The Bible has been accused of many things. And it would be dishonest not to admit that the Bible is at times a difficult and challenging book.

However, if all difficult and challenging literature were to be abolished simply because it is difficult and challenging, we would be profoundly impoverished and diminished as a culture.

It is more credible and honest in looking at any profound text to attempt to discern the overarching arc of the text and study it in light of the dominant spirit that resonates throughout the entire document.

The dominant spirit in the Bible is the spirit of love.

The Bible is fundamentally a book of peace, gentleness, kindness, and compassion. The texts below come from the full scope of the Bible’s witness. I cannot imagine anyone will actually read all the passages cited below. But they provide an honest overview of the general tenor of the whole of Scripture and cannot be dismissed without serious consideration that they may perhaps actually represent the dominant themes of the Bible.

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[Moses]:‘In your steadfast love you led the people whom you redeemed;
you guided them by your strength to your holy abode.’ (Exodus 15:13)

The Lord passed before him [Moses], and proclaimed,
‘The Lord, the Lord,
a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger,
and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. (Exodus 34:6)

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:18)

The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:34)

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:5)

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them with food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:17-1)

[Moses]: Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak;
let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
May my teaching drop like the rain,
my speech condense like the dew;
like gentle rain on grass,
like showers on new growth. (Deuteronomy 32:1,2)

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever. (I Chronicles 16:34)

Those who withhold kindness from a friend
forsake the fear of the Almighty. (Job 6:14)

I will both lie down and sleep in peace;
for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety. (Psalm 4:8)

But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
will enter your house,
I will bow down towards your holy temple
in awe of you. (Psalm 5:7)

All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness. (Psalm 25:10)

Blessed be the Lord,
for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me
when I was beset as a city under siege. (Psalm 31:21)

Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you. (Psalm 33:22)

Depart from evil, and do good;
seek peace, and pursue it. (Psalm 34:14)

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds. (Psalm 36:5)

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings. (Psalm 36:7)

Mark the blameless, and behold the upright,
for there is posterity for the peaceable. (Psalm 37:37)

By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life. (Psalm 42:8)

We ponder your steadfast love, O God,
in the midst of your temple. (Psalm 48:9)

But I am like a green olive tree
in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God
for ever and ever. (Psalm 52:8)

Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you. (Psalm 63:3)

Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
righteousness and peace will kiss each other. (Psalm 85:10)

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
steadfast love and faithfulness go before you. (Psalm 89:14)

When I thought, ‘My foot is slipping’,
your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. (Psalm 94:18)

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and do not forget all his benefits—
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:2-5)

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (Psalm 103:8)

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wonderful works to humankind. (Psalm 107:15)

Great peace have those who love your law;
nothing can make them stumble. (Psalm 119:165)

I am for peace;
but when I speak,
they are for war. (Psalm 120:7)

The Lord is good to all,
and his compassion is over all that he has made. (Psalm 145:9)

Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you; bind them round your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. (Proverbs 3:3)

Hatred stirs up strife,
but love covers all offences. (Proverbs 10:12)

Deceit is in the mind of those who plan evil,
but those who counsel peace have joy. (Proverbs 12:20)

Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life and honour. (Proverbs 21:21)

Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace
in peace because they trust in you. (Isaiah 26:3)

The effect of righteousness will be peace,
and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust for ever.
My people will abide in a peaceful habitation,
in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting-places.  (Isaiah 32:17, 18)

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of the messenger who announces peace. (Isaiah 52:7)

For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,
says the Lord, who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:10)

Peace, peace, to the far and the near, says the Lord;
and I will heal them. (Isaiah 57:19)

let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord; I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:24)

I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. (Jeremiah 31:3)

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22,23)

I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will bless them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary among them for evermore. (Ezekiel 37:26)

I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt-offerings. (Hosea 6:6)

I led them with cords of human kindness,
with bands of love.
I was to them like those
who lift infants to their cheeks.
I bent down to them and fed them. (Hosea 11:4)

Yet even now, says the Lord,
return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
rend your hearts and not your clothing.
Return to the Lord, your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love,
and relents from punishing. (Joel 2:12, 13)

Thus says the Lord of hosts: Render true judgements, show kindness and mercy to one another. (Zechariah 7:9)

These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another, render in your gates judgements that are true and make for peace. (Zechariah 8:16)

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:9, 10)

‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:38-45)

[Jesus]: Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29)

Honour your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ (Matthew 19:19)

Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. (Matthew 26:52)

He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. (Mark 4:39)

He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’ (Mark 5:34)

Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.’ (Mark 9:50)

One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ esus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ Then the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that “he is one, and besides him there is no other”; and “to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength”, and “to love one’s neighbour as oneself”,—this is much more important than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.’ (Mark 12:28-33)

By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.’ (Luke 1:78,79)

But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. (Luke 6:27)

Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. (Luke 6:30-35)

While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ (Luke 24:36)

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. (John 3:16)

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. (John 13:34)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. (John 14:27)

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:9-13)

I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. (John 16:33)

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ (John 20:19)

God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Romans 5:5)

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written,
‘For your sake we are being killed all day long;
we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. (Romans 12:9, 10)

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.(Romans 12:15-18)

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet’; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.(Romans 13:8-10)

Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual edification. (Romans 14:19)

we know that ‘all of us possess knowledge.’ Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. (I Corinthians 8:1)

anyone who loves God is known by him. (I Corinthians 8:3)

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. (I Corinthians 13:1-13)

Pursue love. (I Corinthians 14:1)

God is a God not of disorder but of peace. (I Corinthians 14:33)

Let all that you do be done in love. (I Corinthians 16:14)

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. (II Corinthians 5:18, 19)

Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. (II Corinthians 13:11)

For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ (Galatians 5:14)

the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. (Galatians 5:22,23)

My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. (Galatians 6:1)

now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, so that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. (Ephesians 2:13-17)

I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. (Ephesians 3:16,17)

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1,2)

As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. (Ephesians 6:15)

this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best. (Philippians 1:9,10)

Let your gentleness be known to everyone. (Philippians 4:5)

clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:12-15)

And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. (I Thessalonians 3:12)

Now concerning love of the brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anyone write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do love all the brothers and sisters throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, beloved, to do so more and more. (I Thessalonians 4:9-11)

since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love. (I Thessalonians 5:8)

See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. (I Thessalonians 5:15)

the aim of such instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith. (I Timothy 1:5)

But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. (I Timothy 6:11)

God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Shun youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace. (II Timothy 2:22)

be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarrelling, to be gentle, and to show every courtesy to everyone. (Titus 3:1,2)

And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:24)

Pursue peace with everyone. (Hebrews 12:14)

Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:1,2)

You do well if you really fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ (James 2:8)

Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. (James 3:13)

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace. (James 3:17, 18)

the Lord is compassionate and merciful. (James 5:11)

Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth – so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply – from the heart. (I Peter 1:22)

Honour everyone. (I Peter 2:17)

Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing. For
‘Those who desire life
and desire to see good days,
let them keep their tongues from evil
and their lips from speaking deceit;
let them turn away from evil and do good;
let them seek peace and pursue it. (I Peter 3:8-11)

Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. (I Peter 3:15,16)

Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. (I Peter 4:8-10)

Whoever loves a brother or sister – lives in the light, and in such a person – there is no cause for stumbling. (I John 2:10)

For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. (I John 3:11)

We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. (I John 3:14)

Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. (I John 3:18)

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. (I John 4:7-10)

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. (I John 4:12)

So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. (I John 4:16)

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. (I John 4:18)

Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters  also. (I John 4:20, 21)

May mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance. (Jude 1:2)

keep yourselves in the love of God. (Jude 1:21)

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