Unconditional?

unconditional loveI notice this word unconditional being used a lot in Christian circles.  People talk about God’s unconditional love, or they refer to some of God’s covenants as being unconditional covenants.

This term unconditional is sometimes used as a source of comfort regarding our relationship with God.

Then some use it as a mandate in human relationships, saying, “Because God’s covenant is unconditional, your marriage covenant is unconditional.  So no matter how egregiously your spouse may violate the covenant vows…no matter how deeply they may wound you…no matter how treacherously they may abuse the covenant relationship, you must forgive, reconcile and remain in intimate marital relationship with them.”

But…is unconditional really a good word to describe our relationship with God?  Or with each other?

First let’s clarify that unconditional is not a biblical term.  Nowhere is the term unconditional found in the Bible.  I have queried multiple English translations (King James Version, New King James Version, Authorized King James Version, New American Standard Bible, Holmann Christian Standard Bible, Living Bible, and others) and have failed to find even one occurrence of the word unconditional in any of these English translations of scripture.  Feel free to query yourself using BibleGateway, or any other tool.  The word unconditional is not in the Bible.  Rather, it is a word used by some scholars to describe their understanding of the biblical message.

But is unconditional really a good choice of words?  Does this word adequately describe our relationship with God?

Let’s start by looking at one of the best-known Bible verses, John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

“God so loved the world…” that’s pretty broad. The word world implies a comprehensive global application.  Based on this clause, we can conclude that there is no human whom God has not loved enough for Christ to have died for their sins.

But let’s look at the next clause, “…that whoever believes in Him shall not perish…”  See, there’s the condition.  Christ died for all, but not all will be saved.  Not all will have eternal life. Some will perish.  Only “whoever believes in Him shall not perish.”

“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18)

So, while God’s love may extend to all, relationship with God is not unconditional…nor is salvation through Christ unconditional.

In that same chapter, John records:

“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36)

So, we see that the word believe, as used in scripture, is inextricably linked to the word obey.  This same theme, this linking of believe and obey, is repeated throughout scripture.

We could get into all sorts of deep theological debates about what, exactly, that means and how that connection is made.  We could discuss Ephesians 2:8-9 along with James 2:14-26.  We could discuss multiple facets and perceptions of both the all-sufficiency of grace and the necessity of obedience.  Yet, at the end of all those discussions and potential disagreements, we would still be left with the inevitable truth that somehow, someway, the scriptural use of the word believe is consistently inextricably linked with the word obey.  From a scriptural perspective, in our relationship with God, we cannot have one without the other.

So, we see that relationship with God is conditional on our believing and obeying Him.  Without trust and obedience, we cannot have relationship with God.

So…is unconditional really a good word to use in describing our relationship with God?  Does it accurately describe the relationship?  Isn’t it a little misleading?

Now, some of you may be thinking, “but what about God’s unconditional covenants?”  In studying biblical covenants, many scholars refer to conditional (bilateral) covenants and unconditional (unilateral) covenants.

Again, I must point out that these are extrabiblical terms applied by some scholars. Nowhere in scripture do we find these terms unconditional or unilateral used.

Personally, I see no basis for the concept of an unconditional covenant.  Rather, I see covenants (or a covenant…the New Covenant) between God and man for which man’s covenant terms and conditions are fulfilled by Jesus Christ, on our behalf, so that we might have relationship with God through faith in Christ.

I gave one illustration of this in my last post, using the example of the covenant between God and Abraham described in Genesis 15…which happens to be a primary example used by some as an illustration of an unconditional covenant.  Not everyone sees this the same as me, and not everyone would agree with my interpretation.  Some would say that since Abraham did not participate in the covenant ceremony described in Genesis 15 that there are no covenant terms or conditions applied to Abraham.

So, let’s review the conversation between Abraham and God, which led to the cutting of this covenant:

Abram said, “O Lord God, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.” Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. And He said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it.” He said, “O Lord God, how may I know that I will possess it?” So He said to him, “Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds. The birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away. (Genesis 15:2-11  Emphasis added)

Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.  There’s that word believe, again. And we can clearly see that Abraham’s believing preceded the covenant.  So the covenant was not unconditional, but rather was predicated on Abraham’s believing.  And James 2:20-24 makes it clear that Abraham’s faith was also directly linked with his obedience.

Furthermore, the covenant promises were not made to Abraham only, but to Abraham and his descendants.  So, if the covenant were unconditional (unilateral) then it would apply to all of Abraham’s descendants unconditionally and unilaterally.  But that is not the case.

Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.  Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.  The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.  So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer. (Galatians 3:6-9)

So, we see that it is those who believe who are heirs of the covenants and promises that God made with Abraham.  Being a physical descendant of Abraham does not guarantee becoming a recipient of the covenant promises, nor does lack of physical descendency from Abraham necessarily exclude one from becoming a recipient of the covenant promises.  Inheritance of the covenant promises relies not on physical bloodline, but rather on our believing…on our trusting and obeying.

Both our relationship with God and our becoming heirs of God’s covenant promises is conditional upon our believing.

I find no biblical basis for the concept of unconditional relationship nor unconditional covenant.  All relationships, whether between God and man or between humans, are conditional upon both parties abiding by the relational expectations and boundaries.  We cannot have healthy relationships without mutual respect and healthy boundaries.  Such a thing is impossible with God…and it is impossible with humans.

Or so it seems to me, based on my studies and my experiences…

What do you think?

 

[Linked to Messy Marriage, Unforced Rythms, Wellspring ]

 

 

33 thoughts on “Unconditional?

  1. I think unconditional is just another buzz word that actually waters down the Gospel. It’s a lie bestowed upon us by the secular culture. It’s not a bad thing to aim for, but we are not perfect and can never reach that level. I’ll admit that I do like to think of God’s love for me as unconditional. It’s interesting that a song by Katy Perry by that title gets airplay, but Perry also does strange ritualistic performances that border of Satanic. Something is getting mixed up here.

    • I do see God’s love as unconditional in the sense that He extends His love toward us no matter what we may have done. However, the Bible is clear to me that relationship with God is not unconditional.

      It’s interesting that you brought up satanic rituals. Wouldn’t a truly unconditional relationship have more in common with Satan than with Christ? If we were trapped in a relationship that we could never leave…if our own free will had nothing to do with it and did not enter into the equation…doesn’t that sound more satanic than godly?

      Thank you, Dan!

  2. Thanks, Joe! Now I have another arrow in my quiver when people who want to live in (insert favorite sin) lifestyle, tell me that they can be Christian and unrepentantly do certain things because God loves them unconditionally.

    • Yes, that’s another aspect of this myth…people putting their faith in a prayer they quoted years ago to stay out of Hell, rather than putting their faith in Christ to complete the good work He has begun in conforming us to His image.

      Thank you for including that aspect in the discussion, Wendell!

  3. I was just having this conversation with friends this weekend. We concluded, too, that “unconditional” isn’t in the Bible, but is another one of those things we’ve tacked on. One thing I know for sure is that unconditional love isn’t possible between humans. As much as we’d like to believe it about ourselves, our humanity doesn’t allow for perfect love. Thanks for bringing this conversation to the table, Joe. Always food for thought here.

    • “As much as we’d like to believe it about ourselves, our humanity doesn’t allow for perfect love.”

      Yet we must accept God’s love as being perfect…and relationship with God is not unconditional. So, perhaps this concept of unconditional relationship is holding up a false ideal of perfect love.

      It would seem that perfect love retains such a high respect for the dignity of the individual as to allow them to make their own choices, even when those choices preclude all possibility of any relationship. Perhaps perfect love is willing to risk losing the relationship completely rather than accept a false relationship in which one or both parties treacherously abuses the covenant.

    • Megan, few things in life are more gratifying than learning that a topic God has laid on my heart has touched someone else’s heart.

      Thank YOU, my friend!

  4. Such thought-provoking ideas. But it’s simple, I guess. A gift requires both a giver and a receiver. A gift refused never changes hands, and therefore, is not really a gift. Believing is our receiving. And yet, how grateful I am that God’s love is so much deeper than any possible understanding. Thank you for linking at Unforced Rhythms.

    • Yes, that’s really the heart of it, isn’t it, Beth?

      A truly unilateral covenant, by definition, would be forced on one party without their consent, will, or desire. There’s nothing loving about forcing someone to enter and/or remain in a relationship they don’t want to be in.

      That approach to covenant is more apt to be used by Satan than by God.

      In contrast, Christ has redeemed us from our enslavement to the kingdom of darkness…if (and only if) we choose to accept both His redemption and His covenant offer.

      Thank you, Beth!

  5. Great points Joe. I completely agree that having a relationship with God requires action on our part, faith or believing. I also agree that we can apply this to our earthly relationships. While God is our Father no matter what we do, just like I will always be my children’s father, to maintain a relationship both parties must be interested in doing so and willing to put in effort and keep commitments to one another. Friendships, marriages, and family relationships are all predicated on this fundamental concept. Thank you for stating it so clearly and succinctly. Great job!

    • “While God is our Father no matter what we do…”

      Yes…if we have truly entered into His covenant…if we are trusting Him to change our hearts to be conformed to His will…to be conformed to the image of Christ…then God is our Father no matter what, and we can trust Him to complete the good work which he has begun.

      However, for those who attempt to lay claim to His covenant promises with no desire to obey His will and every intent to live a rebellious life on their own terms, there is no such promise. These have never accepted the terms of His covenant and, therefore, have never entered into covenant with Him…these are not His children (John 8:39-47).

      Thank you, Tyson, for adding this perspective to the discussion!

  6. Great post!

    My thought is that unconditionality was deployed when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane. He could have fled, but He chose to follow His Father’s will…regardless.

    He had no guarantee that anyone would take Him up on the offer of salvation, so by extending if he was making an unconditional act…but salvation itself is, of course, conditional.

    t first, thinking this way, I thought I’d descended far into sophistry, but on reflection, maybe not.

    We can offer love unconditionally, and Jesus is the prime example. But receiving love is always a choice – it’s not like gamma rays, which are going to pass through our bodies wherever we are.

    And choice begets conditionality, because in that choice a set number of criteria have to be met before the binary Love Switch is flipped.

    • Andrew – I think I’m tracking with you, here…and I think I agree…

      “We can offer love unconditionally, and Jesus is the prime example. But receiving love is always a choice ”

      So…the love is offered unconditionally…in that no particular merit is required of the person who is the object of the love, nor is there any guarantee of a positive response…yet the lover acts in sacrificial love toward the person who is the object of their love.

      If that person responds in love then relationship can take place within the conditions of relationship…trust and obedience in relationship with God…mutual love, honor and respect in a marriage relationship.

      If that person does not respond in love, then relationship does not and cannot occur.

      And this, I think, is where we are easily misled. Sometimes the object of our love indicates they would like to be in relationship, yet they do not act in love. They want the benefits of relationship and/or the protection of covenant, but do not act in love and refuse to be constrained by the covenant terms and conditions.

      In such a case, healthy relationship is impossible.

      Is that more or less in agreement with your comment?

      Thank you for the (obviously) thought-provoking comment! 🙂

  7. I agree, Joe. I think the confusion comes with how well God fulfills His side of the covenant. Maybe that’s where we get the idea of “unconditional” because He is so faithful to us, even when we disappoint and disobey Him. I’m not saying there isn’t a condition to be accepted on both parties parts when we accept His salvation, but I do think once He extends that covenant to us we cannot lose our salvation. I’m venturing into deep theological waters and I always do some belly flops when I try that! ha! So forgive me if this seems illogical to you. 🙂

    • Yes, that’s a very good point, Beth! I think you’re right.

      Because God is so loving, long-suffering, and faithful toward us, we can mistake His relationship with us as unconditional…but it’s not.

      On the topic of not losing salvation…yes, those are deep waters that tend to trigger sharp emotional responses for many folks…and a topic that has been the source of much division within the church across many centuries…

      But…it wouldn’t be the first potentially controversial topic we’ve broached on this blog! 😉

      So, here’s my perspective…and I’m guessing it may be close to yours…

      First, I am firmly convinced that salvation in Christ requires continuing to believe, trust and follow Jesus. It’s not a single act of faith, but a continual (though often faulty, halting and nonlinear) growing in His grace. Not unlike a marriage relationship…which may be why the Bible so often uses marriage as a metaphor for our relationship with Christ.

      I believe we are totally incapable of doing this in our own strength and must rely completely on the Holy Spirit to complete the work of conforming our hearts to the image of Christ. However, He will only do this with our permission and never in violation of our free will. We have to want a changed heart. We have to want to submit to His Lordship. Or, at the very least, we have to want to want a changed heart, as in “Lord, please fill my heart with godly desires. Teach me to love what you love and to hate what you hate.”

      I love the words of the old hymn, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, Lord, Take and seal it. Seal it for thy courts above.”

      I dislike the phrase “once saved always saved” because I see it as sometimes misleading people to misplace their trust in a prayer they may have quoted with no intent of surrendering their will or following His leading.

      I do believe in the eternal security of the true believer. I see this as a clear biblical principle. However, that’s not quite the same thing as “once saved always saved.”

      My faith is in Christ, not in quoting a prayer. My assurance of salvation comes from seeing His daily work in my life and the changing of my heart accompanied by His promises to complete the work He has begun.

      For anyone claiming God’s covenant promises while leading a life of continual rebellion against Him…claiming to belong to Christ while living life on their own terms with no intention of surrendering to His lordship nor asking Him to change their hearts to be conformed to His image…for such a person there is no such promise on which to rely. They have never accepted the terms of Christ’s covenant and are not in covenant with Him. God is not their Father and they are not His children (John 8:39-47).

      There are literally millions of devoted Christians who see this differently from how I see it, and I am not offended by differing perspectives. But this is how I see it…and what seems to me to best fit what the Bible says.

      So thank you, Beth, for dragging me over the belly-flops bluff with you, this morning! 😉

      Love you, my friend! 🙂

      • Hey Joe. Your comments on lordship reminded me of a guy I heard on the radio one day talking about Romans 10:9-10. He put it this way: most people want to be “saved” and then eventually make Jesus their Lord, but Paul clearly ties salvation to admitting Jesus’ Lordship, something we tend to resist in our human desires to “be our own boss”.
        Enjoyed the article and the discussion!

        • “Most people want to be “saved” and then eventually make Jesus their Lord, but Paul clearly ties salvation to admitting Jesus’ Lordship, something we tend to resist in our human desires to “be our own boss”.”

          Well stated, Jason!

          Jesus came to save us from both the power and the consequences of sin. Isn’t it odd how most of us want to be saved from the consequences of sin…but sometimes resist being saved from the power of sin?

          Sin truly does blind us!

  8. This has been a most edifying post to read – and the ensuing conversation in the comments has been very interesting. I suppose one of the reasons that we like the word *unconditional* is that it sounds so easy. If we have unconditional love from God, then we aren’t required to do anything to earn it or keep it. Yes, it is true that we cannot do anything to earn or keep His love – for isn’t that the whole point of salvation? And the rather startling truth that God loved us first, while we were yet sinners? That is also true. However, though our salvation is *unconditional* in that it is unearned by us, it doesn’t mean that we have no responsibilities after the fact. The condition is belief, true. And the “after responsibility” is honoring the covenant by obedience. You’re right, they’re inextricably interwoven.

    If I’m really honest, I don’t want a God who unconditionally accepts everything I think, do, or say. I want an honest God who is willing to love me enough to convict me, and challenge me. Refining sanctification in my life is not accomplished by a God who says, “That’s OK. I love you no matter what you do.” Again, that is true, but let’s be honest – we also need the loving forgiveness of God.

    GOD BLESS!

    • Thank you, Sharon, for reading and commenting!

      It’s not an easy topic to discuss or explain, is it?

      That consistent inextricable link between ‘believe’ and ‘obey’ is definitely there…but hard for our finite minds to fully grasp.

      I can describe obedience as ‘faith at work’ or ‘the result of our faith’ or ‘the proof of faith’ or ‘evidence of God’s work in our lives in response to faith.’

      So many ways to describe that link, yet all fall short.

      It is Christ’s work, Christ’s righteousness, Christ’s sacrifice, Christ’s redemption, Christ’s atonement, Christ’s intercession, from start to finish. We are completely and entirely helpless to save ourselves.

      And yet…what Christ saves us FROM is sin and death…what Christ saves us TO is the kingdom of God (Colossians 1:13-14) and good works (Ephesians 2:10).

      Thank you for sharing this perspective!

  9. The term often comes up in discussions of agape love, which, I believe, may be described as unconditional love. Since the Bible describes love as a part of God’s Person, Nature, Character, it is present even when the recipient does not deserve it. God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Undeserving sinners. But that doesn’t diminish God’s nature. We, in turn, as Christians, are expected to practice this kind of love toward other people as God does toward us. We should be loving people because that is a part of our (new) nature. This is the 1 Cor 13 love which endures all things, believes all things, hopes all things, does not keep a record of wrongs, is patient, etc. It is this kind of love which allows grace to exist rather than legalism. This was Hosea’s love for his cheating wife, which illustrated God’s love for His cheating, idolatrous people. (For the record, Hosea did “put away” his wife, as God also exiled His unfaithful people–but it broke His heart). If this seems humanly impossible, it’s because it is. Agape love is therefore often described as supernatural, superhuman love.

    It’s complicated. I know. I agree that the term “unconditional” can be misused and can be misleading. And it is true that the expression doesn’t appear in scripture. But the concept does seem to have scriptural foundation.

    • Hey, Brother Hal! Good to see you on my blog! Thanks for stopping by.

      Yes, I agree that ‘unconditional’ is a reasonable word to use in describing God’s agape love…the love He extends toward us and the love He enables us to share with one another. At least for practical purposes, as it relates to us in this life and this age, God has chosen a position of extending His love to us unconditionally and without merit on our part.

      The issue, as I see it, is when we take this concept of unconditional agape love and extend it to relationship. God’s love may be unconditional…relationship with Him is NOT uncondtional…nor are His covenant promises unconditional.

      If God’s relationship and covenant promises were unconditional, then everyone would go to Heaven, nobody would go to hell, and there would be no need whatsoever for sanctification…for being conformed to the image of Christ, because all would be going to Heaven without the need for making changes or being sanctified…because it would be unconditional…without conditions.

      This is clearly NOT what the Bible describes. Nor is it what our loving just God would ever do…as such a position would turn Heaven into a new hell…a place filled with evil abusers claiming God’s promises while inflicting evil and pain…just as they do in this life…

      Relationship with God is NOT unconditional…nor does He intend relationships between humans to be unconditional.

      If marriage was unconditional, there would be no need for marriage vows…why swear a sacred oath to love, honor and cherish if we’re not actually expected to honor those vows…and if our spouse is required to unconditionally continue living in intimate relationship with us no matter how badly those vows are violated? The vows only have meaning if they actually are the covenant terms…the conditions of relationship.

      Or so it seems to me…

      God bless you! Thanks for stopping by. See you, Sunday!

  10. Joe- Yes, it certainly does appear that every covenant has a condition. Thus the notion of unconditional love doesn’t fly. Romans 1 is very plain (as is John 3:16-18 that you quoted). God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men. Why? Because man will not acknowledge God to be God or give Him thanks. They are idolaters and atheists. Hebrews 11 says that without faith it is impossible to please God. So, while the conditions of the New Covenant are indeed fulfilled for us by Christ, His righteousness is only imputed to those who believe. Yes, this faith is a gift (Eph 2) from God, but it is still a condition which, like repentance, is a condition for our sins to be put upon Christ and His perfect righteousness to be put upon us. God’s love in Christ therefore is conditioned upon the objects of His love being in Christ. Now, when it comes to the marriage covenant, it should be even clearer to everyone that there are conditions. The vows are promises AND conditions. Break those promises and conditions and you destroy the covenant. So John Piper’s no divorce for any reason ever just doesn’t fly. Nor do the arguments that claim abuse is not grounds for divorce.

    • “While the conditions of the New Covenant are indeed fulfilled for us by Christ, His righteousness is only imputed to those who believe. Yes, this faith is a gift from God, but it is still a condition which, like repentance, is a condition for our sins to be put upon Christ and His perfect righteousness to be put upon us. God’s love in Christ therefore is conditioned upon the objects of His love being in Christ.”

      Nicely summarized, Jeff! Thank you for adding and clarifying!

  11. What an insightful space you have here! I am impressed…and touched. I love this twist on unconditional love. How it plays out with God and how it plays out with the people in our lives, especially our spouses. Thank you for giving me something to chew on tonight.

    • Thank you, Erica, for stopping by and commenting!

      I enjoyed the post on letting go of control in marriage, on your blog.

      I hope you’ll visit often.

      Blessings to you!

  12. Joe, I greatly appreciate your careful study of God’s Word and desire to rightly divide the Word of Truth.

    I wholeheartedly agree that the word “unconditional” is some contemporary addition to God’s Word, although to what end I couldn’t say. Perhaps it’s another ruse of the devil to dumb down God’s people.

    With respect to John 3:16, as I’ve pondered the verse I tend to think that since God’s people – up until the New Covenant was established – were by and large the Jews. Because it would have likely been unthinkable at that time and to those people that God’s chosen ones would eventually include those from among all the nations, I tend to interpret the verse thusly. It could, in my view, be understood that “For God so loved (all peoples/people groups of) the world that He gave His only begotten Son…..” I don’t think that on the main the Jews as a nation could have really taken in the extent to which the destruction of the temple in 70 AD and the spreading of the gospel built on the Old Testament impacted the whole world (as foretold in Genesis 12:3). It might well have been unthinkable to them, since they were, in effect, the keepers of the oracles of God.

    I try to be careful about using the word “love” with respect to God in applying to everyone, because then I don’t quite know what to do with Romans 9:13 – “Jacob I loved but Esau I hated,” a verse that I haven’t studied as much as I hope to, but plan to do so as the Lord and time permit. Perhaps I’m just weary of hearing the word “love” thrown about so freely without any real thought given to what it means in context of its use. As you know, no doubt, in the Greek language the word “love” has shades of meaning depending on which word is used (agape, phileo, eros, etc.). It’s a shame that English doesn’t quite render the same nuance in but one word, however the onus is upon us to rightly describe what is meant when we say “love,” and so I don’t like to use it as liberally as I see smattered all over church marquee signs .

    Keep up the great work, brother! Your contributions at acfj and here are greatly valued and much appreciated!

    • Thank you, SR, for both the thought-provoking comments and encouragement!

      In reading John’s gospel, I try to keep in mind that the Apostle John seems to have written his account at a later date than the other three accounts. He also seems to have written it specifically with the next generation of believers in mind…those who did not personally see Jesus, themselves…and those who were not raised in Jewish tradition.

      So, when John makes broadly inclusive statements, I think they generally should be taken as broadly inclusive.

      That said, I agree with you that, today’s church is often a bit cavalier in speaking of God’s love. We seem to often act as though His love is soft, mushy and inclusive, lacking in boundaries or justice. The biblical record clearly tells a different story.

      This morning, in Sunday School, we studied Nahum 1:1-8. This passage (like many similar OT passages) speaks of God’s strength, wrath, jealousy, justice and power. Then, in verse 7 he pauses, momentarily to speak of God’s goodness and refuge:

      “The Lord is good,
      A stronghold in the day of trouble,
      And He knows those who take refuge in Him.”

      We mortals often struggle to reconcile these two aspects of God’s nature. The biblical revelation doesn’t seem to see them as at all contradictory.

      The plagues of Egypt were simultaneously both God’s vengeance against a ruler who held His people captive and God’s redemption and deliverance for His people.

      Wrath and love combined in one act…

      Blessings to you, SR!

  13. SR, while the Greek word (miseo) translated as hate in Romans 9:13 is literally hatred, I’ve also heard that it can mean “to love less” (See Strong’s entry #3404), which seems to fit with the election reference in v. 11. Note that the same word, miseo, is used in Luke 14:26 when Jesus says, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate (3404 /miséō, ‘love less’ than the Lord) his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”
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