The Meaning of Love – An Exposition of 1 John 4
Dr. Ben Witherington on 1 John 4:
While we might be tempted to think that this phrase means that God is loving, and so defined by his loving activities, and while that is true, it would seem that this phrase means something more. God not merely possesses or expresses love, love is a term which seems to embrace all God is. Yet still God is not really being defined here by an abstraction, nor is it a claim that the reverse of this statement is true (namely that ‘love is God’). What may be meant by ‘God is love’ is in part that “if the characteristic divine activity is that of loving, then God must be personal, for we cannot be loved by an abstraction, or by anything less than a person…But to say ‘God is love’ implies that all his activity is loving activity. If he creates, he creates in love; if he rules, he rules in love; if he judges, he judges in love. All that he does is the expression of his nature, which is— to love.” One more thing—the definition of love proceeds from God and works its way down to us—‘not that we loved God but that God loved us and sent his Son’.
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