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Greek Word Study - Love Bad

Sometimes love goes bad.
Now I know that love is always supposed to be good. It is unselfish, generous, and always caring first about the other guy. But sometimes the very same word that describes this kind of love becomes selfish and evil. Let me explain.

In the Greek New Testament the noun “love” (agape -- ah GAH pay) is always used in a good and holy way, but the corresponding verb (agapao -- ah gah PAH oh) does not have such a perfect record. This verb form of “love” is used 142 times in the N.T., and six of these uses are decidedly rotten! In these six places the otherwise pure kind of love becomes selfish, grasping, and evil.

  • Luke 11 :43 You love the chief seats.
  • John 3: 19 Men loved the darkness.
  • John 12 :43 They loved the praise of men.
  • 2 Tim 4: 10 Having loved this present world.
  • 2 Pet 2:15 Who loved gain from wrongdoing.
  • 1 John 2:15 If any man love the world.

How can our lovely word agapao be used in such texts? A look at the context of these six verses will tell us. In Luke 11:43 the Pharisees had turned their love away from God to focus it on seats of honor. In John 3:19 the men had turned away from God's love and light and pointed their love toward darkness. Demas, having once loved God, turned his love to embrace the world (2 Tim 4:10). In every one of these six verses there is a contrast between love for God and love for evil. The love which should have been directed toward God was misdirected toward something else. And whenever love is misdirected away from God, it goes bad.