Observations on life; particularly spiritual

Does John 14:21 mean that God loves us more if we love Him?

“Whoever has My commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves Me. He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love him and show Myself to him” (Jn. 14:21 NIV).

John gives us the longest account of what Jesus told the disciples in the upper room on the night before He was crucified (Jn. 13-17). A few verses before John 14:21 the Lord promised to send the Holy Spirit to indwell the disciples on the day of Pentecost. The key word “love” (“agapao” in Greek) appears 31 times in John 13-17. This self-sacrificing, unselfish love has a divine origin.

Two types of people are mentioned in John 14:15-24 – those who loved the Lord and those who did not. The first were believers, who were indwelt forever by the Holy Spirit, and who obeyed His commands. The others were unbelievers, who did not have the Holy Spirit and did not obey the Lord’s commands.

John 14:21 addresses believers, not unbelievers, in two sentences. The first sentence says that obeying the Lord’s command is evidence that one is a believer. For example, the disciples were told to “love one another” and this would show others that they were followers of Christ (Jn. 13:34-35). The second sentence says that the believer is loved by God the Father and God the Son, and they will make Themselves known to him in a special way: “We will come to him and make Our home with him” (Jn. 14:23-26). Of course unbelievers are also loved by God, but it’s a one-sided relationship as the love is not reciprocal: “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8; Jn. 3:16).

John 14:21-26 shows that because believers have a relationship with the Lord and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, the Son reveals Himself to them in a way that is not possible for unbelievers. So, increased love for God doesn’t mean that He will love us more, but that we will know Him better.

Published April 2010

4 responses

  1. Wayne

    Thanks for that explanation. I like the way you use the supporting verses to make sense of these passages of scriptures


    April 12, 2018 at 1:42 am

  2. Roger Lewin

    I think there is a connection to 1John 2:5
    …”whoever keeps His Word, truely the love of God is perfected in him.”
    Perfected here could mean followed through to a successful conclusion.
    God loved- He demonstrated His love for us through the cross- His children imitate Him and learn how to love others with sacrificial love. How you think?


    August 19, 2018 at 3:45 am

    • Thanks for the comment Roger.

      In 1 John 2:3-11 John describes the marks of those in Christian fellowship. They are obedience (v.3-6) and love (v. 7-11).

      1 John 2:5 says, “if anyone obeys His [God’s] word, love for God is truly made complete in them”. This means that our love for God becomes complete when it expresses itself in acts of obedience, like in 1 John 3:16-18 (NIV Study Bible).


      December 27, 2018 at 6:10 pm

  3. Sosthenes Ntemi

    Thanks for the commentary; it is useful


    October 31, 2018 at 11:01 pm

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