Bible Study: No Greater Love

We are to show unconditional, selfless love to others—just as Jesus did for us.

Most people would define love as an emotion—affection, passion, or tenderness. The Bible, however, describes love in terms of sacrificial actions. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). While it’s rarely necessary to die for the sake of another, genuine love usually involves some level of sacrifice. As Christians, we are to show unconditional, selfless love to others—just as Jesus did for us.

The Pattern Christ Set

Jesus gave His followers a new challenge to love, one based on obedience to Him and commitment to fellow believers: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you” (John 13:34).

In Leviticus 19:18, Jews were commanded to “love your neighbor as yourself.” So how was Jesus’ command new? The people of God understood the word “neighbor” to mean a fellow Israelite or Gentile who had converted to Judaism. Jesus’ command has no such limitations.

To answer the question, “Who is my neighbor?,” Christ told the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). In Jesus’ day, relations between Jews and Samaritans were quite tense. Samaritans were despised for having intermarried with Gentiles and having adopted heretical religious beliefs.

  • According to the Good Samaritan story, who is your neighbor?

Jesus’ instruction is also new because it raises the standard. Loving others as ourselves means following the pattern He set for us, and putting the needs of others above our own.

How does Jesus love us? He offers Himself freely to all who call on Him—whether rich or poor, good-looking or unattractive, charming or irritating. He loves needy, immature, disobedient believers just as much as He does stronger, more mature, and faithful believers.

  • Meditate on the paragraph above. How does it make you feel?

Jesus intended love to be the defining characteristic of Christians: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35).

  • Why would our love for other believers demonstrate that we are Christ’s disciples?

The Father and the Son love us unconditionally, while we are unworthy of love. Read Romans 5:6-10 and answer the following:

  • How are people without Christ described in verse 6?
  • Why do you think the Bible describes unbelievers as “enemies” of God (v. 10)? (See Colossians 1:21 and Romans 8:7 if necessary.)
  • In what way were you an enemy of the Lord before you accepted His gift of salvation?
  • Contrast man’s love (v. 7) with God’s (v. 8).
  • Why do you think the passage mentions our need to be saved from the Lord’s wrath (v. 9)? (See Ephesians 2:1-5 if necessary.)

To “justify” (v. 9) means "to be regarded and treated as if innocent; or acquitted from the consequences of guilt from God’s perspective." “Reconcile” (v. 10) means "to restore harmony between two persons at variance, by the removal of existing obstacles."

  • How do these terms apply to our relationship with God?
  • The Lord has justified and reconciled us, but not on the basis of anything we have done. How, then, should we treat people who have wronged us, or those who are otherwise difficult to love?

The Power of the Pattern

Read 1 John 4:7-12; 1 John 4:19-21.

John writes that “everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (v. 7). This verse doesn’t mean that everyone who experiences human affection has a personal relationship with the Father. The word John uses for “love” in this passage is "agapeo," the Greek term used in the New Testament to indicate selfless, sacrificial love. In the Bible, it is never used to refer to sexual, romantic, brotherly, or familial relationships. "Agape" love is of God. Only through His power can we "agapeo" each other.

  • Given that the word for love in this passage is "agapeo," explain the meaning of verse 7.
  • Explain the difference between the phrases “God is love” (v.8) and “God is loving.”
  • Why do you think a lack of love for others indicates a problem in our relationship with the Father (v. 8)?
  • Explain verse 11.
  • What does John imply about the power of genuine love in a Christian community (v. 12)?
  • Do you agree that someone “who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (v. 20)? Explain your answer.
  • What do you find difficult about loving others, especially fellow believers?

First John 3:16 says, “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

  • How could you “lay down your life” for someone else this coming week?

Prayer: Father, thank You for the mercy You’ve shown us by sending Christ to lay down His life on our behalf. We frequently fall short of the kind of sacrificial love He commanded us to have. By Your Spirit, help us share Your unconditional love with others. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Related Topics:  Love  |  Gods Love  |  Marriage

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13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.

25 And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"

26 And He said to him, What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?"

27 And he answered, YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF."

28 And He said to him, You have answered correctly; DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE."

29 But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, And who is my neighbor?"

30 Jesus replied and said, A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead.

31 And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

32 Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

33 But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion,

34 and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.

35 On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, `Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.'

36 Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers' hands? "

37 And he said, The one who showed mercy toward him." Then Jesus said to him, Go and do the same."

35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.

8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.

10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds,

7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,

2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.

3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,

5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.

10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.

19 We love, because He first loved us.

20 If someone says, I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.

21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

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