God is love

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"God is love" is a popular slogan among theists, sometimes presented as a definition of "God".



If "God" and "love" are synonymous

If "God" and "love" are synonymous, why are there two separate words for it, not just in English, but in many other languages?

Granted, there are many varietites of love, and many words for them. But even granting that "God" is, say, a specific type of love, or an umbrella term encompassing all forms of love and friendship, this is hard to reconcile with the way the term "God" is used. It might make a certain amount of sense to worship love, or to hope that love will bring an end to war, but why would anyone pray to love, or ask that love cure a loved one's disease? How can Jesus be love's son? How can love make prophecies? Love does not provide an eternal afterlife, nor does it demand praise.

If "God" and "love" are not synonymous

The other possibility is that "God" and "love" are not entirely synonymous. In this case, the phrase "God is love" is at best incomplete, and at worst misleading.

Exegetical Evaluation of 1 John 4:8

The understanding that "God is Love: comes from 1 John 4:8. This is, however, part of a greater argument in the work.

7 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 :God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only 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 atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if :we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.
The Holy Bible : New Revised Standard Version, 1 Jn 4:7–12 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989).

This "issue" can be dismissed with simple exegesis. Colin G. Kruse writes,

When the author says that ‘God is love’, he is not making an ontological statement describing what God is in his essence; rather, he is, as the following verses (4:9–10) :reveal, speaking about the loving nature of God revealed in saving action on behalf of humankind.
Colin G. Kruse, The Letters of John, The Pillar New Testament commentary, 157 (Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans Pub.; Apollos, 2000).

Saying "God is Love" is part of the authors rhetoric. Because God's love was fully manifest in his sending of Christ we should then love one another because God loved us. It is not an ontological statement of God, as afore mentioned, but rather a rhetoric phrase. Thus rendering any logical fallacy a non-issue.

Further Reading

Kistemaker, Simon J., and William Hendriksen. Vol. 14, New Testament Commentary : Exposition of James and the Epistles of John. New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: :Baker Book House, 1953-2001.
Kruse, Colin G. The Letters of John. The Pillar New Testament commentary. Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans Pub.; Apollos, 2000
Walls, David, and Max Anders. Vol. 11, I & II Peter, I, II & III John, Jude. Holman New Testament Commentary; Holman Reference. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, :1999.
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