What is unfailing love?


The NIV "unfailing love" and the ESV's "steadfast love" are translations of the Hebrew word chacad or chesed which means deeds of devotion, devout, faithfulness, favor, good, kindly, kindness, kindnesses, loveliness, lovingkindness, lovingkindnesses, loyal deeds, loyalty, mercies, merciful, mercy, righteousness, and unchanging love (NAS Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible with Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries). The Berean Study Bible uses the phrase "loving devotion," the NASB "lovingkindness," the KJV "mercy", the Christian Standard Bible "faithful love," the Good News Translation "constant love," and the Net Bible "loyal love" to describe this overwhelming and undeserved type love.

This unfailing or steadfast love is demonstrated in books like Hosea and Ruth and in stories like the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). However, the ultimate expression of unfailing love is when God sent his only begotten Son to die for his people while they were yet sinners (John 15:13; Rom. 5:8). God's steadfast love covers all their sins and reconciles his underserving people fully back to him (Heb. 9:26-28; 2 Pet. 1:4). So, God is lovingly faithful even when his children are not. He is the Father that welcomes home his prodigal son who went off to the far country. He's the loving prophet who buys back his wayward wife. And he's our kinsman-redeemer and faithful companion.

God's unfailing love is a constant theme in Scripture: Exod. 15:13; Psa. 6:4; 13:5; 18:50; 21:7; 26:3; 31:16; 32:10; 33:5, 18, 22; 36:7; 44:26; 48:9; 51:1; 52:8; 62:12; 77:8; 85:7; 90:14; 94:18; 107:8, 15, 21, 31; 109:26; 119:41, 76, 88; 130:7; 138:2; 143:8, 12; 147:11; Prov. 19:22; 20:6; Isa. 54:10; Lam. 3:32; Hos. 10:12, etc.

God extends his lavish love to undeserving sinners prone to wandering and wickedness. The question then is whether sinners believe this and want to receive it. (Please see "A Gospel Summary" below.)

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A Gospel Summary

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).