The Love of God
Love is one those terms that is used so frequently and in so many contexts that it can be difficult to discern it’s meaning. In English, we use the same word no matter what the object or intensity of our love: “I love chocolate; I love steak; I love the mountains; I love to read; or I love you sweetheart.” So when we talk about the love of God, and in particular, the love of God for us personally, we may import into what we say the various ideas conveyed in other contexts. So it is important that we understand the love of God Biblically.
Love is not a quality that evolved out of some primordial soup. It is an eternal attribute of God. It has existed eternally as an attribute of Almighty God. So if we want to study love and see love for what it is, we must first see it in the Godhead, because God is the perfect essence of love. The Apostle John says so in 1John 4:7,8. He tells us that God is the source of true love (“love is from God”) and that God is love itself (v. 8). In fact this is so true that it is impossible to know true love, to understand its meaning, without having a personal knowledge and understanding of God: “God is love.”
Perhaps we have heard it said of someone; “That person is love personified.” And we know what they mean by that, but it cannot be strictly true. It can only really be said of One; and that is the God of Scripture. We must be quick and clear to say that love is certainly not all that God is, but it is definitely one thing that He is.
Love is more, however, than a static quality or even a sentimental emotion. God is not only the perfect essence of love. He is also the perfect expression of love. Not only do we see what love is in God, we also see what it is like in God. Perhaps the two are one and the same. For what would it matter that God is love if He did not give expression to it. God has “manifested” or “made known” His love. In particular, God has shown His love to His children. That love has been expressed in the person and work of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We will look more carefully at God’s general love and His special love next time. But we can at least think on these aspects of love revealed in the Godhead. Love gives, forgives, forebears, has pity, sustains and cares for. Love is kind and patient and genuinely concerned for its object. And it is not subject to changing circumstances or emotions.
So when we think of the love of God, let’s consciously avoid importing much of the typical use of the idea. Let’s think Biblically and be guided by the person of God Himself, “for God is love”.