This is my 100th teaching I’m placing on this website. It may or may not be the last teaching I’ll place on the website.
Let me explain… A couple of years ago, I had already placed about 60 teachings of my teachings on this website. At that time, God spoke to me and said something like this (not an exact quote): “Bill, before I call you Home on your last numbered day, I want you to have placed 100 teachings on your website.” I understood that to mean that God wanted me to place a minimum of 100 teachings on the website, and that any time after that I might die; I didn’t understand that to mean that immediately after my 100th teaching I would die.
[Note: The concept of God apportioning each of us a finite number of days is found in Psalm 90: 12 and Exodus 23: 26 in the Old Testament portion of the Bible.]
When I’ve shared with some people about what God told me a couple of year ago, they have mistakenly understood that God meant that immediately after I place the 100th teaching on my website I would die. Who knows? Maybe that’s what God meant. I don’t know. I’m ready to continue this mortal life here for many more years until my last numbered day…or I’m ready to die and go Home. We’ll see what happens! Maybe as you’re reading this I will have died and gone Home. Maybe not… As of this writing, I’m now 85 years young and still going pretty strong for my age. My wife, Anne, calls me “The Energizer Bunny” from the television commercials about Energizer batteries.
[Update: It’s now February 2023, and I have placed 107 teachings on this website; just to let you know I’m still alive and going strong!]
The title says this teaching is about love: both God’s love and human love. God’s love is complete and perfect. Human love—because of human sin—is incomplete and imperfect. Love is not only a feeling, it is also an action. Love is not me-centered, it is other-centered. Love acts. Love gives. Love serves. Love is a verb!
One basic principle of Bible study is to study all the occurrences of a certain word, topic, or subject before arriving at a conclusion; that way, one avoids picking out “proof texts” to prove what one has already concluded ahead of time. That’s not only an important principle of Bible study; it’s an important principle for studying any literature.
It has been said that when reading the Bible, believe what you read, not read what you believe!
Another principle of Bible study is that there is usually a certain text, chapter, or book that sort of summarizes or encapsulates whatever subject one is studying. For example, to study the subject of “love” in the Bible, 1 Corinthians chapter 13 summarizes that subject. To study how God “speaks” to humans is summarized in John chapter 10, and so on for every subject or topic throughout the Bible.
For the most part, this teaching will be directly quoting from the Bible the main points it makes about love, and I make a few comments or offer a few explanations about the Bible references I’ll quote.
Let’s begin… For purposes of this study, there are 3 main words used for “love” in the Bible in the original Greek, one of the 3 languages in which the Bible was written: 1. Agape. This is God’s own love. The Bible states unequivocally that “God is love.” (1 John 4: 8) God’s very Person, nature, and character is love. Everything God does originates with love and flows from his love to the entire creation, including all humanity. God is only love; there is nothing about God that is not love. God cannot not love and be loving. God transfuses, infuses, and literally pours his own love into humans by the direct action of Holy Spirit. (Romans 5: 5). Without God’s agape poured into us, we humans as a species are very unloving most of the time.
The 2nd word for love is phileo. This is brotherly love, family love, generalized love that we humans experience and share with one another as part of our created nature and personalities. As an example, the City of Philadelphia means city of brotherly love. We humans do not always display phileo, but I thank God for those who do. Otherwise, because of the downward pull of human sin, we would be very unloving at times.
For example, I dearly love my wife…and my children…and my grandchildren…and my great-grandchildren…and my brother…and my friends…and my dog and cat…but my love is very flawed and incomplete, and I do not act very loving at times. I wish that were not the case, but it is what it is…
The 3rd type of love is eros. This is were we get the term erotic love, romantic love, sexual love. Again, sometimes we humans do not always display and practice eros properly—as evidenced by fornication, adultery, prostitution, sexual abuse, and so on.
Actually, there are more than those 3 words used for love in the original languages of the Bible, but the 3 I mentioned include and incorporate—in a manner of speaking—the other words used for love.
Now having defined those three types of love, I’m going to focus on some of what the Bible teaches about agape, God’s love, God’s own Self-created love He pours into and shares with us humans as I mentioned above. We have already seen that the Bible teaches about God’s type of love that He shares with humans. Some humans use it properly, some use it improperly, some ignore it, some fight against it, but it’s there for us if we choose to exercise and display it in a godly manner.
The first significant use of the word love in the Bible is Deuteronomy 6: 5: Attention, Israel! God, our God! God the one and only! Love God, your God with all your heart, soul, and strength: love Him with all that’s in you, love Him with all you’ve got!” This is an early statement in the Bible that discloses the tri-une nature of humans: “Heart” = our human spirit, “soul” = the human mind, and “strength” = the human body: body, soul, and spirit: three yet one, one yet three.
Now let’s examine from various biblical references just some random smatterings of what love is like and what it does. The following 5 paragraphs are generalized statements from the Bible about what love is and how it acts toward others.
Want peace? Psalm 119: 165 proclaims “Those who love God’s law (his revealed, written word, the Bible), shall have great peace.” Want true biblical prosperity? “Pray for peace for the city of Jerusalem; if you do, you will prosper.” (Psalm 122: 6)That’s God’s promise to you, not mine! Want your sins covered over (actually taken away—removed from you totally): “[God’s] love covers all your offenses and sins.” (Proverbs 10: 12) Want genuine, rock-solid love that can’t be diminished? “Many waters cannot quench love; it is invincible; flood waters can’t drown love, neither can torrents of rain put it out.” (Song of Solomon 8: 7)
Want everlasting love? “God told his people that He would never quit loving them; expect from God love, love, and more love to continually draw you to Himself.” (Jeremiah 31: 3) Want God’s leading in your life? “I lead my people along with unbreakable bands of love.” (Hosea 11: 2) Want to really and truly love God…and other people? ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your spirit, with all your mind, and with all your strength…and love others as well as you love yourself.” (Matthew 22: 37) Note this does not say to love your neighbor instead of yourself, but love your neighbor in the same way you love yourself. How do you genuinely love yourself? With God’s love infused into you!
Jesus tells us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. Pray for the happiness of those who curse us. Do unto others as we want them to do to and for us. (Matthew 22: 37) How in the world can we do that?! Only with God’s agape love Holy Spirit pours into us. Want to honestly love other people without religious hypocrisy? “Love each other; that’s the only way ‘outsiders’ are going to know we are Jesus’ followers.” (John 13: 34 and 35) Want to remain absolutely bonded solidly to God’s love? “Can anything in all creation ever separate us from Jesus’ love? No!” (Romans 8: 35)
Want to have wonderful qualities in your life that just won’t go away? “But when Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce wonderful fruit from within us, much the same way that fruit grows in an orchard: love for God and others, exuberance about life, serenity, patience, unfeigned kindness, goodness that serves others, loyal commitments, no need to force our way through life, gentleness, and self-control. Against such, there is not law on earth that can bring charges!” (Galatians 5: 22 and 23)
Want to be fearless and have a healthy mind and think positive thoughts? “God has not given us spirits of fear, but Holy Spirit power and boldness, and love, and a healthy and positive mind.” (2 Timothy 1: 7)
As stated earlier, the 5 paragraphs immediately above this one are just a relatively few smatterings about love found throughout the Bible; there are literally hundreds more references about love.
But now I want to take you to the main section of the Bible that summarizes and encapsulates what love is all about: the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians, I will amplify, paraphrase, and personalize what that chapter says in modern, readable English. Here we go:
“If I could speak with power and eloquence any human or heavenly language, but don’t display and express myself with love, I’m only making meaningless, nonsense noises. If I’m a power-full, gifted teacher of the Bible, speaking God’s words with his inner power, and revealing all the mysteries and hidden secrets of God—making everything as plain as day, and if I could move mountains with my faith, but I don’t love God and others, I’m nothing.
If I were to give away to the poor everything I own, and even become a martyr for Jesus, but I don’t love God or others, I’ve gotten nowhere. So…no matter what I say, no matter what I believe, no matter what I do—even if I boast about all my so-called sacrifices, I live a totally bankrupt life if I don’t love God and others.
[Note: in the remainder of 1 Corinthians 13, you’ll notice I have written “God/love,” That’s because God is love, and all other love flows from God’s love; in a sense, “God” and “love” are interchangeable.]
God/love never gives up. God/love cares more for others than for self. God/love doesn’t greedily want what others have—and be jealous and envious of what others have. God/love isn’t proud and arrogant. God/love isn’t rude and doesn’t force itself on others. God/love isn’t always “me first.” God/love doesn’t fly off the handle. God/love doesn’t “keep score” about the sins of other people.
God/love is never happy about human injustice. God/love rejoices when truth “wins.” God/love puts up with everything—never gives up. Love always trusts God and is full of hope in God. God/love always looks for the best, and never looks longingly back at the past. God/love never gives up on anybody or anything.
God/love lasts for all time and eternity. Until God makes right every wrong, we need to trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. The best of everything is love.”
Chapter 13 of 1st Corinthians is not only about God, Who is perfect love, it’s also about those people in whom God lives and through whom He displays his love for others.
There you have somewhat of a condensed version of what the Bible teaches about love. Love never fails. We will continue to experience God’s love outpoured upon all humanity throughout all the remaining ages of time and thereafter in the coming Eternal State. God’s love will never be diminished but will always continue to grow and be poured out to his entire creation.
Early in the 20th century, here’s what one songwriter, Frederick M Lehman, wrote about the love of God:
“The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star, and reaches to the lowest hell…
…O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—the saints’ and angels’ song!”
At about the same time, another writer, Charles H Gabriel, wrote these words about the love of God:
“When with the ransomed in glory
His face I at last shall see,
‘Twill be my joy thro’ the ages
To sing of His love for me.
How marvelous, How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous, How wonderful!
Is my Saviors love for me!
Revised and Updated February 2023