4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
4-7 Christian love is now described positively and negatively. Its positive characteristics are patience (slow to become resentful), kindness, delight in the truth, and a protective, trusting, hopeful, and persevering attitude. Verses 4b-6a state love's characteristics negatively. "Is not rude" may refer obliquely to the disorderly conduct at worship (11:2-16; 14). Love "keeps no record of wrongs"; indeed, for love to keep a record of wrongs violates its nature. Love does not rejoice in evil, in which it has no part; but it does "rejoice with" the truth, with which it does have a part.
8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
8 "Above all" reminds us of the primacy of agape, "love" among fellow Christians. This love is to be "eager" or "earnest" (NIV "deeply"). Such love can be commanded because it is not primarily an emotion but a decision of the will leading to action. The reason for us to show love is that "love covers over a multitude of sins." This quotation from Pr 10:12 does not mean that our love covers or atones for our sins. In the proverb the meaning is that love does not "stir up" or broadcast sins. So the major idea is that love suffers in silence and bears all things (1Co 13:5-7). Christians forgive faults in others because they know the forgiving grace of God in their own lives.
8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
He is not only love, of course; one listing arrives at 152 different “designations, descriptions, and figures of speech for God” in the Bible!
Yet a foundational tenet of Old Testament theology is that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is a God who zealously loves his people. Moses composed a hymn to God that stated, “In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed” (Ex. 15:13). Although he punishes rebellion, God shows “love to a thousand generations of those” who turn to him in faith (20:6). When Moses was granted a glimpse of the distant edge of God’s glory, the heavenly voice he heard affirmed: “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin” (34:6–7). The Psalms reverberate with affirmations of God’s love. Prophets like Isaiah and Hosea repeatedly extol it.
The covenant love of God is one of the most prevalent themes of all three divisions of the Hebrew Bible—Law, Prophets, Writings. This same God “showed his love among us” (1 John 4:9) in Christ.
In Greco-Roman religion there were many gods, with diverse qualities, so one could not say that the gods were of any particular single quality (except maybe unpredictable). Moreover, where Stoicism held sway, even when “god” (Latin deus) is spoken of in the singular, he is subject to a force greater than he is: fate. Seneca writes, “Although the great creator and ruler of the universe himself wrote the decrees of Fate, yet he follows them. ... It is impossible for the moulder to alter matter; to this law it [i. e., the god] has submitted. ” No picture of God as being love, or even expressing love, can be glimpsed here. In fact, in one remarkable passage Seneca represents “god” as inviting people who encounter sorrows and hardships just to be tough and scorn it all; if that doesn’t work, commit suicide! (see “Seneca’s Theology of Despair”).