Agape

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Θεὸς ἀγάπη ἐστίν.
God is Love.
~ John the Evangelist
Who can explain the bond of God’s love? Who is able to recount the greatness of its beauty? The height to which love leads is beyond description. ~ Clement of Rome

Agape (ἀγάπη, agápe) is a Greek word meaning love. In Christianity, agape is the highest form of love. It encompasses our charitable love for our neighbors, our love of God, and God's love for us. Agape is sometimes contrasted with phileo (brotherly love) and with eros (romantic love). Agape embraces a universal, unconditional love that transcends worldly ties and serves regardless of circumstances.

Quotes[edit]

  • Ὥστε ὁ ἀγαπῶν τὸν πλησίον ὡς ἑαυτὸν οὐδὲν περισσότερον κέκτηται τοῦ πλησίον·
    • Those who love their neighbor as themselves possess nothing more than their neighbor.
      • Basil of Caesarea, "To the Rich," as translated by C. P. Schroeder, Saint Basil on Social Justice (2009) p. 43
  • τὸν δεσμὸν τῆς ἀγάπης τοῦ θεοῦ τίς δύναται ἐξηγήσασθαι; τὸ μεγαλεῖον τῆς καλλονῆς αὐτοῦ τίς ἀρκετὸς ἐξειπεῖν; τὸ ὕψος, εἰς ὃ ἀνάγει ἡ ἀγάπη, ἀνεκδιήγητόν ἐστιν. ἀγάπη κολλᾷ ἡμᾶς τῷ θεῷ, ἀγάπη καλύπτει πλῆθος ἁμαρτιῶν ἀγάπη πάντα ἀνέχεται, πάντα μακροθυμεῖ· οὐδὲν βάναυσον ἐν ἀγάπῃ, οὐδὲν ὑπερήφανον· ἀγάπη σχίσμα οὐκ ἔχει, ἀγάπη οὐ στασιάζει, ἀγάπη πάντα ποιεῖ ἐν ὁμονοίᾳ· ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ ἐτελειώθησαν πάντες οἱ ἐκλεκτοὶ τοῦ θεοῦ, δίχα ἀγάπης οὐδὲν εὐάρεστόν ἐστιν τῷ θεῷ.
    • Who can explain the bond of God’s love? Who is able to recount the greatness of its beauty? The height to which love leads is beyond description. Love binds us to God; love hides a multitude of sins; love bears all things and endures all things. There is nothing vulgar in love, nothing haughty. Love has no schism, love creates no faction, love does all things in harmony. Everyone chosen by God has been perfected in love; apart from love nothing is pleasing to God.
  • The Son of God became incarnate to infuse into the human soul the feeling of brotherhood. All are brothers and all children of God. Abba, as he called the Father. I will show you the way, he said. Follow me and you will find the Father and you will all be his children and he will take delight in you. Agape, the love of each one of us for the other, from the closest to the furthest, is in fact the only way that Jesus has given us to find the way of salvation.
  • Ἀγαπητοί, ἀγαπῶμεν ἀλλήλους, ὅτι ἡ ἀγάπη ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐστιν, καὶ πᾶς ὁ ἀγαπῶν ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ γεγέννηται καὶ γινώσκει τὸν Θεόν. ὁ μὴ ἀγαπῶν οὐκ ἔγνω τὸν Θεόν, ὅτι ὁ Θεὸς ἀγάπη ἐστίν.
    • 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.
  • God's Agape is a love that makes a mockery of all attempts at rational motivation. But if the rationalising tendency will not allow even God's love to retain spontaneity, but insists on finding a motive for it in the value of its object, then it is only to be expected that it should insist even more strongly on treating the Christian's love for his neighbour in a similar way. For Jesus, on the other hand, it is beyond question that God's love is unmotivated and spontaneous; and therefore it also also beyond question for Him that a man's love for his neighbour should be spontaneous and unmotivated. There is no occasion to look behind our neighbor's actual condition for any hidden valuable quality that will explain and justify our love for him. God's love is explanation and sanction enough.
  • Agape involves permanent stability. The loyalty enjoined is indefectible; nether partial nor fluctuating. No conditional demand for compensation is licit. To regard someone as a neighbor, on this usage, is to preclude from the outset any specific judgment which signifies that he himself is expendable. No assessment of (say) his weakness or wickedness can ever lead one to ignore him as if he were some mere thing.
    • Gene Outka, Agape: An Ethical Analysis (1972), p. 11
  • καὶ τοῦτο προσεύχομαι, ἵνα ἡ ἀγάπη ὑμῶν ἔτι μᾶλλον καὶ μᾶλλον περισσεύῃ ἐν ἐπιγνώσει καὶ πάσῃ αἰσθήσει, εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τὰ διαφέροντα, ἵνα ἦτε εἰλικρινεῖς καὶ ἀπρόσκοποι.
    • This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless.
  • To love our neighbour as ourselves does not mean that we should love all people equally, for I do not have an equal love for all the modes of existence of myself. Nor does it mean that we should never make them suffer, for I do not refuse to make myself suffer.

See also[edit]

External liniks[edit]

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