“That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge.” – Ephesians 3:17-19*
“Love” can mean many things: patriotism, romance, family, even preferences. Unlike English, Greek has three main words for love: agape (pathos), phileo (friendship), and eros (romance). Jesus Christ embodies each type, but agape is the foundation. God agape loves everyone, phileo loves his children in Christ, and eros loves his bride. Agape love won’t save people from hell. Only converted children who spiritually mature into the bride of Christ will enter heaven.
Jesus demonstrated all three types of love on the cross, first in his pathos for sinners (John 3:16, Romans 5:8, 1 John 4:9-10). He defeated Satan on the cross, “disarming principalities and powers” (Colossians 2:15). This agape love transforms into phileo only through sacrifice, “as a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies” (John 12:24). Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (15:13). Phileo came to fruition on Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). All those converted by the Holy Spirit enter a conditional covenant of love with the “friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24; cf John 15:10, 1 John 5:2-3). Phileo also transforms into eros only through sacrifice. Jesus is the Bridegroom, the church his Bride (Song of Solomon 1-8, John 3:29, Ephesians 5:23-32). This eros love will come to fruition at the “marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9).
The love of God is like a plant. Agape is the seed, phileo the root and stem, and eros the fruit or flower. The seed is the gospel of Christ, the Word of God. If it falls on bad soil, an unbeliever will hear and reject the gospel, experience joy but fall away because of persecution, or be choked by the cares of this world and mammon (Matthew 13:19-22). Christ takes root only in the soil of good hearts, which must be prepared through humiliation, repentance, and prayer (13:23). With enough water and sun, the Word and presence of Jesus, the root pushes up through the soil. At the right time, it bears a fruit or flower.
If we love Jesus, we will demonstrate divine love. Let us agape love sinners, fighting Satan in prayer for the souls of our families and friends. Then let us phileo love our brothers and sisters in Christ. Finally, let us eros love our spouses.
* All Scriptures are NKJV, unless otherwise noted.