Matters of Faith: The Greatest Love of All

By Rev. J. Loren Russell

1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV

“13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Songs, poems, sonnets, and odes have been written about love. Words have been romantically spoken that have swept people off their feet. But did you know that there are seven Greek words for love? The first is eros, which is a romantic, passionate love, the second is philia, which is brotherly love or friendship, the third is ludus, which is playful, flirtatious love, the fourth is storge, which is love of family, the fifth is philautia, which is self-love, the sixth is pragma, the maturation of eros that results in commitment, and the last is agape, which is empathetic, universal love. It is unconditional. Agape is the definition of the word love that Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 13:13.

Unconditional love influences attitudes, motives, thoughts, words, and actions (Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1606; Thomas Nelson, Inc. 1992). Unconditional love not only influences, but structures attitudes, prioritizes motives, regulates thoughts, determines words, and shapes actions. Unconditional love reflects the love of God operating in and through the human heart.

Agape love supersedes faith and hope because faith and hope are temporal. They only endure as long as life lasts. Faith becomes “the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Hope is the confident expectation that the thing you have faith in will come to pass. Faith and hope are inextricably bound and work together. They are interconnected to the reality of life, but love is the ultimate manifestation of God’s presence in our lives and is eternal. It takes us to another level of existence that allows us to love our enemies. Agape is a self-giving love that seeks nothing in return. It is described as love by choice, not by chance or relationship. It is based on the unconditional love God has shown to us, personified in these profound words; “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

This Valentine’s Day, I challenge you to go above and beyond the eros, the philia, or any of the other four definitions of love and reach the level of agape. Do not just give candy or flowers to your significant other but give the world love, not because you like them, but because God loves them. If the world never needed agape love before, it sure does need it now. It is the greatest love of all!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Be Blessed!

Rev. J. Loren Russell is President/CEO of The JLR Company for Church Financial Strategy & Consulting; an associate minister at both Goodwill and The Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx; creator & host of “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” Mondays 8:00 – 10:00 PM on Facebook LIVE and author of Matters of Faith: The Book. eBook available at

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