Bible Study of 1 John: Day 171
God is Love
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Carefully prepared just for you by your friend, Debbie Holt
I give You this day and all that it holds. Help me to be a faithful representation of You. Amen.
I John 4
God is love! That seems to be the main theme or topic of chapter 4. This chapter goes on to describe “love”, leaving no room for the romantic notions that man conceives love to be.
Back in week 2, chapter 2, I had you look at the words for love. Now we need to expand what we know about this all important “little word”.
There is a Greek word for love – eros – that represents erotic love. It is a love that is an emotional involvement based on body chemistry and self-satisfaction. The foundation of this type of love is some characteristic in the other person which pleases you. If the characteristic would cease to exist, the reason for the love would be gone, the result being, “I don’t love you anymore”.
Eros looks for what it can receive. If it does give, it gives in order to receive. If it fails to get what it wants or expects, bitterness or resentment could develop. It is a conditional type of love. Eros is not used in the New Testament nor is it used in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. I simply gave you this word for love because it is commonly the word people think of when you speak of love.
Another Greek word for love is phileo and this word speaks of affection, fondness, or liking. Kenneth Wuest says, “It is a love that is called out of one’s heart as a response to the pleasure one takes in a person or object.” Phileo is a love that responds to kindness, appreciation, or love. It involves giving as well as receiving; but when it is greatly strained, it can collapse in a crisis.
Phileo is a higher love than eros because it is our happiness rather than my happiness. It is used a number of times in its noun and verb forms in the New Testament. In John 21:15-17, it is contrasted with agape love. And that brings me to the Greek word used in I John.
According to the Strong’s Numbering System, the Greek words for love in chapter 4 are #25 and #26. (These are the two Greek words you looked at in week #2) Agapao is #25 and agape is #26, which is the root word of agapao, making them essentially the same in their general meaning. These are the two words used in I John throughout.
Agape is called out of one’s heart by the preciousness of the object loved. It is a love of esteem, of evaluation. It has the idea of prizing. It is the noblest word for love in the Greek language. Agape is not kindled by the merit or worth of its object, but it originates in its own God-given nature. God is love – agape. It delights in giving. This love keeps on loving even when the loved one is unresponsive, unkind, unlovable, and unworthy. It is unconditional love. It desires only the good of the one loved. It is a consuming passion for the well-being of others.
There are only a few known occurrences of this word for love outside of the Bible. In other words, this word was not used very often in extra-biblical writings. It is used approximately 329 times in the New Testament. This just gives you a brief idea of the magnificent scope of this “God love”. It alone can explain the response of someone that loves someone regardless of what the other person does.
It’s only possible because God’s very nature manifests it – even to an undeserving world! It’s based on who He is – not on who we are!!
Here’s a partial list of the things you can learn about love in I John:
Keep a Running List
2:5 – Obedience is a sign of God’s perfect love in me.
2:10 – Love for the brethren is a sign that I abide in God’s light.
3:1 – God loves me and He calls me His child.
3:11 – I should love “one another” – the other brethren.
3:14 – Love for the brethren is a sign that I have passed from death to life.
3:16 – Christ’s love for me was sacrificial, and my love for others likewise should be sacrificial – in deed
and in truth. This gives me assurance in my heart and confidence in my prayers.
3:23 – Love is a commandment! (also 4:21)
4:7 – Love is from God – those born of God will love.
4:9 – God’s love for me was manifested in the gift of Jesus, His Son, Who gives me life.
4:18 – There is no fear in love – perfect love casts out fear.
4:19 – I love because He first loved me – He gave me love to have and to share!
4:20 – Love for the brethren is a sign of my love for God.
5:1 – If I love God, I will love His children.
5:2 – Obedience to God proves my love for others.
If you read these carefully, you will see the shades of difference in each statement, even if at first glance they look repetitious! What wondrous love is this, oh my soul!!!
The three key words I hope you saw yesterday were love, know, and abide.
Here we go…..add to your lists!
Keep the list on love I’ve given you above….but add to it anything you see. It’s definitely not exhaustive.
Make a list from chapter 4 for the word abide.
Make a list from chapter 4 for the word know.
Help me to love others as You have loved me! Amen.
What is God showing you through this study? We’d love to know. Leave us a comment below.
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