Of Greek words available, eros (sexual love) does not occur in the New Testament; phileo, spontaneous natural affection, with more feeling than reason, occurs some 25 times, with philadelphia (brotherly love) 5 times, and philia (friendship) only in James 4:4; natural affection between kinfolk, appears occasionally in compounds.
By far the most frequent word is agape, generally assumed to mean moral goodwill which proceeds from esteem, principle, or duty, rather than attraction or charm. Agape means to love the undeserving, despite disappointment and rejection; the difference between agapae and phileo is difficult to sustain in all passages. Agape is especially appropriate for religious love. Agape was long believed to be a Christian coinage, but pagan occurrences have recently been claimed. Though agape has more to do with moral principle than with inclination or liking, it never means the cold religious kindness shown from duty alone, as scriptural examples abundantly prove.
 Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (1357). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House.
Published on Tuesday, October 25, 2011 @ 5:30 AM CDT