Study Guide

Gospel of John Love

Love

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life." (NRSV 3:16)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (KJV 3:16)

Sound familiar? You might have seen it on a sign at a baseball game or tattooed on someone's giant bicep. Even though it's a pretty good sound bite, you're still going to want to read the rest of the book for the full effect.

Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say?" (NRSV 8:42-43)

Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? (KJV 8:42-43)

Pharisees just don't understand. In the Gospel of John, love for Jesus is equal to love for God—plain and simple.

Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. (NRSV 13:1)

Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. (KJV 13:1)

Jesus loves "his own" until the end. Seems to only includes believers, right? Do non-believers get any love? Why or why not?

"I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (NRSV 13:34-35)

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (KJV 13:34-35)

Love is the mark of a true follower of Jesus. Before, Jesus had just talked about believing in him, but now he tells the disciples that their faith in him will be evidenced by their relationships with each other. He's getting all human on us.

"They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them[…] Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me." (NRSV 14:21, 23-24)

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him[…] Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. (KJV 14:21, 23-24)

How will Jesus know if they really love him? This passage makes it clear that love for Jesus is more than a feeling—it's a way of life.

"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you […] I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another." (NRSV 15:12-4, 7)

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you […] These things I command you, that ye love one another. (KJV 15:12-4, 7)

Are the disciples the kinds of guys that would catch a grenade for each other? Well, they're told to love each other even to the point of death. Hey, that's what Jesus did.

"If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you." (NRSV 15:18-19)

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. (KJV 15:18-19)

Haters gonna hate, says DJ Jesus. The world isn't ready for all the love, light, and goodness that the disciples are going to bring its way. You know what that means: things are going to be rough for the next few hundred years.

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." (NRSV 21:15)

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. (KJV 21:15)

Jesus is putting some major trust in Peter here—and this is a guy who denied knowing Jesus just a few chapters earlier. What are we supposed to learn from Peter's character? What's his role in the story? Check out his "Figure Analysis" for more discussion.

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