My pastor’s wife is a diligent student of the Bible. When she heard me talking one day about my own study of “love” in Scripture, she leaned over the table with interest, and she commented: “But the Bible never really defines love, does it? Even 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter, doesn’t offer anything you could call a ‘definition.’
She was perfectly right. So it’s time to admit it: the title of this little five-day Bible study may be false advertising—if you were expecting a dictionary definition of love.
If that’s what you wanted, you’re not alone. In fact, “love” is one of the top-ten most looked-up words at Merriam-Webster.com. But the editors there wisely commented:
We’re guessing that many people arrive at our site with a question—“what is the meaning of love?”—that actually requires answers beyond a dictionary definition.
I think they’re right.
And yet we’ve got to know what love is, because 1) we want to know God, and 2) we want to please him—and he said, through his Son, that love is our main obligation.
The whole Old Testament, Jesus said in one of your two Bible readings for today, hangs on love for God and love for neighbor. Our Christian lives, too, must be motivated by nothing other than love—or all our good works, no matter how self-sacrifical, are only so many zeroes added to the spreadsheet. “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3 ESV).
What is love? We’ve got to know.
And we can know. There is a way forward—a way to know what Christ meant when he said, “Love the Lord your God” and “Love your neighbor.” We won’t arrive at a full understanding of love in 5 days of Bible reading, but every journey to understand love must start with five days, and it must start with the only truly reliable insight we have into the God who is love: Scripture.
Instead of a definition of love in the Bible, we’re going to aim at a description. And we’re going to look at love from two angles: concept and word.
1. We will look at biblical statements about the concept of love.
2. We will briefly examine the use of the word “love” in Scripture.
For now, simply observe. As you read today’s passages, ask yourself:
· What do these passages say about the concept of love?
· According to these passages, what are the results of love?
· What is the relationship between love and action in these passages? Are love and action the same thing? If not, which one comes first?
If you want to learn more about Bible study, you can sign up for our 30-Day Challenge here.