How is God described in the Bible?

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By BibleAsk Team


The Bible offers a multifaceted portrayal of God, revealing His nature, character, and attributes through various descriptions and metaphors. One of the most profound and central themes in the Bible is the description of God as love. This essay will explore how God is described in the Bible, with a particular focus on the theme of God’s love, using references from the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible.

God’s Nature and Attributes

God is Love

One of the clearest and most direct statements about God’s nature is found in 1 John 4:8 (NKJV): “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” This verse encapsulates the essence of God’s character. Love is not merely an attribute of God; it is His very essence. This love is unconditional, sacrificial, and infinite.

In 1 John 4:16 (NKJV), this theme is reiterated: “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” The mutual indwelling of God and believers through love underscores the profound connection between divine love and human experience.

God’s Eternal and Unchanging Nature

God’s love is eternal and unchanging. In Jeremiah 31:3 (NKJV), God declares, “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” This verse highlights the timeless and unending nature of God’s love for His people.

The unchanging nature of God is also affirmed in Malachi 3:6 (NKJV): “For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.” God’s constancy is a source of stability and assurance for believers, reflecting His reliable and steadfast love.

God’s Love in Creation and Providence

Creation as an Act of Love

The creation narrative in Genesis reflects God’s love and care for His creation. Genesis 1:31 (NKJV) states, “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” The goodness of creation reflects the loving nature of the Creator, who designed the world with purpose and delight.

Psalm 136 is a hymn of thanksgiving that repeatedly emphasizes God’s enduring love through His acts of creation and providence. Psalm 136:1 (NKJV) begins, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” The psalm continues to recount God’s loving actions in creation and history, each verse ending with the refrain, “For His mercy endures forever.”

God’s Providential Care

God’s love is also evident in His providential care for humanity. In Matthew 6:26 (NKJV), Jesus teaches, “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” This verse highlights God’s loving provision and care for His creation, emphasizing His attentive concern for human needs.

In Psalm 23 (NKJV), David beautifully describes God’s loving care as that of a shepherd for his sheep: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” This psalm portrays God as a loving guide, protector, and provider.

There are six different ways in which the Lord manifests love for His people. He is “merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…” (Exodus 34: 6-7,NKJV). Even when the Lord must punish us for our sins, He does it in love.

Like the surgeon, God may use the cutting knife of sorrow to effect the healing of the soul’s disease or injury that has resulted from sin (Hebrews 12:5–11; Revelation 3:19).  It is God’s mercy that moderates His judgments and makes Him “longsuffering” (Lamentations 3:22; Romans 2:4). Thus, His loving-kindness is infinite (Isaiah 55:7-9; Romans 5:20).

God’s Love in Redemption

The Incarnation

The ultimate demonstration of God’s love is found in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. John 3:16 (NKJV) famously states, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” This verse captures the depth and breadth of God’s love, expressed through the gift of His Son for the salvation of humanity.

In 1 John 4:9-10 (NKJV), the apostle John elaborates on this theme: “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 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.” The sacrificial nature of God’s love is highlighted, demonstrating that God took the initiative to reconcile humanity to Himself.

The Atonement

The sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross is the clearest expression of God’s love. Romans 5:8 (NKJV) states, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This verse emphasizes that God’s love is proactive and unconditional, extended to us even when we were undeserving.

In Ephesians 2:4-5 (NKJV), Paul writes, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” The transformative power of God’s love is evident in the way it brings spiritual life and salvation to believers.

God’s Love in Covenant Relationship

The Old Covenant

Throughout the Old Testament, God’s love is evident in His covenant relationship with Israel. Deuteronomy 7:7-8 (NKJV) explains why God chose Israel: “The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” God’s love and faithfulness are the basis for His covenantal promises and actions.

The steadfast love of God is a recurring theme in the Psalms. Psalm 103:8-12 (NKJV) declares, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” These verses celebrate the vastness and forgiving nature of God’s love.

The New Covenant

In the New Testament, God’s love is further revealed through the establishment of the new covenant in Christ. Hebrews 8:10 (NKJV) cites God’s promise: “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” This new covenant is based on a deeper, more intimate relationship with God, characterized by His indwelling Spirit and transformative love.

God’s Love and Human Response

Love for God

God’s love calls for a response from humanity. In Matthew 22:37-38 (NKJV), Jesus declares, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.” The appropriate response to God’s love is to love Him wholeheartedly, reflecting His love back to Him.

1 John 4:19 (NKJV) succinctly states, “We love Him because He first loved us.” Our love for God is a response to His initiating love, which draws us into a relationship with Him.

Love for Others

The love of God also extends to our relationships with others. Jesus teaches in John 13:34-35 (NKJV), “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” The love of God is to be the defining characteristic of His followers, demonstrated through their love for one another.

1 John 4:11 (NKJV) reinforces this principle: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” The love that believers receive from God should overflow into their interactions with others, creating a community marked by selfless, sacrificial love.

The Transformative Power of God’s Love

New Creation

God’s love is transformative, making believers new creations in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV) states, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” This transformation is a result of God’s love, which renews and restores us.

Sanctification

The ongoing process of sanctification is also driven by God’s love. In Philippians 1:6 (NKJV), Paul expresses confidence in God’s continued work in believers: “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” God’s love not only saves but also sanctifies, shaping us into the image of Christ.

The Consummation of God’s Love

Eternal Life

The ultimate expression of God’s love is the promise of eternal life. John 3:16 (NKJV) encapsulates this hope: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” God’s love ensures a future with Him, free from death and suffering.

Perfect Love in Heaven

Revelation 21:3-4 (NKJV) describes the culmination of God’s love in the new creation: “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.'” In the new heaven and new earth, God’s love will be fully realized, and believers will experience His perfect presence forever.

Conclusion

The Bible’s portrayal of God as love is profound and multifaceted, encompassing His nature, actions, and relationships with humanity. From creation to providence, from the incarnation to redemption, from covenant relationship to sanctification, and finally to the promise of eternal life, God’s love is the central theme that unifies the biblical narrative.

The Bible provides clear and powerful expressions of God’s love, inviting believers to respond in faith, love, and obedience. Understanding and experiencing God’s love transforms individuals and communities, reflecting His character in a world that deeply needs to know the reality of divine love. This love is not only a theological concept but a lived reality that shapes every aspect of the believer’s life, offering hope, assurance, and a profound sense of purpose in the journey of faith.

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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