Scripture Never Calls God's Love Unconditional

Why "Unconditional" is not a Biblical Description of God's Love and why it leads to many misunderstandings. #BibleLoveNotes #Bible

follow up to A Misleading Description of God's Love

Unconditional = without conditions.

Many Christians call God's love "unconditional" when they actually mean undeserved, merciful, or gracious.

If God's love were truly unconditional, He'd:

1. View the wicked and righteous the same.

He doesn't: Psalm 5:511:5Proverbs 3:32-34Psalm 103:11Psalm 147:11; Matthew 10:37-38John 14:21; John 14:23; John 16:27.

2. Have no expectations and never be disappointed in anyone.

He does and is: Micah 6:8; Ephesians 5Genesis 6:6Mark 8:38; Ephesians 4:30.

3. Never discipline or punish.

He does: Hebrews 12:7-11Matthew 25:31-46; Romans 1:18Romans 2:5-11.

Why "Unconditional" is not a Biblical Description of God's Love and why it leads to many misunderstandings.
4. Be amoral, with no preference for good or evil. 

Not true: Psalm 33:5; Jeremiah 9:23-24

God's love is long-suffering, merciful, patient, holy, righteous, forgiving, eternal, perfect...given to any sinner who repents and follows Christ. That's better than unconditional!

God offers His loving salvation based on the condition of belief (John 3:16). He lovingly forgives based on the condition of repentance (Acts 3:19; 1 John 1:8-10). He lovingly rewards based on the condition of faithfulness.(1)

Scripture never uses the word unconditional to describe God’s love.(2)

God's love is better than human love and the Bible's descriptions of God's love are better than human descriptions.

For a more detailed article about God's Love: Better Than Unconditional

Articles confirming this truth by respected Bible teachers:
R.C. Sproul 

Gospel Coalition

Bob Russell 
(1) God is love (1 John 4:8), so everything He does is an element of love - His commands, His salvation, His forgiveness, His judgment, His discipline, His punishment. For more on this, see If God is Love, How Can He Hate. For more on rewards, see A Trophy for Everyone.

(2) "Unconditional" is not a correct translation for any Hebrew or Greek word used in Scripture, nor is it found in any legitimate English translation. Perhaps the closest word to "unconditional" used to describe God's love is "everlasting" but his everlasting love and mercy is only given to those who fear Him (Psalm 103:17-18; Luke 1:50).

Still have questions and objections: See Q & A and feel free to ask a question in the comment section. 

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Why "Unconditional" is not a Biblical Description of God's Love and why it leads to many misunderstandings.

Why "Unconditional" is not a Biblical Description of God's Love and why it leads to many misunderstandings.



  1. I want and need to send this to my atheist son!

  2. How very true. Thank you so much. Your insights really help me to understand God in a way I never have before.
    My daughter asks me what has God done for Her. I ask her what she has done for God. I point out Psalm 37:4 "Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart." I told her that is God telling her that if she 'delights' herself in Him i.e: Reading the Word of God, praying, thinking on the Lord, then He will give her the desires of her heart . . .as long as they are in the will of God. I told her God would not give her someone else's boyfriend or anything that He knows would harm her. We have had so many of these types of conversations.

    1. Thanks for your post. I disagree that God's love can't be unconditional. It can. There is no conflict between God's standards and His love. He is both loving and just. He puts no conditions on His love. He puts conditions on His standards. It is not incorrect to say you can't describe His love as unconditional. What could we do to earn it? If we don't meet His standards, does that mean He can't love us? While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. What standards were required? Of course God's love is conditional. If you think it isn't doesn't that put limits on Him? I don't think you want to say that. I wouldn't

    2. I think God knows better than you or me how to describe His love and He didn't use the word unconditional anywhere in Scripture.

  3. Hello,

    Actually, God's Love is unconditional. His grace and mercy are conditional. Salvation is conditioned on our acceptance and repentance, but His Love existed long before our repentance. As you say "God is Love". How can Love not love?

    For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
    (Joh 3:16)

    Clearly, God loved the world, including you and me, before we were saved. If God loved us while we were sinners, than obviously, there were no conditions on being an object of His Love.

    Your listed 5 points of requirement have nothing really to do with whether God's Love is unconditional. IOW, God's Love can be unconditional and He can still have the characteristics you list above.

    God Bless ...

    1. Hi Michael,

      God is love and everything He does is a demonstration of His love, and as you admit, some of the demonstrations of His love are conditional.

      John 3:16 explains that God offers His salvation to the undeserving, but there is a huge condition attached.

      The words of Scripture are perfect descriptions of God's love, and they never use the word unconditional. I'm going to trust Scripture.

  4. Michael's comment makes sense to us.

  5. Hi Bob and Bambi,

    Michael says that God's love can be unconditional and His actions can be conditional (as the 20+ Scripture passages above describe).

    If God's love isn't seen in His actions, then what is?

    But even more disturbing to me is the fact that we think God's love should be unconditional - that we think He should quit being just and holy in order to love everyone without condition.

    Why do we cling to a model of love not found in Scripture - a model inferior to the Love of God?

    Unconditional love is not the highest form of love. God's love is the highest form of love. Unconditional love is a phrase coined by an atheist physiologist named Erich Fromm. Scripture doesn't use this term, but it does give us hundreds of passages that refute the term.

  6. I guess the reason of using this description i.e. unconditional love is the fact that in the Bible God's love is described by different terms. For instance God's love for the humanity is unconditional. We cannot do anything to make him love us as his creation. It is simply his nature. However, I agree that this form of God's love is not the perfect expression of God's love. The salvific love of God is the perfect expression of his love and this is not unconditional. This love required that Jesus become human like, though he is God and pay the price for our sins. So, while we can't do anything to make God demonstrate his salvific love towards us, this doesn't mean this love is unconditional.

  7. Trust her on this. She is correct, we did an entire study on this last year. Also, the commonly misused phrase, "Only God can judge me."