Sermon Presented on 04-20-13


         Last week we looked at the Scriptural emphasis on bearing fruit as Disciples of Christ Jesus.  We saw that bearing fruit demonstrates our being disciples of Christ and by bearing fruit we also glorify the Father.  We saw that the fruit we are to bear is associated with how we conduct ourselves before God and man.  We saw that the ability to bear fruit was related to allowing the Spirit of God to manifest itself in our lives.  Paul wrote to Timothy that God’s Spirit is a Spirit of power, love and a sound mind or the attribute of self discipline as some translations render it. 

       In Paul’s letter to the Galatian Church, he spoke of the Fruit of the Spirit.  Paul listed the fruit of the Spirit as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Today we will begin our examination of each one of these dynamics Paul calls the fruit of the Spirit and see what the Scriptures teach as to their meaning and how they are to be expressed in our behavior.


       Paul begins his list with the attribute of love which Scripture shows is the most powerful and dominant expression of the Spirit of God.  So powerful is this Spiritual dynamic that it is seen as one of the defining attributes of who and what God is. 

       1 John 4:7-8: Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

       While God is seen as Spirit (John 4:24) and as light (1 John 1:5), He is revealed here as love.  Love is a component of the very essence of God.  Therefore, it is from God that we receive the ability to love.  John goes on to show how God has expressed His love toward us and how we are to reciprocate God’s love.

       1 John 4:9-13:  This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.   No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.  We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

       How does God love us?  John identifies God’s love for us in that He facilitated salvation through the Christ event.  He loves us by having provided forgiveness of sin.  John goes on to say that because God loved us in providing for the forgiveness of sin we also are to love one another.  The implication is that in loving one another we are willing to forgive one another just as God has forgiven us.

       God is the source of our human makeup. God has placed within humans a variety of attributes including the ability to express love, compassion, mercy and other passions.  All humans have ability to express love.  It is part of the nature we are born with.  How we express love is often conditioned by cultural, social and religious dynamics.  Our ability to express love can be suppressed and perverted by various influences and troubles we experience in life.  Having the Spirit of God can contribute greatly to a proper expression of love at all its levels. The Greeks broke down human expression of love into four categories.


       There is romantic love involving sexual attraction.  In the Greek language this kind of love is defined by the Greek word Eros.  In Greek mythology, Eros is the God of love and passion. Eros was the son of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.  Eros is equivalent to the Roman God Cupid, a word taken from the Latin which means to have desire.  Eros is largely focused on sexual pleasure.  Eros is the source of the English word erotic.  Eros is a normal attribute of human nature.  The Greek word Eros is not found in the NT Scriptures and romantic love is only alluded to a couple of times by NT writers.

Storge (Stor-ye):

       Another Greek word for love is storge.  This word refers to the kind of love that occurs naturally between family members.  It is the kind of love felt by a mother when she gives birth to a child.  It is the kind of love expressed between brothers and sisters.  This is a natural affection we are born with and is one of the attributes of our human nature.  While this Greek word is not found in the NT Scriptures, we do find Paul using the Greek word astorgos to describe some that are without natural affection.  Paul shows that humans can become so hardened and scorched in their thinking that they become unable to love even their own family members.   

       2 Timothy 3:3:  Without natural affection (astorgos), trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good.


       A Greek word for love that is found in the Greek Scriptures is phileoPhileo appears 25 times in the NT.  A basic meaning of phileo is brotherly love.  The city named Philadelphia is derived from this word and is called the “city of brotherly love.”  This word is often used to describe strong affection toward someone with whom one shares common interests and common goals.  Such sharing can lead to the development of a strong bond of friendship where two individuals experiencing phileo love will do anything for each other.

       When someone refers to another person as their best friend, it can be a relationship based on phileo love.  The relationship between David and Jonathan seen in the OT is an example of phileo love.  Jesus is seen as loving Lazarus in a phileo manner.  God the Father is seen as loving Jesus in a phileo way and loving His disciples in the same way because they love Jesus in this way.  

       John 11:3: So the sisters sent word to Jesus, "Lord, the one you love (phileo) is sick."      

       John 5:20:  For the Father loves (phileo) the Son and shows him all he does.

       John 16:27: The Father himself loves (phileo) you because you have loved (phileo) me and have believed that I came from God.

       Phileo love can also be directed toward places and things.  If I say I love my dog, I love traveling or I love my new car, it can be defined as an expression of phileo.  We see in the NT that Jesus spoke of the religious leaders as loving the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues.  The word rendered “loving” is phileo.

Agape (a gah pee):

       The most frequently occurring word rendered love in the NT is the noun agape and the verb agapao.  Together, these words appear 258 times in the NT narrative.  When Jesus, Paul, John and Peter instruct us to love, it is agape or agapao that is used 99% of the time.  Greek Lexicons define these words as to have a preference for, have goodwill, regard the welfare of, and so forth.  Since the Scriptures themselves provide definition to these words we will simply allow the NT writers to instruct us as to what these words mean. 

       1 Corinthians 13:4-8: Love (agape) is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

       Here we have Paul defining for us what it means to have and express agape love.  Let us take a closer look at each one of these definitions of what agape love is and what it is not.  The definitions I will use are taken from Thayer’s Greek Lexicon which reflects what these words meant to people communicating in Greek in the first century.

       Love is patient:  Patience is to be of a long spirit and not lose heart.  It is to persevere bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles.  To be patient is to bear the offenses and injuries of others and be mild and slow to avenge.  To be patient is to be long-suffering, slow to anger and slow to punish.

       Matthew 18:23-27:   "Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.  "The servant fell on his knees before him. `Be patient with me,' he begged, `and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

       The word translated “patient” in this passage is the same word Paul used to describe agape love. Jesus shows that an aspect of the kingdom of heaven is to be patient with others which equates with loving others with agape love.

       Love is kind:  The Greek translated “kind” in this passage occurs just this once in the NT and is defined by Thayer’s as to show oneself as mild.  The English meaning includes being considerate, forbearing, tolerant, courteous, and thoughtful.

       Love does not envy:  Here the Greek word zeeloo is rendered “envy.”  Thayer defines zeeloo as “to burn with zeal.”  This word is used in both a positive and a negative sense in the NT.  Paul is using it here as a negative in saying that agape does not desire what it cannot or should not have.  It does not strive to attain something at the expense of others.  It does not become jealous over the success of others.  We find this word used in this negative sense in Acts 17:5 where we see the Jews becoming jealous over the fact Paul and Silas were convincing some Jews of the truth of the gospel. 

       Acts 17:5: But the Jews were jealous (zeeloo); so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason's house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd.

       Love does not boast:  The Greek for boast appears only here in the NT and is defined as being a braggart.  It is further defined as one who boasts about oneself or offers excessive praise upon someone else.  Agape love doesn’t behave in this manner.

       Love is not proud: The Greek means to inflate, swell up, and to bear oneself in a lofty manner.  It means to be arrogant and is so rendered by the NIV translators in 1 Corinthians 4:18-19: 

       1 Corinthians 4:18-20: Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.

       Love is not rude:  The Greek here means to act unbecomingly or disgracefully.  Paul is saying that love does not act in bad taste or imprudently.

       Love is not self-seeking:  The Greek word translated here as self-seeking appears 119 times in the NT and simply means to seek or desire something.  It is mostly used in a positive sense to speak of someone, seeking to see someone or properly desiring something.  Paul, however, uses this word to point out that agape love is not turned inward but outward.  It seeks to meet the needs of others even at the expense of ones own needs.  

       1 Corinthians 10:24: Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

       Love is not easily angered:  The Greek here means to irritate, provoke and arouse to anger.  Paul is saying that agape love does not easily become any of these things.  Agape love is controlled and disciplined.

       Love keeps no record of wrongs: The NIV translation is a little strange here as the Greek appears to simply be saying that agape love does not have thoughts of evil.  The KJV translates it as “thinks no evil”

       Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth:  The Greek rendered “evil” here simply means unrighteousness and is so rendered throughout much of the NT.  Paul is simply saying that agape love never finds satisfaction in deeds of unrighteousness but always pursues the way of righteousness which corresponds to the way of truth. 

       Paul concludes his definition of agape love by saying it always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres. Love never fails.  Paul concludes this segment of his letter to the Corinthians by saying: 

       1 Corinthians 13:13: And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love (agape).

       While phileo and agape love are at times used interchangeably in the NT, agape love is the dominant and most spoken of form of love discussed.  Unlike phileo love which is a deep emotional affection toward those we share things in common with, agape love is seen as reflecting our overall behavior toward God and man.  Agape love is not just a love directed toward those we share things in common with as is the case with phileo love.  Agape love is love that is directed to everyone, even toward those who oppose us and are our enemies.  We are told to agape our enemies.  

       Luke 6:27-28: "But I tell you who hear me: Love (agape) your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  

       Luke 6:35: But love (agape) your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 

       While agape is a love that has emotional dynamics associated with it just as the three other forms of love we discussed, it is apparent from the Scriptures that it is a very active and outgoing form of love that is heavy on deeds.  It is a love that shows itself to always be concerned for the welfare of others regardless of who they are, how they behave or what circumstances they may find themselves in.  It is a sacrificial kind of love that goes beyond phileo love in that it is not at all self centered but is outward centered.  It is preoccupied with the welfare of others even at the expense of one's own comfort and safety.   

       We often see agape love demonstrated during times of tragedy.  We saw agape love being demonstrated at the Boston Marathon when people ran to the aid of the injured and in disregard for their own comfort and safety provided assistance.   Agape love is a love demonstrated by deeds.

       1 John 3:18: Dear children, let us not love (agape) with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

       Agape love is a very active love. It seeks the welfare of others and provides the motivation to help and serve others with no thought of personal gain.  Agape love is a self sacrificing love that, as Paul said, will never fail.

       We began our discussion of love by identifying it as a fruit of the Spirit.  The word Paul uses is agapeAgape love is an attribute of the Spirit of God and those who practice agape love are expressing God’s Spirit in their behavior.  We see that to express agape love is to fulfill the law of God.   

       Romans 18:8-10: Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love (agape) your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

        Paul is not saying we should never owe anyone money.  He is not talking about money here.  What he is saying is that there is a debt we owe to all people every day.  It is a debt we should be paying every day. This debt is the debt of love.  We owe the debt of love to everyone.  We pay this debt by behaving toward our neighbor according to the moral law which Paul references by quoting several of the commandments contained in the moral code, a code that has been extant since creation.  No matter how much we pay of this debt each day, when we wake up the next morning, the debt is restored, and we owe just as much as we did the day before!  This is an ongoing debt we own to our fellow man. 

       Agape love is an attribute of the Spirit of God that motivates us to behave within the confines of the law of God.  We do so not of coercion to do so but out of recognition that it is our duty to provide for the welfare of others.  We do this regardless of the possible threat to our personal comfort and safety.  Agape love is love that makes us want to keep God’s law in how we relate to our neighbor. We do this not because we fear the consequences of failing to do so but because of a genuine desire to see others be safe, happy and experience wellbeing.

       If we properly direct agape love, we cannot do harm to one another.  Jesus said that love does no harm to ones neighbor.  The expression of agape love prevents any thought that leads to adultery, murder, theft or any other type of behavior contrary to the moral code established by God.  Agape love properly directed cannot break the laws designed to protect others and ourselves from harm.

       I speak in terms of agape love being properly directed because while agape love should be directed to the good of others, we still have power over how this love is expressed.  It can be expressed for selfish purposes.  It can be expressed inwardly rather than outwardly.  Having agape love does not insure its proper use.   There are examples in Scripture of agape love being directed inwardly for selfish purposes and even evil purposes.

        John 3:19: This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved (agape) darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

       John 12:42-43: Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved (agape) praise from men more than praise from God.

       1 John 2:15: 15.  Do not love (agape)the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

       If we allow the Spirit of God to control our behavior, we will express agape love properly.  We will express it as self sacrifice and unconditional out going concern for the welfare of others. 

       Having the Spirit of God working in our lives is the pathway to ensure we are expressing agape love as God meant it to be expressed.  As Paul said to Timothy, we need to stir up the Spirit of God so that we manifest the power, love and sound mindedness that Paul shows the Spirit to be.  Agape love that comes from God is a fruit of the Spirit.

       Romans 5:5: God has poured out his love (agape) into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

       At the start of today’s message, I discussed the different kinds of love that we humans express.  We express all four of these kinds of love from time to time and often at the same time.  For example, Eros love which is based on sexual attraction is experienced by most.  However, when a marriage relationship is only based on Eros love it often falls apart when the expectations of Eros are not met.  For a marriage to remain stable and viable, phileo love must be present as well.   To make a marriage work to the utmost, agape love needs to also be present to facilitate unconditional, sacrificial love between husband and wife.

       We earlier discussed phileo love which is used to describe strong affection toward someone with whom one shares common interests and common goals.  We read Scripture that shows God loves us in a phileo sense in addition to loving us with agape love.  Scriptures show that Jesus loved Lazarus both in a phileo and an agape way. 

       John 11:5: Jesus loved (agape) Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 

       John 11:36: Then the Jews said, "See how he loved (phileo) him!"   

       The Scriptures clearly show that love, both phileo and agape, are behaviors that God express’s toward us and expects us to express toward Him and toward each other.  Love is the first of the fruit of the Spirit that Paul mentions in Galatians 5.  He defines this fruit in detail in 1 Corinthians 13.  We are consistently instructed to love God and Christ and such love is defined by our keeping the law of God.  We are consistently instructed to love each other by practicing the law of love in how we treat each other. 

       In the musical Les Miserables there is a song of prayer near the end entitled “God on High hear my prayer.”  In this prayer the singer says that to love another person is to see the face of God.  When we love each other we are seeing the face of God because God is love and when we express love we express the very nature of God.