ChristianAnswers.Net WebBible Encyclopedia

love

Contrary to what many believe, love, as described by God’s Word, is a primarily an ACTION (behavior based on personal decision), not a mere feeling or emotion, and certainly NOT a synonym for lust, infatuation or obsession. Love is goodness that one chooses to do on behalf of another, and it ultimately relies on faith and hope in God. True love is humble, righteous, forgiving, patient, generous, kind and willing to endure personal loss and suffering. It is even willing to remain anonymous, and often does among true followers of Christ.

Love is the opposite of self-absorption and selfishness, which are chiefly devoted to one’s own personal pleasure, benefits, welfare and profit. Extreme selfishness is one of the traits of Satan, the devil—the enemy of God and mankind.

Love is commanded of us by our Creator. Jesus Christ said,

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” —John 13:34-35 NASB

Followers of Christ are also to love our neighbors as ourselves (Luke 10:27; Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8).

For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”Galatians 5:14 NASB

In 1 Corinthians 13, the apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, beautifully describes the importance and excellency of true love.

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. —1 Corinthians 13 NASB

Self-sacrifice unto death

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. —John 15:13 NASB

Greek words for “love”

  • ἀγάπη —AGÁPĒ: Godly love, God’s love, love for God

    This is the kind of “love” that is described in 1 Corinthians 13 (above). “Agape (love) is one of the rarest words in ancient Greek literature, but one of the most common in the New Testament.” 1

  • ἔρως —ÉRŌS: sexual passion (primarily)
  • φιλία —PHILÍA: friendship, affectionate regard, brotherly love
  • στοργή —STORGĒ: empathy and affection, particularly for one’s parents or children

Love for God

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind…” —Luke 10:27 NKJV

As fallen human beings in a fallen world, this is difficult (perhaps impossible), for even the most godly to fully achieve on Earth. It should, nonetheless, be our ardent goal, as God commands. It can only be achieved through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and full surrender of ourselves to Jesus Christ—becoming willing slaves/servants of our Savior (Romans 1:1). We should look forward with delight to eternal life with God, with our sanctified and glorified minds and bodies, when we will much more fully appreciate and love God and enjoy Him forever.

More about human love

The word “love” in relation to Peter and Jesus in John 21:16-17

This word seems to require explanation only in the case of its use by our Lord in his interview with “Simon, the son of Jonas,” after his resurrection (John 21:16-17). When our Lord says, “Lovest thou me?” he uses the Greek word agapas; and when Simon answers, he uses the Greek word philo, i.e., “I love.” This is the usage in the first and second questions put by our Lord; but in the third our Lord uses Simon's word. The distinction between these two Greek words is thus fitly described by Trench:

Agapan [agápē] has more of judgment and deliberate choice; philein [philía] has more of attachment and peculiar personal affection. Thus the ‘Lovest thou’ (Greek: agapas) on the lips of the Lord seems to Peter at this moment too cold a word, as though his Lord were keeping him at a distance, or at least not inviting him to draw near, as in the passionate yearning of his heart he desired now to do. Therefore he puts by the word and substitutes his own stronger ‘I love’ (Greek: philo) in its room.

A second time he does the same. And now he has conquered; for when the Lord demands a third time whether he loves him, he does it in the word which alone will satisfy Peter (‘Lovest thou,’ Greek: phileis), which alone claims from him that personal attachment and affection with which indeed he knows that his heart is full.”

God’s love

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.1 John 4:8 NKJV

  • Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer
  • Jesus Christ humbled Himself greatly—discover how and why
  • What is the true meaning of the celebration of Christmas? What was Christ’s birth all about? Answer
  • HELL—How can a God of love send anybody to Hell? Answer
  • Why was the ancient God so “cruel”? Answer
  • If God knows I am hurting, why doesn’t He help me? Answer
  • God’s grace
  • God’s mercy
  • Videos about God’s love…
  • “The Nature of God’s Love”
    Dr. John MacArthur
    length: 3 minutes
  • Is it biblically accurate to say, “God hates the SIN, but loves the SINNER”? What are the ramifications of that belief? According to God’s Word, His love is NOT “unconditional,” despite what many claim.
    Excerpted comments by Dr. R.C. Sproul and Dr. John MacArthur
    length: 6 minutes
  • “An Everlasting Love: The Love of God”
    Dr. John R. MacArthur, president of The Master’s University and The Master’s Seminary
    length: 1 hr. 8 min.
  1. Dr. John R. MacArthur, “Is Biblical Love a Feeling or an Action?”, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary on 1 Corinthians 13 • MacArthur is President of The Master’s University and The Master’s Seminary)
Article Version: 8.1.2017