What word did Jesus use for love?

Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, Latin etc.

When He said to love our neighbours, was there more than one word for love in those days?

We use the word for many types of love, was it the same then?


In koine greek, which was spoken at the time of Christ, there are three words for love:

  • Agape - Charitable love, the highest, most selfless love.
  • Philo - Fraternal love
  • Eros - Romantic love

When Christ speaks of the greatest commandments in Mark 12:30-31, and says “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” the original koine greek uses “agape.” Specifically Ἀγαπήσεις, which is just agape/Ἀγαπή with the appropriate verb ending (if you speak any romance languages, you should know what I mean. It’s basically the difference between “I want” and “He wants” and “I wanted”).

We don’t have any original Aramaic texts or transcripts. We only have the Greek.


Agape pronounced like grape?

It’s been awhile, but it should be ah-GAH-pay. Some might say ah-GAH-pee. There’s disputes about what the liturgical/ancient pronunciation is and people have various systems. But it’s definitely three syllables. The “e” (greek letter eta) at the end isn’t silent.

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