From John 3:16, we know that God loves the world.

16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16, NIV)

But, in Psalm 11:5, it says that God hates some people

5 The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates. (Psalm 11:5, NIV)

How can this be resolved?

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    – ThaddeusB
    Nov 19, 2015 at 5:13
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    @LightCC You forgot to read down a verse or two to John 3:18...
    – Dɑvïd
    Nov 20, 2015 at 14:45
  • @David I'm not sure how that resolves this issue - does it somehow indicate to you that God does not love the world? I'm well aware salvation through Jesus does not apply to everyone, but v16 still says that "God loved the world", I assume meaning that this gives all the option of returning to relationship with him (salvation), not requiring that all do.
    – LightCC
    Nov 20, 2015 at 17:46
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    @LightCC It doesn't "resolve" the issue -- if anything, it was meant to complicate it appropriately (my own sense is that your question as posed falls into the "apples/oranges" type situation). In any case, if you're not (especially) bothered by John 3:18 in relation to 3:16, then I don't understand why you feel such a contradiction between John 3:16 and Psalm (!) 11:5. The question is surely rather what it means for God to "love the world" within John's writings, and that question has already been posed.
    – Dɑvïd
    Nov 20, 2015 at 18:00

6 Answers 6


The Lord tests the righteousness for sin, which he (the Lord) hates. That is, the wickedness of the righteous is in view according to Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (Rashi). Please click the image below in order to enlarge.

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In this precise regard, the following graph depicts both the musical and logical division of phrases in the Masoretic Text. Please click the image below in order to enlarge.

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The division of phrases is how Jewish scholars (as early as the tenth century) had understood the text based on their own centuries-old learning and oral tradition. Each phrase cascades "back" into previous phrases based on the division of cantillation. The following graph depicts the same graph translated into English (NASB).

Please click to enlarge.

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According to Wickes (1887) this dichotomy in the Psalms would be an example of antithetic parallelism. Consistent with comments from Rashi already noted, the arrangement of cantillation in this verse would suggest that the righteous are tested as over against the wicked who love violence that the Lord hates.

For example, when King David received his direct covenant promises for permanent occupation of the throne of Israel (2 Sam 7) he committed adultery and then murder (2 Sam 11). "Righteous" King David committed the very wickedness and violence which the Lord hated, but for which David later repented.

In summary, the idea here is not that the Lord hates the wicked who love violence. Instead, the arrangement of cantillation suggests that the Lord tests the righteous, who may commit wickedness and violence, which the Lord hates. Thus it is not the sinner who is wicked and who commits violence whom the Lord hates, but those who are not righteous. That is, the righteous are sinners who may still commit wickedness and violence; but the wicked who love violence are not righteous. This nuance of contrast is the verse's antithetic parallel.

Wickes, William (1887). Two Treatises on the Accentuation of the Old Testament (Vol. 1). Oxford: Clarendon Press, 24-28.

  • Thank you, this is really what I was looking for, and gives the details I was attempting to voice in my answer. Does this apply to other cases of God hating people as well, such as the "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated" brought up in another answer?
    – LightCC
    Nov 20, 2015 at 17:38
  • The verse "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated" was written over 1,000 years after Esau had died, and so was historical in its perspective. In this regard, before Esau was born, the prophecy at that time was only that "the older (Esau) would serve the younger (Jacob)."
    – Joseph
    Nov 20, 2015 at 19:57
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    @Joseph Unfortunately, Logos has let you down here. That analysis is mistaken. In the "poetic books", the principal verse divider is ʿÔlè weyôrēd when used, which it is in Psalm 11:5 -- not ʾAthnâḥ. Your conclusion may still be correct, but not the explanation. According to the MT's accents, the LORD "tests" the righteous, but "hates" the wicked and violent; the two groups are distinguished, not concatenated.
    – Dɑvïd
    Nov 21, 2015 at 1:00
  • @Joseph I still believe your answer is the most correct; you may want to edit it to resolve the ʿÔlè weyôrēd/ Athnâḥ controversy.
    – Tau
    Nov 21, 2015 at 9:54
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    @Joseph I hope Logos can do something about this. It is tricky for machine parsing, to be fair (if that's what they're using). Compare how the TanakhML site handles it: here's Gen 1:2, a "normal" prose verse, but this is Ps 11:5 (see "Editor's note"!) -- which is preferable (IMO) to getting false information.... FWIW.
    – Dɑvïd
    Nov 22, 2015 at 15:52

The Bible plainly teaches in Psalms 5:5 and 11:5 that God hates the sinner. How is this to be reconciled with John 3:16 and other similar passages? It can be reconciled by understanding that God, as Christ, died for the elect. Whosoever believeth on Christ will not perish because they have been given eternal life. But our faith cannot save us---salvation is not of works, lest any should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). Salvation is 100% due to the mercy of God.

The elect---those for whom Christ has died---are the beloved of God. They are beloved because their sins have been paid for, and they are pure in the sight of God. Psalm 5:5 is referring to those whose sins were not paid for, so they remain under the hatred of God.

This statement is contrary to what many believe and teach. Many believe that God loves everyone, and salvation is available to all. But this idea is wholly contrary to many passages in the Bible, including much of Ephesians 1, which speaks of God's election program.

  • Welcome to the Hermeneutics forum, Ham. This forum is different than most others in that answers need support from scriptures, word studies, other translations, scholarly works, and so on. For example, the Jewish scholars who translated the Hebrew scriptures into the Greek Septuagint had a different interpretation of Psalm 11:5. "The Lord inquires diligently to the just one and the impious one; but the one loving injustice detests his own soul." Interesting, isn't it? Best wishes,
    – Dieter
    Jun 15, 2018 at 1:35

In John 3:16 the word translated "loved" is in the aorist indicating the act of giving was an exceptional act of love, not that he always loves (which would be a gnomic present).

Also, as I read it, "the world" in the 4th canonical gospel ("John") does not mean everything and everybody but rather refers to the Jewish theocracy of the time.

  • This answer disagrees with your interpretation. Quoting it: "the aorist inflection of ἠγάπησεν does not indicate that he loved the world once or only once (nor does it indicate a past, present, or future orientation of the action). It simply provides the action, viewed from the outside, inflected for subject"
    – b a
    Jun 5, 2018 at 20:38
  • @ba Actually, it does. The only thing that John 3:16 can tell you is that at that time and in that way God loved the world. It is akin to saying, "Connie loved Bill so much that she vowed to be faithful to him forever". That does not mean that she gives a flip about him now.
    – Ruminator
    Jun 5, 2018 at 21:11
  • Insisting on God perpetually prepared to give Christ to die over and over again leads to nonsense like this pop song: "...Like You would again a hundred billion times But what measure could amount to Your desire You're the One who never leaves the one behind..."
    – Ruminator
    Jun 5, 2018 at 21:21

Psalms is part if the Old Testament, while John is in the New Testament. A simple answer to the contradiction is that the testaments disagree.

  • So your answer is that there is not (and should not be) a resolution? I will not downvote it as it is a solution, but it does go against the spirit of the question. Of course, it is impossible to prove a negative, so this can never be proven the ultimately correct answer. You also provide no support/references as to why this option should be the correct answer.
    – LightCC
    Jun 6, 2018 at 17:15
  • @LightCC I'm not saying that there should not be a resolution; I'm saying there might not be a resolution. I don't see how this is proving a negative. I'm simply noting that the two sources might not agree. If someone were to ask a contradiction between A statement of Aristotle and a statement of Plato, might not a simple answer be that they disagree?
    – Alex
    Jun 6, 2018 at 17:34

"God is Light and there is no darkness in Him at all" (1 John 1:5), and this "Light" means also love, for the best - yet not exhaustive - description of God's nature is love (1 John 4:8), and He not only loves so to say intentionally, as humans do, but cannot help loving due to the "compulsion" of His eternal nature that is best described as love. "Poor" He! - He cannot escape from this compulsion of His own nature, and even if the worst of the sinners, Satan even, sin against Him, He cannot but answer with a compassion and mercy, for sin makes every sinner miserable and poor, devoid of divine grace, and such a man or angel deserves nothing but a pity and compassion. Even great saints, who were humans, understood this, and for example, St. Isaac of Ninev, although the Church catechism forbade him to do so, still couldn't help praying also for the fallen angels, just because he pitied their eternal misery which pricked his heart. How much more so God, who is the Principle from whom we all have the glimpses of love and compassion, He being the infinite sea of those?!

Thus, as to "hate" of God, this also should be explained in this light of God, who is the Light with not taint of darkness, I have written this in a message above, just repeat here:

The question posited by you seems to be a rhetorical one, for of course, if He loves all world that totally excludes Him hating anybody. When in the Holy Scripture the term "hate" applies to God, it is in a divine, metaphorical sense and not human sense. Thus, if God hates Pharaoh or Saul, in fact He hates not the Pharaoh's or Saul's person, which are in His image, but their sins, which He wants to consume in the fire of His grace and love. This is the meaning of the metaphor of the burning bush in "Exodus" where fire envelopes and burns the bush without damaging and scorching it: God burns our sins without burning/destroying our persons, but rather in order to cleanse our persons and deify us. Thus, He hates "us", indeed! - in the meaning that he hates our sins, wants to burn them out of love toward us in the fire of his divinity and make us eternal heirs of His and His Son's Kingdom.

  • You claim that God 'cannot help loving due to the "compulsion" of His eternal nature that is best described as love'. Is not the best description of His nature, or Being, holiness? After all, He is called thrice 'Holy' in the scriptures but not even once is He called thrice 'Love' (Isaiah 6:3, Rev. 4:8). It is the same with His divine Being of Righteousness. Only God is Righteous. This means that His other attribute of Justice takes holiness and righteousness as its foundation. Justice can, however, be mitigated by mercy, and mercy, love, and justice kissed at the cross.
    – Anne
    Jun 21, 2018 at 16:21
  • Justice was not lessened by mercy and love, however. Justice was fully dispensed at the cross, whilst simultaneously God's mercy and love was woven in. This raises the question of God being under compulsion to show love. It, like mercy, is not required in order for perfect justice and holiness and righteousness to be carried out. The wonder of our God is that He also loves to the uttermost, but not because He has to! He chooses to love because He IS love, but never at the expense of His Holiness and Righteousness.
    – Anne
    Jun 21, 2018 at 16:25
  • @Anne "He choses to love because He IS love" is a contradiction in terms. If He is Love, then He cannot help not being Love, and Love is never a static givenness, but an action, thus if He is Love, it means that He eternally and infinitely loves, and cannot help not to, and loves so all, even Satan, who is tormented by this unflinching divine Love that his falledness cannot receive. Jun 21, 2018 at 17:58
  • A human view of love might be the problem here. Sinful humans equate love with emotionalism and over-riding feelings that can cause us to ignore awful things. We think 'unconditional' love means turning a blind eye to everything that shows hateful resistance to the love offered. If a person hates me even though I love him, I can but wait till he mellows. If he does not, my love has not diminished; it's just been rejected. So with God. His love remains - available - even though hatred of God causes some to reject His love. Although God IS love He will not force anyone to love Him.
    – Anne
    Jun 22, 2018 at 16:18
  • @Anne I have never said that God's love "forces" anybody to love Him, freedom is retained always. God's love is ontological (ὄν, ὄντος=being, "ontological"="beingly") for love is both reality and expression of His essence, which He cannot deny any more than He can deny Himself, which is impossible. In this sense, His love of His creatures is unconditional, or rather, conditioned by the necessity of Him being a l w a y s love and n e v e r hatred, for there is no hatred in Him who loves even Satan and out of love allows the poor thing to exist, regardless all his seductions and wrongdoings. Jun 22, 2018 at 18:18

Psalms 11:5 and John 3:16 are contradictions. God doesn't love the whole world. In the Old Testament God himself says he hated Esau. Presumably all Edomites, not just Esau the brother of Jacob.

Malachi 1:3 (KJV) 3 And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.

The verse is mentioned again by Paul. So we can say that Paul also knew that God didn't love the whole world.

Romans 9:13 (KJV) As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

  • Agreed they are, at least on the surface, contradictions. Is your answer to the question that there is no way to resolve this issue? By the way - I appreciate the additional references to Esau. However, I'm not clear on your comment that "God doesn't love the whole world". Are you intending to prove that with the additional reference to Esau? If so, then your argument is really just that John 3:16 is not true in the first place, based on the evidence?
    – LightCC
    Nov 20, 2015 at 17:30
  • Yes it is. In this case the contradiction can't be resolved without changing the meaning of the passages I posted. Some try to water down God hating Esau. As you can see at gotquestions.org/Jacob-Esau-love-hate.html
    – brewpixels
    Nov 20, 2015 at 17:46
  • Well, if we can determine that Love/Hate means something different to the text then our first inclination in English, then the meaning of the passage may resolve itself - and we may be left with insight that adds flavor to many other passages as well. In fact, folks here have added potential textually-based reasons for altering both the John 3:16 and the Psalm references in the other answers/comments here. One more specific to the Jacob/Esau verses I have heard is the Hebrew refers more to prefer/not-prefer than love/hate. I haven't done enough research to weigh in properly...
    – LightCC
    Nov 21, 2015 at 9:00
  • This a highly simplistic answer, I would respectfully suggest. Perhaps an examination of the various Greek words for 'world' would help clarify the difference between not loving a corrupt system and loving individuals? If individuals are irrevocably corrupt (and only God knows if they are) His Holiness, Justice and Judgement will be manifested once a person has put themselves outside the scope of His love.
    – Anne
    Jun 21, 2018 at 16:29

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