog as

  6. Davidya

    Hi Bob
    Interesting exploration you’re doing. I would agree that agape does not mean love in the emotional sense. My point here was to use it as a way to differentiate love from divine Love, the flow of life.

    Love is certainly the power of God.

    For readers benefit, I’ll throw a few quotes in here you have found:

    “the agape of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit that has been given us.” (Romans 5:5)

    “… agape enters from another dimension into the whole of life and into all qualities of love. One could call agape the depth of love or love in relation to the ground of life. One could say that in agape ultimate reality manifests itself and transforms life and love.”
    — Love, Power, and Justice by Paul Tillich

    “Let all your things be done with agape.” (1 Cor. 16:14 King James Version)

    Apologizes for the lag – your comment was placed in spam. Careful about putting links in the body.

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