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A Biblical Take on Love

One of the most challenging aspects of the biblical worldview for contemporary Americans is the Bible’s notion of “love”. Meredith Kline explains:

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind and with all thy strength” (Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27) . . . .

There is no incompatibility between this demand for love . . . and the obligation of obedience to the multiple prescriptions involved in the mission of developing the kingdom order and carrying forward the kingdom program of the covenant.

It was thus by obedience to the particular requirements of kingdom activity that man would express his love for his Lord.

 The meaning of the law of love in biblical covenants is illuminated by the usage of the term “love” in ancient treaties. In these texts it is faithful adherence to the directives of the overlord that is called love.

When swearing allegiance to the suzerain the vassals at times declared: “Our lord we will love.” And a vassal wishing to clear himself of suspicion of infidelity protests that he is the great king’s servant and “friend” (literally, one who loves the suzerain [[JH note: see Jesus’ trial, where the crowd threatens Pilate with the charge that he is not Caesar’s friend if lets this “king” off the hook, John 19:12]]).

Love in the covenantal vocabulary was not a term for an affective attitude that was resistant to delineation in specific legal obligations.

Moses was simply

echoing the ancient treaty stipulations, even in the qualifying expression “with all thy heart.” That adverbial phrase appears in treaty texts…

That Moses meant by love what the political treaties meant by it is clear, for he at once equates this wholehearted love of God with the conscientious observance of all the words he was commanding Israel-the stipulations, statute, and the judgments (Deut 6:6…)

Jesus as mediator of the new covenant tells his disciples that the one who loves him is the one who has and keeps his commandments (John 14:21; cf. v. 14; 15:14; cf. 1 John 5:3).

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Jason is a graduate of Rhodes College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Highland Theological College and the University of Aberdeen. Jason works as Scholar-in-Residence and director of Christ College Residency Program at Christ UMC. He's trying to figure out the twitter thing, twitter.com/jasonbhood.