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John 3:16 - The Definition of Love

*All scripture read from NKJV unless otherwise noted

“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.”


Most people, whether deeply learned and knowledgable of scripture or as far from God as an Eskimo from the Sahara, know this passage of John found in the 16th verse of the third chapter. But do we understand the gravity of what it is saying? Do we truly understand the love God has for us, His masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10)


We often, I believe without trying or purposely, attach our humanistic definitions to this word love. We subconsciously attached what we feel and know as love, and so I am afraid that we fall into the trap that has plagued mankind for all of human history. We first forget the love of our gracious Father and then we slowly forget all of Him and we turn towards sinful and wicked ways.


But even in the midst of our darkest moments God has always sought a way to redeem us and show us His great Love again and again. He has never failed to love us. (Romans 5:8)


In Genesis chapter 3 we see the fall of man and also one of the greatest acts of love ever shown by our merciful Father. Verse 22-24

“Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever” Therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.”


This was not the act of an angry and petulant god but of a God full of love for His creation. He took us out of the Garden of Eden not to deny us life but to withhold our eternal death. For had we returned to eat of the tree of life in our sinful state, we would have been damned for all eternity.


We see a very similar act again in Exodus 20. God delivers to Moses His law set in stone. Upon descending the mountain Moses discovers the people building and worshiping a false god. So out of an act of love Moses destroys the first set of tablets.(v19) For had he given the law to the people amid their sinful act, they would all have been condemned to die. (Exodus 22:20/ Leviticus 27:29)


If we head back to Genesis 18:20 we find the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, God tells Abraham that the cities will be destroyed for their wickedness. 

Abraham asks God the following in verses 23-24

“And Abraham came near and said, “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it?”


In verse 26 God replies

“So the Lord said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.”


In verses 28 through 32 Abraham continues to lower the count from 45, 40, 30, 20, and finally, 10 and God agrees each time.


Beloved I am convinced that had Abraham asked for 1 God would have agreed, for this blessed scripture tells us that all of heaven rejoices of the salvation of 1 (Luke 15:7) and that God never changes (Malachi 3:6)


Again and again, we see even in the midst of prophecies of trials and troubles they are filled with remembrances of our Father’s everlasting love.

in fact, Luke 24:27 tells us that every prophet ever has proclaimed God’s ultimate act of love and that was His son Jesus Christ

“And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”


If we look we find it in Genesis 3:15, Genesis 12:3, Numbers 21:14, Deuteronomy 1:45, 2 Samuel 7:12, Isaiah 8:17, Isaiah 9:1, Daniel 7:13, Micah 5:6, Zechariah 9:9. And these are just a few!


God cannot stop talking about the love He alone has for us! He can’t stop loving us! He won’t stop loving us.

Psalms 139:8 says

“If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.”


You may choose to go to hell my friend but you will not go there without love Why you ask? Because GOD IS LOVE!

(1 John 4:8) 


 I want to turn your attention to one finally verse before I circle back to John 3:16. It is a verse so often misused for our own earth view of love. And only pulled out of the dust when used for ceremonies of marriage and that is 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.“


This is not a wedding verse beloved, this is God’s definition of love, a definition of Himself! If we should marry anything with this verse let it be John 3:16.


Let us read it again slowly and instead of the word love, read a definition from 1 Corinthians 13


For God was so PATIENT with the world

For God was so KIND to the world

For God DID NOT ENVY the world

For God DID NOT BOAST to the world

For God WAS NOT PRIDEFUL to the world

For God WAS NOT RUDE to the world

For God WAS NOT SELF-SEEKING towards the world

For God WAS NOT EASILY ANGERED towards the world

For God KEEPS NO RECORD OF WRONGS towards the world

For God DID NOT DELIGHT IN EVIL towards the world

For God REJOICES IN TRUTH for the world

For God ALWAYS PROTECTS the world

For God ALWAYS TRUSTS the world

For God ALWAYS HOPES for the world

For God ALWAYS PERSEVERES for the world

For God NEVER FAILS the world!


Oh, do you see it now! Can you feel the gravity of that marvelous verse! FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS SON!


This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, nothing more and nothing less than LOVE! This is who God always was, always is, and will forever be. He sent His son to do His will (John 6:38) the will of speaking, doing and sacrificing for love! Jesus is God’s physical definition of His unmatched love!


This is our focus alone!

“For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

1 Corinthians 2:2

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