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Prisms of Interpretation: God is Love

Copyright © Andrew J. Shreeve 2015


See the introduction of Prisms of Interpretation and the first four prisms: Blood Covenant, Justification / Righteousness by Faith, The New Creation, and The Parable of the Seed

Prisms of Interpretation: God is love


Beloved let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love

1 John 4:7-8


In the above verses the bible defines God as love. In the original, biblical, Greek language the word translated love is 'agape' - God is 'agape'. Agape has been defined as - unmerited favour and, the deep and constant interest in an unworthy object (W. E. Vines Dictionary). In other words, God gives to those who are unworthy and undeserving His divine favour and blessing and, the Lord is deeply and constantly interested in every aspect of our lives.


In addition to the scripture explicitly defining God as love, there are numerous other scriptural references which qualify 'God is Love' as a prism of interpretation. We only allow prisms of interpretation which are 100% sure, and are clearly irrefutable themes throughout scripture. A prism of interpretation must be without doubt. 'God is love' is clearly one of these.


The bible tells us that the motive for Jesus leaving heaven, to take on human flesh and offer His life to pay the ransom for our sins, was love:


For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life

John 3:16


All God's actions throughout history were motivated by love

The plan of salvation, which God knew even before the creation of the world, was designed and motivated by the Lord's great love for His human creation (Ephesians 1:4). The history of humanity, and God's plan to redeem humanity, is revealed in the bible through: the creation of our forefather Adam; the fall of humanity, through Adam's treason; God's judgement of the world, through the great flood; the calling of Abram, through which God would bless all nations; the establishment of Abraham's descendants, who would become the nation of Israel; the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth and, the establishment of the church of Jesus Christ. All of these actions and interventions by God, into human existence, were motivated by the Lord's great love for us (Genesis 1:27, 2:16-17, 3:6-7, 6:5-7, 7:19-24, 12:1-3, 2 Chronicles 9:22-23, Matthew 27:35, 50, John 20:22, Acts 1:14,15). In His great wisdom, God's vision and plan is for humans to enter into an eternal, family, love-relationship with Him and each other (Ephesians 1:5)!


For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God

Ephesians 3:14-19


When we step back and view the full panorama of God's love, unfolded through His plan for man's salvation, we understand the bible more clearly. The selection and calling of Abram was motivated by love. The establishment of the nation of Israel was motivated by love; not just love for Israel but for all the nations of the world. The establishment of the Law of Moses, the Levitical' Priesthood, the tabernacle and the animal sacrificial system was motivated by God's love. The conquest of the land of Israel, and the expulsion of the ungodly inhabitants from the land, was motivated by God's love. And of course, Jesus allowing Himself to be crucified on the Cross of Calvary, and to be cursed and bear the wrath of God for our sins, was motivated by God's great love for all the peoples of the earth.


Someone may argue, if God the Father loved Jesus, how could the Father curse His Son with the curse of the law, and punish Jesus with His just wrath for the sins of humanity? We can only understand these actions in the light of the big picture, which includes Jesus' ultimate resurrection and the salvation of millions of people, who otherwise would have spent eternity in hell and the lake of fire. For an action of love to be properly understood we need to perceive the consequence of the, action or, inaction; this requires profound wisdom.


Sometimes, from our limited, human perspective, we wonder; how could an instruction, or action, by God be motivated by love? For example, how could a harsh punishment under the Law of Moses, like the death penalty for homosexual activity; or a battle where Israel killed many people; or even hell as a place where unbelievers in Jesus Christ will go; how could these actions be motivated by God's love? But, first we need to humble our mind to the truth that God is love, and all His actions and commandments are motivated by love. Our earthly perspective, however, limits our understanding of God. God has a superior perspective than us, both in terms of understanding human nature and seeing the big eternal picture.


To help us understand some of these difficult concepts let us ask the following questions:

  • As the nation of Israel was being prepared to receive the holy child Jesus, who would eternally save humans from condemnation; would it have been love for God to allow the nation of Israel, to become corrupted through indulging in sexually immoral sins like homosexuality, bestiality, incest and adultery (Leviticus 20:10-17)?
  • Would it have been love by God to allow Israel to have been polluted by allowing the evil idol-worshipping nations to inter-marry and mix with the nation of Israel?
  • Would it have been love by God to tempt people, to spend eternity without relationship with their creator, by offering a better alternative than hell?


If we think of the consequences of these alternatives we can see it wouldn't have been love. If God had allowed Israel to become polluted and corrupted, through unnatural sexual immorality and idolatry; then maybe Jesus would not have been able to successfully fulfil His mission, to remain sinless, and by His sinless blood redeem humanity from their sins (Hebrews 4:15). God needed to ensure that Jesus had the best possible holy-environment to succeed in His mission to redeem us.


If God gave us a less distinct choice than heaven or hell (for example heaven or Hawaii) we may be deceived into making the choice of Hawaii, and remain separated from God for eternity, which is not in our best interests. But with the stark option of heaven or hell we are less likely to be deceived. Everything God does is motivated by His love for us!


Scriptures which prove the prism of interpretation - God is love


Master which is the greatest commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets

Matthew 22:36-40


The two greatest commandments are to love the Lord with everything we have, and to love our neighbour as ourselves. This is a clear reflection of the Lord's own priority - which is to love us. Indeed all the teaching of the law and prophets hang on these commandments of love.


In the great redemptive chapters of Isaiah 52-54 we are revealed the great love and mercy of the Lord:


With everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord they redeemer… my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace (shalom) be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee

Isaiah 54:8, 10


In the heart of the redemptive work of the Lord, in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, is revealed the eternal, mercy, kindness and love of the Lord!


In the apostle' Paul's writings he also describes love as the greatest, and more excellent way. Paul also elaborates on what agape means. In the following verses, agape is translated charity:


Covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth… and now abideth faith, hope, and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity

1 Corinthians 12:31, 13:1-8, 13


As well as these verses confirming that love is the preeminent virtue for a human to possess, they also give us a detailed description of God's character of love. As God is agape, God suffers long, and is kind; God does not envy, does not vaunt Himself, is not puffed up, does not behave Himself unseemly and does not seek His own. God is not easily provoked, does not think evil, and does not rejoice in iniquity. God rather rejoices in the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things and never fails.


Another interesting observation is that faith works by love (Galatians 5:6). As faith draws the Lord's power, the Lord's power is safeguarded from misuse by needing love to be present for faith to work.



The plan of redemption was motivated by the Lord's love to redeem His human creation into eternal, loving union with Himself. The plan of redemption includes the call of Abram, the formation of the nation of Israel, the Law of Moses, the Levitical' Priesthood, the tabernacle, and the animal sacrificial system. This plan culminated in the coming to earth of the Lord Himself, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Everything relating to this plan: including harsh laws for the nation of Israel, wars, the cruel death and cursing of Jesus, and even hell as a destination for those who don't believe in Jesus; are birthed in the Lord's loving desire to redeem people into eternal, loving relationship with Himself.


The clear emphasis of Isaiah's revelation of the New Covenant, Jesus' teaching, and the teachings of the apostles Paul and John, is that love is the number one priority, in the heart of God and also, for human attitude and behaviour. We need to humble ourselves and accept that the Lord God is in essence love, and therefore all His actions and commandments, no matter how severe, are motivated, in His greater wisdom, by love.



Dear Father God, thank for the prism of interpretation you that you are love. Thank you that from the beginning, even before you created our forefather Adam, you loved us. Thank you that even after Adam rebelled against you, and chose to explore the dark side of evil with the devil, you still loved us. Thankyou that you made a loving plan to redeem us back to yourself through Jesus Christ. Lord, we accept that all your actions and plans throughout human history are motivated by love. We trust that as we yield and submit our lives to your Word, and the leading of your Holy Spirit, that you will always lead us in love. Please strengthen us to love you with all our might and to love our neighbour as ourselves. We bless and love you in Jesus Christ name, amen.

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