Course:  The Ministry of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament Church.

Course Title: The Fruit of the Spirit (10 Lessons)

Lesson Two:

Lesson Title:  Love (Agape)

Lesson Theme:  Love is the main characteristic of a disciple of Christ.

Lesson Goal:  To understand the meaning of agape love and to let this kind of love be seen in our life.

Text:  Galatians 5:22, 'But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law' .


Introduction: Four Greek words describing love:

Eros - this word is not used in the Bible. It is associated with passionate, erotic, sexual love. Scripture maintains that this kind of love between a man and a woman is pure and holy provided it is within the marriage relationship. Hebrews 13:4 says, 'marriage is honourable and the bed undefiled'. It is not stained by sin because it is within the boundaries that God has given. God created sex and placed boundaries around it. These boundaries uphold the holiness of God, and protect the family unit.

Storge - 'love of kindred', family affection. Be kindly affectioned (philostorgos) one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another' (Romans 12:10). This word associates the body of Christ with being a family. Astorges means 'without affection'.

Phileo - 'having tender affection'. Love that cherishes the object loved more than anything else. Love between friends, brotherly love, or the love of a husband and wife. (Matthew 10:37).

Agape - Christian love. Love that is not controlled by emotion and led by feelings of affection. It is love that is controlled by the mind and led by the will. It is the mind of Christ controlling the will of the believer. It is love that does not seek a response. It is love that holds no regard to the 'unloveableness' of the object. It loves the unlovely and seeks nothing in return. See the First epistle of John. It is this love that is the Fruit of the Spirit.

See John 21:15-17: Jesus twice says to Peter "Do you love (agape) Me?" amd twice Peter answers "You know I love (phileo) You". The third time Jesus uses the word 'phileo' and Peter answers with same word. The significance is that agape is unselfish love and phileo is love that cherishes.

The Fruit of the Spirit is one fruit expressing all the aspects of 'agape' love.

1)     Joy is love rejoicing in all things

2)     Peace is love trusting in all things

3)     Long Suffering is love enduring patiently in all things

4)     Gentleness is love acting kindly at all times

5)     Goodness is love acting in the best interest to all.

6)     Faith is love always walking in truth

7)     Meekness is love serving in lowliness of mind without selfish ambitions.

8)     Temperance is love restraining having control of our desires and appetites.

'Agape' love and the church in the book of Acts.

When the Holy Spirit came upon the 120 believers on the day of Pentecost, the gifts of the Spirit were very evident. But this was combined with tremendous love among the believers. This love made them radical in their giving (Acts 4:32). The baptism with the Holy Spirit is a baptism of love because God is love. The love of God and the presence of God are inseparable. The gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit can never be separated from 'agape' love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

Exposition of 1 Corinthians 13 click here

A close relationship with Christ will be characterised by 'agape' love. The more we desire Jesus, the more we will be filled with 'agape' love. 'In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.  He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spoke he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)' John 7:37-39.

Main Points:

1.     'Agape' love is the standard of discipleship.

‘By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another’. John 13:35

Two aspects: Love for Christ and love for one another.

Love for Christ is seen by our love for one another. 1 John 4:7-11.

The Old Testament commanded 'Love your neighbour', Leviticus 19:18.

Jesus gave a new commandment 'As I have loved you' John 13:34.

2.     Love gives.

'Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? ' (1 John 3:16-17).

The normal Christian life is radical in its giving.

Love expressed by giving of ourselves (v16).

Giving of our possessions (v17).

3.       Love serves.

'By love serve one another', Galatians 5:13

We are called to be 'love slaves', serving one another.

A love slave in the Old Testament was one who having been given the opportunity to go free, chose to remain permanently and serve willingly. The servants ear was pierced through as a sign of being a 'love slave'. Exodus 21:2-6; Deuteronomy 15:12-17.

Jesus washed His disciples feet and set an example for His disciples to follow. ‘For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you’, John 13:15


4.        Love cares.

'That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.' 1 Corinthians 12:25.

'Agape' love will keep the body of Christ from division.

Division will make the body of Christ ineffective.

The body of Christ is dependant upon one another. If we do not see the potential in others then we will never understand the relationship of the body of Christ. We fulfil our goals by carrying the burdens of others; by praying for one another; and encouraging one another. Every Christian has the responsibility to fulfil his or her role within the body of Christ.

5.        Love energizes.

‘Faith which works by love’, Galatians 5:6.

'Works' is the Greek word 'energeo'.

The energizing power of God works in us through faith producing works of 'agape' love. 'It is God who works in us' Philippians 2:13.

Faith alone justifies; 'agape' love is the evidence of genuine faith.

It is possible to have faith without love, but it is not possible to grow in Christ without faith and 'agape' love. 'If I have faith so that I can move mountains but have not love, I am nothing' 1 Corinthians 13:2.

It is through faith and 'agape' love that the energizing power of God is seen working in the church.

6.        Love motivates.

'Love of Christ compels us', 2 Corinthians 5:14. The word compels in the Greek means 'to hold together'. It was the love of Christ that held everything together in Paul's ministry.

Love of Christ will hold in every circumstance.

Jesus said to Peter 'Do you love Me? …Feed my sheep'. John 21:15-17.

Ministry must be founded upon love for Christ.

List other motivations for ministry that will not hold:

·        Success cannot hold everything together because it is undependable.

·        Love of the honour of men - rulers (John 12:43);

·        Love of money - scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23:13).  

·        Selfish ambitions

The only motivation that will reap an eternal reward is love for Christ, 1 Corinthians 13:2-3.

7.        Love unites.

'From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.' Ephesians 4:16.

The love of Christ is the bond of fellowship in the church;

We are one body in Christ; united by the life of Christ in us; building one another up in Christ

The love of Christ unites all who are kept by it.

The checklist of love 

Is the fruit of love seen in that I am?

1)     a rejoicing person,

2)     trusting in all circumstances,

3)     patiently enduring trials,

4)     kind to all,

5)     seeking the highest good,

6)     fully committed to truth,

7)     walking in humility,

8)     in control of my appetites and desires.

Concluding word

1 Corinthians 16:14 ‘Let all your things be done with love.’

The love of Christ is the bond of fellowship in the church;

it will unite all who are kept by it;

it holds together everything it leads and motivates.

It is the evidence of new life in Christ;

it is the standard of discipleship;

it is the energizing power of the church;

and it is the command we must always follow.

His command to the church is to love as He loved us.

Love gives; love serves; love cares.

It is the most effective advertisement for the church;

the most powerful weapon in any conflict;

and it will always be the greatest need in the church.

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