1John 3:16,17 What is Love?

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  • 1John 3:16,17 What is Love?

    What is Love?

    1John 3:16,17 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?

    Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13 and this greater love is what we are called to. Biblical love is not simply a "feeling" of affection. Rather it is the willful intention of meeting the real needs of others. As such, Biblical love is measurable by the degree to which you are meeting the real needs of those you allegedly "love".

    There are those who grumble against God claiming the God hasn't demonstrated love to them. But while God doesn't demonstrate love to them in the manner in which they would prefer, "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Rom 5:8 Likewise, having demonstrated your own Christian love by meeting the real needs of others, there will be those who will grumble against you because you didn't "love" them in the manner is which they would have preferred. Don't be surprised if the world hate you even when you love them.

    And by the way, the "so" in John 3:16's "God so loved the world" is not talking about the magnitude of God's love, but the manner of it. For the greek word "houto" is used for "so", which explicitly does not refer to magnitude but to manner, just as is the case here and Rom 5:8 concerning the cross.

  • #2
    Think for a moment of the applicability of this to Marriage. If "Love" is "the willful intention of meeting the real needs of others" and a Husband is called to 'LOVE' his wife, as Christ loved the Church. Then our 'love' for her has almost nothing to do with either emotions or her faithfulness to her role as a wife. It is the truth that led me to view the book of Hosea as the best guide in the Bible for how to be a good husband. Enter marriage with the expectation that however hard the fight, I am committed to her well being. That I am trusting that God can and will change her heart. That the story will have a 'happy ending' and like Job, our later days SHALL be greater than our former days.

    As a practical matter, what woman could hope to resist the 'love' of a man who was committed to the willful intention of meeting her real needs? As a husband perseveres in faith to fulfill the role he has chosen, spiritual provider, protector and cover for his wife ... she can not help but grow to view him as someone safe enough to trust to submit to. Just as Christ wooed me into submission through his faithful love (which means always doing what was best for me, whether or not that is what I wanted at the time) and I learned that Christ was trustworthy, so I strive to place the welfare of my wife before my own. Seeking what is best for her, whether that is what she desires at the moment or not, in the expectant hope that I can prove a trustworthy guide for my household.

    How many marriages would be made stronger if each partner sought the willful intention of meeting the real needs of other ... if the husband truly LOVED his wife and the wife truly LOVED her husband?
    Last edited by atpollard; 07-26-2016, 02:12 PM. Reason: typo
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    • #3
      Godly "love" ἀγάπη [agape] (i.e. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a) isn't a feeling, it's a "choice". I remember both hearing and reading that fact in all of the premarital counseling sessions and marriage conferences that my wife and I have attended. And after nearly 30 years of marriage, I think we can both attest to the wisdom of always remembering that, especially when the road gets a little rocky ;)

      And PTL that our loving, Abba, Father "chooses" to love us (because I'm fairly certain I know what would happen if He based His love for us on a "feeling" :eek:)

      In Christ,
      David



      Last edited by David Lee; 07-26-2016, 06:21 PM.
      Simul Justus et Peccator ~Martin Luther

      "We are justified by faith alone, but the faith that justifies is never alone" ~John Calvin

      "The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us." ~C. S. Lewis

      "The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances" ~Elisabeth Elliot

      "The law is for the self-righteous to humble their pride; the Gospel is for the lost to remove their despair. ~C. H. Spurgeon
      Comment>

      • #4
        Originally posted by atpollard View Post
        It is the truth that led me to view the book of Hosea as the best guide in the Bible for how to be a good husband.
        Hi Arthur,

        Just some thoughts. Specifically some thoughts about whether Hosea needs to be taken literally and/or allegorically. To begin, the Prophet was told to take a harlot as a wife. What man in his right mind takes a covenant breaker into a covenant to begin with? One this is for certain, when single it would have taken a direct revelation from God himself in my life. I think, despite this, a man that "knowingly enters into an agreement or covenant" with such is responsible for the vow he has taken. But, Hosea is largely an allegorical book too, representing the relationship between God and Israel. I think it is important to note that Hosea falls within the OT, and while there is no legal provision for the release of an adulteress, the law did require the execution of the adulteress Leviticus 20:10. So I think, this is where the shift from a literal to a allegorical understanding is important, because it makes little sense in the literal, but allegorically speaks of how God wishes to relate to Israel. We ought refer to the influences of Hosea, an allusion towards Jeremiah 3:8 that demonstrates God is not bound by such legalities, having divorced Israel. It is clear that Hosea 2:4 represents God having divorced the Northern Kingdom, which declaration can be found in Isaiah 50:1.

        But, I think in numerous ways you are right to dismiss or rather untangle "love" (if that was your intent) in favor of keeping the Covenant under God. I mean, so many people I hear that are married suggest that marriage is about happiness. What happens when we feel that we are no longer happy because of the lack of love for a moment or sustained time - would that be grounds for divorce or the breaking of a Covenant? Interestingly Deut 24 covers this. Remember, this is the OT. I'd just like to point out the OT laws because Hosea was under them. This is a far cry from modern laws which largely are no fault, because fault should have consequences. It does matter whether Gomer/Israel was at fault. Look at the implications in Hosea 2:6-15 of the act of divorcement. Hosea 2:6-15 is simply a way of speaking of the social and economic results of divorce. This is to say, by legally divorcing her:
        • Hosea 2:2 Hosea now has the legal right to take back the clothing he has given her
        • Hosea 2:3, 10 and the materials of his field by which she can make more clothing
        • Hosea 2:9, to disinherit her children
        • Hosea 2:4, to block her out of his house
        • Hosea 2:6, to cut her off from the food and drink that she shares in his house
        • Hosea 2:9 as well as the crops from which she could get sustenance
        • Hosea 2:12, and in general to cut her off from the way of life that she enjoys—that he has made possible. Thus, when she comes to realize that she has been simply used by her lovers, who will not be impressed by her without those husband-provided luxuries
        • Hosea 2:7, 10, she will repent and return.

        So much for no fault divorce :eek:

        Look at the parallels: when God no longer supports Israel, Gomer loses all that she had and was no longer treated with respect by her lovers. After the divorcement (the time of Hosea) there were social and economic losses (the deportation) and that a similar experience of divorce and loss apparently occurred in the life of Gomer. It was not so much that God pursued Israel in Babylon, but that he abandoned Israel to Babylon, and, that while “she” was there, he spoke kindly to “her” and called “her” to return. The same can be said for Gomer. Hosea divorced her, abandoned her to her own insufficient devices, and then allured her back to himself. The question at hand, is whether Israel broke the covenant while bound to the Lord (as they still are), or Jeremiah 3 as meaning that God calls the apostate sons back to himself—reminding them that they initially went astray while he had legal rights over them (though that dominion is now technically removed by the divorce writ of the same chapter)? The “dominion” in view is connected with the marital metaphor. After all, the Israelites had a son-slave relationship to the Lord before they even ratified the Mosaic covenant—that covenant bearing the weight of the marital metaphor. Subsequent to the divorce, Israel is not considered the marriage partner of God, but merely a runaway slave. They revert back to the position of Israel before Sinai—a people redeemed out of Egypt with a strong arm. The very fact that Gomer was in slavery implies that she was legally free from her marriage to Hosea. The text of Hosea does not imply that Hosea is obligated to redeem Gomer, but rather that he "chooses" to do so. It is important to note that divorce does not end the moral obligation to repent and reconcile. But the moral obligation that requires the guilty to repent rests, not in the covenant of marriage itself (broken, and no more), but in the deeper obligations of morality at large.

        God bless,
        William
        Comment>

        • #5
          Originally posted by St_Worm2 View Post
          Godly "love" ἀγάπη [agape] (i.e. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 isn't a feeling, it's a "choice". I remember both hearing and reading that fact in all of the premarital counseling sessions and marriage conferences that my wife and I have attended. And after nearly 30 years of marriage, I think we can both attest to the wisdom of always remembering that, especially when the road gets a little rocky ;)

          And PTL that our loving, Abba, Father "chooses" to love us (because I'm fairly certain I know what would happen if He based His love for us on a "feeling" :eek:)

          In Christ,
          David
          That's the conclusion I had drawn from Hosea. Though I believe Agape is more than an intellectual conviction divorced from emotion. Your post would have saved me lots of time in research should I have seen it before my resulting post. If only I had your marriage history to draw from :). Though I suggest that "love is" God's act of affection towards an undeserving recipient. In the back of my mind I draw this definition from the usage of "foreknew" in Romans 8:29 when referring to the Elect or True Israel. Of course I agree with you, that that is God's choice.

          God bless,
          William
          Comment>

          • #6
            While I am in no position to argue with vigor that Hosea is non-allegorical (and I would never deny the deep God-Israel allegory built into the situation), the act of dismissing the players as real people with real feelings costs a great deal of insight into the human heart and redemption and forgiveness and true love that might otherwise be gleaned from the book.

            What I will say emphatically about Hosea (the man) is that he clearly entered the covenant deeply in love with Gomer, he remained in love with her even when her actions caused him to not like her very much, and he stuck with the covenant ... trusting in God to ultimately make it work. Most people I meet enter marriage as featherweights. Few would have been willing to fight for the marriage after the first 'his child' and into the second 'her child' (implying NOT his). Even when Hosea pulls the rug out from under Gomer, it is to show Gomer who her true lover is. Even punishment was an act of love ... an act undertaken for her benefit, not because he had a right to do it.

            It was a book that transformed my expectations about marriage and how hard God expected me to fight for my marriage. It is, in my opinion, the OT equivalent of "Husbands, love your wife as Christ loved the Church". Hosea sets the bar for being a man and a Godly Husband high enough that if your knees don't shake a little at the job description, then you probably don't really understand what the job description is.
            Comment>

            • #7
              Originally posted by William View Post
              That's the conclusion I had drawn from Hosea. Though I believe Agape is more than an intellectual conviction divorced from emotion.
              Hi William, I don't believe ἀγάπη [agape] is an "intellectual conviction divorced from emotion". I might go so far as saying that it is the choice to love someone "in spite" of the emotions/problems of the moment, or "on top" of those same emotions. It seems to me that agape is far more than forcing yourself to do the right and loving thing for a person because I believe that ἀγάπη [agape] involves actually "loving" the object of your affection.

              God however, is "impassible". I'm not sure that this is the place to bring up that massive subject, but it can make for an interesting discussion .. or debate .. because discussing God's LACK of emotions can result in all kinds of emotional OUTBURSTS from His creatures at times ;)

              In Christ,
              David



              Last edited by David Lee; 07-26-2016, 08:18 PM.
              Simul Justus et Peccator ~Martin Luther

              "We are justified by faith alone, but the faith that justifies is never alone" ~John Calvin

              "The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us." ~C. S. Lewis

              "The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances" ~Elisabeth Elliot

              "The law is for the self-righteous to humble their pride; the Gospel is for the lost to remove their despair. ~C. H. Spurgeon
              Comment>

              • #8
                Origen

                I'm surprised nobody has gone into the biblical usage and definitions for "love". It would be kind of neat to see the variations and definitions both in the OT Hebrew and NT Greek. Agape is only one. I don't know if Eros is ever used, but then there's storge, and phila etc. My question is how is love used when referring to the Elect in Romans 8:29? For example, I walked away from this article thinking foreknew in Romans 8:29 is synonymous with foreloved: The Meaning of "FOREKNEW" in Romans 8:29 -Christforums

                God bless,
                William
                Comment>
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