The apostle Paul called love the “surpassing way.” (1 Cor. 12:31) Why did he describe love in this manner? To what kind of love was Paul referring? To find out, let us take a closer look at the word “love.”
The ancient Greeks had four basic words, used in various forms, to describe love: stor‧ge′, e′ros, phi‧li′a, and a‧ga′pe. Of these, a‧ga′pe is the term used to describe the God who “is love.” *
Concerning this love, Professor William Barclay in his New Testament Words says: “Agapē has to do with the mind: it is not simply an emotion which rises unbidden in our hearts; it is a principle by which we deliberately live.
Agapē has supremely to do with the will.” In this context, a‧ga′pe is love that is governed, or guided, by principle, but it is often accompanied by strong emotion.
As there are good and bad principles, it is evident that Christians should be guided by good principles, which are laid down in the Bible by Jehovah God himself.
When we compare Biblical descriptions of a‧ga′pe with other terms used in the Bible to describe love, we will better understand the love that we should demonstrate.
A‧ga′pe is also used in negative contexts.—John 3:19; 12:43; 2 Tim. 4:10; 1 John 2:15-17.