Summary: Do we fully understand what the word "Love" really means?

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God is Love – 27th May 2007 pm

1 John 4:7-21

Love is a very popular idea in today’s world, it’s on everyone’s lips. Songs are sung, books are written, and films are made all about love. But, we often forget that love is a truly Christian idea. It is seen in its fullness only in Christ. Love originated in the mind of God, John says that “God IS love”. But what the world calls love is extremely different from what God in Christ revealed love to be.

Love is used 180 times in the New Testament so it must be an important topic, it must be something that God wants us to grasp, so:

(1) What is love?

Look at Verse 7 & 8 – here we find the origin of love.

John begins by telling us that Love comes from God, and the person who doesn’t love, does not know God. It is difficult to understand this statement until love is defined. So, what is love?

Webster’s dictionary, defines love as a “strong liking for someone or something, or a passionate affection for another person”. Verse 7 though says that love is from God, well God is not of this world, and Webster’s definition of love involves objects of the world using the word “someone or something”.

A man fell in love with an opera singer. He hardly knew her; his only view of the singer was through binoculars - from the third balcony of the opera house. But he was convinced he could live "happily ever after" married to a voice like that. He didn’t even notice that she was much older than he was, nor did he care that she walked with a bit of a limp. Her soprano voice would take them through whatever might come.

After a whirlwind romance and a hurry-up ceremony, they were off for their honeymoon together. She began to prepare for their first night together. As he watched, his chin dropped to his chest. She plucked out her glass eye and plopped it into a container on the nightstand. She pulled off her wig, ripped off her false eyelashes, took her false teeth out, unstrapped her false leg, and smiled at him as she took off her glasses that hid her hearing aid. Stunned and horrified, he gasped, "For goodness sake woman sing, sing, SING!"

So straight away we see that the problem is evident, love is from God, and therefore a human definition is not sufficient enough to describe love.

In modern English, love is one word that has many meanings but if we look at the original New Testament Greek we can see what type of love John is talking about. In Biblical Greek, words for love include storge, philia, eros and agape.

Storge for example is a love between family members. – This is the love that we would have for our children.

Phileo is friendship and it means brotherliness or companionship. – This is the love that we would have between best friends.

Eros (not found in the New Testament) means sexual desire, this is where we get the word erotic from.

Agape is godly love, unconditional and totally unselfish.

In other words Eros is all take, phileo is give and take, Agape is all give.

All through this section the word for love that John uses is agape. It’s not sentimental love, it’s not sexual, and it’s not social love. It is a supernatural love that the Holy Spirit can put in our hearts, and only the Spirit of God can make it real to us. In other words it’s the love of God.

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