The Love Candle

Don’t worry, even with a title like that you don’t need to hide this blog post from the children. I’ll totally keep it G rated.

We’re in the second week of Advent so this last Sunday we lit the “love” candle on our Advent wreaths.


Love is such a messy word in English. We can say that we love pumpkin pie, our spouse, a hot bath, our “peeps,” or a hundred different things and it can mean something totally different each time. That’s English. In Greek there are five different Greek words to describe five different concepts. The problem is that in English we translate them all as “love.” Those words in Greek are: Eros, Philio, Agape, Storge, and Thelema.

Eros is passionate love, with sensual desire and longing. The Modern Greek word “erotas” means “(romantic) love”. However, Eros does not have to be sexual in nature. Eros can be interpreted as a love for someone who you love more than the Philia love of friendship. It can also apply to dating relationships as well as marriage…

Philio means friendship in modern Greek, a dispassionate virtuous love. It includes loyalty to friends, family, and community, and requires virtue, equality and familiarity. In ancient texts, philia denoted 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 is the only other word for “love” used in the ancient text of the New Testament besides agape, but even then it is used substantially less frequently.

Agape means “love” in modern day Greek. The term s’agapo means “I love you” in Greek. The word “agapo” is the verb “I love”. In Ancient Greek it often refers to a general affection rather than the attraction suggested by “eros”; agape is used in 
ancient texts to denote feelings for a good meal, one’s children, and the feelings for a spouse. It can be described as the feeling of being content or holding one in high regard. The verb appears in the New Testament describing, amongst other things, the relationship between Jesus and the beloved disciple. In biblical literature, its meaning and usage is illustrated by self-sacrificing, giving love to all–both friend and enemy…

Storge means “affection” in modern Greek; it is natural affection, like that felt by parents for offspring. Rarely used in ancient works, and then almost exclusively as a descriptor of relationships within the family.

Thelema means “desire” in modern Greek; it is the desire to do something, to be occupied, to be in prominence.

So which one of these do you think we’re meaning when we light the “love” candle on our Advent wreath?

Do you think we’re saying that God wants to be our good friend? (Phileo)

Do you think that we’re saying that God desires to be occupied at Christmas? (Thelema)

Or that he wants to have a romance with the human race? (Eros)

We might be tempted to think that God sent His Son to make us His family members. (Storge)

But the best answer is that God came “self-sacrificing, giving love to all—both friend and enemy.” (Agape)

For God so loved (agapao) the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3: 16-17 NIV)

I just love that He did!



About gregarnett

"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." (1 Peter 4:10) I've been told that the above verse comes to mind when people think of me. I strive to use all of my gifts to God's glory in all the ways He's given me to serve. I serve him in my day job as a Director of Christian Education. I currently serve St. Paul Lutheran Church in Caro, Michigan. At St. Paul I am responsible for the ministry to and with youth, grades sixth-college, and the educational ministries of the congregation. I also lead the contemporary band, organize mission trips and Servant Events. Besides my day job I also am an entrepreneur that runs an Etsy online shop. Basically I make unique items out of wood and broken hockey sticks. You can find my Etsy shop here: I have been married to Cathy since 1987. My grandpa joked on his 50th wedding anniversary: "that's a long time to be married to one woman!" They made it to 64 years, so Cathy and I are just starting! Together we have three children: Nathan, Ben and Emily. I like to play guitar, bass guitar, cigar box guitar and the djembe. I also enjoy woodworking, hunting, gardening, backpacking and participating in sports. Racing triathlons is my current sporting passion and mid-life crisis buster.
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