and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

Colossians 1:8 (ESV)

What does 'love in the Spirit' means in Colossians 1:8?

  • 1
    I just wanted to point out that "the" is added.
    – user10231
    Oct 3, 2015 at 8:43
  • 1
    @WoundedEgo: Wallace, Greek Grammar, p. 247, "There is no need for the article to be used to make the object of a preposition definite... Thus, when a noun is the object of a preposition, it does not require the article to be definite: if it has the article, it must be definite; if it lacks the article, it may be definite." In this case, although the Greek lacks the definite article, the apostle Paul is evidently talking about "the Holy Spirit" and not "a holy spirit." Thus, the translators rightly supplied the definite article in English.
    – user862
    Oct 3, 2015 at 9:13
  • @H3br3wHamm3r81 Not "a holy spirit" (the word "holy" is not in the text) but "in spirit" (or "in breath") ala Paul's saying he was "present in spirit".
    – user10231
    Oct 3, 2015 at 9:41

3 Answers 3


To the Colossians, the apostle Paul and Timothy (cp. Col. 1:1) wrote that Epaphras (cp. Col. 1:7) "declared to us your love in the Spirit" (Col. 1:8). It is this same "love" that the apostle Paul refers to in Col. 1:4, when he writes,

after we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and [your] love that is for all the saints.

ἀκούσαντες τὴν πίστιν ὑμῶν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ καὶ τὴν ἀγάπην τὴν εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους TR, 1550

The apostle Paul describes the love as "in the Spirit" (ἐν πνεύματι) because (Rom. 5:5):

...God's love is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us.

...ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ ἐκκέχυται ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ἡμῶν διὰ πνεύματος ἁγίου τοῦ δοθέντος ἡμῖν TR, 1550

Indeed, love is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:5), the vinculum of perfectness (Col. 3:14), and perhaps the greatest Christian virtue (1 Cor. 13:13).


It was the supernatural love by the Holy Spirit loving others as the Lord Jesus love. To love your enemies and pray for them. To forgive those who mistreat and malign you name. Not to keep a record of wrongs. Living out 1 Corinthians 13 enabled by God’s Holy Spirit. It’s not the way the world would love, it’s the love fueled by the power of Lord of Heaven and earth.

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  • Hi Portia, welcome to the site. This looks like a good start to an answer, could you add a little more detail? Please be sure to take the site tour, and thanks for contributing! Feb 23 at 20:11

Since the Spirit is spelled with a capital S, he's referring to the Holy Spirit, so I'd say it means to love others as the Spirit (God) loves others, i.e. agape-style. Unconditionally.

  • The original text does not distinguish upper and lower case.
    – user2672
    Sep 28, 2018 at 20:14
  • The English use of a capital S here is something the translators chose to do as part of their work translating (and interpreting!) the original text. This post does not sufficiently explain how you get from this next to your conclusion. You might be right, but we don't learn anything about the hermeneutics you used to get there.
    – Caleb
    Sep 28, 2018 at 22:56

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