Why in one Bible reference we are called to hate and in others to love?

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Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26).

So, what does the above statement mean in relation to the following verses: “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15). And “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (1 John 4:20).

The context of Luke 14:26 makes it clear that the word “hate” should not be understood in the usual sense of the word. In the Bible, “to hate,” should be understood simply as a typical Oriental hyperbole meaning “to love less” as in the following passage in the King James Version: “If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated…” (Deut. 21:15–17).

Therefore, a better translation of this passage is given in the New King James Version for the word “hated” is translated “unloved” which means “less favored.” An example of that is the story of Leah Jacob’s wife (Genesis 29:31).

So, in Luke 14:26, Jesus is simply saying: “He that loves a father or mother more than me is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:37). This hyperbole is used to make clear to the follower of Christ the fact that at all times he must make first in his life the kingdom of heaven. He should love God above anyone or anything. God should be first in the life (Matt. 6:19–34). Whoever has personal interests that take priority over loyalty to God will find it impossible to meet the requirements Christ makes of him.

Whereas Luke 14:26 is speaking of the believer’s love to God as being supreme in the life, 1 John 3:15 and 1 John 4:20 are speaking of the necessity of loving our fellow men as we love our selves. For the Lord commanded, “And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

 

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