Jesus taught that loving God and our neighbor was highest priority—“first and greatest commands” (Matthew 22:36-40). His most detailed teaching on love is how to love our enemy (Luke 6:27-35). In his final teaching moment with the disciples, he introduces his new command—to love one another as he has loved us (John 13:34).
The list of verses below shows how the Apostle Paul continued teaching Jesus’ priority of love in his writings. There is simply nothing more important than loving God and others. Nothing! Spend a season of time to read and meditate upon these passages so the priority of love sinks deep into your heart, soul and mind. You could also use these verses as a study in a group.
- “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:9-10)
- “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. . . . Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:8, 10)
- “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. . . . And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, 13)
- “Do everything in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:14)
- “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. . . . You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Galatians 5:6, 13-14)
- “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. . . . Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:2; 15-16)
- “Imitate me, your God, therefore, as a beloved child and walk in love, just as Jesus loved you and gave himself up for you, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to me.” (Ephesians 5:1-2; we think this might be Paul’s version of the new command of Jesus.)
- “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . . In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves” (Ephesians 5:25, 28)
- “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.” (Philippians 1:9)
- “Therefore, AS my chosen people, holy and BELOVED, clothe yourselves with a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, if anyone has a complaint against someone. Forgive as I, the Lord, forgave you. And above all these things, put on love, which binds ALL together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:12-14)
- “Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more.” (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10)
- “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)
- “Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22)
We kneel before you, Father, from whom your whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. We pray that out of your glorious riches you may strengthen us with power through your Spirit in our inner being, so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith. And we pray that we would be rooted and established in love, that we may receive your power, and together with all the saints, grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to fully know and experience this love that surpasses knowledge—that we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of you, our Great God! Amen. (adapted from Ephesians 3:14-19, NIV)