Four + Five = 9 Loves

By Laura L.W. Horan


“How do I love thee, let me count the ways…”  


Elizabeth Barret Browning declared this so beautifully in her 43rd sonnet.  God designed us to love and be loved. Exactly how many ways does God love us? The nine loves below are only a small taste of the many exuberant ways God displays his love for us, and in us.


First, let’s explore the definitions of the four words from the Greek language that mean love:  


The Four Loves:

  1. AGAPE – Divine love, God love. Unconditional, selfless, and sacrificial. This love many times is not fun, it’s messy, you don’t want to do it. Jesus didn’t want to die. He asked his Father to “…remove this cup from me” Luke 22:42.  Jesus sacrificed himself for us. Agape love is the most noble and powerful of the loves.

  2. PHILEO – Affection. Close relationships, or love between friends. David and Jonathon are a perfect example of Phileo.

  3. STORGE (Stergein) – Love of family. Parent/child, siblings, cousins, close friends, and even pets.

  4. EROS – Romantic love. Being in love. Erotic love. An example of this love is The Song of Solomon.  Without Eros, there would be no Storge.


If you’d like to explore these further, C. S. Lewis goes into more depth regarding these loves in his book The Four Loves.


Now let’s explore the five love languages: 


The Five Love languages:

  1. Words of Affirmation – Encouragement, to focus on something your spouse or a loved one wants to do, “Go for it!” or “I know you can do it.”   The manner or attitude in which we say something.  Words that build up, to esteem others.

  2. Quality Time – Undivided attention. Turn off  the TV, radio or any electronic device. To stop doing chores, put everything on hold and give the person your time and full attention.

  3. Receiving Gifts – This love language does not mean ‘materialism,’ rather it speaks to the receiver of the gift communicating that they are cared for and thought about.  If a birthday or anniversary gift is missed, it would be hurtful, almost disastrous.

  4. Acts of Service – An expression of this love is vacuuming the floors, dusting, laundry, getting groceries...anything that serves the one you love in a way that benefits them. This act means helping with responsibilities. Laziness, however, or making more work, shows lack of love and disrespect.

  5. Physical Touch – This love language is holding hands, an arm around a shoulder, a pat on the back, a hug. It’s important not to confuse sex with loving physical touch. 


What is your primary love language? What is the primary love language of the people you love?  Each person experiences feeling loved differently. Knowing this about one another can help to eliminate misunderstandings and keep resentments from building.


Want to learn more? Dr. Gary Chapman explains more about these love languages in his book The Five Love Languages.


Love is an important emotion and action. Love is a decision. We all experience it, so it would benefit us to learn as much about it as possible. Perhaps Today Ministries encourages you to invest in these two books so you can find the secrets to a love that lasts.


God’s love is so immense and vast, it’s countless. And since He loved us first, we can share His love with others.