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Does God hate? How is it possible for God to hate if He is love?

If God is love (1 John 4:8, 16), how can He hate? It may seem contradictory at first, but the Bible also speaks of God "hating." For example, Psalm 5:5 says, "The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers." In Hosea 9:15 God seems to hate others, saying, "Every evil of theirs is in Gilgal; there I began to hate them."

The theme of hate is also found in the Old Testament related to the actions of others. In Isaiah 61:8, the Lord says, "For I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and wrong." Jeremiah 44:4 adds, "Oh, do not do this abomination that I hate!" In Amos 5:21, God says, "I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies." Amos 6:8 declares, "I abhor the pride of Jacob and hate his strongholds." Zechariah 8:17 notes, "do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, declares the LORD."

In the New Testament, Jesus Himself mentions hating the work of the Nicolaitans, saying, "Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate" (Revelation 2:6). This work of the Nicolaitans is unclear, yet was clearly some kind of evil act that Jesus despised.

So God is love, yet at times hates others, hates certain actions, and even Jesus hates evil. How can God be both love and show hatred? It is not difficult to see why God would hate evil. Sin and evil of all kinds are contrary to His nature.

But what about God hating people? First, the Hebrew understanding of "hatred" may not translate in the same way as it does in English. The idea could be more of "despising" or "stand against." Understood this way, both of the Old Testament passages cited above can be understood as God hating evil actions and standing opposed to those who participate in them.

In addition, despite God's opposition to human sin, His love for all is clear. John 3:16 states, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." God's love extends to every person and has been proven through the sacrifice of Jesus. Romans 5:8 explains, "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Second Corinthians 5:21 reminds us, "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." First John 4:9–10 puts it this way, "In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." John 3:18 says, "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God."

Psalm 7:11 states that God "God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day." Yet His anger against human sin does not disprove nor contradict His love for all people. Second Peter 3:9–10 gives helpful perspective: "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed."

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