Agapē (in Greek written αγάπη; pronounced "ah-GAH-peh" or "AH-gah-peh") is the Greek word for divine, unconditional, self-sacrificing, active, volitional, thoughtful love. Greek philosophers at the time of Plato used it in a way that suggested a universal, as opposed to a personal, love; this could mean love of truth, or love of humanity. The term was used by the early Christians to refer to the special love for God and God's love for man, as well as the self-sacrificing love they believed all should have for each other. It is a prominent term in the works of C.S. Lewis.
Early Christians referred to their rite of common worship as an Agape feast, which appears to have been characterized by group sexual activity as well as the sharing of the eucharist.
Agape is Christian love, "charity" (1 Corinthians 13:1–8). Tertullian, in his 2nd century defense of Christians remarks how Christian love attracted pagan notice: "What marks us in the eyes of our enemies is our lovingkindness. 'Only look' they say, 'look how they love one another.'" (Apology 39). Saint Ignatius of Antioch and Saint Hippolytus of Tome (second century) use Eucharist and Agape as synonyms (cf.1 Corinthians 11); in Jude 12, the "love feasts" are most naturally understood to be the combined Agape–Eucharists. The Agape (in Didache, 70–110) is a Jewish meal (Chaburah) Christianized as in the "new meal" of Christ’s Kingdom and Love. Today the term Agape refers to the Easter Sunday’s Vespers (held either in the morning or the afternoon) which is also called the Second Resurrection Service. During this Service the Gospel reading relating to the first appearance of the Resurrected Christ to His disciples is read in many languages besides Greek.
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Encyclopedia of Thelema
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