The Good Samaritan and ἀγάπη

A little tip for word study in the Bible: Don’t think that you have exhausted the topic of “love” when you have looked up and studied every passage in which “love” appears—or even every passage in which forms of ἀγαπάω or φιλέω appear.

No one word, Greek or English, communicates the Bible’s ethic of love. Sentences and whole paragraphs and arguments and sections communicate that ethic.

For example, if you tried to do an exhaustive study of love in the NT and you did so by looking up ἀγαπάω and φιλέω, you’d miss the story of the Good Samaritan. Clearly the Samaritan loved his neighbor, but the word “love” never occurs in the story.

When you do a topical study, try to find all the passages that teach on the topic. Word searches will certainly help, but they aren’t enough.

Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

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