Archive for July, 2009

Does God Love Everyone?

Posted: July 19, 2009 in Theology

Does God Love Everyone?

The Bible indicates that God loves everyone in that it is His nature to seek the welfare of His creation, even His enemies, and this is a pattern for how we are to behave.
Matthew 5:43-48  “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and ‘hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you,  so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they?  And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they?  So then, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Though love is an attribute of God (1 Jn.4:7-8) this does not exclude the possibility that God can also hate. Usually His hatred is directed at those who practice evil or who hate Him.
Deut.12:31 – You must not worship the Lord your God the way they do! 1 For everything that is abhorrent 2 to him, 3 everything he hates, they have done when worshiping their gods. They even burn up their sons and daughters before their gods!

Psalm 5:4-6  Certainly you are not a God who approves of evil;

evil people cannot dwell with you.

Arrogant people cannot stand in your presence;

you hate all who behave wickedly.

You destroy liars;

the Lord despises violent and deceitful people.

There is one passage that also links the word hate to His sovereignty in election.
Romans 9:10-13  Not only that, but when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our ancestor Isaac –  even before they were born or had done anything good or bad (so that God’s purpose in election would stand, not by works but by his calling) –  it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger,” just as it is written: “Jacob I lovedbut Esau I hated.”

This takes on a more technical, theological nuance as explained in the footnote to Jer.12:8 in the NET Bible:

The people I call my own have turned on me

like a lion in the forest.

They have roared defiantly at me.

So I will treat them as though I hate them.

The word “hate” is sometimes used in a figurative way to refer to being neglected, i.e., treated as though unloved. In these contexts it does not have the same emotive connotations that a typical modern reader would associate with hate. See Gen 29:31, 33 and E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech, 556.

In the case of Esau, God’s hatred toward him was not because of what he had done, but because of God’s sovereign choice to bless Jacob over Esau.

Greg Brandenburg
July 19, 2009