Amazing love! In the book of John, the word "love" is used 39 times in 21 chapters. No wonder John is called the Apostle of Love.
The New Testament was written in Greek. As many know, there are several words in the Greek language that are translated into English as "love." In the New Testament, there are two Greek words used fairly frequently: "agape" and "philos." "Agape" tends to mean "love" in a general sense and "philos" more of a brotherly love. However, in the NT, these two words seem to be practically interchangeable in their usage. Many think that there is little difference between the two words. So, I won't bother at this point going through and looking up which word is used in each verse. I may do that sometime, but not right now.
Here is a good John MacArthur sermon on the subject of John:The Apostle of Love. His text is from 1 John.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
The Bible speaks of God's love in several different ways. First, God is love. That is, He is a loving and good God, kind and gracious to all (Acts 14:17). Love is one of God's attributes.
Then, God has a special love for His own, for those who believe in Christ. It is the kind of love that a bridegroom has for his bride. It is an exclusive kind of love, reserved only for the beloved and not given indiscriminately to all.
Here in this verse we see God's love for everyone in the world, yet only those who believe in Christ will be saved from condemnation. Why? God is also just. His love is satisfied in sending Christ, and His justice is satisfied in Christ's death on the cross. Christ paid the full penalty for the sins of mankind, especially for those who believe in Him. (1 Timothy 4:10)
So, there is a sense in which God loves all the world and all the people in it, but there is a greater kind of love. God's love for His elect is not at all the same as the general love He has for all those created in His image.
Even among humans this is true. The love one may feel for mankind in general is not at all the same as the love he feels for those close to him such as his family or best friends.
God's love for His elect ensures their salvation. God's love for all of mankind does not save all men from their sin. Many are left in their unbelief and rebellion while others are saved from their sins.
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.
We should love God with all our hearts. He is the one who made our hearts in the first place, after all. We are made in God's image (Genesis 1:26,27). Since God is love, and since we are made in His image, it seems that it would be natural for all mankind to love God back and to be loving and kind to everyone else. As St. Agustin said in his Confessions:
"Thou movest us to delight in praising Thee; for Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee?"
The problem is that we tend to love sin rather than God. Just as Adam and Eve hid from God when they sinned (Genesis 3:10), all the children of Adam and Eve - which is all of us - hide in the darkness from God because we don't want to face up to who we really are. We don't want to admit that we are sinners who hate God and love our sin. Our problem as men and women is one of sinfulness.
The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.
The love that the Father and the Son enjoy is absolute and perfect. The Father and the Son are equal in being, so the Father gives all things into the hand of the Son. Only the Son is able to receive such a commission from His Father.
For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.
Again, the Father and Son are equal in being.
But I know that you do not have the love of God within you.
Jesus knew who had love for God within them and who did not. Outward displays of religiosity are not enough. God looks on the heart; He looks at what is on the inside. (1 Samuel 16:7)
Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.
One cannot say he loves the Father but reject the Son. One cannot say that he loves God and at the same time reject the Word made flesh.
For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.
The love between the Father and the Son was perfect.
So the sisters sent to him, saying, "Lord, he whom you love is ill."
Jesus had special friends that He loved in a special way. People noticed that He had His close friends, and Lazarus was one of them.
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
Mary and Martha were also among Jesus' closest friends.
So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!"
His love for this family was great and everyone recognized His grief.
Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
This is one of those beautiful paradoxes we find in Scripture. How can our losing our life actually give us eternal life? This is what Jesus teaches, though. We lose what once seemed dear to us, but we gain something far better. We no longer live for ourselves, seeking to satisfy our sinful desires. Rather, we live for the One who gave Himself for us, Jesus Christ.
for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.
Here is an example of some who claimed to be serving God, but who were really seeking fame. We were created to love the glory of God above all else, but because of sin, we easily seek glory, fame, and fortune for ourselves and not for God. That self-glorification can lead to evil acts. In the case of these religious leaders, the result was the murder of the Son of God.
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table close to Jesus,
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him."
Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.
You heard me say to you, 'I am going away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.
but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.
I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them."
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!"
So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him."
That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs."
He said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep."
He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.
Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who had been reclining at table close to him and had said, "Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?"