Greek noun meaning ‘love’ not much used in secular writings but common in the NT for the gracious self-giving love of God shown in Christ; and correspondingly of unselfish human love (1 Cor. 13: 4).

The word came later to denote the shared meal held by Christians in conjunction with the Eucharist. It was the occasion for the exercise of mutual confidence and it would seem that 1 Cor. 11: 17–24 is a description of the agape in embryo and into which abuses such as over-indulgence in drink were creeping. By the time of Jude 12 abuses have worsened, and in the 4th cent. regulations to control the love-feasts were necessary. By the 8th cent. the agape, as a fellowship meal, was defunct.