Is God’s Love Unconditional?

“How do you know God’s love is unconditional? The phrase ‘unconditional love’ is not in the Bible!”

Ever heard this? It’s a fair question that cuts to the heart of the grace message. Grace says that God loves us with no strings attached but read the Bible and you will find that sometimes there are strings attached to the love of God.

Despite those passages that seem to say otherwise (I will address them in coming articles) I am 100% convinced that God loves us unconditionally. You need to be 100% convinced too. So let me give you seven reasons for concluding that God loves you unconditionally:

(1) Love, by definition, is unconditional

God is love (agape). (1 Jn 4:16)

You probably know about the different words for love in the Greek language. You might even know that agape-love refers to “unconditional, self-sacrificing, and active” love. But did you know that agape love is unique to God? It is not a human form of love.

If your experience of love is limited to what you have received from people, chances are you have encountered frail love that comes with expectations and baggage. God’s love is not like this. His love is unlike anything found in this world.

(2) Jesus demonstrates unconditional love

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

If you want to know what agape love looks like, consider Jesus. “For God so agapao-ed the world, that he gave his only Son…” (Jn 3:16). We did not deserve to be saved, yet he came for us regardless. That he died for us shows us that God loves us more than he loves his own life. We had done nothing to attract him. We had not even repented. Yet our Creator hung on the cross that we put him on and forgave us as we killed him.

The cross is the single greatest demonstration of unconditional love the world has ever known.

(3) God’s love is immeasurable

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the (agape) love of Christ, and to know this (agape) love that surpasses knowledge… (Eph 3:17-19)

When Paul wrote these words he knew that he was asking us to do the impossible. You cannot grasp the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love – they are ungraspable! Nevertheless Paul encouraged us to “Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights!” as Eugene Petersen says, because if you had even the smallest glimpse of how much he loves you, you would be undone. Selfishness and self righteousness would wither. Your accomplishments and qualifications you would cheerfully count as rubbish compared to the awesome privilege and surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus your Lord.

(4) God’s love keeps no record of wrongs

(Agape-) love is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it… (1 Cor 13:5, AMP)

Jesus knew the name of every soldier who beat him, every person who mocked him, and every Pharisee who thought he was the devil. Yet he still went to the cross so that they might be reconciled to God. It was as if God was not counting their sins against them! He wasn’t, and neither is he counting yours (2 Cor 5:19).

On the cross, justice had a meeting with unconditional love and your peace with God was secured. Your transgressions have been blotted out as if you’d never done them (Is 43:25). Because God the Son bled for you, both God the Father and God the Holy Spirit have gone on record saying they will remember your sins no more (Heb 8:12, 10:17).

(5) God’s love endures

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything. Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]. (1 Cor 13:5-8, AMP)

You can take the love of God and nail it to a cross and he will still love you enough to come back from the dead and hunt you down just to tell you that he’s forgiven you and loves you and wants to be with you forever. Who does that?! Only God.

(6) God’s love is everlasting

The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.’ (Jer 31:3)

Now there’s a quote to put on your wall! The Hebrew word hesed, which denotes steadfast love, warm-hearted generosity, and devotion, and which is usually translated as loving-kindness, appears 250 times in the Old Testament. As Malcolm Smith explains, this word captures God’s heart towards us and is revealed formally in the covenant he made with us through our representative Jesus. So even if it were possible for God to have a change of heart and stop loving you, he would be bound by covenant to continue loving you for as long Jesus lives.

And Jesus will never die.

(7) God loves the unlovely

If you’re still not convinced that he loves you with an unconditional love, then consider those he loved in the Bible. He loved an adulterer and murderer called David. He pursued a persecuting Pharisee named Saul. When he wanted to portray his love for Israel he told the prophet Hosea to marry and love an unfaithful woman.

When he walked the earth in human form he developed a reputation as a friend of sinners and told stories about prodigals who were loved even though they had done nothing deserving of love. He loved lepers and Gentiles, thieving tax-collectors and stinkin’ Samaritans. At this point you really should stop and ask yourself why?

Why does God love us?

God’s love for us has nothing to do with our loveliness or our behavior. He loves us because he is our Father, and he will do whatever it takes to be reconciled to his children.

The next time someone asks, “Is God’s love unconditional?” point them to the cross and answer with an emphatic yes! If Jesus did not love us unconditionally, he would not have died for us and there would be no new covenant based on his grace. But he does and he did and there is.

This is the good news the whole world needs to hear.


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59 Comments on Is God’s Love Unconditional?

  1. Note: Many theologians have written essays that seek to qualify the unconditional love of God. They say, “God’s love is unconditional but…” before listing all sorts of conditions and attaching all sorts of strings. That’s like saying, “water is wet except when it’s not.” Please don’t write in to ask me, “If God’s love is unconditional, why isn’t everyone saved?” or “If God’s love is unconditional, why are people going to hell?” These are questions for another time. Just take this moment to digest this simple truth: “God loves me!” If you can’t see that, look at creation, look at your kids, look at the cross! His heart radiates with molten love for you and He has been showing His love to you since the dawn of time. His love is like the sun – fierce and live-giving. If you haven’t experienced the Father’s love, the fault lies not with Him. Step out of the shade of dead religion and look up!

    • Paul, I desperately needed this post, especially God’s love is immeasureable. I so want to be UNDONE by the knowledge of His love for me. 2012 has been a year of incredible heartache and I am so thankful to have discovered your blog and book. Thank you.

    • “If God’s love is unconditional, why isn’t everyone saved?” or “If God’s love is unconditional, why are people going to hell?” These are really major questions that all who fancy themselves as teachers of God’s Word NEED to be able to answer.

      • momzilla76 // August 21, 2016 at 10:47 am //

        Because love does not force itself on anyone, it allows free will even if that results in error or death.

  2. I used to wrestle with the same question about God’s unconditional love. Aside from learning about the depths of His grace, the Holy Spirit just yesterday showed me Romans 8:38-39. Nothing whatsoever can separate us from the love of God … I used to mentally qualify this by adding: “except sin”, until the Holy Spirit showed me that ALL my sins (and yours) are totally gone because of the cross. Puff, gone. Therefore God’s love is unconditional. What a God!

  3. Good word Paul, well said. It really is a lot more simple than we make it. Granted, we have to have faith in what God has accomplished to enjoy the fruit of His love, but it is we who complicate and dilute it. Moral behavior is not the goal but merely a byproduct of pursuing relationship with God.

  4. I used to interpret 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 as “how I will act if I am truly demonstrating love.” That is a truth, but it’s incomplete. The fact is that is how God, Himself, relates to those whom He loves. For the follower of Christ it’s ultimately about “Birthright” not “Behavior-right”

  5. Irresistible Love, and yet many in the body of Christ struggles to grasp the kind heart of our savior. Father, open our eyes and stir up our hearts to embrace your love. We’ve worked and performed for it and never enjoyed it but now we stretched our hands and freely receive the loveliness of your heart for us in Jesus name.

  6. Only Jesus has the ability to demonstrate unconditional love, because this kind of love prefers death for His beloved if He must in order for them to live. Jesus said, no man has love like this, that He lay down His life for His friends! Absolutely Lord only you do!

    In His grace


    • Rudy you’re right. But when you know that you are loved–that God loves you, it causes you, if you have the gift, to lay down your life as well. “Have you ever experienced the love of God in the middle of a decision. All the worries that were hanging like anvils over your head drop, and you can’t help but proclaim, even if it’s a fatal decision, to praise His love for you! This is the experience of many a successful missionary.” – The Gospel in Ten Words

  7. what do the bible means when it says about fear of the Lord ,do we really have to fear Him like in Psalm 103:13 so we can have His compassion.???

  8. Unconditional love comes only from God! 🙂

  9. God’s love is conditional, but all the condition has been met by Jesus 🙂

    Btw, agape is not unique to God.

    1Jn 2:15 Love (agapao) not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love (agapao) the world, the love (agape) of the Father is not in him.

    • Roshan Easo // May 5, 2014 at 11:44 am // Reply

      What you just did, easy, was confuse your love and God’s love together. God loves everyone. Everyone is invited to the party. Some choose to be reticent or are living under a lie that, by conviction, prevents them from going. So they stay in the world. Salvation is believing that Jesus accepts you — He is reconciled to You. This belief will by virtue either draw Jesus to you, or you to Jesus. The Prodigal leaves the pigpen and comes Home. Jesus goes on a rescue mission to find one of His.

  10. Amen! Just shared this on my facebook page now. 😉

  11. It’s a beautiful post on the love of God, but not sure how you reconcile it with your posts on hell, which say the opposite – that is, God’s love is very conditional. Sounds like some cognitive dissonance might be going on there.

    • Colleen G. // May 4, 2013 at 8:48 am // Reply

      Love is not God’s only character trait. If a person abjectly refuses to come to Jesus God must deal with them accordingly. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who hates God, Jesus and anything bible related with every ounce of their being? God loves them very much but He is also very Pure and Just. His Justice is what caused Jesus to go to the cross. The wages of sin is death. The version of love you promote wouldn’t have needed Jesus to die. God could have just waved His hands and say I love you that is enough but that would have been very unjust and impure. Jesus paid our wages because of His love but also because of His justice and purity. The wages have been paid in full for those who choose to see the fact. Anyone at any time may come and be washed but not everyone does. God cannot just wave them in ignoring Jesus and the cross, ignoring His own purity and justice. I love the New testament and the New covenant but I also respect the Old Testament and the old covenant for all were authored by God Himself. God does not change. God is LOVE but He is so much more than only Love.

    • You will never be able to reconcile unconditional love with hell Grace because unconditional love is man made hell is not. ‘If you love me keep my commandments’… that unconditional? Not a single verse in the whole of scripture talks of God’s unconditional love.

  12. Sorry for being so annoying lately on your subject of Hell. But the teaching your are sharing with us to day, makes my heart sing.

    You have a great part in the transformation that has taken part in my life the last 2 years. I have more that 35 years in full time ministry as a traditional pentecostal pastor/preacher on my shoulders. But so many things changed some years ago when I start reading Steve McVey and later your writings and also other grace teaching. The grace message delivered me from problems I had been struggled with most of my life.

  13. Beautiful post Paul. Thank you for writing it. May each of us manage to get a glimpse of the limitless dimensions of God’s love for us so we will forever discard selfish and self righteous religion.

  14. Jason Armstrong // May 5, 2013 at 12:04 pm // Reply

    Very well-said, Paul. Thank you for this post. I’ve got quite a bit of religious baggage I’ve acquired over my 14 years of salvation, and while I have head knowledge of God’s love I feel like I could use a fresh baptism, if you will, of His love. I am confident I will experience this as I chase after Jesus, and I believe it helps to learn more and more about His love and amazing grace! Again, thanks for this post and for E2R! 🙂

  15. Thank you for this article on God’s love. It is so easy to be saved by grace but then live under law. Lord I pray you will set ALL captives free including your children who are saved but struggling. Love Lisa x

  16. Andrew Hughes // June 26, 2013 at 4:47 pm // Reply

    Over forty years of trying to follow Jesus and feeling increasingly uneasy that we (His Church) had got it wrong.NOW I SEE! The Gospel of Grace is so liberating,encouraging and exciting.I no longer feel like I have to prove that I am saved by my works,but accept that I am by what He(Jesus) has done.Wow.I feel like a kid again.

    • “I feel like a kid again.” I know exactly what you mean Andrew. It’s a good feeling isn’t it. God is good.

    • A huge thing that can help is when we are struggling with sin to remind ourselves that we are righteous regardless of our actions. To speak it outloud. “I am the righteousness of God in Christ” even if we have an addiction. As you say, even if we sin. Grace is the power to overcome this sin. max lucado reminds us that Jesus spoke to the two disciples on the road to emeus even though he had already defeated sin and given us righteousness by his resurrection.

  17. chrisvanrooyen // June 27, 2013 at 6:46 am // Reply

    God in his essence is unconditional if eternal life (not death) comes with conditions it is a lie. We unfortunately live in the lie, and many worship it.Life with conditions is death to anyone who is not God or to put it another way to anyone who is not perfect pure sinless.
    I hope you have been made perfect.

  18. Paul, you claim God’s love is unconditional then add immediately but it comes with strings attached. And you add, Jesus had to die to pay for sin (offer a sacrifice, a supreme condition). The contradiction is irredeemable. Which is it? Unconditional or conditional?

  19. John Goddard // August 10, 2013 at 7:32 am // Reply

    Agape is certainly available to you and I, as another commenter pointed out. We obviously struggle with expressing it regularly and clearly not as intensely and powerfully as God.

    “…God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.” 18 (1 John 4:16-18) God and His love live in us–to the point that we are called to be like Jesus in this world.

  20. Kaye Smith // May 10, 2014 at 8:11 am // Reply

    I think religion has caused us to swallow too many camels and strain at too many knats. We either believe and receive all that Christ has purchased on the cross or we don’t. As for me, I choose to believe in the Love and Goodness of our God who choose to include us in the magnificant Kingdom of His dear Son of Love. Our focus ought to be on the kindness of our Lord in this day of His great Grace toward us….resulting in our grateful response to His Love with reverence and joy 🙂 Thanks, Paul, for pointing us in the direction of believeing and receiving the unconditional love He has for each of us.

  21. Brian Midmore // July 14, 2014 at 9:57 pm // Reply

    Just a small observation. When it says ‘Demas…… loved this present age’ (2 Tim 4.10) and ‘the pharisees…… loved the praise of men’ (John 12.43) the word translated as loved is agape. Thus it is a myth that agape is exclusively used to mean the love of God.

  22. An absolutely wonderful and beautiful writing… but knowing your theology, brother you have forgotten the asterisk that says “God’s unconditional love is based upon the condition of faith/belief’ 🙂 Only the Gospel centered Universalist can speak of the unconditional, steadfast love that endures forever, long suffering, immeasurable, independent of works or worthiness, etc. type of love that describes who God is.

    • No, God’s love is like the sunshine, shining on the just and the wicked, the believer and the unbeliever. Jesus said God loves the whole world, not just those who believe. There is no asterisk when it comes to describing the love of God.

      • reikster // March 25, 2019 at 7:54 am //

        What about those verses that seem to say that God hates some people? For example in psalms 11:5. It seems to contradict other verses like john 3:16. Can you please explain?

      • David said a lot of things that you never heard Jesus say.

      • reikster // March 25, 2019 at 6:45 pm //

        So you think Paul is also wrong in romans 9:13?

      • Rom 9:13 “Just as it is written: ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’” Paul is quoting Malachi; he is not beginning an essay about the Hatred of God. Paul is talking about how God chose one of the twins (Jacob) but not the other. The descendants of Israel uniquely received the favor of God; the descendants of Esau (the Edomites) did not. He did this to display the riches of his glory (Rom 9:23). He was advertising, in other words, showing one nation his goodness so that they might reveal it to others.

        As it happens, the nation of Israel were not particularly good ambassadors of God’s favor, but God’s plan was not thwarted. From among their number came Jesus who died for the whole world – including the descendants of Esau. And this brings us to the second Old Testament prophet that Paul quotes:

        “As he says in Hosea: ‘I will call them “my people” who are not my people; and I will call her “my loved one” who is not my loved one. In the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘children of the living God’” (Rom 9:25-26). This is wonderful news for all of us, and particularly for Edomites, the descendants of Esau. See also my article, “Why did God hate Esau and love Jacob?

      • reikster // March 26, 2019 at 8:05 am //

        Okay, thank you.

  23. I may be dumb intellectually but one thing am certain is God’s love for me….l feel so special and peculiar because of his love..his love has been the reason why l overcome all obstacles in my life.. just believe in his love and you will be saved

  24. Warren (South Carolina, USA) // February 9, 2016 at 2:53 pm // Reply

    WoW Saint Paul,
    Beautifully worded and desperately needed by all.

    I would add to Easy’s comment (October 19, 2011 at 11:05 pm) that “Btw, agape is not unique to God.” I would point out that the verse he quoted is the perfect verse to show that agape IS unique to God. If the love of the Father is not flowing through you or I, through the life of Jesus, we don’t have agape (1John2:15).

    Passing this one on to EVERYONE!!!
    Warren (South Carolina, USA)

  25. Chance weslowski // February 18, 2016 at 1:40 pm // Reply


  26. It’s heart warming to read this post.
    So if God is love, – and that’s the reason for his love, Does he also love the devil or the Devilish Angels? Or he hates them because he loves us?

    • We were all deceived at one time and then God loved us. The Bible teaches that God saves. He himself does this – we may get to play a part but it’s God’s show. Wow. God is love. He doesn’t punish the devil, but in way the devil is punished. God draws all. Not all will wish to come. The key is that we protect from harm, but sometimes there’s a risk we take in love. Though God does this better than we can, sometimes we just want to see if there’s a way to get in on the act. We can as part of the Vine – Jesus. 🙂 That’s the short answer of course and good enough to start out.

      • “The Bible teaches that God saves. He himself does this – we may get to play a part ”

        No, not actually.
        For if we humans had an actual part to play in our salvation, then we would have reason to boast, but such boasting is “debarred” (Romans 3:27; CLNT).

  27. Katherine Johnson // November 15, 2017 at 7:50 am // Reply

    Perhaps God “love” might be “unconditional”, in a “rain falls on the good and the wicked” way, but salvation most assuredly is not, at least according to the Bible. It requires believing that Christ is the son of God, staying faithful through obedience, bearing fruit, continuing to repent and helping the least of these. All of those “conditions” are illustrated by both Jesus, Paul and his disciples. There is no such thing as “accepting Christ” then going right back to your life and doing “your own thing”. That’s just a fantasy, and a dangerous ohe. Nothing of true value comes without a cost. We do people a disservice if we imply this way of life will not cost you, possibly everything, just as it did Jesus. That’s why Jesus called it the “narrow road”.

    • Katherine, you seem to think that maintaining our salvation is contingent upon a lifetime of works and charity. Our salvation rests on Christ alone. We don’t do any of those things to earn or keep our salvation; we do them because Christ lives in us and it’s in our new nature to do them. You may be interested in this article on the narrow road.

    • Titus 3:2-8 says that we are not saved because of our acts of righteousness. We are saved FOR good works not by them. Ephesians 2:8-10 also says this. The apostle Paul wrote strongly about salvation being by faith but that those in the faith should live a certain way. This way of living was not to buy or pay rent to keep salvation but because it is our reasonable service-sacrifice to do so. Tradition has mangled our proper duty as children of God into the money by which we purchased and keep our eternal life. Jesus described the works God wants us to do in John 6:28-29. The entire book of John is about how faith in Jesus is what opens eternal life to us. The way of grace is not about going back to doing our own thing after choosing Jesus. It is about letting Jesus hold the keys of salvation and quit trying to save ourselves through what we do or try not to do. Me-myself-and-I or Jesus? Works of the flesh or submission to the gift of eternal life paid for by Jesus own blood?

  28. Yes, “The phrase ‘unconditional love’ (per se) is not in the Bible!”
    But neither are the words “hell” or “eternal”. They are not found in the original Greek, which is why some of the better translations of the Bible do not include them. And by the way, the phrase “free will” — that is so repetitively used by professing Christians — is never used by the New Testament writers, for God “works all things after the counsel of His own will” (Ephesians 1:11), not man’s will.

    • Interesting comment. Hell and eternal are English words, so of course they would not be in the Greek. As for the “better” translations not using them, that is simply not true. The phrase free will may not appear in scripture, but free, freedom and liberty are common words. The very first time God spoke to man, it was to draw attention to our freedom including our freedom to choose (see Gen 2:16). Our choices led to sin which robbed us of our freedom, but Christ has set us free. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free” (Gal 5:1).

  29. I think this article starts with the premise that God’s love is unconditional and then seeks to find scriptural support for that–which he has done well. However God’s love is more complex that that! Carson’s book “The difficult doctrine of the love of God” is for me the gold standard on this issue. I recommend it to all! Blessings, Simon

    • Thanks for your comment, Simon. I don’t see how this question can be framed as a difficult doctrine. I appreciate that there are scriptures about God which may be difficult to understand, but God’s love is unconditional or it isn’t. It’s binary. It cannot be both or neither. If you respond, I would love to hear your thoughts, rather than someone else’s.

  30. You are right the true Gospel is unconditional love from our Father and Creator . Teaching unconditional love is the true nature and action that all who are of the Son of Man well demonstrate because it is in us to be that way. So be it.

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