The Examination of Biblical Words in Their Context
By James T. Bartsch
The verb agapáō (25)
A. God's love for man: God acts sacrificially in the best interests of all of mankind, and especially on behalf of those whom He has chosen as His own.
1. God loved the world so much that He gave His only-born Son to rescue man (John 3:16).
2. God, who is rich in mercy, on account of the great love with which He loved us (Eph. 2:4), graciously made us alive together with Christ when we were dead in our transgressions (Eph. 2:5).
3. We Christians ought to put on, as those who are chosen by God, who are holy and having been loved, a heart of sympathy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience (Col. 3:12).
4. God our Father is the one having loved us and having given us eternal hope and good comfort in grace (2 Thess. 2:16).
5. In this is the essence of love, not that we have loved God, but that He Himself loved us, and sent His Son to be the legal satisfaction for our sins (1 John 4:10).
6. Loved ones, if God so loved us (by sending His Son to be the legal satisfaction for our sins – 1 John 4:10), we also are obligated to be loving one another (1 John 4:11).
B. God's inherent love for His Son.
1. God loves the Son and has delegated all under His control (John 3:35).
2. Jesus said, "On account of this the Father continually loves me because I lay down my life in order that again I might retrieve it (John 10:17).
C. Christ's love for us.
1. We Christian brothers are ones having been loved by the Lord (2 Thess. 2:13).
D. Man's love for God. Man acts sacrificially in the best interests of God.
1. No one is able to serve two masters. For either he will hate the one and will love the other, or else he will cling to the one and despise the other. One cannot serve both God and wealth (Matt. 6:24). Conclusion: loving God precludes loving wealth (Matt. 6:24).
2. "You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind" (Matt. 22:37). Each of us is to love God with his total being.
E. Believers' love for Christ. They sacrifice their own interests to put His interests first.
1. Jesus said, "If you keep loving me, you will observe my commandments" (John 14:15).
F. Believers' love for fellow man. Believers sacrifice their own interests to seek the best interests of a fellow man, whether he is a neighbor or even if he is an enemy. Believers have a special obligation to love other believers.
1. Jesus commanded His listeners, "You are to be loving your enemies, and you are to be praying on behalf of the ones persecuting you." There is no reward if you love the ones loving you (Matt. 5:43, 44, 46).
2. Quoting Lev. 19:18, Jesus said, in part, "You are to love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt. 19:19; 22:39)
G. To feel a spontaneous affection for someone
1. Jesus felt a spontaneous affection for a wealthy man who ran up to him and asked what he could do to inherit eternal life (Mark 10:21).
2. Jesus evidently had an affectionate regard for Martha, her sister Mary, and their brother Lazarus (John 11:5)
3. There was an unnamed disciple for whom Jesus had a spontaneous and affectionate high regard. We hear about him only in the Gospel of John. The best guess is that the individual was John the Apostle, author of the Gospel that bears his name (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20).
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