What Does it Mean That 'God is Love'?

God is love sounds sweet, but is it actually in the Bible? Here's what Scripture tells us about God's character and feelings toward humanity.

Contributing Writer
Updated Feb 12, 2024
What Does it Mean That 'God is Love'?

God is love. That’s a bold statement, but the Bible clearly states that God is love. Yet, when we look at the world we live in and our own experiences, it’s easy to question if God really is love. So, let’s dig deeper. Let’s look at where the Bible talks about God actually being love and some of the implications for our lives. “God is love” is a simple statement, yet there is power and depth in those three simple words. Let’s dive in.

Where Does the Bible Say God Is Love?

Throughout the Bible, we see God’s character and love for humanity. God’s love spills over into every book of the Bible, yet some verses specifically state God is love. So that we have no doubts about it! 

1 John 4:8 states, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love (emphasis added). 

If we keep reading, we come to verse 16 in the same chapter, “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them” (emphasis added).

I highly recommend reading 1 John 4:7-21 to see these verses in their full context. The apostle John is writing about loving others. In verse 7, he writes, “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.” We are instructed to love others but don’t have to muster that love on our own. The love we give to others comes from God because He is love

Ronald Sauer’s contribution to The Moody Bible Commentary helps us understand this better. In his notes on 1 John 4:7-8, he writes: 

“Love has as its ultimate source God. That a believer loves others suggests that he or she has a relationship with God. If one loves God, he will love what God loves, and in this context that is especially other believers... Loving others is not the cause but an effect of the new birth. As a member of the heavenly family, the believer reflects that family trait of love... It is impossible to be a recipient of God’s love and to come into relationship with Him without subsequently showing that same love to others, especially, but not exclusively, to other Christians.” (The Moody Bible Commentary, 1981-1982)

Does "God Is Love" Mean We Can Do Anything?

If God is love, does that mean we can get away with anything? That’s an interesting question. The short answer is no, but let’s unpack that answer.

We know that God is love, and in His love, He sent Jesus into the world to save us (John 3:16-17). 

But we can’t stop there. In Romans 5:20-21 the apostle Paul tells us that where sin increased, grace increased more. He explains that grace reigns through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ.

But we can’t stop there either. In Romans 6, Paul tells us how we are to live in light of God’s incredible gift to us. Here are a few powerful verses from that chapter, though I recommend reading the whole thing.

“We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:2).

“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin” (Romans 6:6-7).

“For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:14)

We are no longer sinners when we place our faith in Jesus Christ. In Christ Jesus, we are a new creation. The old has gone and the new has arrived (2 Corinthians 5:17). Even though we have been set free from sin and died to sin, there are times we will still sin because we’re human. God offers forgiveness, yet there are consequences when we sin. Hebrews 10 talks about the sacrifice Jesus made and how that impacts our life with Him. We’re encouraged to draw near to God with a sincere heart. 

There are dire consequences when we intentionally walk away from God and choose sin over Him. Hebrews 10:26-27 says, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.”

How to Reconcile God's Love With God's Anger

God is love, and He loves us so much. He made the ultimate sacrifice by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to save us from our sins and restore the broken relationship between Himself and us. Yet God is a holy and just God. When we reject His offer of love and forgiveness and embrace sin instead, we’re left with the consequences of that sin and fall under God’s wrath instead of the blood of Jesus.

We have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory of God (Romans 3:23). What are the wages of sin? According to Romans 6:23, death. But God in His great love for us offers all of humanity an incredible gift. The second half of Romans 6:23 explains that God’s gift is eternal life in Jesus.

I love how Wayne Grudem describes this truth in Systematic Theology:

“God could have let all of us go on our self-chosen path toward eternal condemnation. Had God decided to save no one out of the entire sinful human race, he would be perfectly just to do so, and no one could complain of unfairness on his part... But God in fact has chosen to do much more than that. He has decided to redeem out of sinful mankind a great multitude, whom no man can number, ‘from every tribe and tongue and people and nation’ (Rev. 5:9). This is incalculable mercy and love, far beyond our comprehension. It is all undeserved favor: it is all grace.” (Systematic Theology page 403)

God is love. His love is available to each of us, no matter what we have done in the past. God made a way to save us—His quirky creation that He loves. Will you choose Him? Will you accept the gift God gave us in Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the dead? Jesus conquered sin and death once and for all. He took the penalty we deserve. As Isaiah 53:5 reminds us, Jesus “the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Will you accept the free gift offered to you and allow the love of God to embrace you and the peace of God to fill your heart? It’s the hardest and the easiest thing you’ll ever do! 

If you declare with your moth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-11)

Prayers Thanking God for His Love

Lord God, I know I deserve judgment. I know that I have sinned and fallen far short of Your glory. Thank You, Lord, for making a way. Thank You for loving me. I believe that Jesus is Lord. I believe that He died on the cross for my sins. I believe You raised Him from the dead, God. I believe in You and rejoice today because I know I am saved from an eternity apart from You. Thank You for offering me new, abundant, and eternal life. Wow! Thank You, God! Amen.

God, You are so good. I know You demand justice, and I can never meet Your holy expectations. You know all these things, so You gave us Your own Son, Jesus. Thank You for this incredible sacrifice. Thank You for displaying Your holy character of love when I don’t deserve it. Thank You for loving, pursuing, and holding me tight when life gets hard. Thank You for forgiveness and grace. I love You, God. Amen.

Thank You, God, that You are love. Thank You for all of the incredible ways that You love me. Please help me to love others like You love me and like You love them. I want the family characteristic of love to flow out of me toward those around me. Thank You that I can love others because You are love! Amen. 

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/ChristianChan

Josie Siler writer Salem Web NetworkPassionate about helping people find joy for their journey, Josie Siler, a small-town Wisconsin girl, has big dreams. As an author and photographer, Josie shares God’s gifts of beauty, hope, and adventure with people who are overwhelmed by life’s circumstances, encouraging them to walk in the freedom and joy found in Jesus. Josie is the author of the award-winning picture book, Howie’s Broken Hee-Haw, published by End Game Press. She's also a chronic illness warrior who believes every day is a gift that should be celebrated. When she’s not writing or taking pictures, you’ll find Josie looking for adventure, curled up with a good book, or cuddling her teddy bear dog Ruby Mae (a.k.a. The Scruffy Princess). Connect with Josie at JosieSiler.com

This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within Scripture's context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.

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