God Is Love
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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. …
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. …
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).—CompellingTruth.org1
What does it mean that “God is love” in 1 John 4:8?
Love is a word that has taken on many meanings throughout the ages. Innumerable writers, movie directors, and artists alike have tried their best to convey the idea of love. Though almost no one has the same definition, there is an underlying thought. Love is a feeling and an action. Love is what one person feels and does for someone else. Even in the Christian faith, love entails many qualities. 1 Corinthians 13 is an entire passage devoted to the idea of love. The chapter ends on the notion that love is both greater than hope and surprisingly greater than faith. …
When love is evoked in Scripture, the term is used to describe the way we talk, act, and our mindset toward others. In the Bible, though, love is by no means limited to human relationships. In fact, the Bible informs us that the reason why we love other people, the reason we can understand love, is because God first loved us. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). …
Since the Garden of Eden, God has acted on behalf of humanity, showing His love and support for His followers. There have been consequences, such as the banishment from Eden (Genesis 3), but God has maintained a relationship with people since the Fall. Why?
The answer is evident in God’s love and all the stories that follow in the Bible where God acts on behalf of humanity. These events culminate in the eventual Second Coming of Christ. As God has remained a constant in the lives of humanity, so too are we supposed to show love to one another on an ongoing basis. John states that we cannot love God and hate someone else (1 John 4:20).
If God has chosen to love us despite our fallen nature since the beginning of time, why would we choose not to love someone despite an offense in the present time? This is easier said than done, but John makes clear “God is love.” And he drives this point further by stating that we remain in love when we draw close to God, and as we draw close to God, the love of God abides in us (1 John 4:16). The way God treats us in love, we should strive to treat other people.—Aaron Brown2
How do we define God’s love?
The Bible tells us that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). But how can we even begin to understand that truth? There are many passages in the Bible that give us God’s definition of love. The most well-known verse is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” So one way God defines love is in the act of giving. However, what God gave (or should we say “who” God gave) was not a mere gift-wrapped present; God sacrificed His only Son so that we, who put our faith in His Son, will not spend eternity separated from Him. This is an amazing love, because we are the ones who choose to reject God, yet it’s God who mends the separation through His intense personal sacrifice, and all we have to do is accept His gift.
Another great verse about God’s love is found in Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” In this verse and in John 3:16, we find no conditions placed on God’s love for us. God doesn’t say, “as soon as you clean up your act, I’ll love you,” nor does He say, “I’ll sacrifice My Son if you promise to love Me.” In fact, in Romans 5:8, we find just the opposite. God wants us to know that His love is unconditional, so He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us while we were still unlovable sinners. We didn’t have to get clean, and we didn’t have to make any promises to God before we could experience His love. His love for us has always existed, and because of that, He did all the giving and sacrificing long before we were even aware that we needed His love. …
His love is very different from human love. God’s love is unconditional, and it’s not based on feelings or emotions. He doesn’t love us because we’re lovable or because we make Him feel good; He loves us because He is love. He created us to have a loving relationship with Him, and He sacrificed His own Son (who also willingly died for us) to restore that relationship.
When the Scriptures say, “God is love,” they aren’t telling us that God is some nebulous, warm, fuzzy feeling of love. The writers who penned the scriptures weren’t saying that in our limited form of human love we will find God. Not at all—in fact, when we read that God is love in the Bible, this means that God defines love. … God is the very definition of love itself. …
To understand what true love is and to be able to truly love others, we must know God, and we can do this through a close personal relationship with Him.—AllAboutGod.com3
God’s love manifest through salvation
God’s love for all humankind is most clearly seen in His answer to humanity’s need for salvation. Every human is a sinner and in need of redemption in order to be reconciled to God. God, because of His love for each human being, brought forth the plan of salvation by which God the Son came to earth, lived a sinless life, and died, taking our sins upon Himself, thus making atonement for us.
This means that humans can now be reconciled to God, no matter who they are or what sins they’ve committed. Jesus sacrificed His life for everyone, so salvation is available to all who accept it. He did this because of His love for all people, for the whole world.
God loves and cares for all of humanity. Through Jesus’ death on the cross, we can see that God’s love is self-giving love. It is God’s nature to give of Himself in order to bring about blessing or good for others.
God’s love can be seen in His patience with humanity, in His being slow to anger, in His longing for people to receive His gift of salvation and giving them time to do so. God postpones deserved judgment because of His deep love for those He created in His image.
He doesn’t wish for anyone to perish, and His patience gives people time to receive His redemptive love through Jesus Christ. He doesn’t force them to accept His gift, because He has given them free will, but in His love, He patiently waits, longing for all to accept it.
As His children, our job is to share the good news of His love with as many as we can, to invite them to become His children and the heirs of His blessings along with us.—Peter Amsterdam
Published on Anchor March 2023. Read by Gabriel Garcia Valdivieso. Music by John Listen.