Dumb Teaching: The Agape-Love Thing

There’s false teaching…and then there is just dumb teaching.

One of those dumb teachings is said by nice Christians at Bible Studies all the time, probably because they’ve heard it from nice radio preachers who haven’t done their homework. And I’m just a wee bit tired of hearing it so often, so I decided to write a quick blog on it – for you, for us.

Many have been taught that the Greek language (in which the New Testament was written) has a special word for God’s love. It’s the word “agap” or “agape” from the verb “agapao.” Many blindly assert that this word conveys the notion of a special love from God, the love that is unconditional, unique, and sacrificial.

That’s a myth. Sorry.

I was reading the other day and found a nice little post by Kathleen Tuttle, in which she discusses with my old Briercrest prof, Marty Culy, about this issue. As Marty says, we need to look at the way the word “love” is used in the Bible in context to see what sort of love is in view:

For example, we’re told in the Greek Old Testament that Ammon “agapd” his half-sister Tamar and proceeded to rape her (2 Samuel 13:1-15). Clearly not Godlike, self-sacrificial love.

Similarly, we’re told that in John 3:19 that men loved (agapao) the darkness instead of the light because their deeds were evil; and we’re told in 2 Timothy 4:10 that Demas loved the world and so deserted Paul.

In reality, the Greek word agap simply means “love,” with the context dictating what type of love is in view.[1]

So there it is. Next time you hear a preacher do the agape-love thing you have my permission to raise an eyebrow slightly. And next time you hear it at a Bible study then you can – graciously – correct that view.

But yes, God still does love you – uniquely, sacrificially, and unconditionally – in Christ and in his cross.

[1] http://www.naplesnews.com/community/marco-eagle/church-lady-greek-expert-shares-gods-true-childKATHLEEN TUTTLE – 2:16 PM, Aug 1, 2013


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