Lesson 11 – The Love of God

 The Love of God

Lesson Aim:     To show the supremacy of God’s love over man’s love.

Scriptures :      Rom. 5:5-11.


The word love in our title and in our text is translated in the Bible from the Greek word “agape.”  The word for love normally used to mean the fellowship of people is translated from the Greek word “phileo.”  It means to be a friend, whereas “agape” describes an attribute of God; however, mankind has the capacity to develop this quality of love.  We want to understand the difference in these two words.  Phileo describes the quality of love man normally is able to have without the sanctification work of the Holy Spirit “in Christ.”  See I Thess. 4:7-10; II Thess. 2:13, 14.  Agape describes a part of our new goal we discussed in our last lesson.  To fulfill our hope to share in God’s eternal glory means we must now learn to love (agape) like God loves (Matt. 5:43-48).

What is different in God’s love and man’s love?  Paul described the difference for us in our text.  In verses 6 and 8, God’s love (agape) gave His Son to die for us while we were yet sinners.  Man’s love (phileo) is described in verse 7.  Phileo has enough emotional strength to cause one to die for a good man, but not a righteous man.  The reason people might die for a good man is because the word “good” suggests the person they might be willing to die for has been “beneficial” to them or those they love.  This describes the highest quality of man’s love without God’s help.  Brotherly love can only respond where love is shown or where a benefit is gained.  Therefore, man could not bring himself to die for a righteous man because the righteous man was not necessarily a benefactor to him personally.  We do find an exception.  Parents’ love for their children is generally on par with the God’s love for mankind.  This is understandable because God created all people to be His children.  Parental love is an innate quality of mothers and fathers even in the world realm.  Of course, all these parents do not put in practice the quality of love they feel they should.  People don’t always do what they know they ought to do.  

We would be highly impressed with a person who was willing to die for a friend, but look again at God’s quality of love.  Jesus Christ not only died for His friends and relatives while He hung on the cross, He also died for those who were killing Him.  This love was demonstrated later on the day of Pentecost when those who had a hand in killing Him received the full benefit of God’s love on the cross.  God forgave His friends and enemies alike (Acts 2:38).

Love can only be known by the action it prompts.  We have seen a demonstration in these scriptures of God’s love (agape) at its finest hour as well as man’s love (phileo).  Man’s love could not love where there was no response.  God’s love was “poured out” in the blood of Jesus even though there was not an appropriate response.  We were helpless sinners with no power to respond with love or to be of benefit to God at the time Jesus demonstrated “agape” at the cross.

Jesus commands us to love (agape) one another (John 15:17).  He also teaches us to love our enemies.  God’s quality of love is the only kind capable of loving an enemy.  Phileo could not respond to an enemy, because it must have a favorable response.  Jesus said anyone might have phileo; however, sons of God have a higher calling (Matt. 5:46).  Those of us who are “in Christ” have a perfect environment in which to develop ourselves like God.  We will all have to agree; to be able to love our enemy is the highest goal we could hope to attain.  It will take a lot of training but with all the help and hope God has given us “in Christ,” we know it is possible.


Let us use Romans 5:9-11 to summarize all that we have studied in these eleven lessons of Part II of our Roman letter study.  The key phrase in our summarization is “much more.”  Paul used it twice in this text.  In verse 9, he pointed out how God loved us so much while we were sinners He let Jesus die for us.  This being God’s attitude toward mankind as sinners; how much more can we expect Him to show His love and kindness to Christians now that we are made right?  We are justified by our faith in Christ’s blood to be counted as righteous.  God treats us as righteous sons.  We know there is a “Day of Wrath” coming that will be terrible to behold (Part II, Lesson Three).  This will be for sinners wherever they are found.  Faithful Christians are not counted as sinners anymore “in Christ.”  Much more, therefore, we are assured of God’s love.  It will continue to flow toward us now and on Judgment Day.

Again in verse 10, the writer uses the phrase “much more” to assure us we can expect more help now that we have been reconciled to God.  We are now “in Christ” with God.  Christ is living and working for us as our high priest.  He is interceding for us.  See Romans 8:34 and Hebrews 7:25-27.  We know we can depend on Jesus for salvation from death because He lives.  He is our King who leads us in righteousness and protects us from our enemies (Heb. 1:8-13).

When we were enemies, God allowed the death of Jesus to help us.  How much more will He allow a living Jesus to help us now after we learn to love God?  There must be no doubt in our minds as to the nature of God’s love.  He demonstrated His love when we were sinners and enemies.  Now we are righteous and reconciled “in Christ,” will He not now bless us more – or continue to love us?  Praise God, He is loving us with His presence!  “…And not only this, but we also exult (rejoice) in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”  Verse 11.  The quality of God’s love has been proven.  We have peace and can enjoy God’s fellowship.  The Greek word translated “reconciliation” is katallasso.  It means a change.  In this text it is a change of relationship with God – a change from enmity to friendship; from a “slave of sin” to a son of God (Gal. 4:7). 

In order for this great reconciliation to become a reality between God and Christians, God activated two grace doctrines based on the cross.  First, He has offered the new birth for all who will obey their faith.  Justification by faith in the blood of Jesus Christ is for those who have been born again.  Both are proclaimed in Romans 4:25.  Jesus died for our transgressions before we were born again.  He was raised because of our justification. 

Christians still have a problem with transgressing God’s law of life.  This is why we must have justification after we have been raised up in baptism never to die again.  Christians are freed from our past sins in the last process of our new birth, baptism (Rom. 6:1-11).  Sin is not only a transgression but it is a ruler over the sinner (6:6).  Justification by faith works for Christians only.  It maintains a “no condemnation” environment where we and God’s Holy Spirit can work on our spiritual growth.   

Let us reflect briefly on our title of Part II as we close this series of lessons: The Wrath of God “in Adam” in the world versus the righteousness of God “in Christ.” What does it mean to each of us personally?  This is the question for which we must have an answer, because we stand clearly under God’s wrath or as Christians we are slaves to God’s righteousness.  We have only two choices.  If we stand under God’s wrath now, our own personality and character will be warped by the lust of the flesh.  We will develop degrading passions and a depraved mind. 

We cannot have happiness without God’s righteousness as our guide.  Happiness will elude us though we will search for it with bitter tears.  Though we will not find happiness, we will eventually find the grave.  This grave will offer a very short rest if any at all.  The Day of Wrath is as sure as the grave.  God’s wrath will be revealed in such fury that we never thought possible.  There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil (Rom. 2:9).  If we leave this world under God’s wrath, we will remain under it eternally.

Jesus Christ’s offer to a mature person “in Adam” outside Christ for an escape from God’s wrath is for his time on earth, only.  There is no hope for an escape from God’s wrath and indignation after his or her physical death.  Purgatory is not a Biblical concept.  All mature people in the world must be born again.  Even though Christians are still “in Adam/ in Christ,”  we have peace with God because of the new birth and justification by faith.   

It must be pointed out that God’s wrath came upon man after he sinned.  He did not create mankind to be an object of His wrath.  Sin attracts God’s wrath.  There is no reason for people to remain under God’s wrath because Jesus died for us.  He not only died for us, He was raised up for us.  If we can have faith in His death, burial and resurrection, we can move right out from under God’s wrath and into God’s righteousness “in Christ.”

God’s righteousness is the measurement of truth about all behavior.  We can now find our real purpose for our creation.  It is to develop as sons of God.  It is true we are not righteous by our own merit but we thank God through Jesus for the law of faith and righteousness as a gift.

As we continue our study of this great Roman letter, let us enjoy the theme.  “But the righteous will live by faith.”  Romans 1:17.  May our faith glorify God and our good deeds be motivated by our faith in our daily lives.

Questions for Discussions

  1.  What is the highest quality of man’s love (phileo) “in Adam” in the world?
  2. What is God’s love (agape) able to do above and beyond that of man’s love?
  3. While on earth is it possible for Christians to love (agape) like God loves?
  4. Give an illustration from our scripture text demonstrating the superiority of God’s love.
  5. Why would a person possibly die for a good man but not a righteous man?
  6. What is the only way others will know about our love?
  7. What must be present for a person to show his or her love (phileo)?
  8. Why are we, as Christians, expected to love our enemies when the rule before Christ died on the cross was “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth?”
  9. What is the significance of the phrase “much more” as used in verses 9 and 10 of our text?
  10. Why should Christians expect God to show love toward us now “in Christ?”
  11. Explain how a Christian’s salvation is “much more” a reality now that Christ lives?
  12. Explain why Romans 1:17 can be thought of as the theme of the Roman letter.

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