What is the Meaning of Love in the Bible?
Many believe love is merely an emotion, but there are many layers to it. What is the definition of love in the Bible and are there different types of love?
What is the Meaning of Love in the Bible?
Brother Bob Pellien: Welcome, everyone to this program That’s in the Bible.
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Brother Bob Pellien
Minister of the Gospel
Brother Bob: Today, we’re responding to so many of the questions that we regularly receive all concerning love. Dear friends, through the many questions like that we receive here concerning the subject of love—which by the way, for example—we receive questions like:
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What’s the definition of love? What is love in the Bible? How do you love yourself? How do you really know if you’re in love with someone? How do you know it’s real love?
Brother Bob: We have dedicated this episode to this very topic (all-important topic), love. You know, some even have questions regarding Valentine’s Day and its connection to love, such as:
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When couples celebrate Valentine’s Day, what is the Christian way to show their love? Who chose February 14th to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Why is it a significant date when we can love each other any day of the year?
What are the different types of love in the Bible?
Brother Bob: Dear friends, the Bible mentions many forms of love. For example, the love of a mother for her children, the love of a husband for his wife. The Bible also makes mention of the love of God for His people, the love of Christ for His Church, so on and so forth.
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Forms of LOVE:
- mother for her children
- husband for his wife
- God for His people
- Christ of His Church
What is the definition of love?
Brother Bob: [There are] so many elements of love and descriptions of love and mentions of love. So, before we can begin to understand any of that, let’s first learn how the Bible actually defines “love” itself. So we can read the Bible’s definition of love in I Corinthians chapter 13. And it gives a long description of elements of love, like this beginning in verse 4:
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes, all things, endures all things.
[1 Corinthians 13:4-7 New King James Version]
Brother Bob: Dear friends, based on what’s written here, true love is not only what a person feels and merely an emotion, but also what they express [to] another person, what they want them to feel. This expression, it’s not just verbal, it’s proven through one’s actions. So there was a long list included in that description or characteristics of love that we just read. So let’s break it down one by one. Let’s review each of these characteristics of love mentioned here in the Bible.
So the Bible said, “love suffers long.” So, if someone loves another then they’re very patient with that person. But you know, not patient in the sense of just simply putting up with someone’s shortcomings or putting up with their mistakes but rather, showing compassion, kindness, because what was also included in that verse was “love is kind.” Someone who expresses true love for another will—as that verse mentioned—“bear all things” or then never give up on the one that they love no matter how difficult problems may become.
Why would they never give up? Well, the reason one will do this for their loved one is because they will always be filled with hope. Because love “hopes all things.” Dear friends, love will never lose faith because love “believes all things,” also making sacrifices, well, that’s part of it. It cannot be avoided when proving true love. In fact, sacrifices are required because love “endures all things.”
Remember, our perfect life is there in the Holy City. It’s not here. While we are here, we will always have trials, there will always be challenges, but love must always prevail. Because there might be (and there is) a lot of misconceptions regarding love, the Bible also makes clear what love is not.
The Bible also makes clear what love is NOT
Brother Bob: For those that might think that love is merely an emotion, we didn’t read that here. “Love is merely an emotion.” No. They have that misconception sometimes that love is an emotion to be desired because it feels good or it’s even a component in life that can be used to elevate one’s status. The Bible made clear that “love does not parade itself,” “love is not puffed up,” “love does not seek its own.”
Love is not simply a Valentine’s Day card or a box of chocolates, maybe with a nice pretty bow. If anyone thinks that actual love can be forced upon someone, or can be bought, or forced out of someone, [or means] you don’t have to be so careful with your words or your actions around your loved ones.
You have to remember in that verse we read the Bible explains that actual love “does not behave rudely” and “is not provoked.” Also, using deception or conniving someone for love—
it will never work. Because true love “thinks no evil.” True love “does not rejoice in iniquity.” Those are important elements described in those verses regarding love.
What are examples of love in the Bible?
So let’s take a look in the Scriptures. What are some various examples of love recorded here in the Holy Bible? Let’s turn for a moment here to the words of our Lord, according to the Book of Matthew 3:17 wherein it says this:
And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
[Matthew 3:17 New International Version]
Love of God to Christ – Matthew 3:17 NIV
Love of God to those in union with Him – 1 John 4:16 TEV
Brother Bob: So this is the love of God to our Lord Jesus Christ. And we also have the love of God to those who are in union with Him. And that one is recorded here in I John 4:16. It says here this:
God is love, and whoever lives in love lives in union with God and God lives in union with him.
[1 John 4:16 Today’s English Version]
Brother Bob: So the love of God’s people to God Himself as well is another example of love. And let’s go ahead and read all of these. I John 5:3:
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
[1 John 5:3 New King James Version]
Brother Bob: So the love of God’s people to Him is expressed by our obedience, our following and obeying His laws and His commandments.
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Love of God’s people to God Himself – 1 John 5:3 NKJV
Love of Christ to people in the Church, which God gave Him – Ephesians 5:25 NKJV
Brother Bob: The love of Christ to people in the Church is also one example of love. And that’s Ephesians 5:25:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,
[Ephesians 5:25 New King James Version]
Brother Bob: So here is Christ’s love for the Church. Here is also husbands’ love for their wives.
Love of a husband and wife – Ephesians 5:25 New King James Version
Brotherly love – 1 Thessalonians 4:9 New King James Version
Brother Bob: The Bible also makes mention of brotherly love. How so? Let’s read that as well. That’s in I Thessalonians 4:9:
But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;
[I Thessalonians 4:9 New King James Version]
Brother Bob: So many examples of love and the kind of love that God has for His people, God has for the Church, husbands for wives, and even that of parents; the love of parents for their children.
Love of parents and children – Titus 2:4 NKJV
Brother Bob: Titus 2:4 describes that love like this:
that they admonished the young women do love their husbands, to love their children,
[Titus 2:4 New King James Version]
Brother Bob: So many different descriptions of love or moments or ways by which love is expressed here in the Holy Scriptures. Dear friends, we have to remember that whatever type of love is being referred to, “love,” by its Biblical definition, is to be proven through actions. Real love has conditions that need to be met, conditions that need to be sustained.
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Love is proven through actions. Real love has conditions that need to be met and sustained.
Brother Bob: And it’s not just a word to be said, or the big three. What’s the big three? “I love you.” It’s just words. It has to be backed up with actions. So when two people profess with the big three words, “I love you,” profess that they love each other, they actually have to work hard, and take care of each other, taking care of that love that they have expressed with their words. And they have to prove that love and they have to maintain that love. Even our love for God has to be proven as I mentioned a moment ago. Let’s read here in 1 John five 5:3. One’s love for God has to be proven as well and it’s proven by actions. Like what action? Well, we go to the Bible for that. I John 5:3:
“For our love for God means that we obey his commands. And his commands are not too hard for us,”
[1 John 5:3 Good News Bible]
Brother Bob: How is it that we show our love for God? It’s not just saying, “Lord, I love you.” It’s being willing to do what He has instructed us to do. It means that we will obey and take the actions of obedience. Dear friends, we can see here that if one professes love, but does not have the actions to back it up, then it’s not real love.
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If one professes love but does not have the actions to back it up, then it’s NOT REAL LOVE
Is Valentine’s Day about love?
Brother Bob: We’ve all heard the saying that, “actions speak louder than words,” right?
After learning the Biblical truths concerning and surrounding love, be it our love for God, God’s love for us, love for a spouse, love for a family member, in whatever way that love is directed, we now know actions need to be attached with it. It’s crucial to understand in order to avoid doing so many meaningless actions that do not prove love at all.
There are some who are more concerned with the appearance of their actions. This is very important, with the appearance of their actions rather than actions that are really based on genuine [feelings] of love for another. They believe that proving their love means that they have to parade it around under a popular holiday during this time of the year, which has been commercialized. The chocolate companies just love February 14th. They use that Valentine’s Day holiday in trying to buy gifts, trying to pressure people to manifest their love for one another.
The particular day, of course as I’ve already mentioned, [is] Valentine’s Day. What’s Valentine’s Day anyway? It’s been characterized as a religious celebration of love. Is it in the Bible? Of course not. Should it be accepted as a Christianized celebration of love one day a year? Is Valentine’s Day really even about love? Should love just be centered on one day of the year? What we do know is that this so-called Valentine’s Day was something that was established by the Catholic Church.
Many participate in it thinking that it’s really the way that I’m supposed to tell my boyfriend, tell my girlfriend, my husband, my wife, my whoever, that I love them. But the question is, is that what God instructs people to do? Do you want someone to express their love to you just one one day out of the year? Remember, God defines love as not parading itself: “Look at me!” No. The Bible describes love as also not being puffed up.
Love does not parade itself. Love is not puffed up.
Brother Bob: The Bible does not specify one particular day like Valentine’s Day for a man to prove his love to his wife. No, rather the Bible teaches, find ways to express genuine love continuously, always, every day of the year, not just on February 14. How is it that God wants men to continuously prove their love to their wives beyond just saying, “I love you”?
We can read an instruction through the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians here in 5:28-29:
“Men ought to love their wives just as they love their own bodies. A man who loves his wife loves himself. No one ever hates his own body. Instead, he feeds it and takes care of it, just as Christ does the church;
[Ephesians 5:28-29 Good News Bible]
Brother Bob: We can see that a man proves his love for his wife, not by participating in the Catholic tradition called Valentine’s Day, just buying cards and chocolates, and saying “That’s the manifestation of my love.” No, but rather, by sincerely taking care of her.
A man proves his love for his wife by sincerely taking care of her
Why do some people end up heartbroken?
Brother Bob: As the Bible explained that showing love is like feeding or taking care of yourself. We all know that getting fed once a year, February 14. That’s not going to work. No matter how much food you eat on February 14, on that one day, it’s not going to keep a person alive. Likewise, the love of a couple will not thrive or even survive if they will focus on proving their love to each other just on one of the most commercialized days of the year: Valentine’s Day. You want proof? Let’s take a look at this for a moment.
Look at these statistics. People spend an average of $161, nearly $162 and Valentine’s Day, and it totals about $20.7 billion. Imagine that number. $20.7 billion in total.
Now you think spending that much would fix any kind of problem. That would make love just flourish in every relationship on planet Earth, right? Well, the divorce industry is worth $50 billion annually. Valentine’s Day is not fixing that. There are those that hope for God’s blessing in the form of a spouse, form of a partner in life. Those who are hoping for [a] blessing [in] their existing marriage, existing family, but seem to always end up disappointed in love. Why is that? Instead of finding true love, as described in the Holy Bible, their actions have led them to heartbreak. The Bible teaches us this in Proverbs 19. Let’s listen together to verse 3:
Some people ruin themselves by their own stupid actions and then blame the Lord.
[Proverbs 19:3 Good News Bible]
Brother Bob: It’s truly very important to properly understand love. Although some people have their own definitions or their own understanding or philosophy regarding love (which of course [they then] base their actions on) we as the people of God should believe and use as a basis of our actions towards our loved ones what we have gone over and studied together today. Why? Because that’s in the Bible.
If you want to know more about the details of the history of Valentine’s Day and why Christians really should not celebrate it, you can also check that out on incmedia.org. When you are ready to learn more about the fundamental teachings found inside the Church Of Christ, please visit us online or visit any of our various social media accounts (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter). To speak to a Minister of the Gospel and worship with us, you can find a directory of our houses of worship online as well. If you have any questions about the Bible, please email us for a chance to be featured on this show. I’m Bob Pellien. Thank you for joining us and we’ll see you again next time on That’s in the Bible.