What does it mean that God is love?
The Bible teaches that God loves us, yet also teaches that God is love. First John 4:7-9 reveals, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him."
In the original Greek used to write the New Testament, there is more than one word for love. The Greek word agapos, often referred to as agape love, is the word used in 1 John 4. It is used when speaking of an unconditional love. This love of God is boundless.
God does not only give love; He is the source of love. As the Creator of all things (Genesis 1:1), He is the One who created love. It is because of His love that we are able to love. As 1 John 4:19 notes, "We love because he first loved us."
The fullest expression of God as love was through the Son, Jesus Christ. God created us, sustains us, and has revealed Himself to us through Jesus. John 1:14 declares, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."
Among the most famous of Bible passages on love is 1 Corinthians 13. In these verses we find a picture of God's love expressed in poetic terms that displays many of the aspects of God's love toward us. We are told, "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
Further, John 3:16 teaches, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." God has made clear that His love through the Son of God, Jesus, provides an opportunity for those who believe to spend eternity with Him. It is God's desire for us to enjoy His love both in this life and for all eternity.
The Bible is also clear we have done nothing to deserve God's perfect love. Romans 5:8 shares, "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Even when Jesus knew we would fail and even before we were born, He gave His life as the ultimate expression of His love.
God is love. He created love, created us to love Him, and has extended His love to each of us. Our challenge is to accept His great love (Ephesians 2:8-9) that we may experience His love in our lives today (John 10:10) and for eternity (John 3:16).
How does God demonstrate His love for us? Why does God love us?
This profound question finds its answer in the very nature of God Himself. First John 4:8 teaches that, "God is love." Not only does God love; love is part of His essential nature. Love is who God is, therefore He cannot but love.
Do we deserve His love? Romans 5:8 clearly teaches, "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." We had not even been born yet, and God was already at work to provide a way for us to spend eternity with Him (John 3:16). Jesus even noted that He is preparing a place for those who love Him (John 14:3) where we will dwell in His presence forever.
There are limitless expressions of God's perfect, unconditional love for us. One of these is the fact that He created us. Colossians 1:16 says, "All things were created through him and for him." This includes every person who has ever lived. John 1:3 adds, "all things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made."
God also shows His love for humanity by sustaining our lives. Colossians 1:17 teaches, "And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together." First Peter 1:5 notes believers are those, "who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." Second Timothy 1:12 adds, "I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me."
God has revealed His love through sending His only Son Jesus Christ to provide salvation for those who believe. John 3:16 observes, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." His salvation provides inexpressible joy, "Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls" (1 Peter 1:8-9).
God reveals His love through salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 instructs, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Salvation is God's free gift to those who will receive it, an expression of love that includes eternal life.
God reveals His love through the calling and gifts He has given us. Ephesians 2:10 shares, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." First Corinthians 12:7 adds, "To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good."
God reveals His love by making believers part of God's family. As 1 John 3:1 declares, "See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are."
God reveals His love for believers particularly by preparing an eternal home with Him. John 14:2-3 promises, "In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also."
Many additional examples could be provided to show how God loves us, but the only adequate reason to explain why God loves us is found in His very nature. He is love, and His love for us as His created beings ultimately brings glory to His name.
Does God love me?
We know that God is love (1 John 4:8). We know that God loves the world (John 3:16). But does God love us as individuals? Does He love me, a sinner? Yes! Scripture is full of affirmations of God's love for individuals.
In the Old Testament, we are not shown merely a history of a people group. We meet individual characters, ones with whom God spoke and interacted. Moses, Joseph, Jonah, Job, David, Esther, Ruth, Jabez, Hagar, and more. God cared about these individuals, some of whom were not even Israelites.
In the New Testament, we see God's love take on skin. Salvation is the biggest demonstration of God's love for each of us (1 John 3:16). Jesus humbled Himself not only by taking on human flesh, but by allowing Himself to be brutally murdered for sins we committed (Philippians 2:5-8). He did this with joy (Hebrews 12:2). And He did it while we were still dead in our sins (Romans 5:6-11; Colossians 2:13). We did not impress God or cajole Him into saving us. Salvation is completely from His heart of love. Jesus became sin that we might become righteous; He granted us new life (2 Corinthians 5:17, 21). He saved us for a purpose. We are called God's masterpiece (Ephesians 2:8-10). Part of that purpose is to share the love of Christ with others.
One beautiful picture of that love is Jesus washing His disciples' feet. It was a task for a lowly servant to scrub the mud-caked feet of house guests. After doing it, Jesus said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34-35). Jesus was interested in showing love not only to His disciples, but to other people. He healed many; He provided food for the hungry; He spoke to the outcasts of the day, even a Samaritan woman (John 4). Jesus loved people on an individual basis. His ministry was not publicly broadcast, but carried out one-on-one. He chose a group of twelve disciples, an inner circle of three. He spoke to the individuals He healed. He did not exclude those who were not Israelites, but shared His love with whoever would receive.
Perhaps one of the most touching passages in the Bible is John 17, which records what is sometimes called the High Priestly Prayer. In it, Jesus prayed for His disciples. He also prayed for future believers – us. Before His crucifixion we were on Christ's mind. Not in a negative way or a blaming way. He thought about us and prayed "that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them" (John 17:21-26). Jesus wants us to be united with one another, to be united with Him, to be with Him, to know Him, and to experience His love. This is not a prayer aimed at the world or at a group of nameless faces. It is a prayer about individuals.
Reading God's Word is an excellent way to discover His love for us. Look at some of what He says below:
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16)
But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven ... (Matthew 10:30-32)
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:9-11)
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:15-17)
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-32, 37-39)
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it. (Revelation 2:17)
The love of Christ – What is it?
The phrase "love of Christ" used in the New Testament refers to His love for humanity. Jesus shows His love toward us in many ways, ultimately proving it through His death and resurrection from the dead.
First, the love of Christ is shown through Jesus coming from heaven to earth. John 1:14 teaches that, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."
Second, Jesus experienced temptation, yet did not sin: "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15).
Third, Jesus endured being betrayed by a close follower. Luke 22:3-4 shares, "Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them."
Fourth, the love of Christ was shown through the pain Jesus suffered in His beatings and death upon the cross. Romans 5:8 teaches, "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
The phrase "love of Christ" is used three times in the New Testament and reveals additional aspects of His love for us. First, Romans 8:35 asks, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" Verses 38-39 answer, "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Second Corinthians 5:14-15 share how the love of Christ changes our lives: "For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised." The love of Christ controls how we live in showing love to others.
Finally, knowing the love of Christ helps us to be filled with the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19 shares, "that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."
The love of Christ is seen in many ways, including the changes that take place in our own lives. His love in us allows us to show love to others, impacting people with the love of Christ everywhere we go.
What is the meaning of agape love?
Agape, and its verb form agapao, is one of the several Greek words for love. The Bible also mentions phileo, or brotherly love, and refers to eros, erotic love. The Greeks also spoke of storge, which is a love between family members.
Agape love is a little different. It is not a feeling; it's a motivation for action that we are free to choose or reject. Agape is a sacrificial love that voluntarily suffers inconvenience, discomfort, and even death for the benefit of another without expecting anything in return. We are called to agape love through Christ's example: "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" (Ephesians 5:1-2).
We are to agapao God (Matthew 22:37), our neighbor (Matthew 22:39), and even our enemies (Matthew 5:43-46). We are not to agapao money (Matthew 6:24), darkness (John 3:19), or men's approval (John 12:43).
The New Testament has over two-hundred references to agape love. Here are a few.
Matthew 24:12: With increased lawlessness in the end times, concern and caring for others will fade.
Luke 11:42: The legalism of the Pharisees, even their sacrifices, did not reflect a love of God.
John 13:35: The Christian life is characterized by sacrificial agape love.
John 15:9-10; Romans 13:10: When we agape love God, we show it by obeying His commandments because His commandments teach us how to love others.
John 15:13: The greatest demonstration of love anyone can give is to die for his friends.
John 17:26; Romans 5:5; Galatians 5:22: Agape love comes from God, not our own effort.
Romans 5:8; Revelation 1:5: It was agape love that caused Jesus to sacrifice Himself for us.
Romans 14:15; 1 Corinthians 8:1: It is not loving to lead another into sin.
Colossians 3:19: Men are called to show agape love to their wives.
James 1:12; 2:5: Love of God will result in rewards in heaven.
2 Peter 2:15; 1 John 2:15: It is possible to sacrificially love something that is not godly.
Although 1 Corinthians 13 is known as the chapter on love, there is no book that speaks more about agape than 1 John. Two important themes come out of 1 John. The first is that it is inconsistent and false to claim we agape love God while not agape loving other believers. We cannot love God without loving brothers and sisters who also love Him. The second is that it is inconsistent and false to claim we agape love God if we don't obey Him. It is impossible to love God while ignoring what He says. The two are inextricably connected, as Galatians 5:14 says: "For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'"