Seven Great Lessons About Love-1
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
Text: 1 John 4:7-19
The New Testament has a lot to say about love. The word love occurs 179 time in the New Testament. The word loveth occurs 27 times, loved occurs 42 times and the word lovest occurs 5 times bring the total to 253 times.
It is also important to note that there is one kind of love alluded to in the New Testament and three directly mentioned.
First, there is Erotic love or sexual love. While the word Greek word eros is not directly mentioned in the New Testament the principle is mentioned in several passages, including 1 Corinthians 7:2 & 9; Hebrews 13:4. This type of love is only to be engaged in within the context of marriage with your spouse. Erotic thoughts or actions not within the context of marriage could rightly be called lust. The lessons about love that we learn in 1 John 4 have nothing to do with erotic love.
Secondly, there is family love. That is the love for your children. Parents, etc. The Greek word for family love is storgouv – storgous. The word only occurs twice in the New Testament (Romans 1:31 & 2 Timothy 3:3) and both times it is in the negative form, speaking of people who do not love their family.
Third, there is the love, or rather the affection for your friends. The Greek word for this kind of love is filew – phileo. Phileo is a soulish kind of love, a love that is connected to our emotions. Both believers and non-believers can experience this kind of love. Again, this is not the kind of love John is addressing in chapter 4.
That brings us to the fourth kind of love, which is agaph agape love. Agape love is the highest kind of love. It is love that is spiritual and selfless in nature. Agape love is expressed in a desire for, and a delight in the welfare of others.
Let’s look at the first great lesson about love that John gives.
"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." 1 John 4:7
Human love is usually conditional and based upon how other people behave toward us. This kind of love is based upon familiarity and direct contact and communication. As I mentioned in the introduction, this kind of love is connected to our feelings and emotions this is phileo love and both believers and unbelievers experience this kind of love. In verse 7, the three times that love(th) appears it is a translation of agape. The first lesson we learn about this kind of love is that it is of divine origin. God is the author of agape love. The phrase "love is of God" literally means agape-love is out of God, or originates from God. Agape-love requires a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, since the non-regenerated soul is unable to love unconditionally. Agape-love gives and sacrifices expecting nothing back in return. In fact, agape-love is produced by the Holy Spirit of God. Galatians 5:22 makes this clear – "But the fruit of the Spirit is love…"
John makes it clear, only those who are born again are able to love in the agape way! Verse 7b says, "…every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." God says that agape-love is more important then all of the spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). Paul wrote that three things are enduring…faith, hope and love. The greatest of these three is agape-love (1 Corinthians 13:13).
In summary, agape-love is spiritual. God is the author of this kind of love. That brings us to the second great lesson about love.
"He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." 1 John 4:8 & 16
Let’s begin with the first phrase in verse 8 – "He that loveth not knoweth not God." The verse says, the one who does not habitually love in an agape way does not know God. However Greek scholar Vincent says in his commentary on this verse that the word "knoweth" is the aorist tense in the Greek meaning he never knew God. That means that the person who does not practice agape-love has no acquaintance with God and never did get acquainted with him.
That brings to the last phrase in verse 8 and repeated in verse 16 – "God is love." In the Greek the phrase is "o yeov agaph." You will note that God – yeov has an article – o while agape – agaph does not. When a Greek phrase is constructed in this way it means that the two words are not interchangeable. The absence of the article emphasizes nature, essence and character. That is, love is the very essence of God’s character. God, as to His nature is love. Verse 16 reaffirms this. It states that "God is love;" that is His nature, and God imparts this nature to be the sphere in which His children dwell.
But, how do we know that God is love? That brings us to the third great lesson about love…
"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." 1 John 4:9-10
In verse 9 we see that God showed (manifested) His love to us in a visible way first, by sending His Son into the world. John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." One author I was reading said, "That act of God filled Heaven with amazement." It ought to fill us with gratitude, adoration and praise! But, it is important that you know why God sent His Son. The second half of verse 9 says, "that we might live through him." The Apostle John says in the next chapter "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." 1 John 5:12. The Apostle Paul put it this way -- "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23.
My question to all who are listening to this message is
this – Do you have life or death today? You can have life because
of the love of God. We read in verse 10 – "Herein is love, not that we
loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the
propitiation for our sins." Remember, God is a holy God and because of His
holiness, His holy wrath must fall upon us and destroy us unless a
propitiation was provided. Because God loved us, he provided the
propitiation and that propitiation was His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ
became the acceptable sacrifice for our sins. Indeed, Jesus Christ is the
supreme manifestation of God’s love. Have you accepted God’s love gift?