Love of God (divine love, theophilia) is a central notion in monotheistic, personal conceptions of God.
"Love of God" means the love that someone has for God, as "friend of God" (theophilos) can mean someone who is friendly towards God or who is loved by God. Love of God, understood as someone's love for God is associated with concepts of piety, worship, and devotion towards God.
"Love of God" also means the love God has for us, as in Psalm 52:1: "The steadfast love of God endures all the day"; Psalm 52:8: "I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever"; Romans 8:39: "Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God"; 2 Corinthians 13:14: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all"; 1 John 4:9: "In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him"; etc.
The teachings of the Bahá'í Faith hold that the love of God is the primary reason for human creation, and one of the primary purposes of life. The love of God purifies human hearts and through it humans become transformed and self-sacrificing, as they reflect more the attributes and qualities of God. `Abdu'l-Bahá, the son of the founder of the religion wrote: "There is nothing greater or more blessed than the Love of God! It gives healing to the sick, balm to the wounded, joy and consolation to the whole world, and through it alone can man attain Life Everlasting. The essence of all religions is the Love of God, and it is the foundation of all the sacred teachings."
Main article: Bhakti yoga
Devotees of Krishna worship him in different emotional, transcendental raptures, known as rasas. Two major systems of Krishna worship developed, each with its own philosophical system. These two systems are aishwaryamaya bhakti and madhuryamaya bhakti. Aishwaryamaya bhakti is revealed in the abode of queens and kingdom of Krishna in Dwaraka. Madhuryamaya Bhakti is revealed in the abode of braja. Thus Krishna is variously worshipped according to the development of devotee's taste in worshipping the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna, as father, friend, master, beloved and many different varieties which are all extraordinary. Krishna is famous as Makhanchor, or butter thief. He loved to eat butter and is the beloved of his little village in Gokul. These are all transcendental descriptions. Thus they are revealed to the sincere devotees in proportion to the development in their love of Godhead. Vaishnavism is a form of monotheism, sometimes described as 'polymorphic monotheism', with implication that there are many forms of one original deity, defined as belief in a single unitary deity who takes many forms. In Krishnaism this deity is Krishna, sometimes referred as intimate deity - as compared with the numerous four-armed forms of Narayana or Vishnu. It may refer to either of the interrelated concepts of the love of God towards creation, the love of creatures towards God or relationship between the two as in bhakti.
In polytheism, that which is loved by the gods (τὸ θεοφιλές) was identified as the virtuous or pious. Socrates famously asked whether this identification is a tautology, see Euthyphro dilemma.
The words "philotheos" and "theophilos"
In Greek philotheos means "loving God, pious", as philosophos means a lover of wisdom (sophia). The word Theophilos was and is used as a proper name, but does not appear as an adjective or common noun in Greek, which uses instead the form theophilês, which means "dear to God" but also "loving God".
Eric Voegelin has used "theophilos" as a common noun: "In the Phaedrus, Plato has Socrates describe the characteristics of the True thinker. When Phaedrus asks what one should call such a man, Socrates, following Heraclitus, replies that the term sophos, one who knows, would be excessive: this attribute may be applied to God Alone : but one well call him philosophos. Thus "actual knowledge" is reserved to God; finite man can only be the "lover of knowledge," not himself the one who knows. In the meaning of the passage, the lover of the knowledge that belongs only to the knowing God, the philosophos, becomes the theophilos, the lover of God."
In Christianity, God's love for mankind or the world is expressed in Greek as agape (ἀγάπη), famously in John 3:16: "God so loved the world" (οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν κόσμον). The same Greek word agape is used also of the love of Christians for one another and for other human beings, as in 1 Thessalonians 3:12: "May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else" (ὑμᾶς δὲ ὁ Κύριος πλεονάσαι καὶ περισσεύσαι τῇ ἀγάπῃ εἰς ἀλλήλους καὶ εἰς πάντας). The corresponding verb agapō (ἀγαπῶ) is used not only of God's love and of the mutual love of Christians, but also of Christians' love for God, as in 1 John 4:21: "And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother" ( καὶ ταύτην τὴν ἐντολὴν ἔχομεν ἀπ᾿ αὐτοῦ, ἵνα ὁ ἀγαπῶν τὸν Θεὸν ἀγαπᾷ καὶ τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ).
To avoid the sexual connotations of the Latin word "amor", the word "caritas" was preferred as the Latin equivalent of this New Testament word. Thomas Aquinas taught that the essence of sanctity lies in love of God, and Thérèse of Lisieux made love of God the centre of her spirituality.
An experience of divine love is central in mysticism. Medieval German mystics, women in particular (Mechthild of Magdeburg, Hildegard von Bingen), express divine love as a burning passion. Similarly, Julian of Norwich in her Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love (ca. 1393).
In Hinduism, in contrast to kāma, which is selfish, or pleasurable love, prema – or prem – refers to elevated love. Karuna is compassion and mercy, which impels one to help reduce the suffering of others. Bhakti is a Sanskrit term, meaning "loving devotion to the supreme God." A person who practices bhakti is called a bhakta. Hindu writers, theologians, and philosophers have distinguished nine forms of bhakti, which can be found in the Bhagavata Purana and works by Tulsidas. The philosophical work Narada Bhakti Sutras, written by an unknown author (presumed to be Narada), distinguishes eleven forms of love.
On the mystic side of Hinduism, one of the forms of Yoga includes Ishvarapranidhana, or self-surrender to God, and His worship.
The love of God, and the fear of God, are two of the foundations of Islam. The highest spiritual attainment in Islam is related to the love of God. “Yet there are men who take (for worship) others besides God, as equal (with God): They love them as they should love God. But those of Faith are overflowing in their love for God.” (Quran 2:165)
Islam, as Christianity, has numerous mystics and traditions about the love of God, as in:
“O lovers! The religion of the love of God is not found in Islam alone.
In the realm of love, there is neither belief, nor unbelief.” (Rumi)
Main article: Jewish views on love#Love between God and human beings
The love of God has been called the "essence of Judaism." “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deut. 6:5)
Goethe expresses the sentiment of love of God alongside the opposite sentiment of hatred of God in his two poems Ganymed and Prometheus, respectively.