Love in the Old Testament

“And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.” (Genesis 29:20)

It is well known that “love” in the New Testament almost always means unselfish agape love. The Greek word for sexual love or romantic love, eros, is never used at all in the New Testament. Even marital love is ideally agape love in its main expression, as in Paul’s exhortation in Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”

In the Old Testament, on the other hand, there are about a dozen different Hebrew words used for “love,” and these often have wide variations in meaning, depending on context, often including romantic love as one of them. For example, Jacob’s willingness to work for Laban seven years in order to obtain Rachel for his wife clearly must have involved a high degree of romantic love on his part. He also loved her sister Leah, after Laban insisted he marry her first, but “he loved also Rachel more than Leah” (Genesis 29:30).

Several different “love” words are used in the Song of Solomon, as Solomon and his bride frequently speak of their romantic love for each other. There is no doubt that God approves of such love when it is pure and true and involves self-sacrificing agape love as well. “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). The word for “whoremonger,” incidentally, is also often translated “fornicator” and can refer to any kind of sexual activity (some may call it “love,” but this is a caricature) outside of monogamous, man-and-woman, lifelong marriage.

The greatest love of all, of course, in both Old and New Testaments, is God’s love for the men and women He has created and redeemed. HMM

The Latest
NEWS
Save the Date for Giving Tuesday 2018!
We’re entering the season of giving, and what better gift to give than the truth of God’s Word. Will you help us reach your family, friends,...

NEWS
Radio Interview: Why Our Origins Matter
Leading up to ICR’s conference in Boston this weekend, Dr. Randy Guliuzza discusses why what we believe about origins matters to our understanding...

TESTIMONIALS
The Only Reasonable Explanation
Hi, my name is Lauren Pennington, and I work in the accounting department here at ICR. Many in our culture today wholeheartedly accept evolution...

CREATION PODCAST
Evaluating Evolution
Does what we believe about origins matter? ICR Science Writer and speaker Brian Thomas discusses the evidence that persuaded him to reject evolution...

NEWS
Cold Slabs Indicate Recent Global Flood
Since the 1990s, cross-section images of mantle tomography have shown visible slabs of oceanic lithosphere (which includes oceanic crust) descending...