What is love? There are two types of love mentioned in the New Testament: agapao, the principle type of love; and phileo, the secondary type of love with multiple sub-types. These sub-types of phileo cover topics from avarice and covetousness, (love for money and objects), to familial love and philanthropy (for and toward humanity). Phileo refers to various levels of affection or desire for persons or objects that generate such feelings. In this study the focus is on God’s love (agapao) which He has for all mankind and which He also commands that His people possess to apply that love back to Him, and to others as well.
God’s love is unconditional which means it is not earned or not a response to man’s feelings projected to Him, or about Him. This is recorded in scripture:
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. (Note: God’s love is not earned, it is received by faith.)
Romans 5:8-10 – But God commandeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Note: we acted like enemies in opposition to Him by our sin.)
1 John 4:10 – Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1 John 4:19 – We love him, because he first loved us. (Note: we love God in response to His loving provision for us.)
Our Lord commands His people to live this kind of love; love for Him as well as love for others.
Matthew 19:19 – Honor thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
John 15:12, – This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
1 John 4:11-12 – Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
God’s love is also translated as “charity” because His love is so benevolent. His benevolent love can simply be understood as “giving”.
John 15:13 – Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
This love is shown by desiring the best for another even at your own expense. Jesus gives an illustration of such acts of love in the story of the “the Good Samaritan who gave assistance to the wounded stranger. (Read Luke 10:30-37 - Note in verse 33 the Samaritan “had compassion on him”; compassion is love in action.)
Please recognize that love is “giving”, or charity; and the opposite of love is SELFISHNESS. Selfishness is an attribute of the flesh; also known as the “I want, I will, and I am,” as listed in 1 John 2:15-16. These three human lusts of selfishness are what makes mankind vulnerable to temptation which then opens the door to sin.
James 1:14 – But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lusts, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin:
Living in the God kind of love actually lifts us above the human vulnerability of lust which reduces the propensity to sin.
What does the God kind of love do, and what does it not do?
1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 – (from the Amplified Version) Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy; is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughty. It is not conceited – arrogant and inflated with pride; it is not rude (unmannerly), and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or it own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it – pays no attention to a suffered wrong. It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances and it endures everything (without weakening).
Romans 12:9-10 – Let love be without dissimulation (sincere). Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another;
Romans 13: 8-10 – Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Scripture also tells us what not to love or what to not have affectionate desires for:
1 John 2:15-16 – Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
Selfishness is love of self, the “pride of life” or the “I am” of 1 John 2:16, this is exemplified in Jesus’ teaching as wrong:
Matthew 6:5 – And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
Mark 12:38 – An he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes , which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:
Jesus also warned that in the last days acts of selfishness would become more prevalent which leads to increased sin and lawlessness.
Matthew 24:12 – And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall grow cold.
God’s people are to continue representing Him and His kingdom in these last days in spite of what is going on in the world and in spite of the ungodly laws passed by those who rule and govern. This is all preparation for the rise of the antichrist global government as predicted. Timothy foretold how even Christians would behave in the last days.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 – This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall lovers of the own selves (selfish), covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection (homosexual), trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent (immoral), fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (Note: where do you find a form of godliness – in the church, not in the world!)
God’s people walking in the God kind of love will be easily identified from those of the world. This feature may also lead to persecution from the godless world governments and religions due to their opposition to the godliness and morality of those who love God and His Word. But at the same time those of the world will be drawn to the truth and the light of the gospel of God’s love that is in us. That light will shine brighter in times of darkness that is coming.
1 John 4:4, 7-8 – Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
True Christians are ambassadors or representatives of Christ and the kingdom of God. God is love:
1 John 4:16-18 – And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him because he first loved us.
And God’s love is imparted to His people by the Holy Spirit:
Romans 5:5 – And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
Please understand that the foundation of the kingdom of God is love. (His kingdom is where He has dominion; it is His domain). This is because love is the basic character and nature of God. The product of love is righteousness, and in the presence of pure righteousness is peace. Peace is the state of calm and rest from all fear and anxiety which produces absolute joy.
Romans 14:17 – For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
This is what true Christians have to look forward to, so it behooves us to obey Christ’s command to LOVE.
John 15:10-11 – If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
Please read all of 1 John Chapters 3 and 4 to gain more understanding of the significance of LOVE. There are also many more scriptures in the New Testament that instruct us to love and show the benefits thereof.
Living according to God’s command to love Him and others can be a challenge. Loving God is easy because of who He is, and what He has done for us; beside the fact that we love Him because He first loved us, (1 John 4:19). This is simply us responding to His love. However, loving others can be difficult; because they have not loved us first, and often they have offended us; or we cannot trust them for various reasons. This becomes the challenge of loving others, and this is where the command of God to love others is given opportunity to really be proven.
To show love to those who have offended us or who we don’t trust means that we must forgive them for what they have done. Is this not what God has done for us because of His great love? This is how true Christians demonstrate that they are the children of God. Forgiveness is an act of love. It costs you the sense of right and pride in that you were wronged, but you give to them that forgiveness which they did not seek or deserve.
Matthew 6:12 – And forgive us our debts (sins), as we forgive our debtors (those who sinned against us).
Now you can see the significance of love!
1 Corinthians 13:13 – And now abideth faith, hope, charity (love), these three, but the greatest of these is charity (love).