Biblical Definition of God's Love

By Johnny Hunt
Bible Book: 1 John  4 : 7-11
Subject: God, Love of; Love of God
Series: The Love of God

For several weeks I have meditated on this subject, “The Love of God.” When you dive into this vast subject, it is as though you swim and yet never reach shore. You dive deep but never touch bottom.

Paul says of love, “...bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…and now abides faith, hope, love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.” (1Corinthians 13:7, 8, 13).

What is agape love? It is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love. Agape, perfectly describes the kind of love Jesus Christ has for His Father and for his followers. Agape is love which if from and of God, whose very nature is love itself. Love originates with God.

1 John 4:8 – “God is love”

1 John 4:7 – “ is of (from) God”

God does not merely love; He is love itself. Love does not define God, God defines love. Everything God does flows from His love.

It’s important to remember that God’s love is not a foolish or silly type love, not showing good judgement, such as we often hear portrayed. God loves because that is His nature and the expression of His being. He loves the unlovable and the unlovely (us), not because we deserve to be loved, but because it is His nature to love us, and He must be true to His nature and character. God’s love is displayed most clearly at the cross, where Christ died for the unworthy sinners who were “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), not because we did anything to deserve it, “but God commends His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Roman 5:8). The object of God’s love never does anything to merit His love. We are the underserving recipients upon whom He lavishes that love. There is nothing in us that commands us to God’s love (God commends His love toward us).

Here is the overarching truth of 1 John 4 - we are to love others in the same way, sacrificially.

The story of the Good Samaritan is an example of sacrifice for the sake of others, even for those who may care nothing at all for us.

Luke 6:27-28: "’But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.’”

Sacrificial love is not based on a feeling, but a determined act of the will, a joyful resolve to put the welfare of others above your own. Problem - this type of love does not come naturally to humans. Because of our fallen nature, we are incapable of producing such a love; it can only come from its true source.

Romans 5:5: “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

John 13:34-35: “’A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.’”


God’s description of love, and because God is love, this is what He is like.

“Love is patient, love is kind, love does not envy, love does not boast, love is not proud. Love is not rude, love is not self-seeking, love is not easily angered, love keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but love rejoices with the truth.”

Praise Chorus


Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant through the trial and the change
One thing… Remains

Your love never fails, never gives up
Never runs out on me
On and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never, ever, have to be afraid
One thing remains
In death, In life, I’m confident and
covered by the power of Your great love
My debt is paid, there’s nothing that can
separate my heart from Your great love...

Love (God) does not force Himself on anyone. Those who come to Him do so in response to His love. Love (God) does not demand obedience. God did not demand obedience from His Son, rather, Jesus willingly obeyed His Father in Heaven.

John 14:31: “The world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.”

QUESTION: What does it mean that God is love?

It is an attribute of God; a core aspect of His character. God’s love is in no sense in conflict with His holiness, righteousness, justice, or even His wrath. Everything God does is loving, just as everything He does is just and right.

As we move from verses 7 and 8 there is a transition from Defining God’s Love to Manifestation of God’s Love. But first:


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;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

When hoary time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.


“To understand love correctly, we must see that love originates as a noun that necessarily produces verbs”. Jon Bloom


In Matthew 22:37-39 the Greatest Commandment is to love God and the Second is to love our neighbors. In 1 John 4:9-10 the aged Apostle John will share insights in how we can love (agape) our neighbors.

John will help us see that the death of Jesus was on our behalf that through the new birth (repentance/surrender) this attribute (God’s love) becomes part of who you are.

Sounds impossible in light of my own heart!

I’m to love God with all my heart, all my soul, and with all my mind (Matthew 22:37).

Get Honest:

“Heart” – polluted with indwelling sin of selfishness.

“Soul” – everything that animates my physical and emotional being.

“Mind” – every thought and intellectual desire.

Romans 7:22-24: “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”

Note truth that serves as ENCOURAGEMENT

Romans 8:3-4: “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

When I am born again by the Spirit of God, I know that Jesus Christ did not come only to teach, He came to make me what He teaches I should be. The redemption means that Jesus Christ can place within anyone the same nature that ruled His own life, and all the standards God gives us are based on that nature.

A. God’s Love Demonstrated - Verse 9

Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

“The fact that He is love (God is love) explains the divine plan of redemption. If God operated only on the basis of His law, He would convict people of their sin, and justly consign everyone to spend forever in hell. But His love provided a remedy for sin through the atoning works of Jesus Christ on behalf of all who repent of their sins and trust in His way. Therefore, John 3:16!” John MacArthur

“That we might live through Him.” - In Jesus, if dead people can live, unloving people can love.

B. God’s Love Vindicated - verse 8

“He who does not love does not know God.”

Question: Have you ever said before, “I just can’t find any love in my heart for that person.”

Answer: “for God is love.” Verse 8

“for love is of (from) God.” Verse 7

“everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” v7

It is not a human virtue innate in us nor is it a learned behavior. God is the Originator and Giver of this love.

“So loving others is the outward manifestation, the visible expression, the practical demonstration, and therefore the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:40: “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."

“So there is a sense in which the second commandment (to love your neighbor) is the visible goal of the whole Word of God. It's not as though loving God is not here, or that loving God is less important; rather loving God is made visible and manifest and full in our visibly, practically, sacrificially loving others.” John Piper

Love for God comes to visible manifestation when we love others.

Our love for God is fulfilled when we love others.


John links God’s love for us and our love for people by focusing on God’s nature as love and how the new birth (salvation) connects us to that.

God sent Jesus, the aim of that sending was to be “the propitiation for our sins.”

God’s love that sent His Son to bear God’s judgement to take away God’s just wrath. God chose to satisfy His own wrath.


A. Not - Verse 10

“not that we loved God, but that He loved us.”

The nature and the origin of love does not lie in our response to God. That is not where love starts. Love is and love starts with God.

He Loved Me With The Cross Lyrics

He left a throne in heaven to come to Bethlehem
And I will not forget the way
He loved me even then
And everywhere He traveled
He spoke with words of love
That said He'd go to any distance
To show what I was worthy of
And when at last the dusty road
Had turned to Calvary
He picked up a rugged burden
So that one day I would see
He loved me with a cross
He loved me with a cross
In answer to the call of love
He loved me with a cross
And I could not imagine what
Loving me would cost
My Jesus went to Calvary
And loved me with a cross
He knew from the beginning
The price He'd have to pay
For my heart had gone so far beyond
What other loves forgave
I wasn't on that hillside
To see Him on the tree
But as my guilt was placed upon Him
I know that somehow He saw me

B. Ought - Verse 11

“we ought to love one another”

1 John 3:16 – “we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

“Ought” – denotes it is necessary; one must; to owe. As a verb, it’s a call to action.

Through the new birth, imitation became realization. God’s seed is in use. God’s Spirit is in us. God’s nature is in us. God’s love is being perfected in us.