Take the 2-minute tour ×
Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professors, theologians, and those interested in exegetical analysis of biblical texts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I've often heard that Luke 14:26 is meant to be interpreted as "Love me more than your family" or something along those lines (in fact, the CEV translates it as such). I'm interested in how scholars came to this interpretation. Is it just a case of "Oh, this doesn't line up with everything else Jesus said, therefore we need to reinterpret it in light of other scripture"? Alternatively, would scholars come to the same conclusion if they had only Luke 14:26 in isolation (due to either cultural or textual clues)?

Any insight into this verse would be appreciated.

share|improve this question
    
In my travels on the web, I've also seen this passage used as one reason why Jewish people don't consider Jesus to be the Messiah; the author stated that Jesus broke the fifth commandment to honor your father and mother. –  transistor1 Nov 14 '11 at 18:54
    
If It Doesn't Mean Hate Then It Should Say So. Because It Says Hate, It's Wrong And Jesus Didn't Say It. What Evidence Is There In Other Common Greek Usage Is The Term "Hate" Employed As "Separate?" –  user5511 Jul 18 at 4:17

7 Answers 7

Wicked and perverse generation it's time for balance please. Common bedrock principles (the whole universal Truth who is absolute and regardless of our varying and comparatively limited perspectives and the parts of Him we can see but choose to deny) doesn't mean we don't interpret His Word by God's given balances. Not man's wisdom.

Pride for example is either good or bad depending upon what you really mean. It's vocabulary silliness really and does not change the perfection of God. Pride is Christ through you is always good. That's the one and the only good kind of pride or it comes before your fall. That's the secret of works by the way and making faith not dead. They better be Jesus works not yours. Opps, Got ya didn't I.

Now hate is an emotion and as such is not good nor bad. It blows our limited minds to read the Bible say God hates. That's the real issue here. This law is His gracious Love though which we'd not know what is good; but we are not even under His law! We are under His grace or we'd already have what we all deserve and that is death already; but I did not say we need to stay ashamed and guilty, oh no, that's false doctrine and not God's Word of perfect Love. So is the Bible proved false by God hating? No! Grow up, be wise, think for yourself right here and right now and listen to the Truth. God being perfect has all things is perfect balance and is always good. Hate does (as some got) absolutely translate as SEPARATION and this separation is the choice of man is this TIME. God's is the ultimate judge and that means LATER in TIME and so after this AGE where this are NOT completely justified YET because of grace that surpasses our understanding. This time is exactly God giving us the choice (freedom is authored only from God) between Life and Death forever. You reside in the "Valley of the shadow of death". It's a relativity very short time. It is not unjust for your choice to eventually end, nor is it unjust for God who see's and knows all things to set your varying amount of days. Any more or less than God knows would matter, would not matter, would it? Have you read revelations and about how folks will not repent even under god's most horrible wrath, and still cruse His name? Are you still blaming God for "evil"? How can perfection (heaven is completely with God) then accept any "Judas" with lies(as written) entered in? Then God could not be perfect, nor good, nor true, nor life etc and He is Love. The problem we all have is we deny that a rejected Love could have been perfectly offered! That's blindness of heart and Jesus said that have eyes but can not see. Ears but can not hear. Even some of you elect are corrupting the very Word of the Lord; because your are letting Satan (through family you think are saved and only God knows) take advantage of your compassion! Context and balance dear brothers and sisters! This is why SOME therapist, and physiologists inappropriately disrespect The Bible. Because well meaning Christian are adding to the pain of things like abuse out of there ignorance. Well, it is ignorance to think this is Christ! For yes, we always honor our birth mother and father but wake up to reality you who's father is the devil. Use your brain. Some mothers and father do not follow the ways of Jesus. When they do not then it is not obvious! Abuse is not always physical, or sexual. Evil is not overt, ever. Evil always comes at you as if Christ. Evil is well capable of fooling the very elect and that means you dear Christian. Yes Jesus will give you His eyes, not with your sin, fear, worry, and doubt He can not. Hello. Not without really putting Jesus first, He can not and He says as much repeatedly in His Word. If you are not in His Word you can not see.

The Proof:

Ezekiel 20:16:20 Shows you that in the EXCEPTION (not false justification) of parents that are (in long pattern) of not following THE Lords Written Ways (like Honoring your mother and Father Anyway) that your DO NOT follow there ways, you follow God's. This is where you would have those hardhearted folks and all their perhaps well-meaning but in denial relatives miss-defining HOW you "honor" your mother and father. The cure for patterned and unrepeated abuse is safe planning and very protective SEPARATION. Your continued love or honor is never in any question, even as the separation might be called hate, for their evil deeds. Do it God's way always. Not mans, even under persecution. You are not up for vote. We are called to honor everyone and so we can only do that just exactly like God does, and that is by separation from those who reject and persecute us. How can we honor anyone without first honoring God? You should be advised that a true abuser is broken and can not understand anything accept take you proper separation as (ironically) "abuse" and they will attack you in every way, including false witnesses. Our 100% love, value, and protection for heart and our mind in not from our mind alone but faith in what Jesus did in death AND resurrection was enough, heals us from any brokenness, discovery, denial, fear, and our past does not define our future. who is in Jesus The Christ better than we can ask or think. You pray for their repentance from afar. Yes, AFTER a LONG time of healing and growth you can witness to your family; but what you are not being told is this. If you are doing so other than how you follow God with others, and you go back to your unrepentant abusers, you are not only in danger of becoming like them and picking up abusive, yeast (Jesus said) addictive habits but you do not keep on doing this!!!! There is danger of denial that you can not see or believe you could do. No one wants to admit someone they love, does not love them back. You can develop a savior complex and forget you are Jesus servant only. Jesus himself departed (separated) from His old nation (family) due to their hardened hearts. Thus evil (knowing he's losing) can waste your life ineffective time elsewhere, casting pearls before swine, and they will trample the Word of Jesus, and eventually turn and attack you in the end. It's all to easy to miss an obvious hardened heart in an original family member if you really have Christ in your heart. Evil given to itself is far more charming to the compassionate believer than you think and can fake kindness. Do not fail to be true to Jesus in all your ways and you will get your heart broken and feel posing satanic attack and that feeling of "the sorrow onto death", that will break you heart. This is why so many (more than we think) become walking death, enjoy the posing adoration of many friends in the world, and then only shocked eternally to hear Jesus say, "I never knew you". Is your broken heart worth eternal Life? Truth me. There are two choices and you ant the temporary pain or wisdom. No false peace. Wake from your sleep little flock. Don't go back into your house for stuff. Remember lot's wife. Let it all go. For only Jesus is Lord. Forever!

share|improve this answer

The similar command in Matthew 10:37 shows that the ancient world understood this saying of Jesus to be not complete hatred (37 "Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me").

There is no reason to assume an Aramaic source for the Gospels based on this saying when both Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew contain the same word with the same range of meaning. Sone'/sane' appears 148 times in 139 verses throughout the Old Testament. The third time it is used it shows the meaning of "not preferred" (Genesis 29:31).

Now the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. (NASU)

It is very interesting to note the verse prior:

So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and indeed he loved Rachel more than Leah, and he served with Laban for another seven years. (Genesis 29:30 NASU)

That shows us that sane in 31 is opposite to "loved more." Hence, "hate" is "love less."

Another example of expressing a preference for one over another is found in Deuteronomy 21:15ff:

If a man has two wives, the one loved and the other unloved, and both the loved and the unloved have borne him sons, if the firstborn son belongs to the unloved, then it shall be in the day he wills what he has to his sons, he cannot make the son of the loved the firstborn before the son of the unloved, who is the firstborn. But he shall acknowledge the firstborn, the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning of his strength; to him belongs the right of the firstborn.

This obviously describes a man showing favoritism between two wives. It is not hatred as we know it.

Another example of "hatred" meaning "showing a preference for the other" is found in Malachi.

... yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau..." (Malachi 1:2-3)

Esau was not completely rejected.

To further link Luke's use to the Hebrew, the Greek word he uses, pisei, is a form of the same word used in the Septuagint to translate sane'/sone'. All of the references above use forms of piseo in the Greek.

This concept of preference being expressed by sone'/sane' of the less preferred also appears in the rabbinic writing which are in Mishnaic Hebrew.

"By three names is this mount known: The mountain of God, Mount Horeb and Mount Sinai. . . . Why The mountain of God? (Exodus 18:5). Because it was there that God manifested His Godhead. And Sinai? Because [it was on that mount] that God showed that He hates the angels and loves mankind." (Exodus Rabbah 51.8, Soncino edition)

Does God really hate the angels as we understand hatred? No. He prefers mankind for to us He gave Torah. This is a wordplay as sane and Sinai sound similar.

Perhaps the closest parallel in Jewish writings comes from Moses Maimonides, "Book of Study of Torah," Repetition of the Law-Mishne Torah (12th century), chapter 5.

"his teacher has priority, for his father brought him into this world, but his teacher, who has taught him wisdom, brings him into the world to come".

The teacher has priority over the father. That sounds very close to Jesus' teaching.

share|improve this answer
    
Is there bible statements supporting "god loves (prefers) mankind to angels"? –  Pacerier Jul 26 at 19:34
    
@Pacerier, no. I was explaining the rabbinic commentary illustrating the wordplay between sane and Sinai. –  Frank Luke Jul 28 at 0:15

From the highly contested Aramaic Primacy wing, Christopher Lancaster, in his Concise Compendium offers the following insight on page 57, under subtitle number 7 "hate" or "put aside"

The answer lies in the Aramaic word [transliterated] sone'

sone'
to put aside
to hate
to have an aversion to

So with this in mind, the more correct translation of Luke 14:26: "If any man comes to me, and doesn't put aside his own father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple."

Along with this I would also like to point out that while aversion also has very strong connotations in our language, according the dictionary, its root is related to avers meaning turned away.

As such, it calls to mind an image of leaving loved ones behind to follow Jesus. This is played out on a sacrificial level by ministers and missionaries who leave their loved ones at home to serve the Lord. How consistent with what Jesus is also recorded to have said in Matthew 19:29 & Luke 9:49-52!

This is also played out on a less romantic level, leaving behind those who are not supportive of one's mission. This calls to mind the same picture as the song children often sing, "I have decided to follow Jesus . . . Though none go with me still I will follow . . . the cross before me, the world behind me . . . no turning back, no turning back." That also is consistent with Jesus teaching that his followers would be hated even by family for His names sake Luke 21:26-17!

Context also supports this as Jesus summarizes/concludes a series of similar thoughts immediately following this one, by saying, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:33). forsake and put aside or turn away are very related.

If this gospel were translated from Aramaic to Greek, it is understandable how this meaning could have been lost in translation due to its other meaning. It is not unbelievable that Luke could have written his gospel in Aramaic. According to Acts 2:7 Jesus followers were Galileans. The language of Galilee was Aramaic.

However, if that does not click, perhaps a look at the etymologies of the Greek word used here or of the English word hate will assist you.

share|improve this answer
    
Only thing I disagree with here is invoking Aramaic Primacy when it isn't needed (but then it never is. Mishnaic Hebrew answers the same questions and so many more). Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew use the word sone' with the same range of meaning. –  Frank Luke Sep 11 '13 at 17:32
    
The only difference is that we have the Aramaic Gospel of Luke to look at and we do not have the Hebrew--true? –  Sarah Sep 11 '13 at 20:17
2  
We have a translation of the Greek Gospel of Luke into Aramaic. Examining the Greek of Luke shows a plethora of Hebraisms that do not exist in Aramaic and show that Luke's sources were Hebrew. Not having the original texts does not stop scholars from determining the original language from a translation. For example, even though the intertestamental writing of Tobit was originally only known in Aramaic and Greek, it was long theorized that it was originally written in Hebrew and translated. More recent discoveries have proven that correct. –  Frank Luke Sep 11 '13 at 20:28
    
I look forward to reading an answer to this question from your perspective. –  Sarah Sep 11 '13 at 23:44

In the ancient Near East, "love" and "hate" had strong legal connotations. The son whom a father loved was the son who'd receive his father's inheritance. So here love means to put one above others. The one whom the father "hated" was the one put in secondary status, who did not receive his father's inheritance. Thus "hate" means to separate. So when Jesus tells us we must hate our family and life itself, it really means that we must put those things into secondary status: we must be willing to separate ourselves from these other things in order to love, put in the place of most importance, and follow Jesus.

share|improve this answer
1  
Kevin, do you have a source for what you say about inheritance practice? The bible specifies inheritance law and it's not related to how one feels about the kids. (Granted, this law is often not applied in Genesis, but the law is clear nonetheless.) –  Gone Quiet Nov 11 '13 at 13:25

---- Answer just looking at Luke 14:26 ----

According to Thayler's lexicon, (as I understand (in the below scan) .. people in the culture were really much like modern Italians and Greeks, and it was common to both love and hate something at the same time, so the greek word used could be interpreted 'love less than':

Thayler's lexicon

Also from Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words:

(b) of a right feeling of aversion from what is evil; said of wrongdoing, Rom 7:15; iniquity, Hbr 1:9; "the garment (figurative) spotted by the flesh," Jud 1:23; "the works of the Nicolaitans," Rev 2:6 (and ver. 15, in some mss.; see the AV);

(c) of relative preference for one thing over another, by way of expressing either aversion from, or disregard for, the claims of one person or thing relatively to those of another, Mat 6:24; and Luk 16:13, as to the impossibility of serving two masters; Luk 14:26, as to the claims of parents relatively to those of Christ; Jhn 12:25, of disregard for one's life relatively to the claims of Christ; Eph 5:29, negatively, of one's flesh, i.e. of one's own, and therefore a man's wife as one with him.

--- Answer with other verses included ----

My understanding is that we should be hating everything that gets between us and being a disciple.

It all seems to be about the world hating God's salvation and God's followers hating things that get in the way of it.

Some associated verses (numbers are strongs numbers, note the same basic word for hate):

John 12:15 - He that loveth5368 his846 life5590 shall lose622 it846; and2532 he that hateth3404 his846 life5590 in1722 this5129 world2889 shall keep5442 it846 unto1519 life2222 eternal166.

Luke 19:14 - But1161 his846 citizens4177 hated3404 him846, and2532 sent649 a message4242 after3694 him846, saying3004 , We will23090 not3756 have2309 this5126 [man] to reign936 over1909 us2248.

Luk 21:17 - And2532 ye shall be2071 hated3404 of5259 all3956 [men] for1223 my3450 name's sake3686.

Jhn 15:19 - If1487 ye were2258 of1537 the world2889, the world2889 would302 love5368 his own2398: but1161 because3754 ye are2075 not3756 of1537 the world2889, but235 I1473 have chosen1586 you5209 out of1537 the world2889, therefore51241223 the world2889 hateth3404 you5209.

Mat 6:24 - No man3762 can1410 serve1398 two1417 masters2962: for1063 either2228 he will hate3404 the one1520, and2532 love25 the other2087; or else2228 he will hold472 to the one1520, and2532 despise2706 the other2087. Ye cannot37561410 serve1398 God2316 and2532 mammon3126.

... but ...

We're still commanded to love the sinner, hate the sin:

Mat 5:44 - But1161 I1473 say3004 unto you5213, Love25 your5216 enemies2190, bless2127 them that curse2672 you5209, do4160 good2573 to them that hate3404 you5209, and2532 pray4336 for5228 them which3588 despitefully use1908 you5209, and2532 persecute1377 you5209;

share|improve this answer

Using sensus plenior:

De 19:6 Lest the avenger of the blood pursue the slayer, while his heart is hot, and overtake him, because the way is long, and slay him; whereas he [was] not worthy of death, inasmuch as he hated him not in time past.

There is an ambiguity which permits us to say that the accident was an act of hate. Though it is not intuitive to those of us in a western culture, notice how Rashi clearly spells out that the perpetrator of the accident was a murderer, and that the blood-redeemer initially considers him an enemy. These are words associated with hate. The purpose of fleeing to the refuge city was to give the blood-redeemer time to cool off and recognize that he had not previously hated.

Verse 4: And this is the matter of the murderer who may flee there to survive: whoever smites his peer without intent, and he had not been his enemy yesterday [or] the day before;

Verse 5: And whoever comes with his peer into the woods to chop trees, and as his hand swung the axe downward to cut the wood the iron flew off the wooden handle and encounters his peer and he dies; he is to flee to one of these cities to survive.

Verse 6: Lest the blood-redeemer pursue the murderer when his heart grows heated, and he catches up with him over the length of the road and he smite him dead when he has no death sentence because he had not been his enemy yesterday [or] the day before.

--Rashi

Just as the one wielding the axe is called a murderer, which is extreme to our sensibilities, the action itself is implied to be an act of hate.

This is consistent with what we know love to be, putting the other ahead of yourself. The accident is hate because you did not consider the safety of the other before your own actions.

So 'hating' your parents is simply putting God before them. When Jesus was asked by his parents at age 12, "Why have you treated us so?" It is asking, why he has hated them. His response was that he must be about his father's business.

The following passages are difficult to understand unless hate is understood as "not considering the other first" or considering them second. Esau was the first born but Jacob received the inheritance. Esau was hated by God.

Mal 1:3 And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. Ro 9:13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

Similarly, Jacob loved Leah, but not as much as Rachel:

30 And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years. 31 ¶ And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.

Simply being second is a position of being hated.

Immediately preceding the text in question, those in the parable who did not come when invited had put the lord second:

17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. 18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. 19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. 20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.

The immediate context is the basis for the teaching that God must come first, not second. All of the people in the parable have hated the lord.

share|improve this answer
2  
"Here the act of accidentally killing someone is referred to as hate" - that is a non-intuitive reading of Deuteronomy 19:4-6 IMO, even in the KJV –  Jack Douglas Oct 17 '11 at 4:29
    
The nature of riddle is such that it is based on ambuguity of words, grammar, ideas, etc. The phrase "had not previously hated" is where the ambiguity is introduced, which permits the alternate reading. The interpretation is validated by the definition of love, putting the other before yourself. At what point is a really careless accident not love? The point at which your care for the other was insufficient to protect them. The end result is that hate is simply not putting the other person first. Not loving them. –  Bob Jones Oct 18 '11 at 3:58

No, I don't think we are dealing with a case of "Oh, this doesn't line up with everything else Jesus said, therefore..."

However, I will say we need the entirety of Luke 14 to make sense of this gnarly truth that Jesus is making.

To start off, don't overlook the fact that Luke 14:26 includes more than family members - it also includes ourselves -

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.

The fact that Jesus mentions "...and even his own life.." is a clue to a proper interpretation of this verse.

That said, prior to Luke 14:26, we read of a guy who says,

Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God. (Lk 14:15)

and Jesus responds to this guy with a parable that is about a man who gave a huge party and invited a bunch of people. All the people who were invited declined the invitation with excuses that had to do with earthly type of responsibilities and possessions...

  • I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it
  • I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them
  • I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come

In response to the declined invitations, the host of the party "brought in the poor and crippled and blind and lame" and compelled anyone and everyone else.

Keep in mind that the parable was in response to "Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God."

The parable seems to make it clear that Jesus is thinking, "Although, it's true that blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God, not everyone will give up their earthly responsibilities to even come to the kingdom of God."

Jesus reiterates this parable with Luke 14:26 - where hating your family and your own life refer to giving up all of who you are to be Jesus' disciple.

There are so many other passages to back up this concept, but I do believe the parable in Luke 14:16-24 shed enough light on how to interpret Luke 14:26.

share|improve this answer
    
Luke 14:25-35 should be read in whole. Luke 14:33 especially gives a huge clue to the interpretation of this word. –  Pacerier Jul 26 at 19:42

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.