What Is Love, According To Scripture?


There have been poems written about love, songs sung about it and movies made about it.

We love everything about love.

If you type it into a Bible program on your device, you’ll find 281 verses that contain the word love. How wonderful our faith must be for God’s word to talk about love so much!

But let’s dig a little deeper. If you pull out your concordance - you know, that big book on the shelf that you probably haven’t used for a while - you’ll find those same 281 verses with the word love in them. Again, how wonderful Christianity is to talk about love so much!

Now look closely at the numerical references for each of those verses. If love had just one meaning, all of the numbers would be the same and the writers could abbreviate that section of their concordance. Talk about saving space!

But there isn’t just one definition of love in the Bible. There are actually 8 Hebrew and 9 Greek words that all translate to our English word, love. When I typed out the numbers and their definitions, it looked like this:

Old Testament
157 - to have affection for, like a friend
160 - to have affection for, feminine tense
2836 - to cling to, to delight in
7355 - to have compassion upon, to show mercy or pity
1730 - a love-token, beloved
7474 - sister, companion, friend, wife, neighbor
5691 - inordinate love (unusually large)
5690 - much love, very lovely

New Testament
25 - to love in a social or moral sense
26 - feast of charity, dear love
5360 - brotherly love, love of the brethren
5365 - love of money
5388 - maternal love for their children 
5362 - affectionate as a wife, love for husband
5361 - love as brethren
5368 - to be a friend to

2309 - choose, prefer, desire

To use these numbers and do a study of the word love on your own, pull out your Strong’s Concordance or use the Strong’s numbers in your digital Bible program. Then look through all the verses containing the word love and match them with their Hebrew or Greek translation. I will be the first to admit that I was fascinated by some of the verses I thought I understood. Absolutely fascinated.

There is not a singular definition of love because there are so many different ways and reasons to love. In Scripture, love is a Person and a picture of God. It is a noun, describing the people we care for and admire. And it is a verb, the things we do because God overflows from within us. Love is a many splendored thing, especially when it comes from the Lord Himself!

There is no better way to learn what love truly is this Valentine’s Week than to spend time in Scripture studying what God says about it. I pray you’ll use some of your quiet time this week to look up these definitions and apply them to your own life. We might never love the same way again once we see God’s definitions!


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