How Does Scripture Define Love?

How Does Scripture Define God's Love and Love for Others? Matthew 22:36-40

We use “love” for:

  • Lust -using someone for pleasure
  • Addictions- obsessive, destructive desires
  • Simple pleasures- e.g. “I love hamburgers”
  • Sacrificial love- e.g. a godly mother
  • Romantic love- shallow or deeply committed.
People who say they “love” God, parents, spouse or friends may have nominal, selfish love or sacrificial, life-changing love.

Scripture explains genuine love:

God's love is based on His sacrificial choice to offer salvation to the unworthy (John 3:16Romans 3:23; Romans 5:8).  Unfortunately, the word “unconditional” (not found in Scripture) has promoted misunderstandings about God’s love.*

1 Corinthians 13 describes characteristics of perfect love that we should seek to embrace.

Golden Rule love” which we can have for our enemies is not based on affection or familiarity but on the Biblical truth that human beings are created in the image of God and should be treated fairly, justly, humanely. 

Let’s study Scripture to learn more about God's pure, perfect love so we can love God and others biblically (Matthew 22:36-40).

* See "God's Love is Better Than Unconditional"
* Scripture also uses two other adjectives for love phileo (brotherly love) and eros (sexual love).

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How Does Scripture Define God's Love and Love for Others? Matthew 22:36-40.

How Does Scripture Define God's Love and Love for Others? Matthew 22:36-40.

How Does Scripture Define God's Love and Love for Others? Matthew 22:36-40.


  1. Thank you for this. I've "hated" that expression "unconditional love" for so long and few people understand me, because they think it's a beautiful way to talk to others (and to themselves) about God. But I agree with you, it has dangerous consequences in the way we think about God and His love. I believe that the use of that word has undermined the respect we have for God in a subtle way. It has been also used to talk about parents' love. And also has undermined the respect we have for them. Some people say to me that all that parents want is their children to be happy. All right, but what is true happiness?
    Your insights have been important to me, because I recognize in them the wisdom that comes from a journey with God, with all it's ups and downs, but with your eyes fixed on Him.
    I'm catholic and I see that the same errors are being spread in the various Christian communities.
    I don't know if I have explained myself well, because English is not my native language.
    God bless you!

    1. Hi Ana,
      You expressed yourself perfectly.
      Thanks for adding your insights.
      I agree that there is less respect for both God and parents and this is at least partially due to our view of God's love.
      God bless you.