Study information for the book: Draw Close to Jehovah
cl chap. 23 ¶10-18 (30 min.)
“He First Loved Us”
Divine Love Defined
10. Humans have what need, and what has happened to the meaning of the word “love”?10 What does this word “love” mean? Love has been described as the greatest need humans have. From the cradle to the grave, people strive after love, thrive in its warmth, even pine away and die for lack of it. Nonetheless, it is surprisingly difficult to define. Of course, people talk a lot about love. There is an endless stream of books, songs, and poems about it. The results do not always clarify the meaning of love. If anything, the word is so overused that its true meaning seems ever more elusive.
11, 12. (a) Where can we learn a great deal about love, and why there? (b) What types of love were specified in the ancient Greek language, and what word for “love” is used most often in the Christian Greek Scriptures? (See also footnote.) (c) What is a•ga′pe?11 The Bible, however, teaches with clarity about love. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words notes: “Love can be known only from the actions it prompts.” The Bible record of Jehovah’s actions teaches us a great deal about his love—the benevolent affection he has for his creatures. For example, what could reveal more about this quality than Jehovah’s own supreme act of love described earlier? In the chapters to follow, we will see many other examples of Jehovah’s love in action. Additionally, we can gain some insight from the original words for “love” used in the Bible. In the ancient Greek tongue, there were four words for “love.”* Of these, the one used most often in the Christian Greek Scriptures is a•ga′pe. One Bible dictionary calls this “the most powerful word imaginable for love.” Why?
12 A•ga′pe refers to love that is guided by principle. So it is more than just an emotional response to another person. It is broader in scope, more thoughtful and deliberate in its basis. Above all, a•ga′pe is utterly unselfish. For example, look again at John 3:16. What is “the world” that God loved so much that he gave his only-begotten Son? It is the world of redeemable mankind. That includes many people who are pursuing a sinful course in life. Does Jehovah love each one as a personal friend, the way he loved faithful Abraham? (James 2:23) No, but Jehovah lovingly extends goodness toward all, even at great cost to himself. He wants all to repent and change their ways. (2 Peter 3:9) Many do. These he happily receives as his friends.
par. 12 (John 3:16) “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.
par. 12 (Jas. 2:23) and the scripture was fulfilled that says: “Abraham put faith in Jehovah, and it was counted to him as righteousness,” and he came to be called Jehovah’s friend.
par. 12 (2 Pet. 3:9) Jehovah is not slow concerning his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he does not desire anyone to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.
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