How Many Times Is the Word “Love” Used in the Bible?

Love is one of the central themes of the Bible. God’s love for humankind and the love He calls us to have for Him and others are expressed repeatedly throughout Scripture. But exactly how many times does the actual word “love” appear in the text of the Bible? In this comprehensive blog post, we will examine the accurate data on the occurrence of “love” in the Bible and reflect on its significance.

Key Takeaways:

  • The word “love” appears 504 times total in the Bible
  • It appears 267 times in the Old Testament and 237 times in the New Testament
  • The book of Psalms contains the highest concentration of “love” with 73 occurrences
  • 1 Corinthians 13, known as the “Love Chapter,” contains 8 of the 237 New Testament usages
  • God’s love, brotherly love, and romantic love are all represented by the word “love”
  • The high frequency of “love” shows its importance as a theological and practical theme in Scripture
How Many Times Is the Word "Love" Used in the Bible?

Overview of Occurrences in the Bible

According to accurate analysis of Bible text, the word “love” in its noun and verb forms occurs a total of 504 times across both the Old and New Testaments. This provides a high-level picture of just how significant love is as a concept in the biblical narrative.

The 504 total usages of “love” break down to:

  • 267 occurrences in the Old Testament
  • 237 occurrences in the New Testament

So there is a slightly higher concentration of verses mentioning love in the pre-Christ section of the Bible. This makes sense given the large size of the Old Testament at 39 books compared to the 27 books of the New Testament.

Now let’s dive deeper into the accurate data on “love” in various sections and books of the Bible.

Occurrences of “Love” in the Old Testament

The Old Testament contains a total of 267 verses using the word “love” across 22 different books.

The book that contains the highest number of references to “love” in the Old Testament is the Psalms. A total of 73 verses in Psalms include the word “love” – far more than any other Old Testament book. Other books with high usages include Deuteronomy (25 times), Genesis (19 times), and Isaiah (14 times).

Some of the key verses about love in the Old Testament include:

  • “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5)
  • “Oh, love the LORD, all you His saints! For the LORD preserves the faithful…” (Psalm 31:23)
  • “Let those who love Him be like the sun when it comes out in full strength.” (Judges 5:31)
  • “I have loved you,” says the LORD.” (Malachi 1:2)

There are also notable verses about romantic and marital love such as Jacob’s love for Rachel in Genesis 29 and the love between the Shulamite woman and her beloved in Song of Solomon.

So the Old Testament lays a strong theological foundation for love – love for God, love within community, and marital love. We also see God’s faithful love for His people Israel demonstrated repeatedly in the major narratives of the Old Testament.

Occurrences of “Love” in the New Testament

Shifting our focus to the New Testament, the word “love” is used 237 times across 21 books.

The book with the most New Testament occurrences is 1 Corinthians with 24. This makes sense because 1 Corinthians 13, which is entirely about love, accounts for 8 of those usages. Other books with high numbers of “love” references are John (36 times), Matthew (13 times), and Romans (13 times).

Some very notable “love” verses in the New Testament include:

  • “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
  • “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
  • “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up…” (1 Corinthians 13:4)
  • “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)
  • “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9)

So we see how Christ exemplified supreme, sacrificial love and how He calls His followers to love unconditionally. The emphasis is firmly on brotherly love within the Christian community and expressing God’s love through service and righteousness.

Now let’s analyze in depth some of the major contexts where “love” appears in the Bible.

“Love” Referring to God’s Love

One of the most significant usages of “love” in Scripture refers to God’s love for humanity. There are too many verses to list them all here, but some key examples include:

  • “The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.'” (Jeremiah 31:3)
  • “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
  • “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life…nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

These verses and many others reveal God’s steadfast, unconditional love towards all people – even while were still mired in sin. His love extends salvation through Christ and remains constant even in difficult times. Meditating on the passages about God’s love is a great encouragement.

“Love” Referring to Loving God

In numerous verses, God’s people are called to return love back to God. Loving the Lord with all one’s heart, soul, mind and strength is the greatest commandment. Here are some verses that command loving God:

  • “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5)
  • “Oh, love the LORD, all you His saints!” (Psalm 31:23)
  • “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38)

Loving God looks like pursuing Him, obeying Him, serving Him, worshipping Him, and finding satisfaction in Him above all else. It is both our duty and delight as His people.

“Love” Referring to Loving Neighbor

The second greatest commandment, after loving God, is loving one’s neighbor. Repeatedly throughout the New Testament, Christians are commanded to love fellow believers and love enemies as well.

  • “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)
  • “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 39:39)
  • “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)
  • “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us…” (Ephesians 5:2)
  • “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart…” (1 Peter 1:22)

Displaying Christlike, sacrificial love between fellow Christians is a primary way we emulate Jesus. And Scripture calls us to extend a loving witness even to hostile people. Loving neighbor summarizes so much of the Christian ethic.

“Love” Referring to Romantic/Sexual Love

While the Bible emphasizes God’s love and brotherly love, romantic and sexual love between man and woman are also represented in several passages. One of the most famous is from Song of Solomon:

  • “I am my beloved’s, And my beloved is mine…I am my beloved’s and his desire is toward me.” (Song of Solomon 6:3; 7:10)

Other verses mentioning love between couples include:

  • “Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her…” (Genesis 24:67)
  • “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:31)

So the Bible affirms romantic love and sexuality within the context of marriage between a man and woman. God created these desires and bondings to be expressed righteously.

The Significance of 1 Corinthians 13

No discussion of love in the Bible would be complete without looking at 1 Corinthians 13, often called the “Love Chapter.” It contains one of Scripture’s most profound teachings on love.

The apostle Paul places love above even spiritual gifts, saying gifts without love are worthless. He defines what real love looks like – patient, kind, un-envious, humble, forgiving – and declares that it never fails. The crowning verses are:

  • “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

1 Corinthians 13 pulls together so many strands of biblical teaching on love and distills them beautifully. It deserves regular meditation and application.

Implications for Us

Now that we have thoroughly surveyed how often “love” appears in the Bible and in what contexts, what implications does this have for us as Christians? Here are a few key takeaways:

  • We must return God’s unconditional love by developing a strong, growing love relationship with Him.
  • Loving our neighbors – fellow Christians and even enemies – must be a top priority.
  • Marriage should be nurtured by selfless, mature romantic love between husband and wife.
  • We need to share God’s love consistently through evangelism and social action.
  • Applying 1 Corinthians 13 will improve all our relationships and make us more like Christ.

The sheer frequency of “love” in the Bible confirms that love truly is the essential teaching of Scripture. We glorify God by modeling His love. Our churches and communities flourish when love thrives. By His grace, may we walk ever more deeply in the love of Christ.


In summary, the foundational word “love” occurs 504 times total across the Old and New Testaments – 267 times in the Old Testament and 237 times in the New Testament. The concept of love – God loving humanity, God’s people loving Him, loving neighbor, and marital love – arises constantly throughout the biblical narrative. 1 Corinthians 13 distills the biblical portrait of love into one powerful chapter. As Christians seeking to apply the Bible, we must make loving God and people the centerpiece of our lives and faith. That is the enduring command and calling of Scripture.

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