Words carry meaning. I say “cat” and immediately an image pops into your head. I say “dog” and the image changes. Some words mean little some mean a lot. And some words mean so much that reality itself would implode without the meaning they carry. Hesed and agape are two such words. The first is Hebrew and the second is Greek.

Hesed is the word used most frequently in the Old Testament to describe the character of God. The most basic meaning is constancy in the sense of relational integrity. Hesed is rendered in various translations as “love,” “mercy,” “kindness,” “faithful love,” “everlasting love,” and “unfailing love.” 

Through Isaiah God said, “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love (hesed) for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed” (Isaiah 54:10, NIV). King David sang, “Surely goodness and mercy (hesed) shall follow me all the days of my life” (Psalm 23:6). 

Agape is the key word used in the New Testament to describe the identity of God. In Greek thought, agape referred to an unconditional quality of love that is not dependent on the object for its existence or continuance. The Jewish authors of the New Testament needed a word to operate as the Greek equivalent of hesed. They chose agape.

Pop culture has largely drained the word love of its relational staying power by reducing it to a temporary feeling of attraction or passion…

Jesus proclaimed, “For God so loved (agape) the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). John declares, “We have known and believed the love (agape) that God has for us. God is love (agape), and he who abides in love (agape) abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). 

Pop culture has largely drained the word love of its relational staying power by reducing it to a temporary feeling of attraction or passion, here one moment and gone the next. When we utter the words, “God loves me,” we are not saying something lite, weak, or sentimental. Rather, we’re saying something weighty, powerful, and meaningful. In fact, we’re saying the most meaningful thing the tongue can express and the mind contemplate. We’re saying that God is constant, faithful, and true to each of us at any cost to Himself. 

Rest assured, no matter what happens—illness, tragedy, betrayal—God’s love is the one immovable constant upon which you can count. Come what may, all will be well in the end, and more than well, because God is eternally faithful.

Ty Gibson
Speaker/Director at Light Bearers

Ty is a speaker/director for Light Bearers and pastor of Storyline Adventist Church. A passionate communicator with a message that opens minds and moves hearts, Ty teaches on a variety of topics, emphasizing God’s unfailing love as the central theme of the Bible. Ty and his wife Sue have three adult children and two grandsons.