Paul has described the terrible state of sinners, climaxing with the fact that they are under the wrath of God. So it is unexpected to hear him follow on to say that the God who is angry with sinners also loves them. But the love of God is not only an unexpected topic, it is also a misunderstood one, even although most people have heard about it. Here are some details about it.
Firstly, the love of God is a divine revelation unfolded in the Bible. It is not fully revealed elsewhere, for example, in creation. In Romans 1, where Paul discusses the features of God that are seen in creation, the apostle mentions God’s eternal power and Godhead, but not his love. It is in the Bible that we see what the love of God is like.
Secondly, the love of God is the source of all reality. By this, I mean that the universe exists because of the love that eternally existed within the Trinity. It was out of their loving commitment to one another, and of the particular roles each was delighted to perform, that the universe came into existence.
Thirdly, the love of God is rich in nature. It is important to note that there is more than one kind of love in God. D. A. Carson, in his book The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, has identified these distinctive loves in this way: (1) the love of the Father for the Son and of the Son for the Father; (2) God’s providential love for all that he has made; (3) God’s salvific stance towards a fallen world; (4) God’s particular, effective, selecting love towards his elect; (5) God’s love to his people that responds to their obedience. J. I. Packer summarises these distinctions in an easily remembered way: God loves all in some ways and he loves some in all ways.
Fourthly, the love of God is rich in expression to sinners. Sometimes, his love is revealed in his goodness towards them, at other times in his long-suffering of them.
The fact is, we know the God of love.