Love

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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

1. Linguistic usage. -Two verbs are used by the NT to designate religious love-ἀγαπᾶν and φιλεῖν. In the Septuaginta third term, ἐρᾶν, occurs, but only once sensu bono , viz.  Proverbs 4:6 (love of wisdom), once in a neutral sense, viz.  Esther 2:17 (the king loved Esther), everywhere else as a figure of idolatry or political theocratic unfaithfulness ( Jeremiah 22:20;  Jeremiah 22:22,  Lamentations 1:19,  Ezekiel 16:33;  Ezekiel 16:36-37;  Ezekiel 23:5;  Ezekiel 23:9;  Ezekiel 23:22,  Hosea 2:7;  Hosea 2:10;  Hosea 2:12-13). That the NT does not employ ἐρᾶν at all is probably due to the sensual associations of the word. In regard to the difference between ἀγαπᾶν and φιλεῖν the following should be noticed. The etymology of ἀγαπᾶν is uncertain, but it seems to be allied to roots expressing ‘admiration,’ ‘taking pride in,’ ‘taking pleasure in.’ This points to the conclusion that ἀγαπᾶν is the love of selection and complacency based on the perception of something in the object loved that attracts and pleases. This element of selective attachment shows itself in the fact that ἀγαπᾶν can mean ‘to be contented with,’ ‘to acquiesce in,’ ‘to put up with,’ and also in this, that ἀγαπᾶν is not used of the love of mere compassion. On the other hand, φιλεῖν seems to have as its fundamental root-meaning the intimacy of bodily touch, ‘fondling,’ ‘caressing,’ whence it can signify ‘to kiss’; it therefore denotes the love of close association in the habitual relations of life-love, between kindred, between husband and wife, between friends ( Matthew 6:5;  Matthew 10:37;  Matthew 23:6,  Luke 20:46,  John 11:3;  John 11:36;  John 12:25;  John 15:19,  1 Timothy 6:10 [φιλαργυρία],  2 Timothy 3:4 [φιληδόνος],  Titus 2:4 [φίλανδρος],  James 4:4 [φιλία τοῦ κόσμοὑ]). In Latin diligere corresponds to ἀγαπᾶν, amare to φιλεῖν, except that amare covers a wider range, corresponding also to the Greek ἐρᾶν. From this distinctive and fundamental meaning the fact may be explained that in biblical Greek ἀγαπᾶν is used exclusively where man’s love for God comes under consideration: it here implies the recognition of the adorable and lovable character of the Deity. φιλεῖν is never used of man’s love for God as such, because the mental attitude of intimacy which the word implies would be out of place in the creature with reference to the Deity (it is different where the love of the disciples for Jesus is spoken of [ John 16:27;  John 21:15-17,  1 Corinthians 16:22]), Scripture prefers the word which unambiguously puts human love in the religious sphere on a moral and spiritual basis, even if, in order to do so, it has to leave somewhat of the intensity of the religious affection unexpressed. As designations of the love extending from God to man both ἀγαπᾶν and φιλεῖν may be used, the former in so far as God’s love is not blind impulse or irrational sentiment, but a love of free self-determination, the latter because it is proper to God by a gracious condescension to enter into that close habitual friendship with man which the word connotes. As a matter of fact, however, φιλεῖν is but rarely used to describe the love of God towards man.

In extra-biblical Greek love as extending from the gods to man seems to be an unknown conception, for according to Aristotle and Dio Chrysostom both ἀγαπᾶν and φιλεῖν have place not in those who rule with reference to those they rule over, but only in the opposite direction: ἄτοπον φιλεῖν τὸν Δία (where Δία is the subject).

It is in keeping with the distinction above drawn that the specific term for brotherly love (see articleBrotherly Love) is φιλαδελφία, for the idea is derived from the family-relation, although, of course, ἀγαπᾶν here occurs with equal frequency. On the other hand, of the love for enemies enjoined in the NT φιλεῖν never occurs, being excluded by the nature of the case, whereas ἀγαπᾶν, involving a deliberate movement of the will, may apply to such a relation.

While it appears from what has been said that ἀγαπᾶν had by reason of its inherent signification and classical use an antecedent fitness to express the biblical idea of religious love, this should not be construed to mean that the word carried already in extra-biblical Greek all the content of the Scriptural conception. In the profane usage the moral, spiritual element was yet lacking, although the elements of choice and rational attachment were given. Like so many other words which possessed an antecedent affinity for the biblical world of thought from a formal point of view, it needed the baptism of regeneration in order to become fit for incorporation into the vocabulary of Scripture.

The noun ἀγάπη seems to have been coined by the Septuagintto translate the OT conception of religious love. It is not found in classical Greek, nor even with Philo and Josephus. Perhaps the fact that the profane literature does not have the noun is significant. It can be explained on the principle that only through transference into the moral, spiritual sphere could the habitual character of the act of loving, which is inherent in the noun, originate. The noun in the Vulgate is caritas , from carum habere , which admirably expresses the specific character of the biblical conception. Caritas in turn gave rise to the ‘charity’ of the English Bible (Authorized Version), in most passages used of love towards fellow-Christians (cf., however,  1 Corinthians 8:3,  1 Thessalonians 3:6,  2 Timothy 2:22;  2 Timothy 3:10, where there is no reason so to restrict it). The Revised Versionsubstitutes ‘love,’ in all passages where the Authorized Versionhas ‘charity’ (26 times in all), for the reason that ‘charity’ has in modern usage become restricted to the love of beneficence or forbearance.

The following discussion confines itself to the love existing between God and man. For love as between man and man see articleBrotherly Love.

2. Love in the apostolic teaching .-Love is in the apostolic teaching a central and outstanding trait in the disposition of God towards man. In this respect the view taken by Jesus is fully adhered to. If in the witness of the early Church, as recorded in Acts, no direct affirmation of this principle is made, that can easily be explained from the apologetic purpose of this witness. In the fellowship of the first Christians among themselves the indirect operation of the new force introduced by Jesus into the hearts of His followers manifests itself clearly enough ( Acts 2:41-47;  Acts 4:32 ff.)

i. St. Paul.-With St. Paul love is explicitly placed in the foreground as the fundamental disposition in God from which salvation springs and as that which in the possession of God constitutes for the believer the supreme treasure of religion. God is the God of love ( 2 Corinthians 13:11). In  Galatians 5:22 love is named first among the fruits of the Spirit. It is associated with the Fatherhood of God ( Ephesians 6:23). In the apostolic salutations it stands co-ordinated with the grace of Christ ( 2 Corinthians 13:14,  Ephesians 6:23,  2 Thessalonians 3:5). It is the greatest of the three fundamental graces of the Christian life, and the sole abiding one of those three ( 1 Corinthians 13:8-13). This primacy love can claim even in comparison with faith. For, on the one hand, faith as well as hope is a grace made necessary by the provisional conditions of the present sinful world, and in both its aspects-that of mediate spiritual perception and that of trust-will be superseded by sight in the world to come ( 2 Corinthians 5:7); on the other hand, faith as compared with love is instrumental, not an end in itself; it brings the Christian into that fundamental relation to God, wherein his religions faculties, foremost among which is love, can function normally ( Galatians 5:6). The prominence of faith in the Pauline teaching is not therefore indicative of its absolute and final preponderance in the Christian consciousness. It would, however, scarcely be in accordance with St. Paul’s view to press the primacy of love to the extent of denying all independent significance to other religious states. There is an aspect in which faith in itself, and apart from its working through love, glorifies God ( Romans 4:20), and whatever thus directly contributes to the Divine glory has inherent religious value. The same must be affirmed of the knowledge of God. The emphasis thrown throughout the NT on the value of truth cannot be wholly explained from its soteriological utility. It expresses the conviction that knowing and adoring God are in themselves a religious act, apart from all fructifying influence on the believer’s life. When St. Paul includes ‘knowledge’ ( 1 Corinthians 13:8) in the things that shall be done away, this applies only to the specific mode of knowledge in this life, the ‘seeing in a mirror darkly,’ the knowledge of a child, which will make place in the world to come for a full knowledge ‘face to face,’ analogous to the Divine knowledge of the believer ( 1 Corinthians 13:12). ‘Knowledge,’ while of value, is not equal in value to love ( 1 Corinthians 8:3).

( a ) The love of God .-It has been alleged that in two respects the Apostle’s teaching on the love of God marks a retrogression as compared with the gospel of Jesus: on the one hand, St. Paul restricts the love of God to the circle of believers, thus making sonship co-extensive with adoption=justifications; on the other hand, he emphasizes, side by side with love, the working of sovereignty and justice as equally influential attributes in God, whence also the effectual communication of the Divine love to the sinner cannot, according to the Apostle, take place except as a result of the sovereign choice of God and after satisfaction to His justice. This charge, however, rests on a misunderstanding of the teaching of Jesus. Jesus, by way of correction to the prevailing commercial conception of God’s attitude towards man in Judaism, brings forward the love of God. Nevertheless the specific Fatherly love and the corresponding state of sonship are in His gospel, no less than with St. Paul, redemptive conceptions, pertaining not to man as such, but to the disciples, the heirs of the kingdom. This may be seen most clearly from the fact that in its highest aspect sonship is an eschatological attainment ( Matthew 5:9,  Luke 20:36; cf.  Romans 8:23). It is true that a developed soteriology like St. Paul’s, delimiting the mutual claims or the love and justice of God, is not found in our Lord’s teaching. But this could not be expected before the supreme saving transaction-the Death of Christ-had actually taken place. The great principles on which the Atonement rests are enunciated with sufficient clearness ( Mark 10:45). In comparisons between Jesus and St. Paul it is frequently overlooked that what corresponds to the Apostle’s soteriology is the eschatological element in Jesus’ teaching. As a matter of fact, St. Paul’s doctrine of salvation was developed in the closest dependence on his eschatology. If the comparison be instituted with this in mind, it will be seen that in our Lord’s eschatological utterances the sovereignty and justice of God occupy no less central a place than in the Pauline doctrine of salvation, and that the love of God in its eschatological setting is to Jesus as much a redemptive factor as it is in the Pauline gospel.

The phrase ‘the love of God’ occurs in the Pauline Epistles in  Romans 5:5;  Romans 8:39,  2 Corinthians 13:14,  2 Thessalonians 3:5,  Titus 3:4 (φιλανθρωπία); ‘the love of Christ’ occurs in  Romans 8:35 (variant reading ‘love of God’),  2 Corinthians 5:14,  Ephesians 3:19; ‘the love of God in Christ’ in  Romans 8:39. In all these cases the genitive is a subjective genitive. In ‘the love of the Spirit’ ( Romans 15:30) the genitive seems to be that of origin (cf.  Colossians 1:8). Some exegetes propose for  Romans 5:5 and  2 Thessalonians 3:5 ‘love towards God.’ In the former passage the context is decisive against this (cf.  2 Thessalonians 3:8, and the fact that the consciousness of ‘the love of God’ furnishes the basis for the certainty of the Christian hope). In  2 Thessalonians 3:5 the sense is determined by the parallel phrase, ὑπομονὴ τοῦ Χριστοῦ; if this could mean the ‘patient waiting for Christ’ (Authorized Version), then ἀγαπὴ τοῦ θεοῦ would be love for God.’ Such a rendering, however, seems to be linguistically improbable, and the ordinary interpretation of ὑπομονή as ‘patience,’ ‘steadfastness,’ requires Χριστοῦ as a subjective genitive. The meaning is not that the love of God and the patience of Christ are held up as models to the readers, but the Apostle prays that their hearts may be directed to a full reliance on the love of God and the steadfastness of Christ as the two mainsprings of their salvation. In  2 Corinthians 5:14 ἡ γὰρ ἀγαπὴ τοῦ Χριστοῦ συνέχει ἡμᾶς is not to be explained on analogy with the preceding ‘fear of the Lord’ ( 2 Corinthians 5:11), nor in contrast to the knowledge of ‘Christ after the flesh’ ( 2 Corinthians 5:18), in the sense of St. Paul’s love for Christ; but, in close agreement with the following ‘One died for all,’ it is meant of the love Christ showed by His Death.

To St. Paul the love of God is throughout a specifically redemptive love. Its manifestation is seldom sought in Nature and providence ( Romans 8:28, ‘all things’), but regularly in the work of salvation. Since this work culminates in the Death of Christ, the Cross is the crowning manifestation of the Divine love ( Romans 5:8). What thus finds supreme expression at its height underlies the entire process as its primordial source. The love of God is to St. Paul the fountain of redemption. It lies behind its objective part, what is theologically called ‘the Atonement,’ for St. Paul traces this in both its aspects of reconciliation and redemption to the one source. As regards reconciliation, the initiative of love is inherent in the conception itself, since God makes those who were objectively His enemies His friends, creating by the Death of Christ the possibility for His love to manifest itself ( Romans 5:8;  Romans 5:10-11,  2 Corinthians 5:14;  2 Corinthians 5:18-21). The idea of redemption has the same implications, for it emphasizes the self-sacrifice of love to which God was put in saving man ( Acts 20:28,  1 Corinthians 6:20;  1 Corinthians 7:23). This love is unmerited love, hence its more specific name of χάρις; ‘grace.’ It is love,’ not mere ‘mercy’ or ‘pity,’ which determines God’s attitude towards the sinner. The mercy is enriched by the love ( Ephesians 2:4). The usual associations of ἀγαπᾶν apply to the love of God for sinners only in so far as it is a deliberate movement of the Divine will and purpose, not because there is something admirable or attractive in the spiritual and ethical condition of man which would explain its origin. For the very reason that it springs spontaneously from God without objective motivation, this Divine love is a mystery ‘passing knowledge’ ( Ephesians 3:19). Salvation on its subjective side is derived by St. Paul even more clearly from the love of God. The gift of the Spirit is a pledge of it to the believer; hence with the pouring forth of the Spirit into the heart, the love of God is poured out therein ( Romans 5:5). On the consciousness of this love rests the certainty of hope in the completion of salvation ( Romans 5:4-5). St. Paul calls the love underlying the application of redemption πρόγυωσις, ‘foreknowledge’ ( Romans 8:29); the simple γιγνώσκειν in this specific sense occurs in  1 Corinthians 8:3,  Galatians 4:9,  2 Timothy 2:19. This term denotes not an intellectual prescience; but, in dependence on the pregnant sense of the Hebrew ידע ( Exodus 2:25,  Hosea 13:5,  Amos 3:2), it means that God sovereignly sets His affection upon a person. The absoluteness and unconditioned character of this prognosis are such that it can furnish proof for the proposition that all things work together for the good of believers. Hence it fixes as the destiny of believers (‘predestination’) eschatological likeness unto the image of the glorified Christ, and with infallible certainty moves forward through the two intermediate stages of vocation and justification to the goal of this glory ( Romans 8:28-30). The conception of ἐκλογή, ἐκλέγεσθαι (middle voice, ‘to choose for one’s self’) has likewise for its correlate the sovereign love of God ( Ephesians 1:4). The association of the redemptive love of God with His prerogative of sovereign choice renders the word ἀγαπᾶν especially suitable for describing the relation involved. It is in the interest of emphasizing both the sovereign Divine initiative and the energy and richness of effectuation of redemptive love that St. Paul affirms its eternity (connoted also by the προ in προγιγώσκειν [ Ephesians 1:4]).

The love of God does not exclude for St. Paul the co-ordination of other attributes in God as jointly determinative of the Divine redemptive procedure. In the Cross of Christ is the great manifestation of love, but it is not the love of God alone that the Cross proclaim. It also demonstrates the δικαιοσύνη = the justice of God ( Romans 3:25 ff.). The attempt of Ritschl ( Rechtfertigung und Versöhnung 2, ii. [1882-83], pp. 118, 218ff.) and others to give to δικαιοσύνη in this context the sense of gracious righteousness, making it synonymous with the love of God, breaks down in view of the ‘forbearance’ of  Romans 3:25. If it was ‘forbearance’ which postponed under the Old Covenant the demonstration of God’s righteousness, then this righteousness is conceived as retributive.

( b ) The love of Christ .-The love of Christ St. Paul views chiefly as manifested in His Death ( 2 Corinthians 5:14 f.), or in His life as entered upon and lived with a view to and culminating in His Death ( Philippians 2:5 ff). The Incarnation is an act of self-kenosis, not in the metaphysical, but in the metaphorical sense (Authorized Version‘made himself of no reputation’); hence is described in  2 Corinthians 8:9 as a ‘becoming poor.’ It ought to be noticed that the love of Christ, as well as that of the believer, is in the first place a love for God, and after that a love for man. Christ lives unto God, even in the state of glory ( Romans 6:10), and gave Himself in the Atonement: a sacrifice unto God ( Ephesians 5:2).

( c ) Love towards God .-The references to the believer’s love for God are not numerous in the Pauline Epistles. Explicit mention of it is mode in  Romans 8:28,  1 Corinthians 2:9;  1 Corinthians 8:3. From his anti-pietistic standpoint Ritschl would interpret this scarcity of reference in St. Paul and the NT generally (outside of St. Paul only  James 1:12;  James 2:5) as due to the feeling that love to God is something hardly within the religious reach of man. He observes that in  1 Corinthians 2:9 the phrase ‘them that love God’ is a quotation, and surmises that the same quotation underlies all the other passages except  1 Corinthians 8:3 ( op. cit. ii 100). But this is a mere surmise, and St. Paul has at least in one passage appropriated the thought for himself. Besides this the analogy of the love of Christ for God favours the ascription of love for God to the believer. The same ‘living for God’ which is predicated of Christ ( Romans 6:10) is elsewhere attributed to the Christian ( Galatians 2:19). As Christ sacrificed Himself to God ( Ephesians 5:2), so the believer’s life is a spiritual sacrifice ( Romans 1:9;  Romans 12:1). The Fatherhood of God and the sonship of the believer postulate the idea of a mutual love ( Romans 8:15). The idea is also implied in the fact that St. Paul places at the beginning of the Christian life a crucifixion and destruction of the love for self and the world ( Romans 6:6,  Galatians 2:19;  Galatians 6:14), since under the Apostle’s positive conception of the Christian life something else must take the place of the previous goals. The glorifying of God in all things has for its underlying motive the love of God ( Romans 14:8,  1 Corinthians 10:31,  Ephesians 1:12).

ii. Pastoral Epistles.-In the Pastoral Epistles the universality of the love of God is emphasized. In the earlier Epistles the Apostle’s universalism is not deduced from the love of God but from other principles, and is distinctly of an international type. The Pastoral Epistles make of the love of God a universalizing principle and extend it to all men, not merely to men of every nation ( 1 Timothy 2:4;  1 Timothy 2:8;  1 Timothy 4:10;  1 Timothy 6:13,  Titus 2:11;  Titus 3:4). In some of these passages the context clearly indicates that a reference of God’s love to all classes of men is intended (cf.  1 Timothy 2:4 with  1 Timothy 2:1-2;  Titus 2:11, with  Titus 2:2-10). But the emphasis and frequency with which the principle is brought forward render it probable that some specific motive underlies its assertion. So far as the inclusion of magistrates is concerned, there may be a protest against a form of Jewish particularism which deemed it unlawful to pray for pagan magistrates. In the main the passages cited will have to be interpreted as a warning against the dualistic trend of Gnosticism. Gnosticism distinguished between two classes of men, the πνευματικοἱ and the ὑλικοί, the latter by their very nature being unsusceptible to, and excluded from, salvation, the former carrying the potency of salvation by nature in themselves. Over against this the Pastorals emphasize that the love of God saves all men, that no man is by his subjective condition either sunk beneath the possibility or raised above the necessity of salvation. Hence the φιλανθρωπία of God in  Titus 3:4 is love for man as man, not for any aristocracy of the πνεῦμα. This philanthropy is not to be confounded with the classical conception of the same (cf.  Acts 27:3;  Acts 28:2), for the latter is not love towards man as such, but simply justice towards one’s fellow-man in the several relations of life, and is conceived without regard to the internal disposition. Probably the choice of the word is in  Titus 3:4 determined by the preceding description of the conduct required of believers for which the Divine ‘philanthropy’ furnishes the model. But that its content goes far beyond general benevolence may be seen from this, that it communicates itself through the Christian redemption in the widest sense ( Titus 3:5-7). In all this there is nothing either calculated or intended to weaken the Pauline doctrine of the specific elective love of God embracing believers. The Pastorals affirm this no less than the earlier Epistles.

iii. Epistle of James.-The Epistle of James by calling the commandment of love ‘the royal law’ ( James 2:8) places love in the centre of religion. This love is not merely love for men but love to God ( James 2:5). It chooses God and rejects the world, the love for God and the friendship of the world being mutually exclusive ( James 4:4). It manifests itself in blessing God ( James 3:9). Behind this love for God, however, St. James, no less than St. Paul and St. John, posits the love of God for the sinner. God is Father of believers ( James 3:9). They that love God are chosen of God ( James 2:5). The Divine love is a love of mercy; even in the Day of Judgment it retains the form of mercy ( James 2:13,  James 5:20). It is a jealous love, which requires the undivided affection of its object ( James 4:3). An echo of the Synoptical preaching of Jesus may be found in this that St. James sees the love of God demonstrated in the gifts not merely of redemption, but likewise of providence ( James 1:17).

iv. Epistles of Peter.-The Epistles of Peter dwell on the love of Christ rather than on that of God. Christ’s love is a love of self-denial ( 1 Peter 2:21) and of benevolence for evil-doers ( 1 Peter 3:18). To it corresponds love for Christ in the heart of believers. St. Peter shows that this love is strong enough to assert and maintain itself in the face of the invisibleness of Christ ( 1 Peter 1:8; cf.  1 John 4:20 f.). The love for God and Christ is consistent with and accompanied by fear ( 1 Peter 1:17-18). God’s love is implied in the mercy which lies behind regeneration ( 1 Peter 1:3). God is the Father of believers ( 1 Peter 1:17); they are the flock of God ( 1 Peter 5:2); He (or Christ) is the Shepherd of their souls ( 1 Peter 2:25). The longsuffering of God, as a fruit of the Divine love, is mentioned in  2 Peter 3:9.

v. Hebrews.-The theme of the Epistle to the Hebrews-the perfect mediation of priestly approach unto God-coupled with the writer’s vivid perception of the majesty of God brings it about that the love of God remains in the background. The Epistle emphasizes the fear of God even for believers ( Hebrews 4:1;  Hebrews 4:11-13;  Hebrews 12:29). Still believers are sons of God ( Hebrews 2:10,  Hebrews 12:7), brethren of Christ ( Hebrews 2:11,  Hebrews 12:17). God loves His children as the Father of Spirits ( Hebrews 12:6-10). He is the God of His people in the pregnant sense ( Hebrews 11:16). The subsumption of the greater part of the religious consciousness under faith brings it about that the love of Christians is less spoken of here than elsewhere in the NT. It is mentioned in  Hebrews 6:10 as a love shown towards God’s name, i.e. towards God, in the service of the brethren. The Epistle, on the other hand, makes much of the love of Christ for believers as it assumes the form of mercy. This mercy is, however, not motived by the mere suffering as such, but specifically by the moral aspect of the suffering. It is compassion with the moral weakness and danger arising from suffering, because suffering becomes a source of temptation. Christ can exercise this mercy because He Himself has experienced the tempting power of suffering ( Hebrews 2:18,  Hebrews 4:15).

vi. Johannine Literature.-There still remains to be considered the Johannine literature including the Gospel, so far as the statements of the Evangelist himself are concerned. Both the Gospel and the First Epistle represent love as the ultimate source and the ultimate goal of Christianity. There is this difference, that what is in the Gospel related to Christ as love of Christ and love for Christ, is in the Epistle related to God in both directions. In the Apocalypse love to Jesus appears in  Revelation 2:4, love of Jesus in  Revelation 1:5,  Revelation 3:9. ‘The love of God’ is not uniformly, as in St. Paul, the love which God shows, but partly this ( 1 John 2:5;  1 John 4:9;  1 John 4:12) and partly also the love cherished towards God ( John 5:42,  1 John 2:15;  1 John 3:17;  1 John 5:3). Possibly the construction is meant as an inclusive one: ‘the love which God has made known and which answers to His nature’ (so B. F. Westcott, The Epistles of St. John , 1883, p. 49). Love is to St. John as to St. Paul a specifically Divine thing. Wherever it appears in man, it must be traced back to God, and particularly to God’s love ( 1 John 4:10;  1 John 4:19). Its source lies in regeneration ( 1 John 4:7). The Divine primordial love is grace, not motived by the excellence of human qualities, for it expressed itself in giving Christ as a propitiation for sin ( 1 John 4:9-10). The supreme manifestation of God’s love is the gift of Christ, and Christ’s giving of His own life for man ( 1 John 3:16,  1 John 4:8,  Revelation 3:9). Hence the Gospel characterizes the love which Jesus showed in His Death as an ἀγαπᾶν εἰς τέλος (‘to the uttermost’). The giving of the Spirit of God is an act of love not merely because the Spirit is an inestimable gift, but because in the Spirit God communicates Himself; herein lies the essence of love ( 1 John 3:23;  1 John 4:13). The highest embodiment of this redemptive love is the state of sonship ( 1 John 3:1). The Apocalypse uses for this, as extending to the Church collectively, the OT figure of the bride of God ( Revelation 19:7;  Revelation 21:1;  Revelation 21:9). Sonship is not represented, as in St. Paul, as awaiting its eschatological consummation, but rather as issuing into a higher, yet unknown, state ( 1 John 3:2). The summing up of the Christian life in love is represented as ‘a new commandment,’ which is at the same time old ( 1 John 2:7-8,  1 John 3:11;  1 John 3:23). It is old in so far as it goes back to the creation (‘from the beginning’ [ 1 John 2:7,  1 John 3:11,  2 John 1:5-6); it is new in so far as through Jesus and His work it has now become an actuality in the life and experience of Christians; hence ‘it is true in him and in you’ ( 1 John 2:8). In both the Gospel and the First Epistle ‘to know God’ is used as synonymous with ‘loving God.’ ‘To know’ is taken in such connexions in the pregnant sense which implies intimacy of acquaintance and the fellowship of affection. At the same time there is in this an indirect protest against the unethical intellectualism of the false Gnosis ( 1 John 2:3;  1 John 4:13-14;  1 John 3:1;  1 John 3:6;  1 John 4:6-8;  1 John 4:16;  1 John 5:20).

Both the Gospel and the First Epistle emphasize the universalism of the love of God as demonstrated in the gift of Christ for the sin of ‘the world.’ In  John 3:16 ‘the world’ (ὁ κόσμος) seems to be rather qualitatively than quantitatively conceived; the greatness of God’s love is seen in this, that He loves that which is sinful (cf.  1 John 2:2). Both the Gospel and the Epistle also lay stress on the primacy of love in the character of God ( 1 John 4:8;  1 John 4:16). That the universalism must not be understood as appropriating the love of God in its most pregnant sense to every man indiscriminately appears from such statements as  John 6:37;  John 6:39;  John 6:44;  John 13:1;  John 15:19;  John 17:6;  John 17:9;  John 17:12. A predestinarian strand is traceable in St. John as well as in St. Paul. And that the clear statement about the primacy of love in God should not be construed to the exclusion of every other attribute or disposition in God appears plainly from the difference which both the Gospel and the Epistle make between God’s and Christ’s attitude towards the world and towards believers-a difference inconceivable were there in God no place for aught but love. The statement ‘God is love’ means to affirm that into His love God puts His entire being, all the strength of His character. In the Apocalypse it is most vividly brought out that in God, besides love for His own, there is wrath for His enemies (cf. even ‘the wrath of the Lamb’ [6:16]), although it is to be noticed that the Apocalypse speaks as little as the Gospel and the Epistle of God’s hatred towards His enemies. The latter term is reserved for the description of the attitude of the world towards God and Christ and believers. The hatred of the world explains the righteous wrath of God and believers against the world ( John 3:20;  John 7:7;  John 15:18;  John 15:23-25;  John 17:14,  Revelation 2:6).

Literature.-Schmidt, Handbuch der latein. und griech. Synonymik , 1886, pp. 756-768; R. C. Trench, NT Synonyms 9, 1901, pp. 41-44; J. A. H. Tittmann, de Synonymis in NT , 1829-32, pp. 50-55; H. Cremer, Bibt.-Theol. Wörterbuch der neutest. Gräcität 5, 1911, s.v. ἀγαπάω; Deissmann in ThLZ [Note: hLZ Theologische Litteraturzeitung.], 1912, cols. 522-523; E. Sartorius, The Doctrine of the Divine Love , Eng. translation, 1884; G. Vos, ‘The Scriptural Doctrine of the Love of God,’ in Presb. and Ref. Review , xiii. [1902] 1-37; W. Lütgert, Die Liebe im NT , 1905.

Geerhardus Vos.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [2]

In the language of the Bible, as in most other languages, the word ‘love’ has a very broad meaning. It may apply to God’s love for people ( Deuteronomy 7:12-13;  John 3:16), people’s devotion to God ( Psalms 91:14;  1 Corinthians 8:3), pure sexual love between a man and a woman ( Proverbs 5:18-19; Song of  Song of Solomon 2:4-5), impure sexual activity such as in prostitution ( Jeremiah 4:30;  Hosea 2:12-13), love between members of a family where sexual feelings are not involved ( Genesis 22:2;  Ruth 4:15), an attitude of kindness towards others, whether friends or enemies ( Leviticus 19:17-18;  1 Samuel 18:1;  1 Samuel 18:16;  Matthew 5:43-46;  John 11:3), or the desire for things that brings pleasure or satisfaction ( Proverbs 20:13;  1 Timothy 6:10).

Where the Bible gives teaching about love, the centre of love is usually the will, not the emotions. Such love is a deliberate attitude, not an uncontrollable feeling ( Matthew 5:44-46Joh_13:34;  John 15:17;  Ephesians 5:25;  Titus 2:4;  1 John 4:20-21).

Christian love does not mean that Christians try to create certain feelings towards others, but that they act towards others the way they know they should ( Luke 10:27;  Luke 10:29;  Luke 10:37). The reason why they so act is that God’s love rules their lives, making them want to do God’s will ( Romans 5:5;  2 Corinthians 5:14;  1 John 4:19). The more they act towards others in love, the more favourable their feelings will become towards those people.

Divine love

The love that God has for the sinful human race originates solely in his sovereign will. He loves people because he chooses to love them, not because they in any way deserve his love ( Deuteronomy 7:7-8;  Jeremiah 31:3;  Romans 5:8;  Ephesians 1:4;  Ephesians 2:4-5;  1 John 3:1;  1 John 4:10).

This was seen clearly in Jesus Christ, who throughout his life helped those in need and by his death saved helpless sinners. Salvation originates in the love of God, and that love found its fullest expression in the cross of Jesus Christ ( Matthew 14:14;  Mark 10:21;  Luke 7:13;  John 3:16;  John 15:13;  Galatians 2:20;  Ephesians 2:4-7;  Ephesians 5:25;  1 John 4:9; see also Mercy ). Jesus Christ could perfectly express God’s love, because he and the Father are bound together in a perfect unity in which each loves the other ( John 3:35;  John 10:30;  John 14:31;  John 15:9;  John 17:24).

So much is love the dominating characteristic of the divine nature that the Bible declares that God is love. Everything that God says or does is in some way an expression of his love ( 1 John 4:8;  1 John 4:16).

If we find this statement hard to understand when we think of God’s wrath and judgment, the reason is probably that we misunderstand the nature of love. God’s love is not an irrational emotion divorced from justice and righteousness, but a firm and steadfast attitude that earnestly desires the well-being of his creatures. God has such a love for what is right that he reacts in righteous anger against all that is wrong. God’s wrath is the outcome of his love ( Habakkuk 1:13;  1 John 1:5; see Wrath ).

God wants to forgive sinners, but because he is a God of love he cannot treat sin as if it does not matter. He cannot ignore it. His act of forgiveness, being based on love, involves dealing with sin. At the same time, because he is a God of love, he provides a way of salvation so that sinners need not suffer the punishment themselves. He has done this by becoming a human being in the person of Jesus Christ and taking the punishment himself on the cross ( John 1:14-18;  John 3:16;  Romans 5:8;  Galatians 2:20;  1 John 4:10; see Atonement ).

This same love causes God to discipline, correct and train his children, so that they might grow into the sorts of people that he, in his superior wisdom, wants them to be. God’s love towards his children is an authoritative love; their love in response is an obedient love ( John 14:15;  John 14:21;  John 16:27;  1 John 2:4-5;  1 John 4:19;  1 John 5:2-3). God’s chastisement may seem painful rather than pleasant, but to ask God to cease his chastisement is to ask him to love us less, not more ( Hebrews 12:5-11; see Chastisement ). Love desires perfection in the one who is loved, and will not be satisfied with anything less ( Ephesians 5:25-27;  James 4:5).

Christians should accept whatever happens to them as being in some way an expression of God’s love and as being in accordance with God’s purposes for them ( Romans 8:28; see Providence ). God’s gift of his Son is the guarantee that all his other gifts will also be an expression of his love ( Romans 8:32). His love is everlasting and measureless. Nothing in life or death can separate believers from it ( Jeremiah 31:3;  Romans 8:35-39;  Ephesians 3:18-19).

Human love

Those whom God created have a duty to love him with their whole being. They are to be devoted to him and obedient to him ( Deuteronomy 6:5;  Deuteronomy 10:12;  Psalms 18:1-3;  Matthew 22:37). As a result of such devoted obedience they will learn more of the meaning of God’s love and so will increasingly experience joyful fellowship with him ( Psalms 116:1-4;  John 14:21-23;  1 Corinthians 2:9;  1 Corinthians 8:3;  1 Peter 1:8;  1 John 4:7;  1 John 4:12;  1 John 4:19).

Love for God will at times create difficulties. Conflicts will arise as people put loyalty to God before all other loyalties, desires and ambitions ( Matthew 6:24;  Matthew 10:37-39;  John 3:19;  1 John 2:15-17). Genuine love involves self-sacrifice ( Ephesians 5:25; cf.  Romans 14:15;  1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

Faith and obedience are just as basic to a relationship with God as is love. If people claim to love God but do not trust in him or obey him, they are deceiving themselves ( John 14:15;  John 14:24;  Galatians 5:6;  James 2:5). Likewise they are deceiving themselves if they claim to love God but do not love their fellow human beings ( Romans 13:10;  1 John 3:10;  1 John 3:17;  1 John 4:8;  1 John 4:20). Christians must have the same loving concern for others as they have for themselves ( Matthew 22:39;  Philippians 2:4). Love is a characteristic of those in whom the Spirit of Christ dwells; for when they receive God’s salvation in Christ, the Holy Spirit fills them with God’s love ( John 15:9-10;  Romans 5:5;  Galatians 5:22;  Ephesians 3:17-19;  Ephesians 5:1-2).

Christians should exercise this love towards everyone, and in particular towards fellow Christians ( John 13:34;  John 15:12-17;  Galatians 6:10;  1 Peter 3:8;  1 John 3:16-17). Such an exercise of love provides evidence that they really are Christians ( John 13:35;  1 John 3:14) and helps them grow towards spiritual maturity ( 1 John 4:12;  1 John 4:17). The church of God is founded upon love and builds itself up through love ( Ephesians 3:17;  Ephesians 4:16). A unity of love between Christians will be clear evidence to the world that the claims of Christianity are true ( John 17:20-23).

Although love for each other is something God demands, people should not practise that love solely as a legal requirement. They must act sincerely and display right attitudes, even when they feel no natural affection for the person concerned ( Exodus 23:4-5;  Leviticus 19:17-18;  Romans 12:9;  1 Corinthians 13:4-7;  1 Timothy 1:5). Good deeds may be worthless in God’s sight if they do not arise out of sincere love ( 1 Corinthians 13:1-3;  Revelation 2:2-4).

Steadfast love

In the Old Testament the special love that God had for Israel was signified by the Hebrew word chesed. It is difficult to find an exact equivalent of this word in English. The RSV translates it mainly as ‘steadfast love’, the GNB as ‘constant love’, and the older English versions as ‘mercy’, ‘kindness’ and ‘loving kindness’ (cf.  Genesis 32:10;  Genesis 39:21;  Psalms 100:5;  Psalms 118:1-3;  Isaiah 54:10;  Hosea 2:19;  Micah 7:18).

The distinctive feature of chesed is covenant loyalty or faithfulness. A covenant is an agreement between two parties that carries with it obligations and blessings, and in the case of God and Israel this covenant was likened to the marriage bond. The two parties were bound to be loyal to each other ( Deuteronomy 7:9;  Deuteronomy 7:12;  Nehemiah 1:5; see Covenant ). God exercised loyal love and covenant faithfulness to his people, and this was to be the basis of their trust in him ( 1 Kings 8:23;  Psalms 13:5;  Psalms 25:7;  Psalms 103:17;  Psalms 136:25;  Hosea 2:19;  Micah 7:20). Yet so often the people were not faithful to God in return. Their covenant love vanished ( Hosea 6:4;  Hosea 11:1-4).

This chesed – this faithful devotion, this loyal love – is what God most desires from his people ( Hosea 6:6). It also shows the quality of love that God requires his people to exercise towards others ( Proverbs 3:3-4;  Hosea 12:6;  Micah 6:8).

Holman Bible Dictionary [3]

 1 Corinthians 13:1 charity agape charity caritas charity love agape agape

In the Old Testament In the Old Testament, the verb "to love" has a range of meanings as broad as the English verb. It describes physical love between the sexes, even sexual desire ( Judges 16:14;  2 Samuel 13:1-4 ). It describes the love within a family and among friends ( Genesis 22:1-2 ). Love as self-giving appears in the significant commandment that Israelites love the stranger. The basis for such selfless love is God's act of redemption ( Leviticus 19:33-34 ).

Hosea used the image of married love to teach us to understand both the faithlessness of Israel and the faithfulness of God. Israel's love is "like a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away" ( Hosea 6:4 ). God desires steadfast love, but Israel had been unfaithful. His own relationship with an adulterous wife allowed Hosea the insight that God had not given up Israel in spite of her faithlessness. The Shema (Hebrew for "hear") of   Deuteronomy 6:4-6 is echoed in Paul's declaration that love is the fulfillment of the law (  Romans 13:10 ).

In the Teachings of Jesus In Jesus' teachings in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the Shema of Deuteronomy (the command to love God) is united with   Leviticus 19:8 ("Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself") (  Matthew 22:34-40;  Mark 12:28-34;  Luke 10:25-28 ). Just before the parable of the Good Samaritan, a lawyer quoted the two commands to love and then asked Jesus: "And who is my neighbor?" ( Luke 10:29 ) Jesus gave the story of the Samaritan who took care of the man who fell among robbers to illustrate the selfless love which is to be characteristic of citizens of the Kingdom.

In  Matthew 5:43-48 , Jesus gave the radical command to love one's enemies and to pray for those who persecute. Loving only those who love you is, according to Jesus, no better than those who are not His disciples. The love that Jesus' disciples have for others is to be just as complete as God's love ( Matthew 5:48; compare  Romans 5:8 ).

In these teachings, of course, the selfless love is a response to God's prior activity. It is a way of living expected of those who are citizens of the Kingdom. The teachings of Jesus on love of enemy, it will be noted, are a part of the Sermon on the Mount which is directed to Christian disciples. See Sermon On The Mount .

In the Teachings of Paul In the poem on love in  1 Corinthians 13:1 , Paul associated love with the all-important biblical words of faith and hope (see also  1 Thessalonians 5:8;  Galatians 5:6 ) and declared love the greatest. The context for this poem on love is Paul's discussion of relationships within the church.  1 Corinthians 13:1-3 indicate that the gifts of the Spirit (ecstatic speech, wisdom, faith, and self-sacrifice) are good for nothing without love; only love builds up. The Spirit distributes His gifts for the common good (  1 Corinthians 8:1;  1 Corinthians 12:7 ).  1 Corinthians 13:4-7 characterizes love: Love is patient and kind, not jealous or boastful, not arrogant or rude. Love is not selfish, irritable, or resentful. Love does not rejoice at wrong but in the right. Love bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things.

Finally,  1 Corinthians 13:8-13 contrasts love with preaching and knowledge, on the one hand, and faith and hope, on the other. All of these (with love) are important aspects of our lives here and now. Love in contrast to these, however, is not only for the here and now; it is forever. Love, therefore, is "the greatest" of the most significant realities we experience as Christians.

Paul's understanding and discussion of love make love a central theme, and his use of the noun agape makes that term almost a technical term. Prior to Paul, in fact, the Greek term agape was little used. Instead of using a word for love already filled with meaning, Paul took the seldom-used term and filled it with Christian meaning. This love of which Paul wrote is somewhat different from the love we normally experience and speak about. Christian love is not simply an emotion which arises because of the character of the one loved. It is not due to the loving quality of the lover. It is a relationship of self-giving which results from God's activity in Christ. The source of Christian love is God (  Romans 5:8 ), and the believer's response of faith makes love a human possibility ( Romans 5:5 ).

Even though love does not begin in the human heart, the believer must actualize love. In Paul's admonition to Christians to love, the nature of love as self-giving is manifest ( Galatians 5:13-15 ). The Christian walk is to be characterized by love so that Paul could even speak of "walking in love" ( Romans 14:15 ). The Christian is to increase and abound in love ( 1 Thessalonians 3:12 ).

Love is vitally connected with faith in that the believer's faithful response is one of love. Love is also connected with hope. In his prayer for love to increase and abound, Paul indicated that this increase of love has the end that the hearts of Christians might be established "unblameable in holiness" before God when Jesus returns with all his saints ( 1 Thessalonians 3:13 ). Paul also wrote of the hope we have of sharing the glory of God and declared that this hope does not disappoint us, because our hearts have been filled with God's love through the Holy Spirit ( Romans 5:2 ,Romans 5:2, 5:5 ). Christian love is evidence of and a foretaste of the goal of God's purposes for His children.

In the Writings of John The Johannine writings magnify the significance of love as forcefully and fully as any other writings. John's writings account for only one tenth of the New Testament but provide one third of the references to love.

The key text in the first half of the Gospel of John is  John 3:16 . This passage indicates the relationship of the Father's love to the work of Christ and of both to the life of believers. These themes are repeated throughout the Gospel of John. The second half of the Gospel of John emphasizes the ethical dimension of love among Christians. The key passage is Jesus' new commandment in  John 13:34-35 (sec also   John 14:15 ,John 14:15, 14:21 ,John 14:21, 14:23-24;  John 15:9 ,John 15:9, 15:12 ,John 15:12, 15:17 ).

This command of Jesus to love one another gives us insight into the nature of Jesus Christ for the church and the nature of Christian love. What is commanded is not an emotion; it is the disciplined will to seek the welfare of others. Jesus speaks with the authority of the Father, the only One with authority to make such demands of men and women. Jesus speaks as the incarnate Word ( John 1:1 ,John 1:1, 1:14 ). He has authority to give conditions for discipleship. The relationship of this commandment to  Leviticus 19:18 should be noted. Both command love, but Jesus' commandment includes the clause: "as I have loved you."

When the overall importance of love in the Gospel of John is seen, the dialogue between Jesus and Peter concerning Peter's love for Jesus and Peter's tending the sheep ( Leviticus 21:15-17 ) becomes more significant. Our love for Jesus Christ is closely related to our fulfillment of the pastoral task.

The Letters of John make explicit statements about the ethical implications of love. Our appreciation of these letters and the command to love is increased when we realize that John's opponents claimed that they loved God in spite of their unlovely temper and conduct. They claimed enlightenment and communion with God. (They were Gnostics or "Knowers." See  1 John 3:23 ). This love is be manifested in deeds ( 1 John 3:18 ). John left no doubt about the relationship of love and belief in God. Whoever hates his brother is in the darkness ( 1 John 2:9 ). Whoever does not do right and love his brother is not of God ( 1 John 4:20 ).  1 John 4:8 is the climax: "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."

In 2,3John this command to love is repeated in direct and indirect ways.  2 John 1:5-6 is addressed to the church, and they are explicitly reminded of the command from Jesus to love one another.   3 John 1:5-6 speaks of the love of the "Beloved Gaius" in terms of giving service to Christian brothers. Diotrephes, however, will live in infamy, for he put himself first, refused to welcome the brethren, stopped those who wanted to welcome the brethren, and put them out of the church (  3 John 1:9-10 ).

Love and Judgment The judgment account in  Matthew 25:31-46 illuminates and is illuminated by the New Testament teachings on love. The account depicts not only what happens at the end. The narrative makes plain that what happens at the end is what happens here and now. Christians love because they have been loved. In such love, God's eternal purposes are being experienced and carried out by his people (  Matthew 25:34-36 ).

Edgar V. McKnight

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [4]

God is love and has demonstrated that love in everything that he does. Paul compares faith, hope, and love, and concludes that "the greatest of these is love" ( 1 Corinthians 13:13 ).

"God Is Love."Agape [   1 John 4:8 ). God does not merely love; he is love. Everything that God does flows from his love.

John emphasizes repeatedly that God the Father loves the Son ( John 5:20;  17:23,26 ) and that the Son loves the Father ( John 14:31 ). Because the Father loves the Son, he made his will known to him. Jesus in turn demonstrated his love to the Father through his submission and obedience.

The theme of the entire Bible is the self-revelation of the God of love. In the garden of Eden, God commanded that "you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die" ( Genesis 2:17 ). We are not prepared, then, when God looks for Adam after his sin, calling out "Where are you?" God seeks Adam, not to put him to death, but to reestablish a relationship with him. God, the Lover, will not allow sin to stand between him and his creature. He personally bridges the gap.

That seeking and bridging reaches its pinnacle when God sends his Son into the world to rescue sinners and to provide them with eternal life ( John 3:16;  Romans 5:7-8;  Ephesians 2:1-5 ). John declares, "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us" ( 1 John 3:16 ). God's love is not based on the merit of the recipient ( Deuteronomy 7:7-8;  Romans 5:7-8 ). Because he is love, God is not willing that any person should perish, but wills that everyone repent and live ( Ezekiel 18:32;  2 Peter 3:9 ).

"Love the Lord Your God." We are totally incapable of loving either God or others—a condition that must be corrected by God before we can love. The Bible's ways of describing this process of correction are numerous: "circumcision of the heart" ( Deuteronomy 30:6 ); God's "writing his laws" on our hearts ( Jeremiah 31:33 ); God's substituting a "heart of flesh" for a "heart of stone" ( Ezekiel 11:19 ); being "born again" by the Spirit ( John 3:3;  1 John 5:1-2 ); removing old clothing and replacing it with new ( Colossians 3:12-14 ); dying to a sinful life and resurrecting to a new one ( Colossians 3:1-4 ); moving out of darkness into light ( 1 John 2:9 ). Until that happens, we cannot love.

God alone is the source of love ( 1 John 4:7-8 ); he "poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us" ( Romans 5:5 ). God's love then awakens a response in those who accept it. God loves through believers, who act as channels for his love; they are branches who must abide in the vine if they are to have that love ( John 15:1-11 ). We have the assurance that we have passed from death to life because we love others ( 1 John 3:14 ).

Once we have received God's love as his children, he expects us to love. In fact, "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love" ( 1 John 4:8 ). Jude urges his readers to keep themselves in God's love (v.21).

"Love the Lord Your God with All Your Heart." Love of God is a response of the whole of the believerheart, soul, mind, and strength ( Deuteronomy 6:5;  Matthew 22:34-40;  Mark 12:28-34 )to the whole of God. Jesus serves as the believer's model ( John 14:21;  Philippians 2:5-8 ). Obedience to God ( Deuteronomy 6:7;  7:9 ) and renunciation of the world-system ( 1 John 2:16 ) are critical elements of our love of God.

Our love, however, is easily misdirected. Its object tends to become the creation rather than the Creator; it loses sight of the eternal for the temporal; it focuses on the self, often to the exclusion of God and others. We become idolaters, focusing a part or all of our love elsewhere. We are "love breakers" more than "law breakers."

 Genesis 22 presents a classic struggle: the conflicting pulls of love. Abraham loves Isaac, the son of his old age, the child of God's promise. But God tests his love. For the sake of the love of God, Abraham is willing to sacrifice the son he loves. Hisresponse is to a greater love. Jesus describes this conflict as hating father and mother in order to love and follow God (  Luke 14:26 ).

"Love Your Neighbor as Yourself." Love for neighbor is a decision that we make to treat others with respect and concern, to put the interests and safety of our neighbors on a level with our own. It demands a practical outworking in everyday lifeplacing a retaining wall around the roof to keep people from falling ( Deuteronomy 22:8 ); not taking millstones in pledge, thus denying someone the ability to grind grain into flour ( Deuteronomy 24:6 ); allowing the poor to glean leftovers from the orchards and fields ( Leviticus 19:9-12 ). Our actions illustrate our love. Love for neighbor is "love in action, " doing something specific and tangible for others.

The New Testament concept closely parallels that of the Old Testament. John writes: "Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." Believers need to share with those in need, whether that need is for food, water, lodging, clothing, healing, or friendship ( Matthew 25:34-40;  Romans 12:13 ). The love demonstrated in the parable of the good Samaritan shows that agape [Ἀγάπη] love is not emotional love, but a response to someone who is in need.

The command to love others is based on how God has loved us. Since believers have been the recipients of love, they must love. Since Christ has laid down his life for us, we must be willing to lay down our lives for our brothers ( 1 John 3:16 ).

Many people in Jesus' day believed that a neighbor was a fellow Israelite. When asked to define "neighbor, " however, Jesus cited the parable of the good Samaritana person who knowingly crossed traditional boundaries to help a wounded Jew ( Luke 10:29-37 ). A neighbor is anyone who is in need. Jesus also told his disciples that a "neighbor" might even be someone who hates them, curses them, or mistreats them. Yet they must love even enemies ( Luke 6:27-36 ) as a witness and a testimony.

The Old Testament charge was to "love your neighbor as yourself" ( Leviticus 19:18 ). But Jesus gave his disciples a new command with a radically different motive: "Love each other as I have loved you" ( John 15:12 ). Paul affirms that "the entire law is summed up in a single command: Love your neighbor as yourself'" ( Galatians 5:14 ). James sees the command to love one another as a "royal law" (2:8).

Love is the motivation for evangelism. Christ's love compels us to become ambassadors for Christ, with a ministry of reconciliation ( 2 Corinthians 5:14 ).

Glenn E. Schaefer

See also Fruit Of The Spirit; New Command

Bibliography . H. Bergman, TDOT, 1:99-118; E. Brunner, Faith, Hope, and Love  ; E. J. Carnell, BDT, pp. 332-33; C. E. B. Cranfield, A Theological Word Book of the Bible, pp. 131-36; V. P. Furnish, The Love Command in the New Testament  ; N. Glueck, Hesed in the Bible  ; W. Gunther et al., NIDNTT, 2:538-51; H. W. Hoehner, EDT, pp. 656-59; C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves  ; J. Moffatt, Love in the New Testament  ; L. Morris, Testaments of Love: A Study of Love in the Bible  ; G. Outka, Agape: An Ethical Analysis  ; P. Perkins, Love Commands in the New Testament  ; G. Quell and E. Stauffer, TDNT, 1:21-55; F. F. Segovia, Love Relationships in the Johannine Tradition  ; G. A. Turner, ISBE, 3:173-76.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [5]

A — 1: Ἀγαπάω (Strong'S #25 — Verb — agapao — ag-ap-ah'-o )

and the corresponding noun agape (B, No. 1 below) present "the characteristic word of Christianity, and since the Spirit of revelation has used it to express ideas previously unknown, inquiry into its use, whether in Greek literature or in the Septuagint, throws but little light upon its distinctive meaning in the NT. Cp., however,  Leviticus 19:18;  Deuteronomy 6:5 .

 John 17:26 John 3:16 Romans 5:8 John 14:21 John 13:34 1—Thessalonians 3:12 1—Corinthians 16:14 2—Peter 1:7 1—John 4:8 1—John 4:9,10 Romans 5:8 Deuteronomy 7:7,8 2—Corinthians 5:14 Ephesians 2:4 3:19 5:2 Galatians 5:22 John 14:15,21,23 15:10 1—John 2:5 5:3 2—John 1:6 Romans 15:2 Galatians 6:10 1—Corinthians 13  Colossians 3:12-14Beloved.

A — 2: Φιλέω (Strong'S #5368 — Verb — phileo — fil-eh'-o )

is to be distinguished from agapao in this, that phileo more nearly represents "tender affection." The two words are used for the "love" of the Father for the Son,  John 3:35 (No. 1); 5:20 (No. 2); for the believer,   John 14:21 (No. 1); 16:27 (No. 2); both, of Christ's "love" for a certain disciple,   John 13:23 (No. 1); 20:2 (No. 2). Yet the distinction between the two verbs remains, and they are never used indiscriminately in the same passage; if each is used with reference to the same objects, as just mentioned, each word retains its distinctive and essential character.

 1—Corinthians 16;22 Matthew 22:37 Luke 10:27 Romans 8:28 1—Corinthians 8:3 1—Peter 1:8 1—John 4:21 John 21:15-17 Revelation 12:11 John 12:25 1—Peter 3:10 Mark 12:38

B — 1: Ἀγάπη (Strong'S #26 — Noun Feminine — agape — ag-ah'-pay )

the significance of which has been pointed out in connection with A, No. 1, is always rendered "love" in the RV where the AV has "charity," a rendering nowhere used in the RV; in  Romans 14:15 , where the AV has "charitably," the RV, adhering to the translation of the noun, has "in love."

 1—John 4:8,16 1—John 4:9,10 1—John 4:17

B — 2: Φιλανθρωπία (Strong'S #5363 — Noun Feminine — philanthropia — fil-an-thro-pee'-ah )

denotes, lit., "love for man" (phileo and anthropos, "man"); hence, "kindness,"  Acts 28:2; in  Titus 3:4 , "(His) love toward man." Cp. the adverb philanthropos, "humanely, kindly,"  Acts 27:3 . See Kindness.

 1—Timothy 6:10Brother

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words [6]

A. Verb.

'Âhab ( אַהֵב , Strong'S #157), or 'Âhêb ( אַהֵב , Strong'S #157), “to love; like.” This verb occurs in Moabite and Ugaritic. It appears in all periods of Hebrew and around 250 times in the Bible.

Basically this verb is equivalent to the English “to love” in the sense of having a strong emotional attachment to and desire either to possess or to be in the presence of the object. First, the word refers to the love a man has for a woman and a woman for a man. Such love is rooted in sexual desire, although as a rule it is desire within the bounds of lawful relationships: “And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her …” (Gen. 24:67). This word may refer to an erotic but legal love outside marriage. Such an emotion may be a desire to marry and care for the object of that love, as in the case of Shechem’s love for Dinah (Gen. 34:3). In a very few instances 'âhab (or 'âhêb ) may signify no more than pure lust—an inordinate desire to have sexual relations with its object (cf. 2 Sam. 13:1). Marriage may be consummated without the presence of love for one’s marriage partner (Gen. 29:30).

'Âhab (or 'âhêb ) seldom refers to making love (usually this is represented yada’ , “to know,” or by shakab , “to lie with”). The word does seem to have this added meaning, however, in 1 Kings 11:1: “But King Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh …” (cf. Jer. 2:25). Hosea appears to use this nuance when he writes that God told him to “go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress …” (3:1). This is the predominant meaning of the verb when it appears in the causative stem (as a participle). In every instance except one (Zech. 13:6) 'âhab (or 'âhêb ) signifies those with whom one has made or intends to make love: “Go up to Lebanon, and cry; and lift up thy voice in Bashan, and cry from the passages: for all thy lovers are destroyed” (Jer. 22:20; cf. Ezek. 16:33). 'Âhab (or 'âhêb ) is also used of the love between parents and their children. In its first biblical appearance, the word represents Abraham’s special attachment to his son Isaac: “And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest …” (Gen. 22:2). 'Âhab (or 'âhêb ) may refer to the family love experienced by a daughter-in-law toward her mother-in-law (Ruth 4:15). This kind of love is also represented by the word racham 'Âhab (or 'âhêb ) sometimes depicts a special strong attachment a servant may have toward a master under whose dominance he wishes to remain: “And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free …” (Exod. 21:5). Perhaps there is an overtone here of family love; he “loves” his master as a son “loves” his father (cf. Deut. 15:16). This emphasis may be in 1 Sam. 16:21, where we read that Saul “loved [David] greatly.” Israel came “to love” and deeply admire David so that they watched his every move with admiration (1 Sam. 18:16).

A special use of this word relates to an especially close attachment of friends: “… The soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul” (1 Sam. 18:1). In Lev. 19:18: “… Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself..” (cf. Lev. 19:34; Deut. 10:19) 'âhab (or 'âhêb ) signifies this brotherly or friendly kind of love. The word suggests, furthermore, that one seek to relate to his brother and all men according to what is specified in the law structure God gave to Israel. This was to be the normal state of affairs between men.

This verb is used politically to describe the loyalty of a vassal or a subordinate to his lord— so Hiram of Tyre “loved” David in the sense that he was completely loyal (1 Kings 5:1).

The strong emotional attachment and desire suggested by 'âhab (or 'âhêb ) may also be fixed on objects, circumstances, actions, and relationships.

B. Noun.

'Ahăbâh ( אַהֲבָה , Strong'S #160), “love.” This word appears about 55 times, and it represents several kinds of “love.” The first biblical occurrence of 'ahăbâh is in Gen. 29:20; there the word deals with the “love” between man and wife as a general concept. In Hos. 3:1 the word is used of “love” as a sexual activity. 'Ahăbâh means “love” between friends in 1 Sam. 18:3: “Then Jonathan and David made a covenant because he loved him as his own soul.” The word refers to Solomon’s “love” in 1 Kings 11:2 and to God’s “love” in Deut. 7:8.

C. Participle.

'Âhab ( אַהֵב , Strong'S #157), “friend.” This word used as a participle may mean “friend”: “… The rich hath many friends” (Prov. 14:20).

King James Dictionary [7]

LOVE, luv. L. libeo, lubeo. See Lief. The sense is probably to be prompt, free, willing, from leaning, advancing, or drawing forward.

1. In a general sense to be pleased with to regard with affection, on account of some qualities which excite pleasing sensations or desire of gratification. We love a friend, on account of some qualities which give us pleasure in his society. We love a man who has done us a favor in which case, gratitude enters into the composition of our affection. We love our parents and our children, on account of their connection with us, and on account of many qualities which please us. We love to retire to a cool shade in summer. We love a warm room in winter. we love to hear an eloquent advocate. The christian loves his Bible. In short, we love whatever gives us pleasure and delight, whether animal or intellectual and if our hearts are right, we love God above all things, as the sum of all excellence and all the attributes which can communicate happiness to intelligent beings. In other words, the christian loves God with the love of complacency in his attributes, the love of benevolence towards the interest of his kingdom, and the love of gratitude for favors received.

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind -

Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  Matthew 22 .

2. To have benevolence or good will for.  John 3 .

LOVE, n.

1. An affection of the mind excited by beauty and worth of any kind, or by the qualities of an object which communicate pleasure, sensual or intellectual. It is opposed to hatred. Love between the sexes, is a compound affection, consisting of esteem, benevolence, and animal desire. Love is excited by pleasing qualities of any kind, as by kindness, benevolence, charity, and by the qualities which render social intercourse agreeable. In the latter case, love is ardent friendship, or a strong attachment springing from good will and esteem, and the pleasure derived from the company, civilities and kindness of others.

Between certain natural relatives, love seems to be in some cases instinctive. Such is the love of a mother for her child, which manifests itself toward an infant, before any particular qualities in the child are unfolded. This affection is apparently as strong in irrational animals as in human beings.

We speak of the love of amusements, the love of books, the love of money, and the love of whatever contributes to our pleasure or supposed profit.

The love of God is the first duty of man, and this springs from just views of his attributes or excellencies of character, which afford the highest delight to the sanctified heart. Esteem and reverence constitute ingredients in this affection, and a fear of offending him is its inseparable effect.

2. Courtship chiefly in the phrase, to make love, that is, to court to woo to solicit union in marriage. 3. Patriotism the attachment one has to his native land as the love of country. 4. Benevolence good will.

God is love.  1 John 4 .

5. The object beloved.

The lover and the love of human kind.

6. A word of endearment.

Trust me, love.

7. Picturesque representation of love.

Such was his form as painters, when they show their utmost art, on naked loves bestow.

8. Lewdness.

He is not lolling on a lewd love-bed.

9. A thin silk stuff. Obs.

Love in idleness, a kind of violet.

Free of love, a plant of the genus Cercis.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [8]

"The fulfilling of the law" ( Romans 13:8;  Romans 13:10), the prominent perfection of God ( 1 John 4:8;  1 John 4:16), manifested to us ( 1 John 4:10) when we loved not Him ( John 3:16). Passing our powers of knowledge ( Ephesians 3:19), everlasting ( Jeremiah 31:3), free and gratuitous ( Hosea 14:4), enduring to the end ( John 13:1). The two Greek words for "love" are distinct: Phileo , the love of impulse, ardent affection and feeling; Agapao , the love of esteem, regard.  John 21:15, "Simon, lovest ( Agapas , esteemest) thou Me?" Αgapas sounds too cold to Peter, now burning with love; so he replies, "Thou knowest that I LOVE ( Philo ) Thee." "Simon, esteemest thou ( Agapas ) Me? ... Thou knowest that I LOVE Thee." At the third time Peter gained his point. "Simon, LOVEST ( Phileis ) thou Me?" Love to one another is the proof to the world of discipleship ( John 13:35).

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [9]

GOD IS Love; And He That Dwelleth In Love Dwelleth In God, And God In Him  1 John 4:16 . Love is a chief attribute of Jehovah, the length and breadth and height and depth of which are beyond comprehension, for they are infinite,  Ephesians 3:18,19 . Between the three Persons of the Godhead, love is unutterable full, perfect, and blissful; towards holy angels and Christians, God's love is an infinite fatherly complacency and affection; towards sinners, it is immeasurable compassion. It is shown in all his works and ways, and dictated his holy law, but is most signally displayed in the gospel,  John 3:16 . "Herein is love."

Holy love in man would make the whole heart and soul supremely delight in and obey God, and cordially and practically love all beings according to their character-the good with fellowship of soul, and the evil with a Christ-like benevolence. Such a love would meet and fulfil all the ends of the law,  Matthew 22:37-40   Romans 13:8-10 . Without it, none can enter heaven; and as the affections of every unrenewed heart are all mixed with sin, being given to forbidden objects, or selfishly and unduly given to objects not forbidden, we must be "born again" in order to see God,  John 3:3   1 John 4:7,19   5:4 .

People's Dictionary of the Bible [10]

Love Feasts, Agapè .  Judges 1:12;  2 Peter 2:13. A meeting accompanying the Lord's Supper in which the poorer members of the church were provided for by the contributions of Christians, but whether before or after the celebration is uncertain. Chrysostom says that after the early community of goods had ceased, the richer members brought to the church contributions of food and drink, of which, after the conclusion of the services and the celebration of the Lord's Supper, all partook together, by this means helping to promote the principle of love among Christians. The love feasts were forbidden to be held in churches by the Council of Laodicea, a.d. 320; but in some form or other they have been continued in some churches.

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [11]

Consists in approbation of, and inclination towards an object that appears to us as good. It has been distinguished into,

1. Love of esteem, which arises from the mere consideration of some excellency in an object, and belongs either to persons or things.—

2. Love of benevolence, which is an inclination to seek the happiness or welfare of any thing.—

3. Love of complacence, which arises from the consideration of any object agreeable to us, and calculated to afford us pleasure.

Webster's Dictionary [12]

(1): ( n.) A boxing glove.

(2): ( v. t.) To cover with, or as with, a glove.

(3): ( n.) A cover for the hand, or for the hand and wrist, with a separate sheath for each finger. The latter characteristic distinguishes the glove from the mitten.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [13]

 John 21:16,17 Agapas Philo Agapan Philein

In   1 Corinthians 13 the apostle sets forth the excellency of love, as the word "charity" there is rendered in the Revised Version.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [14]

luv ( אהב , 'āhēbh , אהבה , 'ahăbhāh , noun; φιλέω , philéō , ἀγαπάω , agapáō , verb; ἀγάπη , agápē , noun): Love to both God and man is fundamental to true religion, whether as expressed in the Old Testament or the New Testament. Jesus Himself declared that all the law and the prophets hang upon love (  Matthew 22:40;  Mark 12:28-34 ). Paul, in his matchless ode on love ( 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 ), makes it the greatest of the graces of the Christian life - greater than speaking with tongues, or the gift of prophecy, or the possession of a faith of superior excellence; for without love all these gifts and graces, desirable and useful as they are in themselves, are as nothing, certainly of no permanent value in the sight of God. Not that either Jesus or Paul underestimates the faith from which all the graces proceed, for this grace is recognized as fundamental in all God's dealings with man and man's dealings with God ( John 6:28 f;   Hebrews 11:6 ); but both alike count that faith as but idle and worthless belief that does not manifest itself in love to both God and man. As love is the highest expression of God and His relation to mankind, so it must be the highest expression of man's relation to his Maker and to his fellow-man.

I. Definition.

While the Hebrew and Greek words for "love" have various shades and intensities of meaning, they may be summed up in some such definition as this: Love, whether used of God or man, is an earnest and anxious desire for and an active and beneficent interest ins the well-being of the one loved. Different degrees and manifestations of this affection are recognized in the Scriptures according to the circumstances and relations of life, e.g. the expression of love as between husband and wife, parent and child, brethren according to the flesh, and according to grace; between friend and enemy, and, finally, between God and man. It must not be overlooked, however, that the fundamental idea of love as expressed in the definition of it is never absent in any one of these relations of life, even though the manifestation thereof may differ according to the circumstances and relations. Christ's interview with the apostle Peter on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias ( John 21:15-18 ) sets before us in a most beautiful way the different shades of meaning as found in the New Testament words φιλέω , philéō , and ἀγαπάω , agapáō . In the question of Christ, "Lovest thou me more than these?" the Greek verb ἀαπᾶς , agapás , denotes the highest, most perfect kind of love (Latin, diligere ), implying a clear determination of will and judgment, and belonging particularly to the sphere of Divine revelation. In his answer Peter substitutes the word φιλῶ , philṓ , which means the natural human affection, with its strong feeling, or sentiment, and is never used in Scripture language to designate man's love to God. While the answer of Peter, then, claims only an inferior kind of love, as compared to the one contained in Christ's question, he nevertheless is confident of possessing at least such love for his Lord.

II. The Love of God.

First in the consideration of the subject of "love" comes the love of God - H e who is love, and from whom all love is derived. The love of God is that part of His nature - indeed His whole nature, for "God is love" - which leads Him to express Himself in terms of endearment toward His creatures, and actively to manifest that interest and affection in acts of loving care and self-sacrifice in behalf of the objects of His love. God is "love" ( 1 John 4:8 ,  1 John 4:16 ) just as truly as He is "light" ( 1 John 1:5 ), "truth" ( 1 John 1:6 ), and "spirit" ( John 4:24 ). Spirit and light are expressions of His essential nature; love is the expression of His personality corresponding to His nature. God not merely loves, but is love; it is His very nature, and He imparts this nature to be the sphere in which His children dwell, for "he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God abideth in him" ( 1 John 4:16 ). Christianity is the only religion that sets forth the Supreme Being as Love. In heathen religions He is set forth as an angry being and in constant need of appeasing.

1. Objects of God's Love:

The object of God's love is first and foremost His own Son, Jesus Christ (  Matthew 3:17;  Matthew 17:5;  Luke 20:13;  John 17:24 ). The Son shares the love of the Father in a unique sense; He is "my chosen, in whom my soul delighteth" ( Isaiah 42:1 ). There exists an eternal affection between the Son and the Father - the Son is the original and eternal object of the Father's love ( John 17:24 ). If God's love is eternal it must have an eternal object, hence, Christ is an eternal being.

God loves the believer in His Son with a special love. Those who are united by faith and love to Jesus Christ are, in a different sense from those who are not thus united, the special objects of God's love. Said Jesus, thou "lovedst them, even as thou lovedst me" (  John 17:23 ). Christ is referring to the fact that, just as the disciples had received the same treatment from the world that He had received, so they had received of the Father the same love that He Himself had received. They were not on the outskirts of God's love, but in the very center of it. "For the father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me" ( John 16:27 ). Here phileō is used for love, indicating the fatherly affection of God for the believer in Christ, His Son. This is love in a more intense form than that spoken of for the world ( John 3:16 ).

God loves the world (  John 3:16; compare  1 Timothy 2:4;  2 Peter 3:9 ). This is a wonderful truth when we realize what a world this is - a world of sin and corruption. This was a startling truth for Nicodemus to learn, who conceived of God as loving only the Jewish nation. To him, in his narrow exclusiveism, the announcement of the fact that God loved the whole world of men was startling. God loves the world of sinners lost and ruined by the fall. Yet it is this world, "weak," "ungodly," "without strength," "sinners" ( Romans 5:6-8 ), "dead in trespasses and sins" ( Ephesians 2:1 the King James Version), and unrighteous, that God so loved that He gave His only begotten Son in order to redeem it. The genesis of man's salvation lies in the love and mercy of God (  Ephesians 2:4 f). But love is more than mercy or compassion; it is active and identifies itself with its object. The love of the heavenly Father over the return of His wandering children is beautifully set forth in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15). Nor should the fact be overlooked that God loves not only the whole world, but each individual in it; it is a special as well as a general love (  John 3:16 , "whosoever";  Galatians 2:20 , "loved me, and gave himself up for me").

2. Manifestations of God's Love:

God's love is manifested by providing for the physical, mental, moral and spiritual needs of His people ( Isaiah 48:14 ,  Isaiah 48:20 ,  Isaiah 48:21;  Isaiah 62:9-12;  Isaiah 63:3 ,  Isaiah 63:12 ). In these Scriptures God is seen manifesting His power in behalf His people in the time of their wilderness journeying and their captivity. He led them, fed and clothed them, guided them and protected them from all their enemies. His love was again shown in feeling with His people, their sorrows and afflictions ( Isaiah 63:9 ); He suffered in their affliction, their interests were His; He was not their adversary but their friend, even though it might have seemed to them as if He either had brought on them their suffering or did not care about it. Nor did He ever forget them for a moment during all their trials. They thought He did; they said, "God hath forgotten us," "He hath forgotten to be gracious"; but no; a mother might forget her child that she should not have compassion on it, but God would never forget His people. How could He? Had He not graven them upon the palms of His hands ( Isaiah 49:15 f)? Rather than His love being absent in the chastisement of His people, the chastisement itself was often a proof of the presence of the Divine love, "for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth" (  Hebrews 12:6-11 ). Loving reproof and chastisement are necessary oftentimes for growth in holiness and righteousness. Our redemption from sin is to be attributed to God's wondrous love; "Thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption; for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back" ( Isaiah 38:17; compare  Psalm 50:21;  Psalm 90:8 ).  Ephesians 2:4 f sets forth in a wonderful way how our entire salvation springs forth from _ the mercy and love of God; "But God, being rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ," etc. It is because of the love of the Father that we are granted a place in the heavenly kingdom (  Ephesians 2:6-8 ). But the supreme manifestation of the love of God, as set forth in the Scripture, is that expressed in the gift of His only-begotten Son to die for the sins of the world ( John 3:16;  Romans 5:6-8;  1 John 4:9 f), and through whom the sinful and sinning but repentant sons of men are taken into the family of God, and receive the adoption of sons (  1 John 3:1 f;   Galatians 4:4-6 ). From this wonderful love of God in Christ Jesus nothing in heaven or earth or hell, created or uncreated or to be created, shall be able to separate us ( Romans 8:37 f).

III. The Love of Man.

1. Source of Man's Love:

Whatever love there is in man, whether it be toward God or toward his fellowman, has its source in God - "Love is of God; and every one that loveth is begotten of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love" ( 1 John 4:7 f); "We love, because he first loved us" (  1 John 4:19 ). Trench, in speaking of agapē , says it is a word born within the bosom of revealed religion. Heathen writers do not use it at all, their nearest approach to it being philanthropı́a or philadelphia - the love betweeen those of the same blood. Love in the heart of man is the offspring of the love of God. Only the regenerated heart can truly love as God loves; to this higher form of love the unregenerate can lay no claim ( 1 John 4:7 ,  1 John 4:19 ,  1 John 4:21;  1 John 2:7-11;  1 John 3:10;  1 John 4:11 f). The regenerate man is able to see his fellow-man as God sees him, value him as God values him, not so much because of what he is by reason of his sin and unloveliness, but because of what, through Christ, he may become; he sees man's intrinsic worth and possibility in Christ (  2 Corinthians 5:14-17 ). This love is also created in the heart of man by the Holy Ghost ( Romans 5:5 ), and is a fruit of the Spirit ( Galatians 5:22 ). It is also stimulated by the example of the Lord Jesus Christ, who, more than anyone else, manifested to the world the spirit and nature of true love ( John 13:34;  John 15:12;  Galatians 2:20;  Ephesians 5:25-27;  1 John 4:9 f).

2. Objects of Man's Love:

God must be the first and supreme object of man's love; He must be loved with all the heart, mind, soul and strength ( Matthew 22:37 f;   Mark 12:29-34 ). In this last passage the exhortation to supreme love to God is connected with the doctrine of the unity of God ( Deuteronomy 6:4 f) - inasmuch as the Divine Being is one and indivisible, so must our love to Him be undivided. Our love to God is shown in the keeping of His commandments (  Exodus 20:6;  1 John 5:3;  2 John 1:6 ). Love is here set forth as more than a mere affection or sentiment; it is something that manifests itself, not only in obedience to known Divine commands, but also in a protecting and defense of them, and a seeking to know more and more of the will of God in order to express love for God in further obedience (compare  Deuteronomy 10:12 ). Those who love God will hate evil and all forms of worldliness, as expressed in the avoidance of the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life ( Psalm 97:10;  1 John 2:15-17 ). Whatever there may be in his surroundings that would draw the soul away from God and righteousness, that the child of God will avoid. Christ, being God, also claims the first place in our affections. He is to be chosen before father or mother, parent, or child, brother or sister, or friend ( Matthew 10:35-38;  Luke 14:26 ). The word "hate" in these passages does not mean to hate in the sense in which we use the word today. It is used in the sense in which Jacob is said to have "hated" Leah ( Genesis 29:31 ), that is, he loved her less than Rachel; "He loved also Rachel more than Leah" ( Genesis 29:30 ). To love Christ supremely is the test of true discipleship ( Luke 14:26 ), and is an unfailing mark of the elect ( 1 Peter 1:8 ). We prove that we are really God's children by thus loving His Son ( John 8:42 ). Absence of such love means, finally, eternal separation ( 1 Corinthians 16:22 ).

Man must love his fellow-man also. Love for the brotherhood is a natural consequence of the love of the fatherhood; for "In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother" ( 1 John 3:10 ). For a man to say "I love God" and yet hate his fellowman is to brand himself as "a liar" ( 1 John 4:20 ); "He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, cannot love God whom he hath not seen" ( 1 John 4:20 ); he that loveth God will love his brother also ( 1 John 4:21 ). The degree in which we are to love our fellow-man is "as thyself" ( Matthew 22:39 ), according to the strict observance of law. Christ set before His followers a much higher example than that, however. According to the teaching of Jesus we are to supersede this standard: "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another" ( John 13:34 ). The exhibition of love of this character toward our fellow-man is the badge of true discipleship. It may be called the sum total of our duty toward our fellow-man, for "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: love therefore is the fulfillment of the law"; "for he that loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the law" ( Romans 13:8 ,  Romans 13:10 ). The qualities which should characterize the love which we are to manifest toward our fellow-men are beautifully set forth in  1 Corinthians 13:1-13 . It is patient and without envy; it is not proud or self-elated, neither does it behave discourteously; it does not cherish evil, but keeps good account of the good; it rejoices not at the downfall of an enemy or competitor, but gladly hails his success; it is hopeful, trustful and forbearing - for such there is no law, for they need none; they have fulfilled the law.

Nor should it be overlooked that our Lord commanded His children to love their enemies, those who spoke evil of them, and despitefully used them ( Matthew 5:43-48 ). They were not to render evil for evil, but contrariwise, blessing. The love of the disciple of Christ must manifest itself in supplying the necessities, not of our friends only ( 1 John 3:16-18 ), but also of our enemies ( Romans 12:20 f).

Our love should be "without hypocrisy" ( Romans 12:9 ); there should be no pretense about it; it should not be a thing of mere word or tongue, but a real experience manifesting itself in deed and truth ( 1 John 3:18 ). True love will find its expression in service to man: "Through love be servants one to another" ( Galatians 5:13 ). What more wonderful illustration can be found of ministering love than that set forth by our Lord in the ministry of foot-washing as found in Jn 13? Love bears the infirmities of the weak, does not please itself, but seeks the welfare of others ( Romans 15:1-3;  Philippians 2:21;  Galatians 6:2;  1 Corinthians 10:24 ); it surrenders things which may be innocent in themselves but which nevertheless may become a stumbling-block to others ( Romans 14:15 ,  Romans 14:21 ); it gladly forgives injuries ( Ephesians 4:32 ), and gives the place of honor to another ( Romans 12:10 ). What, then, is more vital than to possess such love? It is the fulfillment of the royal law ( James 2:8 ), and is to be put above everything else ( Colossians 3:14 ); it is the binder that holds all the other graces of the Christian life in place ( Colossians 3:14 ); by the possession of such love we know that we have passed from death unto life ( 1 John 3:14 ), and it is the supreme test of our abiding in God and God in us ( 1 John 4:12 ,  1 John 4:16 ).

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [15]

(prop. אִהֲבָה , Ἀγάπη ) is an attachment of the affections to any object, accompanied with an ardent desire to promote its happiness: 1, by abstaining from all that could prove injurious to it; 2, by doing all that call promote its welfare, comfort, or interests, whether it is indifferent to these efforts, or whether it appreciates them. This is what Kant calls practical love, in contradistinction from pathological love, which is a sort of sensual self-love, and a desire for community in compliance with our own feelings. In reality, love is something personal, emanating from a personal being and directed towards another, and thus its moral or immoral character is determined by the fact of its being called forth by the real worth of the personality towards which it is directed, or by the physical appearance of the latter, or by the advantages it may offer.

In the Christian sense, as we find it spoken of in the Word of God, love is not merely a peculiar disposition of the feelings, or a direction of the will of the creature, though this also must have its root in the creative principle, in God. God is love, the original, absolute love ( 1 John 4:9). As the absolute love, he is at once subject and object, i.e., he originally loved himself, had communion with himself, imparted himself to himself, as also we see mention made of God's love before the creation of the world, the love of the Father towards the Son ( John 17:24), Derived from this love is the love which calls into being and preserves his creatures. Creatures, that is, existences which come from God, are through him and for him; not having life by themselves, but immediately dependent upon God existing by his will, and consequently to be destroyed at his will; created in time, and consequently subject to time, developing themselves in it to the full extent of their nature according to God's thoughts, with the possibility of departing therefrom, which it were impossible to suppose of God, the eternally real and active idea of himself. In regard to the creature, the divine love is the will of God to communicate to it the fullness of his life, and even the will to impart, according to its receptive faculty, this fullness into something which is not himself, yet which, as coming from God, tends also towards God, and finds its rest in him, and its happiness in doing his will. But, as emanating from an active God this love, with all its fullness, can only be directed towards a similarly organized and consequently personal creature, conscious of its relation to God and of himself as its end, possessing in itself the fullness of created life (microcosm).

It must, then, be man towards whom this divine love is directed as the object of God's delight, created after his image. This love is manifested in the earnestness of the discipline (commands and threats,  Genesis 2:17) employed to strengthen this resemblance to God, to educate man as a ruler by obedience, as also by the intercourse of God with man; and, after the fall, by the hope and confidence awakening promises, as well as in the humiliating condemnation to pain, labor, and death. All these contain evidences of love, of this will of God to hold man in his communion, or to restore him to it. At the bottom of it lies an appreciation of his worth, namely, of his inalienable resemblance to God, of the imparted divine breath. This appreciation is also the foundation of compassionate love, for it is only on this ground that man is worthy of the divine affection. But it is also the ground which renders him deserving of punishment. For punishment, this destiny of evil, which is felt as a hinderance of life, is in one respect an expiation, i.e. a retrieving of God's honor, being incurred by that disregard of the value of his communion with God, and consequently of the real life, which must be considered as injurious to the life of man, and leading him to ruin; on the other hand, it is inducement to conversion, as this consequence of sin leads man to recognize the restoration of this disturbed relation to God as the one thing needful and desirable. Punishment consequently proceeds in both cases on the assumption of the worth of man in the eve of God, and is a proof of it. Hence the anger of God, as manifested by these punishments, is but another form of his love. It is a reaction of rejected love which manifests itself in imparting suffering and pain on the one who rejects it, proving thereby that its rejection is not a matter of indifference to it. This love may not be apparent at first sight, but it is clearly revealed in God's conduct towards all mankind, as well towards the heathen as towards the chosen people. God allowed the heathen to walk in their own ways ( Acts 14:17); he allows them to fall into all manner of evil ( Romans 1:21 sq.) in order to bring them to a sense of their misery and helplessness as well as of their guilt. But at the bottom of this anger there is still love, and this is clearly shown in the fact that he manifested himself to them in their conscience, and also took care of them ( Acts 14:17;  Acts 17:25 sq.).

But, if this love is thus evinced towards the heathen, it is still more clearly manifested towards the chosen people, the fact of their choice being itself a manifestation of that love ( Deuteronomy 7:6 sq.), which is further shown both in the blessings and punishments, the anger and the mercy, of which they were the objects. Holiness and mercy are the chief characteristics of the divine love as manifested towards Israel; the one raising them above their weaknesess, their evils, and their sins; the other understanding these failings, and seeking to deliver and restore them. But in both also is manifested the constancy of that love, its faithfulness; and the exactitude with which it adheres to the covenant it had itself made evinces its righteousness by saving those who fear God and obey his commandments. Both holiness and mercy are, for the moral, religious consciousness, harmonized in the expiatory sacrifice, in a figurative, typical manner in the O.T., and in a real, absolute manner in the N.T. The divine right in regard to fallen humanity is maintained, the death penalty is paid, but in such a manner that the chief of all, the divine Son of man, who is also Son of God, suffers it for all, of his own free will, and out of love to man, in accordance with the wishes of his Father. Thus the curse of sin and death is removed from humanity, and the possibility of a new existence of righteousness and felicity restored.

The New Covenant is therefore the full revelation of the spirit and object of the divine love. The incarnation of the Son of God is the revelation of God himself, and leads to his self-impartation by the Holy Spirit. Hence the eternal love discloses itself as being, in its inner nature, the love of the Father for the Son, and of the Son for the Father by the Holy Ghost, which proceeds from both, and is the fullness of the love that unites them, whence we can say that. God is love; as also, in its manifestation, it is the divine love towards fallen creatures, which is the will to restore their perfect communion with God by means of the all-sufficient expiatory sacrifice of the God-man, and the communication of the Holy Spirit, by which both the Father and the Son come to dwell in the hearts of men, thus forming a people of God's own, as was postulated, but not yet realized in the O.T. The love of God in man, therefore, is the consciousness of being loved by God ( Romans 5:5), resulting in a powerful impulse of love towards the God who has loved us first in Christ ( 1 John 4:19), and an inward and strong affection towards all who are loved by God in Christ ( 1 John 4:11); for the divine love, even when dwelling in man, remains all- embracing. This love takes the form of a duty ( 1 John 4:11), but at the same time becomes a gradually strengthening inclination. And this is the completion or the ripening of the divine love in man ( Ἐν Τούτῳ Τετελείωται ), that it manifests itself in positive results for the advantage of others.

We find the beginning and examples of this love under the old dispensation where mention is made of desire after God, joy in him, eagerness to serve him, zeal in doing everything to please and honor him. The inclination towards those who belong to God, the holy communion of love in God, that characteristic feature of the N.T., is also foreshadowed in the O.T. by the people of God, who are regarded as one in respect to him, and whose close, absolute communion with God is represented by the image of marriage. This image is still repeated in the N.T., nevertheless in such a manner that the union is represented as not yet accomplished; for, though Christ is designated as the bridegroom and the Church as the bride, the wedding is made to coincide with the establishment of his kingdom. Thus considered, the love of God and the furtherance of the love of God are still a figurative expression. God wants the whole heart of his people: one love, one sacrifice, exclusively directed towards him, so that none other should exist beside it; and that all inclinations of love towards any creature should be comprised in it, derived from it, and return to it. On this account his love is called jealous, and he is said to be a jealous God. This jealousy of God, however, this decided requiring of an exclusive submission on the part of his people, is, on the other hand, the tenderest carefulness for their welfare, their honor, and their restoration.

The close connection, indeed the unity of both, is evident. The effect of this jealousy of God is to kindle zeal in those who serve him, and consequently opposition against all that opposes, or even does not conduce to his service. This is a manifestation of love towards God, which love is essentially a return of his own love, and consequently gratitude, accompanied by the highest appreciation, and an earnest desire for communion with him. It includes joy in all that serves God, absolute submission to him, and a desire to do everything for his glory. The love in God, i.e., the love of those who feel themselves bound together by that common bond, is essentially of the same character; but, from the fact of its being directed towards creatures who are afflicted with many failings and infirmities, must also include as distinguished from the love towards God a willingness to forgive, which makes away with all hinderances to full communion, a continual friendliness under all circumstances, consequently patience and gentleness, zeal for their improvement, and sympathy for their failings and misfortunes. But as the love of the creative, redemptive, and sanctifying God, extending further than merely those who have attained to that communion with him, embraces all, so should also the love of those who love God. Yet in the divine love itself there is a distinction made, inasmuch as God's love towards those who love him and keep his commandments is a strengthening, sustaining pleasure in them ( John 14:21;  John 14:23), while his love towards the others is benevolence and pity, which, according to their conduct, the disposition of their hearts. and their receptivity, is either not felt at all by them, or only produces pain, fear o, or, again, hope, desire, etc., but not a feeling of complete, abiding joy. So in the love of the children of God towards the human race we find the distinction between brotherly and universal love ( Romans 12:10;  Hebrews 13:1;  1 Peter 1:22;  2 Peter 1:7). In both we find the characteristics of kindness and benevolence, sympathy, willingness to help, gentleness, and patience; but in the universal love there is wanting the feeling of delight, of an equal aim, a complete reciprocity, of conscious unity in the one highest good.

Love also derives a special determination from the personality, the spiritual and essential organization of the one who loves, and also his particular position. It manifests itself in friendship as a powerful attraction, a hearty sympathy of feelings, a strong desire for being together and enjoying a communion of thoughts and feelings. In sexual love it is a tender reciprocal attraction, a satisfaction in each other as the mutual complement of life, and a desire for absolute and lasting community of existence. Parental, filial, and brotherly love can be considered as a branch of this affection. Both friendship and love have the full sanction of Christian morals when based on the love of God. As wedded love is an image of the relation between the Lord and his people, or the Church ( Ephesians 5:23 sq.), so paternal, filial, and brotherly love are respectively images of the love of God towards his children, of their love towards him, and of their love towards each other. All these relations may want this higher consecration, and yet be well regulated; they have then a moral character. But they may also be disorderly: friendship can be sensual, selfish, and even degenerate into unnatural sexual connection; sexual love may become selfish, having no other object but the gratification of lust; parental love may change to self-love, producing over-indulgence, and fostering the vices of the children; brotherly love can degenerate into flattery and spoiling. Thus this feeling, which in its principle and aim should be the highest and noblest, can become the most common, the worst, and the most unworthy.

Both kinds of love are mentioned in Scripture. The highest and purest tendency of the heart is in the Bible designated by the same name as the more natural, immoral, or disorderly tendency. The same was the case among the Greeks and Romans: ῎Ερως , Amor,, and Ἀφροδίτη , Venus, had both significations, the noble and the common; but Christianity has in Christ and in his Church the perfect illustration and example of true love, whose absolute type is in the triune life of God himself. This divine love, as it exists in God, and through the divine Spirit in the heart of man, together with the connection of both, is represented to us in Scripture as infinitely deep and pure. We find it thus represented in the Old Testament (see  Deuteronomy 33:3;  Isaiah 49:13 sq.;  Isaiah 57:17 sq.;  Isaiah 55:7 sq.;  Jeremiah 31:20;  Jeremiah 32:37 sq.;  Ezekiel 34:11 sq.;  Hosea 3:2 sq.;  Micah 7:18 sq.). Then in the whole mission of Christ, and in what he stated of his own love and of the Father's, see  Matthew 11:28; Luke 15;  John 4:10;  John 4:14;  John 6:37 sq.;  John 7:37 sq.;  John 9:4;  John 10:12 sq.;  John 12:35;  John 13:1;  John 15:12-13; John 17; and, for the testimony of the apostles,  Romans 5:5 sq.;  Romans 8:28 sq.;  Romans 11:29 sq.; 1 Corinthians 13;  Ephesians 1:3;  Ephesians 1:17 sq.;  Ephesians 5:1 sq.;  1 John 3:4, etc. These statements are corroborated by the testimony of Christians in all ages, who have all been witness to this love, however much their views may have differed on other points. In later times, ethical essays on the subject have thrown great light on the nature and modes of manifestation of this love; see among them, Daub, Syst. d. christl. Moral, 2:1, page 310; Marheineke, Syst. d. theol. Moral, page 470; Rothe, Theol. Elthik, 2:350. Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 8:388 sq. See Wesleyana, page 54.

References