The English language Bible contains numerous occurrences of the word “love,” which begins in Genesis. English only has one word for “love,” which can refer to many different types of love, including familial, romantic, or the love between siblings in Christ.
Due to the various translation theories, love varies in consistency throughout the different versions of the Bible. Let’s take a look at how many times the word “love” is mentioned in different Bible versions below.
- English Standard Version: 684 times
- King James Version: 442 times
- New American Standard Bible: 479 times
- New Living Translation: 759 times
- New International Version: 686 times
- The Message: 611 times
So, as you can see, there is quite a range in how often “love” appears in different Bible translations. However, one thing is clear: the concept of love is very important in Christianity. So, stay with us as we probe its meaning in the following sections.
Where Is the Word “Love” First Mentioned in the Bible?
The word “love” is mentioned numerous times throughout the Bible, but it is first introduced in the context of family and a father-son relationship.
In Genesis, God instructed Abraham, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” (Genesis 22:2). But at the last minute, God spared Isaac by sending a ram as a substitute. In recollection, this story shows that even though Abraham loved his only son, Isaac, he was determined to demonstrate his faith and obedience to God above all else.
The theme of sacrificial love is continued throughout the Bible, culminating in the ultimate act of love – Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. This ultimate sacrifice demonstrates the depths of God’s love for humanity. Jesus was God’s only begotten Son, yet He was willing to die for the world. He conquered sin and death through His death and adopted us into His righteous family. We are now children of God, and He loves us just as much as He loves His own Son. If you think about it, this is the main story of the Bible – a story of love.
Ancient Words That Mean Love and How Often They Were Used in the Bible
Ahab: Deep Emotional Love
The ancient word “ahab” is found 208 times in the Old Testament. Pronounced as ‘aw-hab’, it talks of a deep emotional bond between and among people or simply the one we think of as traditional love.
This term denotes the connection between a husband and wife, a parent and child, two best friends, or even a person and God. It best describes Jacob’s love for his wife, Rachel (Genesis 24:67), and Abraham’s affection for his son, Isaac (Genesis 22:2).
Hesed: Steadfast Loving, Kindness, and Mercy
Hesed is a Hebrew word that appears 248 times in Scripture and is an important part of God’s character. What sets hesed apart from other types of love is that it does not depend on a deep emotional bond. Instead, it is based on faithfulness and covenant choice. Emotion is not the only factor as hesed can also be translated as mercy, faithfulness, and dedication to one’s people.
Agape: Unconditional Love
Agape love appears 142 times in the New Testament and is used to describe God’s love for us. It is an unconditional love that chooses to show honor, affection, kindness, and goodness regardless of whether or not it is reciprocated.
1 John 4:8 says that “God is love” and uses this word to describe the highest form of love. Even when we hurt Him, God still loves us.
This is the kind of love that Jesus asks us to have for God and one another in Matthew 22:37-39 where he replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself”.
Philia: Friendly Love
Philia is the love that says, “You are my family now,” and it appears 25 times in the New Testament. It’s a caring attachment to someone we hold dear and runs deeper than platonic feelings or Martin Luther King-esque love. This type of love is committed to choosing someone as a new member of one’s family and honoring that person as one would their siblings. Because God is our father, we are all siblings in the faith and should love each other with philia.
Important Facts about Love According to the Bible
Love Is Unconditional
Human love is often based on what we can receive from another person, but not necessarily from what we give them. In contrast, God’s love is unconditional. Despite our knack for sinning against God, He will always love us. The ultimate demonstration of His unconditional love is by making His son, Jesus Christ, die on the cross for sinners. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Love Is Patient and Kind
Love is a familiar concept to most people. We use the word to describe our feelings for family, friends, and pets. But what does it really mean to love someone?
The Bible has a lot to say about love, and 1 Corinthians 13:4 is often referred to as the “love chapter.” In this passage, Paul associates love with patience and kindness, without envy or pride. This gives us a clearer picture that loving someone truly means putting their needs above ours and behaving in ways that show respect and compassion. This is the true meaning of love, which we should all strive to experience in our relationships.
Love Is Sacrificial
Sacrifice gives new meaning to the word “love.” It washes away any notion that love is simply a feeling or an emotion.
True love is giving up your life for someone else – even if they don’t deserve it. And that’s exactly what Jesus did for us. He saw us as sinners, stuck in our wicked ways, yet He still chose to die for us.
Resting and Having Confidence in God’s Love
God loves us unconditionally, and as Christians, we are called to love others as Christ loved us (John 15:12). No matter how many times we sin or how far we wander from God, His love remains steadfast.
This doesn’t mean that there are no consequences for our actions, but that we can always find forgiveness and grace at the foot of the cross. Furthermore, knowing God’s unconditional love gives us hope for the future and His plan for our lives.
So, next time you’re feeling down or uncertain about your future, remember that God’s love is unfailing, and as He said in Hebrews 13:5, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Bible Verses about Love
1 Corinthians 13:4-5
“Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints.”
“Love should be shown without pretending. Hate evil, and hold on to what is good. Love each other like the members of your family. Be the best at showing honor to each other.”
1 John 4:16
“We have known and have believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who remain in love remain in God and God remains in them.”
“Instead, love your enemies, do good, and lend expecting nothing in return. If you do, you will have a great reward. You will act the way children of the Most High act, for he is kind to ungrateful and wicked people.”
Song of Solomon 8:6-7
“Set me as a seal over your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is as strong as death, passionate love unrelenting as the grave. Its darts are darts of fire divine flame! Rushing waters can’t quench love; rivers can’t wash it away. If someone gave all his estate in exchange for love, he would be laughed to utter shame.”
“Conduct yourselves with all humility, gentleness, and patience. Accept each other with love, and make an effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit with the peace that ties you together.”
1 Peter 4:8
Above all, show sincere love to each other, because love brings about the forgiveness of many sins.
“Know now then that the Lord your God is the only true God! He is the faithful God, who keeps the covenant and proves loyal to everyone who loves him and keeps his commands—even to the thousandth generation!”
“We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Many verses in the Bible talk about love. While the above examples are only a few of them, they have already given us a concrete definition of love. It is not just a mere feeling, but rather it is something we must actively do.
These verses also guide us on how we can love others in earnest. We must first acknowledge God, as His love will manifest in our words and actions. By doing this, people will eventually see and foster true love.
Ultimately, God is love. He always works for our good no matter what happens in our lives. He has a purpose for our lives, and we must do our best to follow His plan. Let’s strive to keep these verses about love in mind; everything will be worth our while here on earth.
Love is an important concept in the Bible. It is mentioned in the Old and New Testaments hundreds of times throughout Scripture.
God wants us to love Him with all our hearts, souls, and minds, and He also commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves. When we follow His Word and express love to those around us, we live out His will for our lives.
Therefore, we must all strive to obey His commands and show love in everything we do. This way, we can bring Him glory and honor and experience the joy of living a life full of love.