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Why is the Greek word ἀγάπη often translated as "charity" in the New Testament? Has the meaning of "charity" changed over time?

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From the American Heritage Dictionary:

charity ...

often Charity Christianity The theological virtue defined as love directed first toward God but also toward oneself and one's neighbors as objects of God's love.


[Middle English charite, from Old French, Christian love, from Latin cāritās, affection, from cārus, dear; see kā- in Indo-European roots.]

So in a word, yes. My take is that the common idea of our modern "charity" and that of the early modern English of the KJV is showing love to someone "just because." Not that they can or have done anything for you, not that you have a particular admiration for them above the next guy, but, hey, they are created in God's image and that's good enough.

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