The Bible talks a lot about loving others. God intends for us to love each other—really love not to fake it, just say the words, or love only a select few. Loving others means serving them, being kind, having patience, and so much more.
In these scriptures explained below, we will explore what the Bible says about loving strangers, our friends, and our family. Love for others isn’t optional. As followers of Jesus, it’s paramount that we love well and extend that love to our family, friends, and to those we barely know.
Bible Verses about Loving Your Neighbor
Ye have heard that it hath been said, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you, that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven; Matthew 5:43-45
If we are to love as God loves, we must love our enemies and keep the peace. As part of Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount, these verses follow the elimination of the practice of taking an “eye for an eye.” In just a few words, Jesus dismantled age-old traditions by pointing to the importance of the heart and loving those who seemingly deserve love the least.
These verses stress loving those who do nothing for you, even those who cause you pain. It’s through loving the unlovable, we grow closer to God. He loves us this way. His love extends to the righteous and the unrighteous, so our love should also know no bounds.
Owe no man any thing, but to love one another, for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery,’ ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ ‘Thou shalt not steal,’ ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness,’ ‘Thou shalt not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ Romans 13:8-9
It’s easy to get caught up between right and wrong and our list of rules. Love supersedes the commandments, though. We owe a debt of love to one another—a debt that is not paid and done, but one that works its way out as we live side by side. If we love our neighbor as ourselves, then there is no need for the law. Love eliminates murder, theft, adultery, and covetousness.
This type of love creates community with others where relationships are built and lives are shared. We don’t just know our neighbors’ names; we are helpful to them when they are in need, show them kindness, and we even extend patience when their dog wakes us up.
Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:18
As far back as Moses, God has been asking us to love our neighbors as ourselves. And probably just as long, people have been asking the qualifier, “Who is my neighbor?” We want to get that straight, because we don’t want to waste our love on someone who doesn’t qualify.
In Luke 10:25-37, an expert in the law responded to Jesus’s quoting of this verse by asking that very question, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus responded with the “Parable of the Good Samaritan.” In the parable, an enemy to the expert was the one who loved the neighbor.
When Jesus highlighted this, the expert could barely speak the enemy’s name. He only responded with, “The one who showed him mercy.” Love reaches past the hurt, anger, and differences and cares for the other person’s wellbeing. Seeing our enemies as people worthy of love and respect is the starting point to love.
Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Hebrews 13:1-2
Our love isn’t meant for only those we know. The Bible encourages us to love strangers. In biblical times, people would bring strangers into their homes to give them a hot meal and a place to rest for the night. Still, some had a hard time extending such hospitality to the less favorable or those who were more different.
But God asks us to show others the kind of love that doesn’t stop when we see a stranger. It reaches even to the foreigner, the poor, the weak, the ones who are not like us. And this love we show isn’t a reserved love, but brotherly love—full, open, and welcoming.
For I was hungered and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger and ye took Me in: Naked, and ye clothed Me: I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison and ye came unto Me. Matthew 25:35-36
Love does things for people. In calling us to love others, God doesn’t want our words. He wants our hands, hearts, and souls engaged in helping our neighbors and strangers.
But it’s not just the action of supplying food to eat or clothing for warmth. It’s noticing the other person and taking the time to meet their needs. It’s not the other person begging for help. It’s us, seeing them, and doing something. We see them in their hunger and sickness, and we go to them. Love doesn’t wait for an invitation or a well-worded request. Love notices and takes action.
Bible Verses about Loving Your Friends
A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17
When you go through hard times, you find out who your friends are. Real friends love always, and they are there for you when you need them. A common theme with love throughout the Bible is its staying power. When life is difficult, love remains.
Whether we’re experiencing happy times or sad, love understands and accompanies us. God’s love for us illustrates these truths. He is there for us always, especially during adversity. And He desires for us to have others in our life to help us through the hard times, as well. We are not meant to go it alone.
And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves, for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
Love seems easy when the other person does what we want them to, but when the object of our love is being difficult or hurts us, it can make loving that person feel impossible and painful.
God calls us to love deeply, not on the surface. Deeply loving someone will cause us to dive into their lives, see their ugly parts, and cover them. The covering isn’t ignoring or excusing. It’s simply a covering. We can see someone’s sin and still love them. We don’t say their disobedience is okay or pretend like it’s not there. We don’t act like we’re fine with their bad choices.
And we don’t tell them what they want to hear. We love them with a love that is patient and kind. Protecting, caring, and trusting. We love deeply because that’s how God loves us. This kind of love includes the truth and always wants what is best for the other person.
This is My commandment, that ye love one another as I have loved you. Greater love hath no one than this than a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:12-13
Most of us think we’re pretty good at loving others. Our love involves good feelings, kind acts, and being involved in someone else’s life. However, God has a more intense plan for love. His love goes beyond the surface level to the point of forgiving and personal sacrifice. Jesus repeats his command to love one another throughout the gospels.
John nestled these particular verses within a passage about Jesus being the vine and us being the branches. The sacrificial and holy love Jesus asked us to show flows from Him through us to others. God will help us love others the way he has loved us. And in the places where we need to lay down parts of ourselves or even our life for someone else, God will provide the strength to love. He is the vine. Our ability to love flows from Him.
And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25
Friends stir up love. They don’t stay still and let love grow stale. Instead, they keep it moving and alive. An important ingredient for the stirring of love is being together. Even when far removed geographically, friends can be actively involved in each other’s lives by keeping in touch, calling, and caring. Still, it’s important to see each other and spend time together.
That’s where the most rewarding stirring and goodness can lead to growth. Making time for your friends and other believers is important. God wants us to build up the church and grow with one another. We need each other. The world can beat us up and tear us down. It’s our friends who can stir our hearts and keep us from feeling sorry for ourselves.
Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Proverbs 27:5-6
Having someone in your life who can tell you the truth without being your judge is priceless. True love doesn’t ignore things that need to be said or color over the hard parts of life.
And even though it doesn’t feel great to be rebuked by a friend, everyone needs someone in their life who isn’t afraid to tell them the truth. It’s with friends like this we can grow and fully become who we’ve been created to be. Godly love doesn’t hide the truth. Instead, it speaks in a spirit of honestly and wounds with great care.
Bible Verses about Love for Family
Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor what is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Romans 12:9-10
Our motives can really mess with love. Most of our interactions carry with them a desire for a specific outcome. Whether it’s pulling a crying child into your arms or being nice to the cashier at the grocery store, the act of caring may or may not be motivated by love.
These actions may also stem from wanting to get something—a quiet evening or correct change. Neither of those things is wrong, but they also do not make up brotherly love.
Brotherly love holds nothing back. It honors the other person, giving them preference. And it isn’t optional. We are called to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. No caveats, no exceptions, and not to get something in return. Our love for one another should be generous, real, and unending.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 1 John 4:7-8
Genuine love comes from God. Earlier in this chapter, John refers to us as little children. So much of the Christian life is built around God as our Father and the family unit. He calls us to love Him, our brothers and sisters, and even those outside our family. Our love for others indicates our closeness with God.
Toward the end of the chapter, John says we can’t profess to love God and hate our brother. There’s no room for hate or fear. How can we claim to love God, whom we’ve not seen, when we hate our brother, who is right here with us? Love is imperative, and real love involves grace. When we love others, we will grow in our knowledge of God and be more like Him.
Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God is giving thee. Exodus 20:12
One way we show love is by honoring our parents. This doesn’t mean throwing them a party and giving them gifts or a medal. It might not even mean we have a great relationship with them. It’s about respect.
Respect recognizes the person and elevates them for a particular attribute or position. And God wants us to do this for our mother and father. Regardless of our relationship with our parents, we are asked to honor them. And when we honor our earthly parents, we ultimately display love for our Father in heaven.
But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. 1 Timothy 5:8
Love is kind and caring. Love bears all things and protects. It climbs mountains and traverses valleys. It provides for others, and it takes care of its family. Our families are our first responsibility. Parents for children, siblings to each other, and children for aging parents, the family unit is precious.
God placed us with our families for a purpose, and He intends for us to provide for one another. How that looks may vary depending on the needs presented, but it always involves connection, understanding, and wanting the best for someone else. Although this verse doesn’t mention love, love drives these actions. Caring for our family is love in action.
Let all your things be done with charity. 1 Corinthians 16:14
It may not seem possible to clean the toilet with love, but it is. Even in the most mundane or gross tasks we do, we can find an element of love inciting us onward. The love may not be easily recognized in the action, but it is behind the action, making it happen. Cleaning the bathroom is a chore we do for our family, but it can also be an act of love for those who will use it. We can love through everything we do, from driving on the freeway to picking up someone else’s trash.
This verse leads into the final words of 1 Corinthians. Paul encourages his brethren to stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong, and to do everything with love. It’s the conscious choice to serve and care for someone else. Throughout this chapter, Paul lists person after person, each connected by a love for God and for one another. As we grow in love, serving one another, the bonds of family grow, and we experience the fullness of being the children of God.
Loving others is both beautiful and challenging. Faced with our enemies, we may struggle to find the strength to love and let go. With our friends, we must find the courage to walk beside them through struggles, holding up truth and loving always.
And in our families, we learn how to care for, listen to, and stick with someone else, showing respect and being there for them. In each of these places, the mysteries of love deepen our relationship with our loving Father God, who has loved us already with His everlasting love