Here are some of my favorite Bible verses on love with some commentary:
# 1 – John 3:16
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Perhaps the single most well known of all the Bible verses on love in all of Scripture (thanks in no small part to folks who wave their John 3:16 signs during every NFL broadcast).
If there is one verse which could sum up the entire Bible or define the gospel, this would be it. If there is one verse that could sum up the Bible’s view of human history, this would be it. If there is one verse that could measure the depth of God’s love for humanity, this would be it.
# 2 – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
This passage deals with the love that should exist between members of the same church community. This does not disqualify its use in a wedding ceremony since the passage embodies the ideals that should characterize any marriage.
I have written a much more extensive commentary on 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 if you wish to delve a little deeper.
#3 – 1 John 3:16-17
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”
This is the other John 3:16, which calls for the ultimate sacrifice (our life) as a demonstration of our love towards others. The emphasis here is also on social action, our love for our fellow human beings.
#4 – Matthew 5:43-48
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighborand hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
A challenging scripture indeed, it calls us to love those whom we would typically not want to love. Notice how the example here is the Father, who loves all impartially and wishes us to follow in his perfect steps.
#5 – Leviticus 19:18
“You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.
A scribe once approached Jesus and asked him what was the greatest commandment (Matt 22:39; Mark 12:31).
In his answer, Jesus quoted Deut 6:4-5 about loving God and then he quoted the latter part of Leviticus 19:18 above, “Love your neighbor as yourself” These two commandments summarize the whole Bible according to Jesus.
The Leviticus text is even more remarkable because it comes in the midst of many requests for mercy toward others:
- Do not reap the corners of your fields or gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard: leave this for the stranger.
- Do not steal, lie, hate, slander, oppress or take vengeance your neighbor.
- Do not discriminate against the poor.
- Do not exploit the worker.
In other words, love is an action and we must demonstrate that love to our fellow human beings.