The Other Love Chapter

Beyond the familiar

Bible students call 1 Corinthians 13 the great Love Chapter of the Bible. It is well named.

Less familiar, however, is another chapter on love. Although not all of 1 John 4 is devoted to the subject, about two-thirds of it is.

While there are nine occurrences of the noun “love” (agapē) in 1 Corinthians 13, the word is used 12 times in 1 John 4. The verb for love (agapaō) is not found in 1 Corinthians 13, but it occurs 14 times in 1 John 4. If you add the noun and verb forms of love in 1 John 4, it comes to a grand total of 26!

What love from above should lead to

Statistics aside, what does 1 John 4 teach about love?

  • It all starts with God: “. . . love is from God . . . . God is love” (vv. 7, 8).
  • God loved first: “. . . not that we loved God, but that He loved us…” (v. 10). “We love, because He first loved us” (v. 19).
  • God proved His love: “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him” (v. 9).
  • We are to reflect His love: “. . . if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (v. 11).
  • Hatred toward others prevents fellowship with God: “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (v. 20).

Love in two dimensions

First Corinthians 13 will always remain one of the very greatest of all passages. And yet a study of 1 John 4 along with it gives us a fuller picture. While Paul focuses on the horizontal dimension of love as expressed toward one another, John emphasizes the dynamics of how the horizontal affects the vertical–loving God–and vice versa.

The two dimensions cannot be separated.

love hate-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

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