When I first saw this in Romans 9, I was confused and struggled. How was it that God, who is love, hate someone?
When studying the Bible, it is crucially important to always study the context of a particular Bible verse or passage. In these instances, the Prophet Malachi and the Apostle Paul are using the name “Esau” to refer to the Edomites, who were the descendants of Esau. Isaac and Rebekah had two sons, Esau and Jacob. God chose Jacob (whom He later renamed Israel) to be the father of His chosen people, the Israelites. God rejected Esau (who was also called Edom), and did not choose him to be the father of His chosen people. Esau’s and his descendants, the Edomites, were in many ways blessed by God (Genesis 33:9; Genesis chapter 36).
So, considering 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.”
Here is a note from the NEXT Bible : The context indicates this is technical covenant vocabulary in which “love” and “hate” are synonymous with “choose” and “reject” respectively (see Deut 7:8; Jer 31:3; Hos 3:1; 9:15; 11:1).
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.”
An excerpt from “Hermeneutics for Missionary Preaching,” which will make a chapter of historical case study in Kim, Dae Ryeong‘s Ph.D. dissertation, “Toward A Missiological Approach to Hermeneutics for Gospel Proclamation in a Post-modern World.”
” Don M. Wagner observes the abuse of theological method of Bible interpretation, especially in using Scripture fragments out of context. Therefore, he suggests the Compbell Morgan’s expository method as a solution to address the issue. His expository method is, if we summarize in a word, ‘interpretation in the context’—the synthesis of biblical text into its historical and literacy context. “The essential characteristic of the Morgan method is” he states, “the application of the context principle of Bible Study.” Each verse of Scripture cut out of its setting must first be understood in relation to what immediately precedes and follows, before one can properly evaluate its relation to theological subject (1957:93, 114). This principle of Bible exposition is exactly what Spurgeon also supports when he remarks: “We cannot expect to deliver much of the teachings of the Holy Scripture by picking out verse by verse, and holding these up at random. The process resembles too closely that of showing a house by exhibiting separate bricks” (Pattison 1902:84). “
Morgan makes a great point!
How often do we see this! -Scripture ripped out of context! And how it bothers me!
Have you ever been reading a passage of the Bible and you come up to the end of the chapter or verse and you are distracted by the abrupt ending? Or you are confused why the chapter stops? OR you are left still wondering, “what happens next,” then you begin the next chapter and it all makes sense?
Have you ever heard someone, maybe even with good intentions, read you a verse (maybe even their favorite verse of the Bible) but when you hear it you know that it is COMPLETELY pointless without the context around the verse?
The truth is that the Verse and Chapter numbers are not really inspired by the Holy Spirit, like the actual content of the Scriptures are. Sure the are helpful in many ways in organizing the text and helping us find our ways to certain passages. Imagine a sermon taught at a church on the Book of Romans without chapter and verse numbers!!! AHHHHHHHHH!!
” Now folks we are looking at Paul’s third thought here in the first sentence of paragraph three….”
This would not work for several reasons: Not all translations are aligned the same way, not all Bible use paragraphs.
Anyway there is a whole lot more to the story relating to chapter and verse numbers. I just felt like ranting about the topic.
There some interesting reads about how they came about: