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©2001 Rev Paul R. Schmidtbleicher, ThM






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Defining Love Biblically
God's Own Definitions of Love
(c)2000 Rev. Paul R. Schmidtbleicher, Th.B.,Th.M.


Part I The Basics

Introduction:
Much has been spoken and written about the subject of "love." The greatest statement about "love" is the "Great Commandment." Its two commands revolve around practicing "love." The Great Commandment is found in several places. Matthew 22:37-40 is one of the most complete presentations.

Matt 22:37-40 Jesus said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (NKJ)
Most never even come close to understanding and keeping the "Great Commandment." This is because most tend to redefine love in terms of their own emotional ideas or even worse, the "Hollywood" portrayals of "love." As Jesus presented this "Great Commandment," He personally believed that it was the summation of all the commandments found in the Law and the Prophets.
The Lord God defines "love" succinctly in His Word. Any human understanding of "love" MUST BE FOUNDED ON God's Own definition.

Scriptures:
John the Apostle is known as "the apostle of love" (John 13:23). He understood Biblical "love" better than most. The Lord used John as the primary human author in His Word to define "love." Consider and ponder what God says through John:
John 14:15
If you love Me, keep My commandments.(NKJ)

John 14:21
He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." (NKJ)

John 14:23
Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. (NKJ)

John 15:10
If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. (NKJ)

I John 2:5
But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. (NKJ)

I John 5:2
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. (NKJ)

I John 5:3
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. (NKJ)

II John 1:6
This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it. (NKJ)
All these Scriptures have one MOST IMPORTANT detail in common. They all relate God's definition of "love" to (1) Knowing and (2) Keeping His commandments. All "love" begins here!
The preceding Scripture quotes were placed in the order of their occurrence in the Bible. However, two of these passages directly define love:
I John 5:3
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. (NKJ)
II John 1:6
This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it. (NKJ)
The love of God = that we keep His Commandments (1 John 5:3) and Love = walking according to His commandments (2 John 1:6)

Summary
Therefore, the most basic definition of "love" from the standpoint of God Himself involves knowing and keeping His commandments. This means that we cannot love God with all our heart, mind, and soul until we know Him, know His commands and begin to practice them by "walking in the Spirit."
The loving of our neighbor is similar as there are numerous commands given by the Lord that are directed towards one another. As Christians, it is up to us to practically learn how God commands that we treat one another and then begin to practice those commands by "walking in the Spirit." Such things as:
-Not speaking evil of our neighbors (Ephesians 4:31)
-Not being bitter towards our neighbor
-Resolving anger with neighbors
-Not gossiping with or about neighbors
-etc.
are examples of some of the commands given to us by the Lord that, when kept, enable us to "love our neighbor as ourselves."

Conclusion
Fulfilling God's commands "to love" first involves knowing the Lord God through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. From there we are to come under the hearing of God's Word so that our faith will grow (Romans 10:17). Learning God's Word builds faith, believing what we learn and "walking in the Spirit" enables us to apply these things to be "Doers of the Word" and thus "love" God and our neighbors thereby fulfilling the "love commands."


Part II Building Upon the Basics - 1 Corinthians 13

God's Extended Definition of Love
Once the "basics" are understood, the Lord has given us a very detailed definition of the boundaries and parameters of our love in 1 Corinthians 13. This chapter, in its entirety, has been called the "Love Chapter." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a gives us sixteen defining aspects of love. We want to survey and reflect upon those principles in Part II.
1 Cor 13:4-8 Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails;.....(NAS)
Love is the giving of ourselves. Here are the details as to how we are to do it in very practical ways. The foundation of this study is built upon Matthew Henry's excellent treatment of this chapter in his commentary. It should be consulted for further study.

1 Corinthians 13:4 Aspects 1 - 5
4 Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,
1. Love is patient - The old English says of this phrase: "Love is long suffering" -- The original word MAKROTHYMEI, includes the idea of patient forbearing. We give of ourselves in love to endure evil, injury, and provocation, without being filled with resentment, indignation, or revenge. Love takes power over the angry passions of our sin natures, and furnishes with a persevering patience, that should rather wait and wish for the reformation and growth of a person rather than fly out in resentment of his conduct. Love given will put up with many slights and neglects from the person it loves, and wait long to see the effects of such patience

2. Love is Kind - The original word, CHRESTEFETAI, means kind, gentle behavior. Love is courteous and obliging. The heart of love is large and her hand open. Love is ready to show favors and to do good. She seeks to be useful; and not only seizes on opportunities of doing good, but searches for them. This is the general character of love. Love is patient under injuries, and inclined to do all that can be done in kindness.

3. Love Does Not Envy - Love suppresses envy: The original word encompasses both envy and jealousy. Love does not express itself in envy nor jealousy. It is not grieved at the good of others; neither at their gifts nor at their good qualities, their honors nor their estates. If we love another we do not envy their position or prosperity in life, nor are we displeased with it to destroy it. In expressing love, we should share in it and rejoice at it. The prosperity of those to whom we wish well should never grieve us. Our positions in life are established by the Lord in connection with our obedient responses to Him. Love gives in that it remains free of envy.

4. Love Does Not Brag (Vaunt itself) - The believers who are seeking to give true Biblical love do not compete for the applause and admiration of others. Instead, it will, in honor, prefer one another, (Romans 12:10). Such a love will do nothing out of a spirit of contention or vain-glory, but in lowliness of mind will esteem others better than themselves, (Philippians 2:3). True love will give us an esteem of the other person, and raise our value for them. Doing this will also limit our esteem of ourselves, and prevent self-conceit and arrogance. The original word as translated into the Syriac means that Biblical Love does not raise tumults and disturbances. Biblical Love seeks to calm angry passions, instead of raising them.

5. Love is not Arrogant (Puffed up) - The original word speaks of being conceited or proud. Biblical love is not displayed by thinking that we totally understand the other person; that we can read their minds and actions; and that we can predict what they will do in the future. This is conceit and arrogance. On the other hand, Biblical Love is modest, expecting change, and awaiting the expression of the true mind, thoughts, and actions of the one who is loved.

1 Corinthians 13:5 Aspects 6-9
5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,
6. Love Does not act Unbecomingly (unseemly) - Biblical Love is careful not to pass the bounds of decency. The original word, ASCHEMONEO, speaks of defying moral and mannerly standards. Biblical love gives by not acting ill-mannered or rude. It does nothing indecorous, nothing that in the common account of men is base or vile. It does nothing out of place or time; but behaves towards all men as becomes their rank and ours, with reverence and respect to superiors, with kindness and condescension to inferiors, with courtesy and good-will towards all men. Biblical Love is not for breaking God's order, but for keeping up the distinction God has made between men and women and all in their orders .

7. Love Does Not Seek its Own - This is the principle of the unselfish nature of Biblical Love. It does not desire nor seek its own praise, or honor, or profit, or pleasure. The love of self, in some degree, is natural to all men. It enters into our very constitution. A reasonable love of self is made the measure of our love to others when Jesus commanded that, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." This principle does not mean that Biblical love destroys all regard to self. It does mean however, that a Biblical love is to be defined by giving and not by taking. By our very nature we are largely "takers." Biblical love involves our making continual decisions to be givers of ourselves to those to whom we express Biblical Love. It is, "What can I do to serve you;" rather than, "What is in it for me."

8. Love is not provoked - Biblical love gives by making decisions that do not seek to irritate. The idea of the original word, PAROXYNETAI, is to stimulate in a negative way, to irritate or to upset. Biblical love seeks NOT TO DO THAT. It involves decisions that corrects a sharpness of temper, sweetens and softens the mind, so that it does not suddenly conceive, nor long continue, a vehement passion. It is not quick tempered.

9. Love does not take into account a wrong suffered (thinks no evil) - The aspect here is giving by making decisions NOT TO GET EVEN. Many times our actions are dictated by an effort to make another PAY or to somehow get even in little revenge schemes of the heart. Biblical love is not soon, nor long, angry. It is never mischievous, nor inclined to revenge. It does not suspect evil of others. Biblical Love does not reason out evil, charge guilt upon the other by inference and innuendo, when nothing of this sort appears open. love makes decisions to not be apt to be jealous and suspicious. It seeks to hide faults that appear, and draw a veil over them, instead of hunting and raking out those that lie covered and concealed. It makes decisions to never indulge suspicion without proofs, but will rather incline to darken and disbelieve evidence against the person it affects. It will hardly give into an ill opinion of another, and it will do it with regret and reluctance when the evidence cannot be resisted; hence it will never be forward to suspect evil. It will not make the worst construction of things, but put the best face that it can on circumstances that have no good appearance.

1 Corinthians 13:6 Aspects 10-11
6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
10. Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness (iniquity) - Biblical Love takes no pleasure in doing injury or hurt to anybody. It does not think evil of any, without very clear proof. It wishes ill to none. It does not wish hurt or wrong against the object. Biblical love does not make the sins and failings of others a matter of its delight. It does not rejoice in doing harm and mischief. Biblical love makes decisions to respond to the failings of others with compassion rather than sport and entertainment. Decisions are made to extend help and restoration.

11. Love rejoices with the truth - Biblical love rejoices over expressions and applications of God's Truth. It rejoices in seeing justice whether blessing for obedience or discipline for disobedience. Biblical love decides to rejoice over the prevailing of truth: the truth conquering sinful men, the principles of God's Word applied in a life, and a life changed to conform to God's Word. It rejoices in the prosperity of those following truth, in well-doing, and in the growth of faith within the object loved.

1 Corinthians 13:7 Aspects 12-15
7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
12. Love bears all things - The original word, STEGO, means "to cover, keep silent about, keep confidential." It also carries the idea of "enduring," or "putting up with." Biblical love will make good choices to be aware of the nature of the object loved and keep the faults of such a one confidential. Biblical love make decisions to protect unless duty demands revelation. This aspect of Biblical Love involves allowing the loved to expose his or her faults without making them public. Protection, unless other Biblical duties demand differently, is granted. The believers love seeks first to protect rather than publish.
On the other hand, Biblical love makes choices to pass by and put up with injuries, without indulging anger or cherishing revenge. It will be patient upon provocation, and long suffering. The lover will endure for the beloved many slights, injuries, hurts, and slights by making decisions to bear such things for the sake of the beloved.

13. Love believes all things - Biblical love makes decisions not to be suspicious until the evidence is overbearing. Biblical Love entertains a good opinion of them when there is no appearance to the contrary. It seeks to believe well when there may be some dark appearances, if the evidence of wrong is not clear. Biblical Love is apt to make the best of every thing, and put on it the best face and appearance. It will judge well, and believe well, as far as it can with any reason, and will rather stretch its faith beyond appearances for the support of a good opinion. It is involved with the benefit of the doubt.

14. Love hopes all things - Love hopes for the best in all of the objects of love. Conscious decisions are made to look for the best, encourage and exhort for the best in all men. This is tempered by the knowledge of sin and yet the person exercising Biblical love seeks the positive appearance rather than the negative appearance.

15. Love Endures all things - The original word carries the idea of "standing one's ground." It is a military word that means to hold on regardless of the assaults, the barrages, and the troubles faced in any love relationship. Love is learned. Part of love are the decisions to give regardless of what is sometimes received. In the end, truly applied Biblical Love can win out.

1 Corinthians 13:8a Aspects 16

16. Love never fails - God's simple statement on the power of Biblical Love should be believed and applied to all situations where we are facing trial and troubles. It will never fail!

Conclusion
Love is first of all a knowing and obeying God's Commands. As this is practiced love grows from that to be based upon decisions within to give of ourselves. As we make such decisions to give, honest and true feelings will develop. Unfortunately, our concepts of love have been clouded by a feeling oriented society and a feeling oriented Christianity. Let us embrace the Lord's Own Definitions and truly LOVE!

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