What Is the Meaning of “An Everlasting Love” in Jeremiah 31:3?

Aaron D'Anthony Brown

Contributing Author
Updated Dec 11, 2020
What Is the Meaning of “An Everlasting Love” in Jeremiah 31:3?

“...the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued to extend faithful love to you.” – Jeremiah 31:3

Love. An emotion often felt, but hard to describe. A quick glance at the dictionary defines love as “a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.”

The word love sounds simple, but has a very complex definition. Thankfully, the Bible with all its wisdom offers clarity. Love is mentioned a plethora of times throughout Scripture. In the King James Version, the word appears 310 times! If emphasis is the reason for repetition, then we know that the Bible places great value on love.

With all of its appearances, love takes on different meanings when mentioned. The word is used to describe various relationships, whether that is our relationship to God, others, ourselves, or even our relationship to earthly possessions.

Thus we can conclude, according to the Bible, love seems to operate in many directions. Yet, if God’s love is an “everlasting love,” what exactly does that mean?

With a better understanding of what the Bible says about love, we will gain greater insight into God’s everlasting love.

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hand holding red knit love heart at sunset

What Does the Bible Say about Love?

The Bible offers much thought to defining the complex term, describing love in so many different ways and so many times. The reason love appears so frequently is because of its importance. In fact, the greatest aspects of the Christian faith is love.

In Matthew 22, Jesus was asked by a Pharisee what the greatest commandment was and Jesus gave an easy answer. The first commandment was to love God. And the second was to love others as we love ourselves.

No wonder the word appears so often. By sharing love with God and others we live out the life of a Christian, doing what Jesus commanded. Many Christians cite sharing the gospel as their main calling. That can be a part of love, but does not fully define love in itself.

When love is described in comparison to faith and hope in 1 Corinthians 13, love is noted as being “greater.” The idea that love is greater than faith is paradoxical for many even in the Christian community. Then again in 1 John 14, we read that our ability to love stems from God’s ability to love us.

“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

Using the aforementioned verses from the Bible we can gain a better understanding of God’s “everlasting love” described in Jeremiah 31:3. While we are called to live lives of love toward God and others, the magnitude by which God loves us happens before we can love Him, and happens on a much greater scale.

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Natali_Mis

Bible open to book of Jeremiah

The Context of Jeremiah 31:3

Throughout this chapter, Jeremiah’s words present a love-centered picture of God.

The chapter opens with a declaration from the Lord: “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people” (Jeremiah 31:1). God’s words here indicate that the Israelites belong to God. They can find their home in Him. He is their father.

The chapter continues to describe how the chosen people who survived in the wilderness can now find rest as a nation. This is when we witness the description of God’s everlasting love.

The meaning of that love is given after the third verse. God plans on restoring His people, despite previous transgressions. Jeremiah continues to write and reveals that God has such great plans for His people, plans involving dancing, rejoicing, turning lamenting to joy.

Jeremiah indicates that these plans from God are not tentative either, they are declarations. A promise.

God’s relationship with the Israelites can be seen as very forgiving, despite previous transgression, but His love can be traced back all the way to the Garden of Eden.

God created man in His image (Genesis 1:26). That original man was Adam, and the original woman was Eve. Even in the beginning, man found a way to turn his back on God. Since that time, many generations before Jeremiah wrote his words, God has been expressing love for His people.

His everlasting love has never stopped.

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What Does This Verse Mean Today?

What Does This Verse Mean Today?

God’s everlasting love, though mentioned specifically in this passage is showcased many times in the Bible.

Scripture is replete with two kinds of stories, both indicative of God’s love.

One type consists of people turning their backs on God through sin, only to return later seeking forgiveness. Take for example how God freed the Israelites from bondage in Egypt. However free they became, they struggled to maintain their faith in the Lord.

Despite their inconsistent faith, God was consistent in His love for them. He kept His promise from generation to generation that they would inherit the Promised Land. Though not everyone lived to see the promise fulfilled, God kept His word to His people.

The other kind of stories are those where people who did not believe in Christ, like Paul, came to find redemption. Paul who once persecuted Christians became someone who proclaimed the gospel. Though he didn’t begin as one of God’s people, he became one.

That reversal in his story reflects the kind of love that God has for his people, constantly pursuing and welcoming us with open arms, no matter where we are in our faith journey.

If these examples are reflective of God’s everlasting love, then we can be sure that God’s love extends beyond generations. His love is full of forgiveness. God is ready to take us as His own whenever we are ready for Him.

God wants nothing more than to take us in and redeem us into better people.

A love that is not bound by time is everlasting. A love that is unconditional is everlasting. No matter how we choose to define God’s love, we can’t ignore the everlasting quality.

No matter what we have done or where we are in our faith journey, God is willing to love us.

No matter if we just started believing, or are still unsure, God is ready and willing to embrace us with his everlasting love.

And for that we have to say, thank you!

Photo Credit: © iStock/Getty Images Plus/kevron2001

headshot of author Aaron BrownAaron D'Anthony Brown is a freelance writer, hip-hop dance teacher, and visual artist, living in Virginia. He currently contributes work to iBelieve, Crosswalk, and supports various clients through the platform Upwork. He's an outside-the-box thinker with a penchant for challenging the status quo. Check out his short story “Serenity.”

This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within Scripture's context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.

This Is the Day the Lord Has Made
Iron Sharpens Iron
Blessed Are the Peacemakers
Faith without Works Is Dead
Be Anxious for Nothing

Originally published Thursday, 10 December 2020.