'God Is Love' Bible Verse: What Does it Mean?

1 John 4:8 and 1 John 4:16

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8, NIV)

Learn Religions / Vin Ganapathy 

"God is love" (1 John 4:8) is a favorite Bible verse about love. 1 John 4:16 is a similar verse also containing the words "God is love."

Full 'God Is Love' Bible Passages

  • 1 John 4:8 - But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
  • 1 John 4:16 - We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.  

Summary and Analysis of 1 John 4:7-21

The entire passage found in 1 John 4:7-21 speaks of God's loving nature. Love is not merely an attribute of God, it is part of his very makeup. God is not merely loving; at his core, he is love. God alone loves in the completeness and perfection of love.

Love comes from God. He is its source. And since God is love then we, his followers, who are born of God, will also love. God loves us, so we must love one another. A true Christian, one saved by love and filled with God's love, must live in love toward God and others.

In this section of Scripture, we learn that brotherly love is our response to God's love. The Lord teaches believers how to show his love to others, to our friends, family, and even our enemies. God's love is unconditional; his love is very different from human love that we experience with one another because it is not based on feelings. He doesn't love us because we please him. He loves us simply because he is love.

Love is the true test of Christianity. The character of God is rooted in love. We receive God's love in our relationship with him. We experience God's love in our relationships with others.

God's love is a gift. God's love is a life-giving, energizing force. This love was demonstrated in Jesus Christ: "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love" (John 15:9, ESV). When we receive God's love, we are enabled through that love to love others.

Related Verses

John 3:16 (NLT) - For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.  

John 15:13 (NLT) - There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Romans 5:8 (NIV) - But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  

Ephesians 2:4–5 (NIV) - But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.  

1 John 4:7-8 (NLT) - Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

1 John 4:17–19 (NLT) - And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first.

Jeremiah 31:3 (NLT) - Long ago the Lord said to Israel: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself."  

Compare 'God Is Love'

Compare these two famous Bible verses in several popular translations:

1 John 4:8
(New International Version)
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

(English Standard Version)
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

(New Living Translation)
But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

(New King James Version)
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

(King James Version)
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

1 John 4:16
(New International Version)
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

(English Standard Version)
God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

(New Living Translation)
God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.

(New King James Version)
God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

(King James Version)
God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.