What is love?

A quick overview of how Christians used the word ‘love,’ and how it is different from how the secular world uses it.


–Students know the difference between the way the word “love” is used by Christians, and by secular culture
–Students can define 4 Greek words for love
–Students understand the gravity of what it means to love one’s neighbor/enemy

Setup and Materials: “God is love” written on the board, notebooks and pens, 4 3×5 cards with the 4 loves defined on them (listed below), bible love quotes posters spread around room (listed below), blank Venn diagram poster, tape, mixed quotes (listed below)


1: Access Prior Understanding

Ask students to define what love is by writing it in their notebooks on their own, then share out loud.  Discussion questions: Are there different types of love? what are some different ways you would love different people different ways?

2: Introduce Greek Vocabulary Cards

The cornerstone of Christianity is in this phrase: GOD IS LOVE. But, we can’t understand what that means unless we know what type of love it means.

In Greek language, there are 4 different words for love. Hold out the four vocabulary cards and have each student take one and read it aloud.

Discussion Questions: Which one was your definition most like? Which one would you guess is used in the phrase “God is love”?

3: History of the Word ‘Agapao’

Explain Agape was a word essentially invented by Christians. It was not used in Greek language to express love prior to Christian use, so it was confusing at first and was defined by context and use. Paul helps define it: 1 Corinthians 13:4-8  Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentfulit does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

4: Agape Quote Gallery

Key scriptures using Agape are hung up around the room. Student should read these quotes, then stand next to the one that makes the strongest impression to them personally. Each student can share why they chose that quote.

5: Why It’s Important to Understand Different Loves

Read John 21: 15-20 aloud in English.

Discussion questions: Why is Peter dejected here? Which ‘love’ is being used?

Read again substituting ‘agape’ and ‘phileo’ as in the Greek. Discuss how this changes the conversation between them. (Jesus asks Peter twice “do you agape me?” and Peter answers twice “yes, I phileo you.” Then Jesus finally asks “do you phileo me?”)

6: Who is My Neighbor Whom I Must Love?

So, you get what Christian Love is, why it is so unique, and difficult, and that you must love your neighbor. WHOM is your neighbor?

Can you love someone you REALLY DISLIKE?

Can you disagree with someone you love?

Discuss difficult people to love: Hitler, Susana Martinez, That Bully, Sexual harassing dude from last week…

7: Venn Game

Students compare popular expressions of love in songs and quotes to the Christian understanding of Agape. From a pile of strips of paper with the quotes on it, they will tape the quotes on a Venn Diagram poster labeled Christian Agape Love, Worldly Love, or Could Be Either. Quotes from 2014 are listed below.

Homework: This week, I want you to look for examples of AGAPE happening around you. Are your parents ever showing Agape? You teachers? Friends? You?



Greek Vocabulary Cards:


Familiar love, affection

“I love my dog”

(Note: This word is never used in the Bible,

except in Romans 12:10 as Phileostorge

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love”)

Phileo / Philia:

Strong emotional connection


Really Really Like

“I love you as a friend (but I’m not * in love* with you)”

“I love chocolate”

(Note: You cannot phileo your enemies)


Passionate, highly emotional love

Usually with sexual feelings

Where we get the English word “erotic”

“I have a crush”

“I’m * in love* with you”

(Note: This word is never used in the Bible)


Unconditional, self-sacrificing love

Not a feeling, but based on actions and choices

Doesn’t always feel good, but always does good

Commitment and action-based

A mother staying up all night with a sick child even when tired

Dying to save someone else’s life

Spending your Saturday helping raise money for homeless people

Quotes for Agape Gallery

Matthew 5:43-45 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.

Mark 12:30-31 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.

John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I [Jesus] have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

John 15:13 No one has greater love than a person who lays down his life for his friends.

1 John 4:16-21 God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

We love, because God first loved us.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

John 14:15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”

Quotes for Venn Game

Your touch magnetizing

Feels like I am floating

Leaves my body glowing

Kiss me, ki-ki-kiss me

Infect me with your love and

Fill me with your poison

ET , Katy Perry

“In the darkest night hour / I’ll search through the crowd

/ Your face is all that I see / I’ll give you everything

/ Baby love me lights out”

Beyonce’ XO (voted best 2013 love song)

Won’t listen to any advice

Momma’s telling me I should think twice

But left to my own devices,

I’m addicted – it’s a crisis

My friends think I’ve gone crazy

My judgment’s gettin’ kinda hazy

I don’t care what people say

The rush is worth the price I pay

I get so high when you’re with me

But crash and crave you when you leave

Because your love, your love, your love is my drug

Kesha, Your Love

Guess it’s true, I’m not good at a one-night stand

But I still need love ’cause I’m just a man

These nights never seem to go to plan

I don’t want you to leave, will you hold my hand?

Oh, won’t you stay with me?

‘Cause you’re all I need

Stay With Me Lyrics – Sam Smith

Treasure, that is what you are

Honey, you’re my golden star

You know you can make my wish come true

If you let me treasure you

Pretty girl, pretty girl, pretty girl, you should be smiling

A girl like you should never look so blue

You’re everything I see in my dreams

I wouldn’t say that to you if it wasn’t true

Bruno Mars, Treasure

I will be here when you feel like being quiet;

When you need to speak your mind, I will listen.

And I will be here when the laughter turns to crying;

Through the winning, losing, and trying, we’ll be together,

‘Cause I will be here.

Steve Curtis Chapman

Whenever I’m alone with you

You make me feel like I am young again

Whenever I’m alone with you

You make me feel like I am fun again

However far away

I will always love you

The Cure


“…if you were freezing and had two gloves on one hand and none on the other hand, would it not be the enlightened thing to do to give one of the gloves to the bare hand?”

Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.


We know there is nothing better

Than me for you and you for me

We will always stay together

Like mittens and magnets are we

Flo Paris


The silence isn’t so bad

‘Til I look at my hands and feel sad

‘Cause the spaces between my fingers

Are right where yours fit perfectly

Owl City – Vanilla Twilight

Meeting you was fate, becoming your friend was a choice, but falling in love with you was beyond my control.

You don’t love someone because they’re perfect, you love them in spite of the fact that they’re not. – Jodi Picoult.

To love someone means to see them as God intended them.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Intense love does not measure, it just gives.

Mother Teresa

The first duty of love is to listen.

Paul Tillich

We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.

I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love.

If you judge people, you have no time to love them.


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