“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Explanation and Commentary of John 15:13
Perhaps this is the greatest difference between Christianity and all other religions. Love in God’s Kingdom goes beyond anything earth has to offer. It is not the love between two people who are mutually attracted to one another because of natural inclinations. It is closer to the love that a father has for his children, or children for their father. But the love of God is perfect and issues forth from his presence apart from any feeling elicited by actions or attributes in the other.
Jesus Christ showed what perfect love is by his death on the cross for us (1 Jn 3:16). But beyond accepting this sacrifice for our sins, we are called to love our brother in the same way. We are not called to settle for anything less than this kind of love. This kind of love will change the whole world if Christians will submit to God’s command to love like him.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of John 15:13
#1 “Greater love…”
Agape is the Greek word for this kind of selfless love or the love of the Father. It is purely spiritual. To love someone like this is altogether different than worldly, natural love. That kind of love may have its place but is also right at home in the dominion of darkness. Natural love is on the other side of the same coin as hate. It is conditional. It can evaporate when the emotional payoff is gone.
#2 “Has no one than this:”
Western culture is obsessed with what it calls love. Romance is on everyone’s mind all the time. Listen to the radio. Watch a movie. See how the culture celebrates and even worships passion. For this kind of love, men and women will do some outlandish things, not the least of which is abandoning their families for the next lover. But compared to the true love of God, this love is merely emotionalism and psychology. This greater love is more powerful than anything else on earth. This love does not and cannot exist in the same vessel as hate. This kind of love can only be learned from God.
#3 “to lay down one’s life…”
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters” (1 Jn 3:16). Anything else might as well be hate and the sign of unbelief. “Laying down one’s life means literally dying for someone, but starts with simply dying to self for someone, for instance in giving one’s possessions to someone who needs them (1 Jn 3:17).
#4 “…for one’s friends.”
Who are your friends? The question is similar to the Pharisee’s question to Jesus: “Who is my neighbor” (Lk 10:29). With this kind of love, even one’s enemies are to be considered friends. As you give your life, you say, “Father, forgive them. They do not know not what they are doing” (Lk 23:34).
Simple Explanation of John 15:13
Bible Study with Commentary on John 15:13
Sermon on John 15:13
Biblical Translations of John 15:13
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.