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Posted on CCPC's website 2022
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“Lord, grant that I might not so much seek to be loved as to love.”
- Francis of Assisi (1181 - 1226)
Most people are familiar with the various Greek words commonly used in the Bible for “love”. The most famous being 'agape' and 'phileo' .
However, in The Apocalypse, as elsewhere in the Bible, we come across other terms which have been rendered into the English word 'love', some with various modifiers to try to bring the meaning home, but they still lose something in the translation. And the English word is rather vague.
Something that has been noted by various other writers over the years, such as:
"We loved with a love that was more than love."
- Edgar Allan Poe (1809 - 1849)
In this short feature, we'll look at love, and then we'll LOOK at LOVE, and what it has to do with the local churches and why Christ was so upset with them during his walk among the lampstands.
Time out for musical interlude, our song is joined already in progress:
“..... You're trying hard not to show it (Baby)End interlude
But baby, baby I know it
You've lost that lovin' feelin'
Whoa, that lovin' feelin'
You've lost that lovin' feelin'
Now it's gone, gone, gone, whoa-oh-oh”
- "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" song by Phil Spector, et al (see more below)
You've probably seen the series of cute pictures entitled the “four ages of love” such as that done by the iconic artist Norman Rockwell. They depict the evolution of the relationship from 'puppy love' through more mature forms. First off, it's simply a lie, the stages do not progress like a “12 step program”, and there is no “final perfection” of human love.
Also there are more terms for love in the Greek than what Mr. Rockwell painted. The website named “Greek City Times” (link below) lists eight ancient terms for love, and even they missed a few. Their list includes: Eros (physical love), Philia ('brotherly' love), Agape (God's or 'selfless' love), Storge (deep friendship), Mania (obsessive), Ludus (playful/infatuation), Pragma (eternal), Philautia (self love).
One of the ones the website missed is the Agapen (love feast) which is mentioned in Revelation, and in First Corinthians 11 and Jude, and is implied with the 'table waiting deacons' in Acts. Then in John 13, as in the quote below, the words are Agapate and Egapesa (to love and wish the best for a person (remember those), which, in that context, makes perfect sense. Another that isn't in the Bible as usually translated is Randevu, which is one whom you 'like' enough to date while love develops.
However, even with all those, the committee that translated the 1611 KJV missed something the 1560 Geneva Bible crew got right. Love in First Corinthian's famous “Love Chapter”- 13 where Paul essentially highlights the aspects of Love from Psalms. Or as has been commented elsewhere, “the King James took the Love out, and put the Unicorns in.” (The mythical horses are mentioned in Numbers 23, Job, several times in Psalms, and Isiah 34. The original Hebrew term most likely means “wild ox”. It is worth mentioning that while the 1560 got the love, they too had Unicorns!)
Let's get back to Revelation and the actual occurrences of the word 'love'. Which, oddly enough, doesn't happen very often.
We'll begin in Chapter 1 verse 5 in the attributes of Christ with “him that loved us”. Agaponti is the active form of love, from the same root we saw earlier involving wanting the best for another.
Chapter 2 verse 4 where we learn that the church in Ephesus had “agapen sou ten proten” (love feast your first) “aphekes” (abandoned). The 'love feast', such as was celebrated at Corinth, was a joyous event where those in the church willingly shared what they had as the very living example of Christian Love (remember the early church in Acts 6) or at least it was supposed to be. Apparently some of those in Corinth got a bit off base and Paul had to straighten them out.
Chapter 3 : 9 Egapesa is used to in the past tense to indicate that Christ loved them in that way. And in verse 19 we have “as many as I love...”. The word is Philo. In this usage, he is quite literally saying, “those who are my friends, I discipline....” And the next verse is one of the most famous in the Bible.
Moving on to chapter 12 verse 11 uses the negative “ouk” before Egapesan which is the past tense of the word we've seen before.
22 : 15. The word in this verse is that they are the “philon” (friend) of 'bad things'.
So we have a variety of terms in Revelation that are all translated as 'love' in English.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples...”
John 13 : 34 - 35
(The first and third 'love' is Agapate. The second is Egapesa.)
And now we come back to the song we led with.
Yes, it is about a human relationship. A heart wrenching expression of a romantic love that, over time, has cooled... or rather, has gotten so cold the song proclaims, “something beautiful's dying”. Which happens all too often in our world.
While Christ isn't talking about the same exact type of love, remember that laundry list of terms, at least most of who He was talking to, as well as the majority of us, Are Humans, and the same thing happens. We “lose that lovin' feelin'”. And, He uses the same imagery that it is dying, or rather, dead.
And, as in the song, He is begging for it to return to Life.
End Revelation Love Special.
... ... ....“just one more thing”
A footnote about Love in the Old Testament.
You have have seen those “inspirational images” with a Bible verse across it hanging on walls and online. And in most of the cases, especially if the quote is from Psalms, the English word 'love' is a mis-translation. In the majority of cases, the correct word would be 'lovingkindness'. Something, believe it or not, those that did the KJV got right most of the time.
In other places, such as Joshua 22, the Hebrew word “le·'a·ha·bah” is correctly rendered as “to love”, in that case, they are talking about Loving the Lord. In “The Song”, the word “do·de·ka” is more in line with the 'love' in our song from earlier.
But Love in the OT would be another whole long format study wouldn't it?
.... maybe later.
And Now: End Love Special
“Where there is love there is life.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
Selected Sources for this chapter:
The Greek words: https://greekcitytimes.com/2020/02/14/the-8-ancient-greek-words-for-love/
Saint Francis of Assisi https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=50
"You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" by Spector, Mann, and Weil, single as recorded by the The Righteous Brothers, 1964, Philles records.
Later covered by almost everybody, including Elvis, and even Darius Rucker on Youtube.
Sources used throughout entire study:
Bible Hub Interlinear pages: https://biblehub.com/interlinear/revelation/1.htm
the Geneva Bible downloadable https://archive.org/details/TheGenevaBible1560
the 1611 KJV https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/1611-Bible/
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