What is Biblical Love? | Deep Dive Bible Study

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV

After explaining a variety of spiritual gifts Christians are given by the power of the Holy Spirit, Paul then explains that no matter what gift you have been given if you use it without love it means nothing. No works, wonders or faith means anything if it is not companioned with love as God calls on us to love.

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40 ESV
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 ESV
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7 ESV
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. John 14:15 ESV

We are called to love God and love people first and foremost, and we are also called to love our neighbor as ourselves, and love as God loves. We must know God’s definition of love in order to love others like He loves.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV

What is love according to God?

Love is patient:

Strong’s G3114 - makrothymeō - patient:

  • to be of a long spirit, not to lose heart

  • to persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles

  • to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others

  • to be mild and slow in avenging

  • to be longsuffering, slow to anger, slow to punish

Love is kind:

Strong’s G5541 - chrēsteuomai - kind:

  • to show one's self mild, to be kind, use kindness

Love is honest (rejoices in truth):

Strong’s G225 - alētheia - truth:

  • sincerity of mind and integrity of character, or a mode of life in harmony with divine truth

Love bears all things:

Strong’s G4722 - stegō - bears (all things):

  • to cover over with silence; to keep secret; to hide, conceal

  • hides and excuses the errors and faults of others

Love believes all things:

Strong’s G4100 - pisteuō - believes (all things):

  • to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in

Love hopes all things:

Strong’s G1679 - elpizō - hopes (all things):

  • to hope, to wait for salvation with joy and full of confidence

Love endures all things:

Strong’s G5278 - hypomenō - endures (all things):

  • to endure, bear bravely and calmly

What is love not according to God?

Love does not envy:

Strong’s G2206 - zēloō - envy:

  • to burn with zeal

  • to be heated or to boil with envy, hatred, anger

  • in a good sense, to be zealous in the pursuit of good

  • to desire earnestly, pursue

  • to desire one earnestly, to strive after, busy one's self about him

  • to exert one's self for one (that he may not be torn from me)

  • to be the object of the zeal of others, to be zealously sought after

  • to envy

Love does not boast:

Strong’s G4068 - perpereuomai - brag:

  • to boast one's self

  • a self display, employing rhetorical embellishments in extolling one's self excessively

Love is not arrogant:

Strong’s G5448 - physioō - arrogant:

  • to inflate, blow up, to cause to swell up

  • to puff up, make proud

  • to be puffed up, to bear one's self loftily, be proud

Love is not rude:

Strong’s G807 - aschēmoneō - rude:

  • to act unbecomingly

Love is not selfish (self-seeking):

Strong’s G1438 - heautou - self:

  • himself, herself, itself, themselves

Strong’s G2212 - zēteō - seek:

  • require, demand

Love is not irritable:

Strong’s G3947 - paroxynō - provoked:

  • to irritate, provoke, rouse to anger

Love is not resentful (take into account a wrong suffered):

Strong’s G3049 - logizomai - take into account:

  • to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over

  • to take into account, to make an account of

  • metaphor: to pass to one's account, to impute

  • a thing is reckoned as or to be something, i.e. as availing for or equivalent to something, as having the like force and weight

Strong’s G2556 - kakos - wrong suffered:

  • of a mode of thinking, feeling, acting; base, wrong, wicked

  • evil i. e. what is contrary to law, either divine or human, wrong, crime

  • to do, commit evil

Love is not unrighteous (rejoice at wrongdoing):

Strong’s G93 - adikia - unrighteousness:

  • a deed violating law and justice, act of unrighteousness

  • specifically, the wrong of depriving another of what is his

When we love God we obey God, when we obey God we bear His fruit, and when we bear His fruit we love the way He loves us. Paul reminds the Corinthians, as well as all future generations of believers, that to love is to be patient, or long-suffering. It is loving to be kind, honest, and to bear with one another, hope for and share hope with one another, and to endure with one another. It is not loving to be selfish, arrogant, prideful or rude. We are failing to love when we brag, envy, becoming irritable or resentful toward one another. We also fail to love when we act unrighteously or sinfully, which can show up in a lot of ways.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 ESV

Paul recognizes that while these spiritual gifts are not eternal, love is eternal. We will not always need these gifts but without love we have nothing. We will always need love. During this lifetime we will only see and perceive a fraction of the wisdom and blessings of God. When we see God face to face we will rest in His presence and full wisdom for eternity. This life is preparation for eternity, and in loving others we are planting seeds of God’s love to help draw more people to eternity with Him.

Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14 ESV
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8 ESV
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17 ESV

Faith enables us to trust in God, hope enables us to look forward to the promises of God, but love enables us to imitate God. As we grow in faith and hope we should be growing in and better imitating the love of God in our lives. If we are failing to display and live in the love of God, we are failing to be imitators of God, and therefore all we do, even if in the name of God, is useless.

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