As a language loses its vitality and sharpness because of sin, so Bible translators face enormous obstacles in translating spiritual concepts which have little or no meaning in a desensitised world bereft of deep meaning.
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not ahavah (love, charity, agapé), I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal" (1 Cor.13:1, NKJV).
The Hebrew word ahavah and the Greek word agapé are usually translated as "love" in most English Bibles. In several places in the King James Version (KJV), though, it is rendered "charity", including the passage under study today. However, language evolves, and the original "charity" of the 17th century KJV did not mean giving to the poor as it does today.
Ahavah and agapé do not mean "charity" as we think of it today. But neither do these two words mean "love" in the sense we use it today. Talk about "love" and most people think you are speaking about romance, sex, brotherly affection or maybe a vague sort of 'happy feeling'.
The old 17th century English concept of "charity" - a genuine and unselfish concern for others because of their own intrinsic worth in the sight of Yahweh - is the true meaning of ahavah and agapé in its biblical usage. However, it doesn't mean today what it meant back then and you are likely to be misunderstood if you go preaching to the unsaved that charity is the highest virtue - they'll go and make a donation to the Red Cross and then go home. And we can't use "love" because it is so common and misused.
Since no English word seems to properly fit ahavah and agapé, what shall we do? We must, I believe, start doing what this ministry has been doing for some time - start using the original Hebrew terms! Then people will ask what these mean and we can explain it precisely - and perhaps in combination like "ahavah-love" or "agapé-love"! Then we can testify - accurately - that Yahweh Himself is "ahavah/agapé" (1 Jn.4:8) and everyone will know exactly what we mean!