It’s essential that we understand the love of God in conjunction with the other attributes of God. God’s love, for instance, is holy love. But all of the attributes of God come into play as well, even His eternity. God’s love, like God Himself, is eternal. When we talk about God’s eternity, we’re talking about something greater than duration. When we say God is eternal, we are saying that God is self-existent, that He has no beginning. He derives His existence or His being from no other source; rather, He has the power to be in and of Himself. He’s not dependent upon anything outside Himself for His own life or being.
There is no point at which God began. Before God ever made a world, He already existed. And the Scriptures make clear that as He existed from all eternity, there was already in His nature from all eternity the attribute of love. God didn’t become loving at the time of creation, for He has always been a God of love. Since that’s the case, and since there was nothing else besides God from all eternity, we have to ask, what was the object of the divine love from all eternity? The question has something of a complex answer.
When we think of creation, we make a distinction between creation and redemption. God created His world in a state of goodness, the world was plunged into ruin through the fall of the human race, and then the rest of history is the story of God’s work of redemption by which He is salvaging His people from this enormous collapse of the fall.
But before creation or redemption, God was. And God, before creation, knew about the fall, and from all eternity, He had a plan of redemption. And that plan of redemption was born of His triune character such that the work of redemption would be carried out by all three members of the Godhead. So, in theology we talk about the covenant of redemption, the covenant that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit made with one another, from all eternity, to save a people from sin.
The Father sent the Son into the world, but the Son did not reluctantly enter creation to effect our redemption. The Father covenanted to send the Son and the Son covenanted to willingly descend from heaven and take upon Himself a human nature, subject Himself to humiliation, and become obedient even unto death in order to redeem His people. And then, from all eternity, the Holy Spirit covenanted with the Father and the Son to apply the work of Christ to God’s people, so that the work of redemption is the work of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Like creation, redemption is a Trinitarian work. The Father created the heavens and the earth through the eternal Son in the power of the Spirit (Gen. 1:1–2; John 1:1, 10). Creation and redemption are both accomplished by the Holy Trinity.