LOVE IN THE LETTERS OF JOHN - PART I
Carlos Padilla, April 2019
God’s love should be the central matter in the life of mankind. In the
letters of John we find a type of love unknown to the natural man who has
not been born again and that emanates from the heart of a regenerated live
by the Holy Spirit that inhabits in the believer in Christ, in a Christ-man
who has taken us to the same presence of the Father, from who’s heart that
love emanates. The Bible however shows different types of love: God’s love
for man, the love of the natural man that may be to other people or things
in the world. But for the Church to be united in Christ, for the Church –and
every church that form it in the world in history– it may be seen as the
true disciples of Yahshua, Jesus Christ, who proved that there is no greater
love than the one of who gives his life for his friends (John 15:13),
something that John has experienced before and latter explained (1 John
4:7-21), it is necessary that amongst the brothers in Christ that love that
John has exposed in the three letters that have his name, and that was
inspired by the Holy Spirit, can be seen and experienced. In this work we
will see love under the complete perspective, beginning with love in all his
forms, from God and from love under the Biblical prism, and after we will
look into the love of God in specific and how this love has been perceived
and experienced as a base on which we can then expose the development of the
exposition of the type of love that the letters of John teach so we can tell
the difference that love makes in comparison with other types of love: of
God that comes from Him, and the one of the natural man. Once we have
developed and analyzed the exposition that John makes in his letters of the
type of love that Bible teaches, we will be able to realize that they are
one of the pillars of the New Testament towards guaranteeing the true love
that they expose so the Church can have the reference of the true Christian
in all ages.
Love in The Bible
Love in the Bible covers all kind of love there are. Both God’s love, as
well as man’s love, in its facets of goodness, jealousy, carnal passion, to
the material, to money “root of all evils” (1 Ti. 6:10) or the love in Song
shows the love of Solomon to the Shulammite, and hers for the king, that has
so many times been interpreted as the love of God to the Church, but we can
use for the love in marriage. John’s Gospel and his three epistles show a
type of love that it is not natural to man, but that is given by God and it
is outside the rational, for our nature reveals against God’s nature, and is
egoist which reminded me of the book of John Eldredge that
deals with the wild heart of man before he knows God, and how is the fight
for the heart that at the end God wins through faith. This is also related
with the social condition of man, developed in a given environment who
learns how to relate on a human way waiting to be accepted and to accept
others to be able to love them and be loved, which is within the basic needs
of man in
God’s plan for family on the base of the cultural anthropology in three
purposes of marriage that God has created between a man and a woman:
partnership, complement and procreation, roles in which to develop love. On
the other hand we may also find in the Bible God’s love as the foundation of
Christian missions in the world, where one can see love to the neighbour is
staged here as something with a supernatural call,
for it is Christ himself who cares for the lost man to make him a massager
and ambassador, for his beginning and end come from God, for it is not a
human cause, but a divine mission.
The books in the Bible that mostly emanate the love of God for man and the
love of man for God, as well as the fraternal love between the believer and
others, are Psalms, Song of Songs, the Gospel of John and the three letters
of John. That does not mean that other books do not expose the love of God,
such as it does in the letters of Paul (1 Corinthians 13), or Peter (1 Peter
4:8), but we can say that John is the author of love.
To go deeper into the origin of love from understanding and meaning we can
use resources like Biblical dictionaries. In the Biblical Dictionary Vila-Escuain we
read that love in the Old Testament comes from the Hebrew word ahabah to
describe the love between Jacob and Rachel (Ge. 29:20) or of David for
Jonathan. Also, in the New Testament we find agape to
describe love or divine origin, from the Father to the Son (John 3:35) or of
God to the world (John 3:16) that Paul describes in its full splendour (1
Corinthians 13); the word eros does
not appear as it focuses to desire and avidity. We also find the term philantropia for
love focused to man (Titus 3:4) from the father to the son like Abraham for
Isaac, from the husband to the wife. This series concludes that the Bible
teaches about love, that God “is” love, not that it is one of His gifts, but
His own essence. If God is love and love is of God, man cannot do more than
desire that love that he does not know naturally but that God gives.
The Love of God
About the love of God that He gives man, following the previous chapter, we
see that our Lord has always managed to communicate with us to show us that
love, a love that He describes the following way: “For
so God loved the world that He gave His only begotten Sun, so that whoever
believes in Him, shall not perish but have everlasting life.” John
3:16. Of this love we are going to talk now. In the book The City of God
from Saint Augustine he
talks about such a city has its foundations on the love of God. According to
Augustine there are two cities, each has its foundations on a love. The one
of God that we have mentioned and that is based in the love of God, and
another one with its foundations on the love to one self. If we want to live
the love of God in that city of the heart, we will see, as Millard Erickson
says in his book Systematic Theology about
the goodness of God, and inside the chapter His love includes: Benevolence,
Grace, Mercy, Persistence and continues with another point: love and justice
of God, a point of tension? Love is the first attribute of God. But what
caught my attention and would like to point out is “persistence (Hebrew: ‘erek
‘appayin – Ex. 34-6; and
referring to His love for us, because our God is: “longsuffering
and abundant in mercy.” (Psalm 86:15). God’s love never fails, like it
teaches the book of Isaiah 49:15-16 in that it is unalterable and
infallible. Also the love of God includes having placed His Holy Spirit in
us, who are His temple, and claims in us “Abba,
Father” every day and in each
moment having given us an eternal link with the Father, in Christ (1 John
1:3) Charles Spurgeon tells in his inspired book “Holy Spirit” .
The Bible includes some verses as relevant about the love of God, that I
would like to point out, like Psalm 91:14: “Because
he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I
will set him on high, because he has known My name.” Or
Jeremiah 31:3: “The Lord has
appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I
have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore
with loving kindness I have drawn you.” The
apostle Paul in line with the apostle John teaches about love in Colossians
above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.” Also
the apostle Peter in his first letter 4:8: “And
above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall
cover the multitude of sins.” These
three apostles are three columns of Christianity that show the great unity
of the Revelation of God about His love for His beloved Church through His
chosen and that we are all taught that God loves us and in how much He does.
Rick Warren, in his love “Purpose Driven Church”
talks about the love of Christ in action when He would congregate the
multitudes. These where lost people, not saints, people to whom He would
show His love spending time with them and teaching them, to the point that
He did not care that they called Him “friend of sinners” by the religious,
while the wounded and the children gravitated around Him. Our challenge is
how to love our neighbour in the same way as Jesus loves us. That is the
subject of the next publication. In the meantime let us exercise in mercy
and love of God.
Read Part II
New King James. (Bible
Gateway), Song of Songs.
Eldredge. Wild At Heart.
Discover the Secrets of a Man’s Soul. Nashville,
Tennessee, (Thomas Nelson, 2001), 130.
A. Grunlan, y Marvin K. Mayers. Antropología
Cultural, Una Perspectiva Cristiana.
(Editorial Vida, 1988), 164-165.
Armstrong, Mark McClellan, Davis Sallis. Introducción
a la Misiología. Reaching
and Teaching International Ministries. (Louisville, Kentucky, USA, 2011),
Samuel Vila. “Nuevo Diccionario Bíblico Ilustrado”. (TERRASSA,
Editorial CLIE, 1985), 51.
L. González. Historia del
Cristianismo. Tomo I.( Miami.
EE.UU.: Unilit, 1994), 229.
J, Erickson. Teología
Barcelona. España. Editorial CLIE, 2008), 316-320.
Spurgeon. Holy Spirit. (New
Kensington. P.A. Whitaker House, 2000), 146.
Warren. Purpose Driven Church.
(Grand Rapids, Michigan. Zondervan,