The virtue of love in the Christian religion has a variety of interpretations and also the Christians themselves practice it based on their knowledge about it. for instance, many Christians demonstrate the virtue by being kind to their fellow Christian or by professing that they love the other brethren, or by the literal spreading of the gospel across the world. there are also four types of love in the Christian context. For example, there’s is philia love, which is just love between Christians and the other Christians. This love is practiced through having fellowship together, doing or practicing the church programs together, praying together, and so on. Additionally, philia love triggers togetherness and peace among the Christians in the church. Moreover, there is another type of love like eros love. it can also be referred to as romantic or sensual love (Zavada, n.p). This kind of love is evident between the man and women who have engaged in marital love. In short, it is love that is based on sex emotions, and desires. This love is expressed through incredible feelings between a man and a woman, especially those who have agreed to live together. The other type of love is the storge love. it can also be referred to as family love. it is that bond that exists among the family members. It is the love between the children and parents or sisters and brothers in a family. An example in the bible is the love that existed between Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha. The other last type of love is the Agape love. it can also be interpreted as the love of God. It is the greatest of the three other types of love because it is incomparable, or unmeasurable love of God to humankind. Additionally, agape love is unconditional, pure, and perfect because it is divine from God. The significant distinction between the Agape love and the other types of love is that agape does not vanish or end, but it is an everlasting love from God. The Agape love was demonstrated by God when he gave his only son to die for the sins of humankind (john 3:16).
The Theme of Love in John’s Epistle
The word “love” is discussed in the book of first John especially the love between the human being themselves and the love of God. The epistle of John is very clear about the love of God and how it is evident in the lives of men. John explicates how the people that have the love of God should be and how they should behave. He also explicitly explains the other factors that accompany the love of God in a person. the epistle of John explains the love of one another. this love he explains on the basis of the relation of a man and a man. There are some of the aspects that John looks into, for the people to understand whether people love one another.
The Relationship Between Love, Light, And Darkness
These two aspects are depicted by john in the process of explaining the love of God, which should be evident among the Christians. John mentions that those that possess the love of God no longer live in the darkness but in the light (1 John:210). Having the notion that even in many biblical inferences, Jesus himself said that He was the light of the world, signified that light and love are both compatible and that if one is loving his brother, then that is why John says he must abide in the light. Additionally, if love is God, and Jesus Christ was God in the form of flesh, then love must relate with the light as Jesus referred to Himself as the light of the world (Christopher, 73).
The light in the context of the Christian faith can also be referred to as free from sin. The person that lives in the light is a person that is not ruled by the law of sin. Thus, those that are not ruled by sin are born of God and there is no sin in God. Thus, if God lives in a person, then that person cannot strain to love another person because God, the love Himself is in the person. moreover, the person can love other people if and if only he himself loves God. The love for God triggers the love for the brethren regardless of the wrong they may commit. The love of God breaks boundaries and conditions that exist in human beings. the love that John explains in his epistle, does not only mean it should be applied to those people that are saved only, but it applies to all the people regardless of their religious affiliation. According to John, a brother is any person that lives near you but not in the people that belong to one family like Abel and Cain.
Again, the light is used to represent righteousness. According to john, that who practice the acts of righteousness are the ones that possess the love of God. He also adds that there are two types of children, that is the children of God and the children of the darkness. John classifies the children of God as those that do righteousness and the children of the evil one as those that neglect the righteousness (1 John 3:10). Again, he postulates that the children of God have the love of God because they are born of God whereas those that do not belong to God, don’t possess or portray the love of God and cannot attain that love because in the first place they did not emanate from Him.
Relationship Of God’s Love and The World (1 John 2:15 and 3)
According to the epistle of John, chapter 2 verse 15, the love of God and the world have no relationship. In this epistle, the love of God is depicted to be perfect, eternal and something that cannot perish. John postulates that the people that are in love with the things of the world the divine love of God I longer in them. the things of the world may refer to the pleasure of the world like drinking, prostitution accumulation of illegal wealth, and so forth which may not please God. He states clearly that the people that are more interested in the things of the world, cannot possess the love of God.
Moreover, the things of God include prayers, reading of His word fellowshipping with the other saints, and spreading the Gospel. If the person is taking much of his time in doing the things of the world more than he does the things of God, then this is a sure indication that the love of God is not in the heart of the person. on the other hand, if the person is giving most of his/her time to praying and reading the word of God and all other Godly works, then it depicts that the pleasure of the world is little in the person and that the love of God is dominating in the life if this person. love should be practiced through helping one another and not when requested to help but through compassion (1 John 3:17)
Manifestations Love of God in A Man (1 John 4:9 – 20)
According to john, love has been expressed by God himself when he gave his son so that the people who believe in him may be saved and live through Him (1 john4:9). Additionally, God has manifested this great love to us, they should learn how to also love one another as God loved us. According to john, if any person declares to love God and portrays hatred toward his brother, then the person does not love God. This is because he cannot claim to love God who is invisible without first expressing that love to the person that he lives next to. This means that love should not be conceptual only but also it should be practical. Additionally, this explanation by John implies that the things that a person may do to other people are exact things that the person may do to God who is invisible.
For example, love is practical because it should entail some compassion works, like helping the poor, forgiving those that wrong you, and all the charitable works that should be done by a Christian. the love in this context implies a lot of the responsibilities that the Christian must partake to prove their love to God through the other human beings. moreover, the love that God expects from Christians is perfect with no fear in it. according to John, love and fear are not friends. If one claims to love God or to be loved by God, he should not be afraid of the other things that affect him. According to John, love does Christians a sense of boldness that cannot be broken by the other external factors. The boldness is due to the perfection of the love of God as well as God’s existence in the lives of Christians. That is why Christians do not fear anything and that they are always ready to face anything that may befall them in life.
Relationship of God’s Love and His Commandments
According to the epistle of John, the love of God and His commandments are one and the same thing. The Christians portray the love of God by adhering to what God commands them. Since the love of God exists in the lives of Christians, it is not them that life to fulfill God’s commandments but it is the ability of God himself in the lives of Christians that enables them to follow God’s commandments. The Christians just need to yield to the will of God, and God’s love for them makes them loyal to his commandments. Additionally, according to the epistle of John and the whole biblical context, love is a commandment. Even when Jesus was here on the earth, he said that love is the greatest commandment that must exist among all the other commandments.
The Use of “Love” in the Other NT Books
The word “love” has also been used in the context of the other New Testament books and especially in Paul’s epistles and gospel books. Firstly, in the book of John chapter three, we encounter the greatest form of love that has ever been manifested in the world, the Agape love of God. The love is expressed to be a sacrificial love that was offered by God himself by giving his son to be killed for the remission of the sins of the world (John 3:16). this kind of love is the love of God and cannot be compared with any other type of love. reviewing the origin of a man, it is evident that after the man fell into the garden of Eden, the sin covered the world. the man had no option but to wait and die because there was no connection between him and God. The history of the bible shows that when Man sinned, the relationship that existed between him and God was broken and he could not meet God. But since God is infinite, he had a major plan to restore man to where he was at the beginning through the shed blood. That is the reason that made God offer his begotten son who had God’s blood to come into the world to shed his blood for the propitiation of the sinners.
The epistle of John exactly rhymes with the gospel of John concerning the meaning of Love. the reason why these two authors are rhyming in their books is that the spirit of God in them was the one that was writing the bible but it was not by themselves and that is why the bible says that every word in the bible was written with an inspiration. The epistles of John also rhyme with john’s Gospel in the context of light. According to the epistles of John, love is related to light such that those that have the love of God live in the light. On the other hand, in the gospel of John, Jesus manifested love to the human king by dying for their sins to bring light into the world. additionally, Jesus himself, postulated that He was the light of the world and that He came to bring those that are in the darkness into the light (John 8:12). Additionally, in Ephesians 5:8, Paul suggests that we were in darkness for some time but now we have been reconciled to be in the light of the Lord. The concept of light resonates in the other bible verses like in the book of 2 Peter 1:19, where Peter charges the people to live well as the light shines on a dark place. In other words, Peter tells the other Christians to always portray the life of Jesus in everything that they do.
The context of love being taken as a commandment in the epistles of john is also evident in the other New Testament books. According to the book of Matthew 22:36, Jesus was asked a question to tell the people which was the greatest commandment according to the mosaic law. Jesus in response answered that the greatest commandment was Love. and he gave the reason for giving such an answer by saying that, all the laws of the prophets lie in one commandment and that is love (Matthew 22:40). Moreover, the gospel of John accrues that love is a commandment by itself when Jesus said that if people won’t follow His commandments, then they are not abiding in His love. Jesus in the Gospel of John said that people must abide in His love by adhering to his commandment just as He followed the commandment of His heavenly Father and He has abided in His love (John 15:10).
The concept of love in john’s Epistles also resonates in the book of Matthew when Jesus tells his disciples that they should love their neighbor as they love themselves. In the book of the first john, it was the love of your brother, but according to Jesus, it is the neighbor (Matthew 5:444). This means that your brother can also be your neighbor and thus love should be expressed to everybody regardless of whether is your brother or not. Jesus also added that we should not only love those that are friendly to us but we should love people including those that offend and persecute us in various ways. This is the reason that Jesus tells his disciples that they should love their enemies and that who curse them.
The concept of love in the New Testament brings the sense of eternity. The epistles of John rhyme with the other books in the New Testament about the love of God being eternal. For instance, according to the gospel of John 10:28, Jesus says that he came on earth to give humankind eternal life by offering his life to die for the people of humankind. Thus, this kind of love is depicted to be eternal since those that shall accept his love shall receive the same eternal life and dwell with Him forever (Wes, n.p). according to the epistles of John, the people that love their brother have passed from death to eternal life.
However, according to Paul’s epistles, there’s a little contradiction about the word love as it has been used in the other New Testament Books. For instance, in the book of 1 Corinthians chapter 13:1-8, the author postulates that doing charitable works does not portray that the person has love in his heart. Additionally, Paul added that even if a person will offer his life as a sacrifice to his fellow human beings and he lacks love, then the offerings will be all in vain. Comparing the context of John’s epistles to the postulations of Paul to the people of Corinth, many people can be confused about which kind of love that Paul was talking about. But the love that was being discussed in all the New Testament books was not inclined toward helping the other people only, but it was also about living the life of Jesus in one’s life.
The Use of The Word ‘Love’ in the Contemporary Society
the concept of love in societies has a different interpretation from the one that is given in the bible and especially, in the New Testament books. For instance, people look at the term love as a source of happiness because they rely on different books, articles, or media for the explanation of the real meaning of love. love can be defined differently in society depending on the age of the people that may respond to the question. For example, a young child can refer to love as the warmth feeling given by its parents through kissing and hugging. On the other hand, the adolescent young man or woman can develop an understanding of the word love after engaging into the relationship with the opposite sex due to the sex desires. At this point, the young man or woman can confuse the difference between love and lust because they are correlated in one way or the other. In short, the world’s understanding of the term love is due to romance (Lorch, n.p).
Additionally, society’s understanding of the word love is more inclined toward relationships, dating, and sex. Moreover, society has the notion that love can be expressed through material things. For example, once a person helps others in society the person is said to have shown love. society’s understanding of love is that helping or being generous is the greatest way that love can be expressed. Though this concept applied to few people because not all people are generous in the societies. Generally, the bible context of love is the only love that is some people from the society to be the true type of love that was ever manifested.
When the comparison is done about all the perspectives of love and understanding from different contexts, the truth shall always remain that God’s incomparable love is the true love among all the others because it is eternal. All the other kinds of love end and perishes but the love of God will never perish because it is divine. For example, if it’s a matter of philia love, the people eventually reach a time of separation where everyone dies and the love that existed declines. if it is eros love, the wife can die and the man can get married to another wife, which means the first love was just temporary. But the love of God, regardless of what comes, cannot end, it will still exist even after death. This, the meaning of the word ‘love’ is as discussed in the New Testament, and it is the best kind of love that is true and perfect.
Christopher, J. Thomas. “1 John, 2 John and 3 John.” (2019). Retrieved From: https://books.google.co.ke/books?hl=en&lr=&id=4gD1DwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR3&dq=a+journal+on+the+theme+of+love+in+the+gospel+of+the+1+john&ots=6JoAYoSUrh&sig=YPF1PX8I8pJGbly0c5BFWC9E7tE&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false
Lorch, Loralyn. “Defining Love in Today’s World.” (n.d). Retrieved From: https://thelife.com/defining-love-in-todays-world
Wes. “Changing the World Through Love: What I Noticed When I Read 1, 2, 3, John.” (2019). Retrieved From: https://radicallychristian.com/changing-the-world-through-love-what-i-noticed-when-i-read-1-2-3-john/
Zavada, Jack. “4 Types of Love in the Bible.” (2020). Retrieved From: https://www.learnreligions.com/types-of-love-in-the-bible-700177