The 3 Types of Spiritual Love – Philos, Eros and Agape



Spiritually speaking, there are three types of love; philos, eros and agape. Philos love is mental and earthly love that is found in friendships, marriages and family ties. Eros love is a “physical” passionate love and Agape love is spiritual and easily defined as an unconditional love.

Philos love is mental and earthly love that is found in friendships, marriages and family ties.

‘Philos’ means affectionate regard or friendship in both ancient and modern Greek and is denoted as a general type of love, used for love between family, between friends, a desire or enjoyment of an activity, as well as between lovers. This type of love has give and take, and unlike Agape, it isn’t unconditional. It can have limitations and conditions that have the ability to break the love. This is seen in many relationships that have been broken because of hurt and unforgiveness. Philos love is not perfect in the fact that it can be shattered but is perfectly necessary in life as we all need, want and desire friendships.  Philos is mental. Philos is friendship. Philos is love.

Eros is the physical, sensual love between a husband and wife but can happen between the unmarried.

Although this Greek term does not appear in the Bible, Eros, or erotic love, is portrayed in the Old Testament book, The Song of Solomon. God is very clear in his Word. Sex outside of marriage is forbidden. God created humans male and female and instituted marriage in the Garden of Eden. Within marriage, sex is used for emotional and spiritual bonding and for reproduction. The Apostle Paul noted that it is wise for people to marry to fulfill their godly desire for this type of love: “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” (1 Corinthians 7:8-9 NIV) Eros love, without first developing philos love is always an expression of a person’s own needs or desires, and is acted upon in a selfish manner that seeks to gratify a lust, with little concern for the partners needs. But Philos love has the ability to seek the needs of the partner instead of the selfish needs of Eros without Philos as its strength.

Agape is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love; the highest of the three types of love in the Bible.

Agape perfectly describes the kind of love Jesus Christ has for his Father and for his followers: “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” (John 14:21, NIV) The ultimate example of Agape love was made by Jesus when He sacrificed Himself for the sins of the world at Calvary through the crucifixion on the cross.  This love is selfless; it gives and expects nothing in return. Agape is used in the biblical passage known as the “love chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13, and is described there and throughout the New Testament as sacrificial and spiritual love. Whether the love given is returned or not, the person continues to love (even without any self-benefit).

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