Words that Matter – Love
October 18, 2022
Love Is an Action
7 Dear friends, let’s love each other, because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born from God and knows God. 8 The person who doesn’t love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how the love of God is revealed to us: God has sent his only Son into the world so that we can live through him. 10 This is love: it is not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as the sacrifice that deals with our sins. 11 Dear friends, if God loved us this way, we also ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. If we love each other, God remains in us and his love is made perfect in us. 1 Jn 4:7–12
Love is an action. Over and over again in the Old and New Testament, the word love is connected to action. So while love is an emotion, it is not based only on feeling when it comes to being a follower of Jesus.
What is Christian Love?
Love is a feeling of deep affection. Love is the central theme and scripture and Christian theology and ethics. Love defines our relationship with God and dictates how we should treat others. God’s love is not based on feeling, but it’s based on action.
Love is mentioned between 780 and 890 different verses in the Bible. It depends on what translation you’re looking at how many times the word love is used.
Love is the subject of a great deal of both the Old Testament and the New Testament. It’s in the gospels, it’s in the letters. We cannot ignore the presence of love in scripture.
Types of Love
You’ve likely heard people talk about agape and philio and eros. These are three different types of love. Eros is not used in the in the New Testament. Agape is primarily used in the New Testament. Both sets of terms, agape and philio are used for the total range of loving relationships between people, between people and God, and between God and Jesus Christ.
Love in the Old Testament
There are several terms used for the word love, but by far the most common is hesed, and I think we’ve talked about this perhaps on a previous episode. It’s often translated in our English translations as loving kindness or steadfast love, or loyal love. It refers to two people or groups of people who have previously formed a relationship.
It describes an attitude of loyalty between the two, but it also requires some sort of action. When loyal love is used in reference to people, it represents a type of fidelity or loyalty that leads to action. It’s often used as a promise between two people.
There’s a relational dynamic there, and it can also refer to acts of mercy or good deeds. The term holds similar meaning when used in reference to God. So God’s loyal love or hesed protects and sustains life. Look to the Psalms for some references for that.
Examples of Love in the Old Testament
- 1 Sam 20:8
- 2 Chr 32:32
- Neh 13:14
- Ps 94:17–18; 119:88, 149, 159
- Psa 143:12
- Exod 34:6
- Num 14:18
- Joel 2:13
- Jonah 4:2
- Pss 86:15; 103:8
Each of these examples are reminders that love is about a relationship – between people and between God and people.
Love in the New Testament
Philip and agape have several similarities. Both word groups are used in theological and non theological context, and both are used in reference to positive objects and negative objects. Here’s an example of a positive object: love your neighbor. A negative example could be love of money or worldly things.
The difference between the noun and the verb, which always refers to a positive love within a theological context.
Jesus on Love
Jesus interprets the law through his double commandment to love God and neighbor.
- When asked what commandment is the greatest, Jesus first quotes Deuteronomy 6:4–5: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you should love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your life, all of your mind, and all of your strength” (Mark 12:29–30; compare Matt 22:37; Luke 10:27).
- Jesus’ demand to prioritize love of God over love of a parent, spouse, or child (Luke 14:26; Matt 10:37) highlights the importance of commitment to God alone.
- Jesus next quotes Lev 19:18 as the second and equal commandment: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 22:39; Mark 12:31; compare Luke 10:27).
Factoid on Love
The Gosepl of John is mostly closely associated with the theme of love. The word group appears in the highest frequency in John’s writing. So here’s something you can do for trivia, just a random fact compared to Luke Acts, which has 37,965 words and use the words agape or philio 15 times. John has 28,132 words, and he uses the words agape, orio, 87 times. Love is an important theme in John’s gospel.
Explore Pauls writings and additional Gospel texts by listening to the episode in the player above.
God’s love is always giving. Just reflect on that little phrase for the rest of your day or whenever you’re listening to this. Your words matter, whether it’s a word of hope, faith, or love. But you already know from this message and from the scripture, the greatest of those is what love.
Other Episodes in this Series
Episode 248 – Words that Matter – Believe
Episode 249 – Words that Matter – Evangelism
Episode 250 – Words that Matter – Disciple