Blake Coffee and Bruce Judisch taught on Sunday, July 6. The videos and listening guides from that lesson, followed by the scripture, are below.
Core Lesson (Bruce Judisch)
A Thing Called “Love”
1 John 4:7-21
A Thing Called ‘Love’
Proverbs 17:17; 1 John 4:7-21
First Thoughts – What do you love? Seriously?
Four words in Greek:
- Storgē (στοργή) – familial love; sympathy for friends (not used in NT)
- Erōs (ἔρως) – (1) unreasoning passion or desire; covetousness; originally a very negative connotation, with endless suffering and disaster always results in classical Greek usage; (2) “physical” passionate love, with sensual desire and longing; romantic, pure emotion without the balance of logic (not used in NT)
- Filia (φίλια) – friendship; brotherly love; mutual affection marked by good will
- Agapē (ἀγάπη) – “charity”; (1) involves recognition, judgment of value, and deep respect (“preference”); (2) requires expression/demonstration, cannot be hidden away like the other forms of love can be (NT translation almost always calls for “demonstration of love”) (3) links persons of different conditions (i.e., not peer), in relationships such as suzerain-vassal, parent-child, benefactor-beneficiary; (4) marked by generosity, thoughtfulness, concern, and in reciprocation, gratitude
Verb “agapaō” (ἀγαπάω) was first used by Homer (7-8C bc), but the noun agapē did not appear until the Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT – ca. 250 bc), always in a Hellenic Jewish context, and always with a religious meaning.
There’s an interesting play between agapē and filia in what is sometimes referred to as the reinstatement of Peter in John 21:15-17
15 So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love (agape)Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love (filia) You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” 16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love (agape)Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love (filia) You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love (filia) Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love (filia) You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.
Proverbs 17:17 — A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity. (NASB)
Synthetic parallel. Some see these strophes as contrasting, others see them as ascending.
“A friend in need is a friend indeed.” vs. “A friend in need is a friend in deed.” Although both admirable, how do these two renderings of the ancient proverb differ in meaning? How does the latter meaning illustrate the idea of demonstrating love in our definition of agapē?
1 John 4:7-21 — The first letter of John – “Christianity for Dummies”?
This short book is perfect for both devotions and in-depth study of basic Christian attitude and behavior. Concise, succinct, unambiguous, with both the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ addressed.
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.
In the sense of “charity,” why might it be easier to give love than to receive it? Is this human nature, societal nuance, or maybe a bit of both? Why must we be equally willing to do both?
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. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
What other passage, from the same author, do vv. 9-10 remind you of? How does that passage illustrate further the idea of agape love (those in “different conditions”)? How do we obey v. 11, given the enormity of its antecedent?
17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.
Continuing the thread from the previous passage—that of loving each other, abiding in God, and confessing Christ—what impact does that have on that day we face God for judgment? Is there tension between v. 18 and Psalm 111:10a, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” and Prov. 1:7a, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”?
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.
How do we exercise the kind of love John writes about? To whom do we extend it, and from whom do we accept it? What do we do if an act of love—charity, or benevolence—is not acknowledged or returned? How do we acknowledge, or return, acts of love extended to us?
Venture Lesson (Blake Coffee)
Love as a Discipline
1 John 4:7-21
Being created in the image of God means having the capacity to love when loving is unreasonable and illogical.
God’s love is not something we create…it is something we channel when we finally get “self” out of the way.
For Christ followers, loving as a discipline begins with a belief and a confession that Jesus is who He says He is.
Loving and fearing have an inverse relationship…the more we do one, the less we do the other.
As Christ followers, we do not love others because of who they are or what they do for us. We love others because of who Christ is…in us.
1 John 4:7-21New International Version (NIV)
God’s Love and Ours
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.