Storge: Family Love in the Bible

Examples and definitions of familial love in the Scriptures

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The word "love" is a flexible term in the English language. This explains how a person can say "I love tacos" in one sentence and "I love my wife" in the next. But these various definitions for "love" aren't limited to English. Indeed, when we look at the ancient Greek language in which the New Testament was written, we see four distinct words used to describe the over-arching concept we refer to as "love." Those words are agape, phileo, storge, and eros.

In this article, we'll see what the Bible says specifically about "Storge" love.

Definition

Storge pronunciation: [STORE - jay]

The love described by the Greek word storge is best understood as family love. It's the kind of easy bond that naturally forms between parents and their children -- and sometimes between siblings in the same household. This kind of love is steady and sure. It's love that arrives easily and endures for a lifetime.

Storge can also describe a familial love between a husband and wife, but this kind of love is not passionate or erotic. Rather, it's a familiar love. It's the result of living together day after day and settling into each others' rhythms, rather than a "love at first sight" kind of love.

Example

There is only one specific example of the word storge in the New Testament. And even that usage is a bit contested. Here's the verse:

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love [storge]. Honor one another above yourselves.
Romans 12:9-10

In this verse, the word translated "love" is actually the Greek term philostorgos. Actually, this isn't even a Greek word, officially. It's a mash-up of two other terms -- phileo, which means "brotherly love," and storge.

So, Paul was encouraging the Christians in Rome to devote themselves to one another in a familial, brotherly love.

The implication is that Christians are joined together in bonds that are not quite family and not quite friends, but a blending of the best aspects of both those relationships. That's the kind of love that we should strive for in the church even today.

There are of course other examples of family love present throughout the Scriptures that aren't connected to the specific term storge. The family connections described in the Old Testament -- the love between Abraham and Isaac, for example -- were written in Hebrew, rather than Greek. But the meaning is similar to what we understand with storge.

Similarly, the concern displayed by Jairus for his sick daughter in the Book of Luke is never connected with the Greek term storge, but it's obvious he felt a deep and familial love for his daughter.