Familial Strife—a Sign of Perilous Times?

or, Four Greek Words for Love? I Thought There Were Only Three!

By Jimmie Parr


I had just purchased a new Bible--the Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible, edited by Spiros Zodhiates. As I was reading II Timothy 3, I noticed a footnote pertaining to the phrase, without natural affection, for verse 3. According to that footnote, the Greek word, translated into English as without natural affection, is derived from one of four Greek words which can be translated into English as love. Since I had “always” heard that “there are three Greek words for love,” I decided to give this a hard look, and find out about this fourth Greek word for love.


According to the above-mentioned footnote, the Greek word, astorgos  (Strong’s  #794), is the word translated into the English phrase, without natural affection. Astorgos, is composed of the Greek negative prefix, a (not, or without) plus the root, storge, (pronounced “store-gay”), which, according to the footnote, means “love within the family members.” So, according to the footnote, the phrase, without natural affection, in II Timothy 3:3, could be translated, “without familial love,” or, “without love among family members.”


I looked up the definition of Strong’s #794 in Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, and found a similar definition.


What had started out as an academic exercise to find out how many Greek words can be translated into the English word, love, became a rebuke directed at me, personally, as I thought of the countless mistakes which I have made in dealings with my family. After an honest, though painful, assessment, those mistakes which I made with my family were made because of a basic lack of love for members of my family, and, ultimately, a lack of love for my Creator.


While pondering the ramifications of lacking love for family members, I thought about one family member bringing another to a civil court in a lawsuit. A famous singer who was shot and killed by his father about twenty years ago also came to mind. Then I thought about kids who have approached me, though I am a complete stranger. I find the parents and tell them that their child has approached me. The parents have never seen me before. Their reaction is seldom, “Oh, what was my child doing approaching a stranger?” Their reaction is, far too often, “Oh, I hope my kid wasn't bothering you.” No, the child wasn't bothering me. Probably, the child approached me—a complete stranger—because the child was considered a “bother” by the parents. Why were those parents not alarmed when their child, alone, approached an unknown person? Could it be due to lack of love among family members?


I once lived close to a divorced woman with four kids. Those kids gave me a bit of attention. The mother didn’t seem to mind. But the kids told their daddy about me when they were with him. He became alarmed, and thought that I may be a pedophile, and wanted to have a background check done on me. Sadly, he never gave his kids any appreciable amount of quality time. There was always a baseball game to watch, or Daddy is tired after a hard day at work, or, kids are just so full of nonsense. Had astorgos—a lack of love among family members—which had already split the husband and wife of this family, also made it easy for these children to come to me for attention because of inattention from the parents?


It is often said, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” In being honest with myself, I have had to admit that I am part of the problem of there being, in this society, a lack of love among family members. And that lack of love among family members, if the above-mentioned footnote in the Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible is correct, is part of what indicates “perilous times” mentioned in II Timothy 3:1. I am part of what is bringing on “perilous times.” I am not part of the solution, but part of the problem.


I appreciate the work of Dr. Zodhiates. I appreciate his having taken a phrase which could be deemed general and perhaps even vague and “brought it home” in an applicable, though in my case, stinging, way. I hope and pray that I remember II Timothy 3:3 in all future dealings with my family.



Strife in Your Family?

It is often difficult for

Christians to admit that there is

strife in their family. Doesn’t God

give peace to those who obey him?

But being honest and recognizing

that even Christians can have strife is

the first step on the road to recovery.

Future steps include prayer for God to

change yourself, prayer for others, communicating

with the others and making a

plan to overcome.