10 Key Bible Verses on God’s Love

This article is part of the Key Bible Verses series.

All commentary notes adapted from the ESV Study Bible.

1. 1 John 4:7–12

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. Read More

ESV Study Bible Notes

whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. This does not rule out the need for faithful confession of Christ (1 John 2:23; 4:2) and ethical integrity (1John 3:16). But love completes the picture of a life in fellowship with God. Love is presented here as a consequence of, not a precondition for, being born of God. Unbelievers can love others to some degree, but not in the way that God’s indwelling presence enables Christians to love (cf. 1 John 4:8–11).

does not know God, because God is love. The person who lacks love shows himself to be unchanged at the core of his being by the gospel message. John is not saying that God is only love (he has numerous other attributes), nor that love is God (a statement for which there is no scriptural support). “God is love” means that God continually gives of himself to others and seeks their benefit. There was eternal love between the persons of the Trinity even before the world was created (John 17:24), and God’s love is the ultimate source of any love that Christians are able to display (1 John 4:11, 12, 19).

2. Romans 8:35–39

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

      “For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
            we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Read More

ESV Study Bible Notes

A joyous conclusion to the argument that Paul has carefully unfolded throughout the preceding chapters. The opposition of unbelievers and Satan will never succeed, since God is for us (Rom. 8:31).

As it is written. The quotation from Ps. 44:22 shows that the difficulties listed in Rom. 8:35 do strike Christians. They are not exempted from suffering or even from being killed.

Christians are more than conquerors, because God turns everything—even suffering and death—into good.

For I am sure. Paul answers the question he raised in Rom. 8:35 with absolute certainty that nothing can ever sever God’s people from his love . . . in Christ. Rulers and powers here likely refer to angelic and demonic authorities.

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3. Psalm 36:5–7

Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens,
      your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
      your judgments are like the great deep;
      man and beast you save, O LORD.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
      The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. Read More

ESV Study Bible Notes

God’s Precious Steadfast Love. This stanza has two descriptions of God’s steadfast love: it extends to the heavens, so that God can save man and beast; and it is precious to those who know it from the children of mankind. The pairing of steadfast love and faithfulness evokes Ex. 34:6, describing God’s benevolence; this helps readers to see that the other terms, righteousness and judgments, also express God’s enduring commitment to act kindly toward his creatures and to save them. In view of this, people can take refuge under his wings and find themselves welcome guests at his table. Although the psalm is a hymn for Israel, it looks beyond Israel to the rest of mankind (Ps. 36:6, 7); Israel’s calling was to live in their land in a way that displayed the true image of God, with a view toward bringing its blessing to the whole world.

4. John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. Read More

ESV Study Bible Notes

Here is the most famous summary of the gospel in the entire Bible. For connects to John 3:15 and explains what happened to make it possible that someone can “have eternal life” (John 3:15), that is, through believing in Christ. God so loved the world was an astounding statement in that context because the OT and other Jewish writings had spoken only of God’s love for his people Israel. God’s love for “the world” made it possible for “whoever” (John 3:15) believes in Christ, not Jews alone, to have eternal life. God’s love for the world was not mere sentiment but led to a specific action: he gave his only Son, which John elsewhere explains as sending him to earth as a man (v. 17) to suffer and die and thereby to bear the penalty for sins (see note on 1 John 2:2; cf. Rom. 3:25). On “only Son,” see note on John 1:14, which contains the same Greek phrase. The purpose of giving his Son was to make God’s great gift of eternal life available to anyone—to whoever believes in him, that is, whoever personally trusts in him. Not perish means not perish in eternal judgment, in contrast to having eternal life, the life of abundant joy and immeasurable blessing in the presence of God forever. Those who “believe in” Christ have that “eternal life” and already experience its blessings in this present time, not yet fully, but in some significant measure.

5. Romans 5:7–8

For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Read More

ESV Study Bible Notes

On rare occasions, even a human being will die for a righteous (morally upright) person or for a good person (one who has done much good). God’s love, however, belongs in an entirely different category from human love, for Christ did not die for righteous people or those who have done good for others but for sinners, that is, for ungodly, unrighteous people living in willful rebellion against God. It is not just Christ’s love that was shown in his death but also God the Father’s love. While God’s righteousness and justice led to his plan of salvation through the death of Christ (see Rom. 3:25–26), it was his love that motivated this plan.

6. Isaiah 54:10

For the mountains may depart
      and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
      and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
      says the LORD, who has compassion on you. Read More

ESV Study Bible Notes

God’s love for his people is not just a little greater than his wrath; it is massively greater and eternally unchanging. my covenant of peace. Cf. this term in Ezek. 34:25–31, describing a renewed covenant with God after the exile. When the language of these prophecies is compared to the accounts of the returnees (in Ezra–Nehemiah), it becomes clear that the physical return was only the first installment.

7. John 15:9–13

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. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

“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. Read More

ESV Study Bible Notes

Abide in my love. Mutual love between believers and Christ is another element of this “abiding” relationship.

Obedience is not to be equated with drudgery; it is all about joy. The OT prophets envisioned a period of great end-time rejoicing (e.g., Isa. 25:9; 35:10; 51:3; 61:10; 66:10; Zeph. 3:14–17; Zech. 9:9). God threatened judgment if his people would not serve him “with joyfulness and gladness of heart” (Deut. 28:47–48). that my joy may be in you. Just as Jesus had great joy in obeying his Father even in the midst of opposition, so Christians will have joy in obedience.

You are my friends implies a stunning level of comfortable personal interaction with one who is also the eternal, omnipotent Creator of the universe (see 1:1–3, 10). In the OT, only Abraham (2 Chron. 20:7; Isa. 41:8) and by implication Moses (Ex. 33:11) are called “friends of God.” Here Jesus extends this privilege to all obedient believers.

8. Lamentations 3:22–24

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
      his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
      great is your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
      “therefore I will hope in him.” Read More

ESV Study Bible Notes

God’s steadfast love (his “covenant mercy” or beneficial action on his people’s behalf) never ceases, even in the face of Judah’s unfaithfulness and the resulting “day of the LORD” (cf. Joel 2:1–2; Amos 5:18; Zeph. 1:14–16). mercies. Or “compassion.” This type of mercy goes the second mile, replacing judgment with restoration. never come to an end. God is willing to begin anew with those who repent.

new every morning. Each day presents another opportunity to experience God’s grace. faithfulness. God’s covenantal fidelity and personal integrity remain intact no matter what happens.

my portion. As with the Levites (Num. 18:20), God is the speaker’s only inheritance (see Ps. 73:26). says my soul. This is what the speaker remembers in Lam. 3:21. I will hope in him. God daily offers fresh opportunities for reconciliation (cf. v. 18).

9. Jeremiah 31:2–3

Thus says the LORD:
“The people who survived the sword
      found grace in the wilderness;
when Israel sought for rest,
      the LORD appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
      therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. Read More

ESV Study Bible Notes

Israel’s exile experience mirrors the exodus era. In both, those who escaped death found grace and rest in the desert. After exile, Israel will again follow God (Jer. 2:1–3).

You is feminine singular, referring to the whole people (cf. v. 4). everlasting love. God’s love was always based on grace (Deut. 7:6–11), and even the involvement of the majority in Israel’s rejection of that love cannot cause this covenantal, relational love to cease (Hos. 1:10–11; 2:14–23; 11:1–9).

10. Ephesians 2:4–7

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Read More

ESV Study Bible Notes

But God. No hopeless fate looks any grimmer than that which awaits the forlorn company of mankind marching behind the “prince of the power of the air” (v. 2) to their destruction under divine wrath. Just when things look the most desolate, Paul utters the greatest short phrase in the history of human speech: “But God!” rich in mercy. God’s mercy on his helpless enemies flows from his own loving heart, not from anything they have done to deserve it.

when we were dead. Paul resumes his original thought, which began with “you were dead” in Eph. 2:1. made us alive. That is, God gave us regeneration (new spiritual life within). This and the two verbs in v. 6 (“raised up” and “seated with”) make up the main verbs of the long sentence in Eph.2: 1–10. Since Christians were dead, they first had to be made alive before they could believe (and God did that together with Christ). This is why salvation is by grace alone.

Raised us up with him means that, because of Christ’s resurrection, those who believe in him are given new life spiritually in this age (regeneration). They will also be given renewed physical bodies when Christ returns (future resurrection). seated us with him in the heavenly places. God has allowed his people even now to share in a measure of the authority that Christ has, seated at the right hand of God (cf. Eph. 1:20–22; 6:10–18; James 4:7; 1 John 4:4), a truth that would be especially important in Ephesus with all of its occult practices. Verse 7 of ch. 2 answers the question of why God lavished such love upon his people: so that they will marvel for all of eternity over the incredible kindness and love of God. It will take all of eternity to fathom God’s love, and those who are saved will never plumb the depths of it.

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