Thus begins what has come to be called “The Love Chapter.” The KJV word, “charity” (26) is the Greek word agape and is translated “love” in modern translations. Even in the KJV it is translated “love” more than “charity” 84 to 28.
A little review. I apologize to those who know this well. There are at least five words in Greek that would be translated “love” in English.
One Greek word, eros, is not used in the NT. It refers to romantic, sexual love. We are familiar with this is such English words at erotic.
A second Greek word referring to family love is not used alone but is combined with the next word as an adjective.
(Romans 12:10 KJV) Be kindly affectioned (5387) one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;This is the only use of this word.
More frequent in the NT and very frequent in Greek was the word group meaning family love, philia. This is the root of Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love.
The most important word for “love” in the NT, agape, was not used much in Greek. William Barclay believed that the early church used this word deliberately.
“Christian thought fastened on this word agape because it was the only word capable of being filled with the content which was required.” p. 20This is the word that is constantly being defined in the New Testament. It is the word of I Corinthians 13. It is the love of God that is placed in our hearts and controls who we are. It is a word that I trying to understand so I will be coming back to it.
To me the OT Hebrew word that is the equivalent is chesed (2617). I came to know and love this word because it is translated consistently in the NASB as “lovingkindness.” It is used about 249 times in the OT and the NASB translates it the same way 176 times. The next most frequent is “kindness” at 32. The KJV uses “mercy” most frequently, 137, and “lovingkiness” only 26 times. Either way it is a power statement about the love of God and how it moves in our lives.
Love. Lovingkindness. Two central themes for believers.
Barclay, William, New Testament Words. Philadelphia, The Westminster Press, 1964.
homo unius libri