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What Is Love? I John, Part 1

This question usually prompts a turn to I Corinthians 13. For good reason.

But there is another passage of scripture that’s often overshadowed by the popularity of I Corinthians 13 when it comes to the subject of love. That’s I John 2-4. It’s not too much of a stretch to say that almost the entire letter of I John is about love.

In the first chapter, John (probably the apostle John) says if we have fellowship with God, we walk in the light. In I John 2:10 (NIV), he links light with love: “Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light.” And then pointedly he writes what it means to love each other: “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 and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words of speech but with actions and in truth.” (3:16-18)

But John’s not done. In I John 4, he launches into perhaps the most lengthy exposition on the meaning of love there is in Holy Scripture. There’s a bit of repetition in what he says. There would have to be, since the word “love” is used 27 times in I John 4. But it’s not mere parroting of what’s already been written. There is so much substance and power in what he writes that it’s mesmerizing.

In I Corinthians 13, we read about the practical effect that love should have on one’s life: patience, kindness, good will, humility, peace, meekness, honor, selflessness, respect, goodness, joy, truthfulness, support, trust, hope, perseverance.

Tomorrow, we’ll examine the divinity of love.

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