Love definition in the Bible? 10 Powerful Verses on True Love

a heart shaped object with the words love definition in the bible

Love - a word we frequently use but often misunderstand. We say "I love that song" or "I love pizza" without appreciating love's profound meaning. Wouldn't you agree?

True biblical love is not a fleeting feeling, but an eternal, selfless commitment. In this extensive study, I promise you'll gain a rich, authoritative understanding of God's perfect agape love from Scripture itself.

We'll explore the original Greek words for love, unpack Jesus' teachings on the subject, and dive into 30 powerful verses that capture love's essence. You'll learn why love reigns supreme and how to embrace this sacrificial, all-encompassing love in your daily life.

What is the Biblical Definition of Love?

From the opening chapters of Genesis to the final verses of Revelation, the Bible paints a profound and powerful picture of true, selfless love. The greatest act of love, Scripture tells us, is God's free gift of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ (John 3:16). But what is love according to the Bible? How does God's Word define and describe this core tenet of the Christian faith?

The Greek Words for Love in the Bible

To fully grasp the Bible's definition of love, we must understand the different Greek words used for "love" in the original New Testament texts:

Agape - Unconditional "God" Love

The word "agape" defines the highest form of unconditional, selfless, and sacrificial love. It is the pure love that comes from God alone, with no conditions or expectations in return. This divinely-inspired love flows outwards, seeking nothing back. Jesus embodied and exemplified agape love during His earthly ministry and through His death on the cross.

Phileo - Brotherly Love

"Phileo" refers to the deep, nurturing affection shared among friends, family members, or those within a community. It encompasses the caring, self-sacrificing love that protects, supports, and meets each other's needs, just as God lovingly nurtures His children.

Eros - Romantic Love

While rarely mentioned in Scripture, "eros" describes romantic, physical, and sexual love within the covenant of marriage as designed by God. The passionate love between a husband and wife reflects the profound spiritual unity found in Christ's relationship with the Church.

The New Testament writers leveraged these different types of love to showcase God's perfect, multifaceted expression of love for humanity. Let's explore Jesus Christ's authoritative teachings on biblical love.

Jesus' Definition of True Love

As the Son of God and the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ is the ultimate expression and embodiment of God's perfect love. Through His life, teachings, and sacrifice, He showed the world what true, agape love looks like.

"Love Your Neighbor as Yourself"

When asked about the greatest commandment, Jesus replied, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." He then added "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 22:37-39). This sums up God's desire - that we would love Him completely and love others with the same commitment we have for ourselves.

The Greatest Love - Laying Down One's Life

Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends" (John 15:13). He then proved the depth of His love by sacrificing His life on the cross for the sins of all mankind. This is the ultimate display of agape - the boundless, selfless love of God reaching down to fallen humanity.

What is God's definition of love?

God's very nature is love itself (1 John 4:8). His love is unconditional, merciful, gracious, and sacrificial. It was out of love that God sent His only Son to die for the sins of the world (John 3:16). God's love is perfect, abiding, eternal, and available to all who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Powerful Bible Verses on True Love

The Bible is filled with beautiful examples and profound teachings about the power of God's perfect love. Here are 10 key verses that showcase the biblical definition of selfless, sacrificial, agape love:

  • 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 - The Characteristics of Love

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."

This famous scripture from 1 Corinthians lists the quintessential characteristics of godly love. It is humble, patient, protective, trusting, hopeful, and eternal. This passage beautifully defines true agape love.

  • John 15:13 - The Greatest Love

"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends."

Jesus Christ displayed the greatest love of all by sacrificing His life on the cross to save humanity from sin and death. His atoning death is the ultimate act of selfless agape love.

  • 1 John 4:7-8 - God is Love
Love definition in the Bible, today bible verse of the day

"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."

This verse reveals that love is not just an attribute of God - it is the very essence of His divine nature and character. We can only truly understand love by knowing God Himself.

  • Romans 12:9-10 - Love Must Be Sincere

"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves."

Real agape love is authentic, moral, others-focused, and humble - the opposite of selfish or superficial desires. It involves honoring others above yourself.

  • Song of Songs 8:6-7 - Love is Strong as Death

"Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame."

This poetic verse illustrates that godly love is all-consuming, powerful, unyielding, and fervent - as mighty and unstoppable as death itself.

  • 1 Peter 4:8 - Love Covers Over Sins
Love definition in the Bible, today bible verse of the day

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."

Agape love is willing to forgive, overlook offenses, and extend grace, just as God forgives the sins of those who trust in Jesus.

  • Ephesians 5:25 - Husbands, Love Your Wives
Love definition in the Bible, today bible verse of the day

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her."

This verse instructs Christian husbands to sacrificially love their wives with the same selfless,agape love that Christ has for His Bride, the Church. It's a model for unconditional marital love.

  • Proverbs 10:12 - Love Covers Over Offense

"Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs."

In contrast to hatred that breeds conflict, true love is willing to forgive and overlook wrongs, just as Christ forgave humanity.

  • 1 John 3:18 - Love With Actions
Love definition in the Bible, today bible verse of the day

"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."

Authentic agape love is not just words - it must be backed up by actions, truthfulness, and sacrifice, just as Jesus Christ lived out God's love through His deeds.

  • Colossians 3:14 - Love Binds Together in Unity

"And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."

True godly love produces unity, completeness, and spiritual maturity among believers. It is the supreme virtue that unites all other Christian virtues together.

Additional Bible verses on True love

  • 1 John 4:18 - "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."
Love definition in the Bible, today bible verse of the day

True agape love casts out all fear and insecurity. God's perfect love provides complete assurance.

  • John 13:34-35 - "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Loving others selflessly as Christ loved is the mark of a true Christian. It's how the world recognizes authentic disciples.

  • Ephesians 3:17-19 - "...And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge..."

The immense, profound love of Jesus Christ extends far beyond human comprehension. It's vast, deep, and all-encompassing.

  • Hosea 3:1 - "Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods..."

God's commitment to lovingly pursue unfaithful Israel models how to show grace and unconditional love, even when rejected.

  • Zephaniah 3:17 - "The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."
Love definition in the Bible, today bible verse of the day

The Lord's perfect love brings quietness, joy, and delight to those He loves. It is a love worth singing over.

  • Luke 6:27-28 - "But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."

Christ calls believers to an extraordinary love - one that loves enemies, blesses persecutors, and prays for mistreatment.

  • Romans 8:38-39 - "For I am convinced that neither death nor life...nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Nothing can separate believers from God's steadfast, eternal love poured out through Jesus Christ.

  • Jeremiah 31:3 - "...I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness."
Love definition in the Bible, today bible verse of the day

God's agape love is everlasting and rooted in loving-kindness. It endures forever and continually draws people closer.

  • Lamentations 3:22-23 - "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."

The Lord's great love and compassion are unending, providing new mercies each morning and preserving believers.

  • Romans 5:8 - "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Love definition in the Bible, today bible verse of the day

The greatest act of love was Christ's sacrifice on the cross while humanity was still steeped in sin - loving enemies.

  • Jude 1:21 - "Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life."

Believers must continually abide in the Lord's perfect love, looking forward to eternal life granted by His mercy.

  • Psalm 36:7 - "How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings."

God's unfailing agape love is invaluably priceless, providing a safe refuge under His divine protection.

  • Deuteronomy 7:9 - "Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love..."
Love definition in the Bible, today bible verse of the day

The Lord is steadfastly faithful in His covenantal love toward those who love and obey His commands.

  • 1 John 4:12 - "No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."

When believers love others selflessly, it reflects God living within them, brought to completion.

  • John 14:21 - "Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father..."
Love definition in the Bible, today bible verse of the day

Obeying Christ's teachings is the evidence of love for God, bringing the Father's consummate love.

  • Ephesians 5:2 - "...and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
Love definition in the Bible, today bible verse of the day

Believers are called to walk in agape love modeled by Christ's sacrifice, which was a pleasing aroma to God.

  • 1 Corinthians 16:14 - "Do everything in love."

This simple maxim from Paul encapsulates how love should undergird all thoughts, actions, and motivations.

  • 1 John 5:3 - "In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome..."

Obeying God's Word is the true expression of fervent love for Him, and His ways are not burdensome to follow.

  • Revelation 2:4-5 - "Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first...repent and do the things you did at first."

Maintaining one's "first love" for Christ is vital, as the Lord rebukes those who forsake their original devotion.

  • 2 John 1:6 - "And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love."
Love definition in the Bible, today bible verse of the day

Walking in obedience and walking in love are inextricably linked - you cannot have one without the other.

Why is Love the Greatest?

In his letter to the Corinthian church, the Apostle Paul states, "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love" (1 Corinthians 13:13). Out of the three paramount Christian virtues, love surpasses even faith and hope as the most essential.

Jesus Himself declared that the two greatest commandments are to love God completely and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40). According to Christ, the entire law and teachings of the Old Testament prophets hinge on this principle of wholehearted love for God and people.

Conclusion

From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible paints a beautiful, multi-faceted picture of true love. Scripture reveals that love is not just an attribute of God, but His very essence and nature. The Greek words agape, phileo, and eros showcase the depth of God's selfless, unconditional, committed, and sacrificial love for humanity.

Jesus Christ, as the Word made flesh, perfectly embodied and exemplified this divine agape love. His teachings, miracles, and ultimate sacrifice on the cross demonstrate the full extent of God's boundless love. Powerful verses like 1 Corinthians 13, John 15:13, and 1 John 4:7-8 capture the eternal, patient, truthful, protective nature of authentic biblical love.

The Bible makes it abundantly clear that love is the greatest virtue, the fulfillment of God's laws, and the mark of a true follower of Christ. Without sincere love born out of faith, all actions and obedience are ultimately empty and meaningless in God's sight.

As those redeemed by the agape love of the Father, believers are called to "live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us" (Ephesians 5:2). May this in-depth study of Scripture's teachings inspire all who call on the name of the Lord to embrace His selfless, merciful, enduring love each and every day.

By abiding in God's perfect love, may we love one another as Christ loves the Church, overflowing with the very love that covers a multitude of sins and binds all together in unity, hope, and truth. For God's love never fails, it never ends - it is the greatest gift of all.

FAQs

1. What is the biblical definition of love?

In the Bible, love is defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 as patient, kind, not envious or boastful, not proud or rude, not self-seeking, not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, rejoices in truth, protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres. This agape love reflects God's unconditional love for humanity.

2. How does Jesus define love in the Bible?

Jesus defines love in John 13:34-35, commanding us to love one another as He loves us. This sacrificial love demonstrates true discipleship and reflects God's love for us. Loving others is a key aspect of following Christ and bearing witness to His transformative power.

3. What role does love play in Christianity?

Love is central to Christianity, as seen in 1 John 4:8, where it is said that "God is love." Believers are called to love God with all their heart, soul, and mind, and to love their neighbors as themselves (Matthew 22:37-39). Love is the foundation of Christian faith, guiding believers in their relationships with God and others.

4. How is love expressed in the Bible?

Love is expressed in the Bible through actions, not just words. Jesus exemplified love through His teachings, miracles, and ultimately His sacrificial death on the cross for humanity's redemption. Believers are called to love God through obedience and to love others through selfless service, kindness, forgiveness, and compassion.

5. What is the significance of love in Christian teachings?

Love is the hallmark of Christian teachings, as emphasized by Jesus in His commandments to love God and love one another. Love transforms hearts, builds community, and reflects the character of God. It is through love that believers experience the fullness of God's grace, mercy, and redemption, shaping their lives in accordance with His will.

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