The Source of Love
1 John 4:7-21
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God… [1 John 4:7]
John would go on to write, “and everyone who loves is born of God.” Once again we see the test of being a child of God is love [the social test]. But I think the first part of v.7 is key, because it identifies love’s [agape’s] source.
Two Sunday’s ago we noted four Greek words for love: eros, storge, phileo, and agape. The first three describe love on the human level; agape is unique: The source of agape is God. This is important for us to understand. “Agape was a word coined for the New Testament” [Chuck Smith], because it is in the New Covenant that we can receive agape by being born of the Spirit. We must receive agape [from God] to give agape [to others]. Agape therefore becomes a test, a social test, that we are truly children of God.
Also notice John writes [twice] “God is love” [v.8, 16]. It does not say “love is God.” Guzik makes an important observation:
When we say God is love, we are not saying everything about God. Love is an essential aspect of His character, and colors every aspect of His nature. But it does not eliminate His holiness, His righteousness, or His perfect justice. Instead, we know the holiness of God is loving, and the righteousness of God is loving, and the justice of God is loving. Everything God does, in one way or another, expresses His love.
Great problems come when we try to say love is God. This is because love does not define everything in the character of God, and because when most people use the term love, they are not thinking of true love, the God-kind of love.
The Bible also tells us that God is spirit (John 4:24), God is light (1 John 1:5), and that God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29).
In short, God is the source of love; it is not the other way around. This keeps us from confusing agape love with the touchy feely worldly love.
Agape is on an entirely different plane, yet accessible to the child of God who desires to receive it and give it to others.