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Sunday, July 23, 2006

For God so loved only part of the world?!? (Or, who does God hate?) 

While commenting on the redbluechristian.com article ACLU SUES FOR ANTI-GAY GROUP, I ended up at Westboro Baptist Church's website - the famously named www.godhatesfags.com.

When viewing the main page of the site, I noticed that they had quoted John 3:16. Coincidentally, I had also referenced John 3:16 in my response at redbluechristian.com. However, they had a different take on the verse.

For the record, here's the verse:

John 3:16 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

16"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[a] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

a. Or his only begotten Son

Westboro Baptist's conclusion about this verse:


To support this interpretation, they reference some other verses:

John 13:1

1It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.[a]


a. John 13:1 Or he loved them to the last

New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
John 17:9

9I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.

New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
Ephesians 5:25

25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

So the question arises - Jesus clearly loved His people, but did He love those who did not accept Him?

There is nothing in Ephesians 5:25 or John 13:1 (and certainly not in John 3:16, which stated that God loved the world) that says that Jesus did not love those outside of the church. Just because He loved the church doesn't mean that he hated those outside the church.

So let's look at John 17:9, which states that Jesus is not praying for those His father did not give Him. Rather than look at one verse in isolation, let's look at the entire prayer from which Westboro excerpted this one verse:

John 17:6-19 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

6"I have revealed you[a] to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one. 12While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. 13"I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17Sanctify[b] them by the truth; your word is truth. 18As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.


a. John 17:6 Greek your name; also in verse 26
b. John 17:17 Greek hagiazo (set apart for sacred use or make holy also in verse 19

So at this point Jesus was not praying for the unbelievers. But what else does Jesus say about the unbelievers and love?

Well, there's this passage from the Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 5:43-48 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

43"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.' 44But I tell you: Love your enemies[b] and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.


a. Matthew 5:43 Lev. 19:18
b. Matthew 5:44 Some late manuscripts enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you

And then there's this preface to the story of the good Samaritan:

Matthew 22:36-39 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'[a] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'[b]


a. Matthew 22:37 Deut. 6:5
b. Matthew 22:39 Lev. 19:18

Now let's look at all of the verses in the Gospels where Jesus tells us all the people who God hates:

But there are two verses elsewhere in the New Testament in which God talks about His hate. One (Revelation 2:6) can be discounted for our purposes, since God only talks about practices that He hates, not people. But let's look at these verses (note verse 13):

Romans 9:10-18 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

10Not only that, but Rebekah's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. 11Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God's purpose in election might stand: 12not by works but by him who calls—she was told, "The older will serve the younger."[a] 13Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."[b]

14What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15For he says to Moses,
"I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion."[c] 16It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. 17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: "I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth."[d] 18Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.


a. Romans 9:12 Gen. 25:23
b. Romans 9:13 Mal. 1:2,3
c. Romans 9:15 Exodus 33:19
d. Romans 9:17 Exodus 9:16

Specifically, Malachi 1:2-3 (which are partially quoted in Romans 9:13) says the following:

Malachi 1:2-3 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

2 "I have loved you," says the LORD.
"But you ask, 'How have you loved us?'
"Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" the LORD says. "Yet I have loved Jacob, 3 but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals."

Here's what gotquestions.org says about this hate:

[C]onsidering the context, God loving Jacob and hating Esau has nothing to do with the human emotions of love and hate. It has everything to do with God choosing one man and his descendants and rejecting another man and his descendants. God choose Abraham out of all the men in the world. The Bible very well could say, “Abraham I loved, and every other man I hated.” God choose Abraham’s son Isaac instead of Abraham’s son Ishmael. The Bible very well could say, “Isaac I loved, and Ishmael I hated.” Romans chapter 9 makes it abundantly clear that loving Jacob and hating Esau was entirely related to which of them God chose. Hundreds of years after Jacob and Esau had died, the Israelites and Edomites became bitter enemies. The Edomites often aided Israel’s enemies in attacks on Israel. Esau’s descendants brought God’s curse on themselves. Genesis 27:29, “May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed.”

A.C. Smith mused on this:

The verb used for "hate" is quite clearly a verb of intense dislike or even attack, so we can NOT explain away this problem by a nuance of definition.

We might take this tactic: G-d doesn't hate "Esau" the person, but rather "Esau" the political system, i.e., the kingdom of Edom. This would leave the door open for G-d to love each individual person in that kingdom, while attacking the political entity.

We could also consider a surgically pin-pointed "hate", i.e., that G-d doesn't bear a long-standing hatred here, but rather at a specific time and place, and for a specific reason, He directed His hate, i.e., in concrete actions, toward Esau.

This use of "hate" parallels equally confusing and troubling uses of the same word in the New Testament. Is there hyperbolic tendency to use "hate" in ANE culture? Is this a Semitic linguistic trait? I don't know.

Enduring Word says the following:

How could God hate Esau? He didn’t hate Esau in the sense of cursing him or striking out against him. Indeed, Esau was a blessed man (Genesis 33:9, 36:1-43). Yet when God chose Jacob, He left Esau unchosen in regard to receiving the blessing given to Abraham.

i. In his commentary on Romans (where Paul quotes this Malachi passage in Romans 9:13) Leon Morris cites examples where hate clearly seems to mean something like “loved less” (Genesis 29:31-33, Deuteronomy 21:15, Matthew 6:24, Luke 14:26, John 12:25). Yet he agrees with Calvin’s idea that the real thought here is much more like “accepted” and “rejected” more than it is like our understanding of the terms “loved” and “hated.”

ii. Remember the reason why election is brought up here: not to exclude, but to comfort and reassure. “A woman once said to Mr. Spurgeon, ‘I cannot understand why God should say that He hated Esau.’ ‘That,’ Spurgeon replied, ‘is not my difficulty, madam. My trouble is to understand how God could love Jacob.’” (William Newell in his commentary on Romans)

iii. Malachi isn’t teaching double predestination. “Malachi is not speaking of the predestination of the one brother and reprobation of the other; he is contrasting the histories of the two peoples represented by them . . . Both nations sinned; both are punished; but Israel by God’s free mercy was forgiven and restored, while Edom was left in the misery which it had brought upon itself by its own iniquity.” (Pulpit)

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

Good job, Ontario.
It's just amazing how a Christian group can go around hating people, but I have to make sure I don't do it myself.

Didn't the 1984 book have some type of anti-fascist league?
I wonder what makes the God Hates Fags members believe they are included in the group the Father gave Jesus?
"Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand." Mark Twain
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