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.

  • 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. Commented Nov 14, 2011 at 18:54
  • 1
    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
    Commented Jul 18, 2014 at 4:17
  • For some of us, hating our father and mother comes more naturally! ISTM that rather than construing it as an idiom one can just see it as hyperbole. To my knowledge no one has ever plucked out their eye because their neighbor was always wearing tight clothes nor whacked off their hand because they were overly fond of their monkey. It seems ridiculously pedantic to say "Sorry mom, dad, I've become a Christian so I've got to hate you! From now on I'm going to always give you nasty looks!"
    – user10231
    Commented Sep 19, 2015 at 20:41
  • It's rather strange to me that virtually every English version of the Bible uses the word hate, I would think if this is not what Jesus actually meant, then about half those translations would have softened it. Indeed, the original Greek is also hate. Granted this was written 30-40 years after the fact, I guess it depends on whether your hermeneutical approach is to think that the Bible quotes Jesus exactly, so many years later. I have my doubts :)
    – JimLohse
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 3:10
  • Related question: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/q/19054/2070
    – ScottS
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 23:39

12 Answers 12


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.

  • Luke 14:25-35 should be read in whole. Luke 14:33 especially gives a huge clue to the interpretation of this word.
    – Pacerier
    Commented Jul 26, 2014 at 19:42

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.

  • Is there bible statements supporting "god loves (prefers) mankind to angels"?
    – Pacerier
    Commented Jul 26, 2014 at 19:34
  • @Pacerier, no. I was explaining the rabbinic commentary illustrating the wordplay between sane and Sinai.
    – Frank Luke
    Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 0:15
  • @Pacerier Psalm 8:5, Hebrews 2:7, 1 Corinthians 6:3. Some would say he rise to a position above the angels in heaven as adopted sons of God
    – Joshua
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 15:32

---- 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;


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'

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.

  • 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
    Commented Sep 11, 2013 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?
    – user2027
    Commented Sep 11, 2013 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
    Commented Sep 11, 2013 at 20:28

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.


Jesus' command to hate your father and mother in Luke 14:26

I agree with Jed that the context is in response to the guy who declared;

Luke 14:15 And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.

This guy was making what he probably thought was a pious, non-controversial, and generally acceptable toast or even benediction.

Jesus used this declaration to confront the impression held by many that everyone was automatically going to be in the kingdom of heaven. The parable he gives is one that illustrates that entrance to the kingdom is not automatic. In fact those who were invited and not interested will be excluded.

Luke 14:24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

Jesus then goes on to say that entrance to the kingdom will not only require responding to an invitation, but also be associated with difficulties such has opposition from family members and even being subject to humiliation and shame associated with the carrying of a cross as part of the criminal capital punishment of the Romans.

Luke 14:26-27 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

The "hatred" here is indicative a separation from anything that hinders. The parable describes the hindrance of routine daily affairs. Next, the ante is upped as the natural affection for family and even the natural desire to live are targeted as potential hindrances. Finally the shame of the cross is illustrative of the desire to avoid public scorn for following Jesus which can also be seen as a hindrance.

Jesus brings the topic to its summation, that of cost counting. When the man made his declaration assuming everyone would eat bread in the kingdom, he probably did not think that Jesus would use this opportunity to illustrate that this was not as easy an event as he and probably most supposed.

Luke 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?

In order for us to count the cost of seeking the kingdom, we need to know what it could entail and consider that. What Jesus said was not that we should hate our parents, but that like new recruits in basic training, we need to understand that we are facing a serious enterprise that can cost us dearly including our own lives.


The simple answer to your question, no they would probably have not interprited it the same way they did if the entire bible was just that verse, but then again there would be no scholars interested in debating a religion that only demanded hatred towards others.

That is why we need to look at the entirety of the gospels, and therefore we can come to this conclusion. When the rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked how he could get into heaven (Mat 19:16-30) he was faced with the most important question first, which was the commandment that he should've kept. He then stated he kept them all and then Jesus told him to give up all his earthly possesions to be able to follow Him. The key I believe is in this, the entire world is yours, on one condition, love not the world. Seeing as your family is part of your worldly "possessions" this could be drawn inline to this man's fortune. Yet Jesus never saw fault in having money, He just did not accept that people love ANYTHING more than Him, which includes your neighbour and yourself)

Then we also need to refer to the most important commandment according to Jesus: Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Mat 22:36).

Considering religion as a sentence, then looking at your given sentence alone would be like looking at a single letter and trying to determine what the sentence meant. It cannot be done, therefore you need to examine the entire sentence, and that is why almost all scholars agree that the hatred is not real, but in COMPARISON to the love required toward God, your love toward your neighbour should seem like hatred.

  • Thanks Tiny Ford, this is a great start to an answer. It could be improved by including a hermeneutical analysis of the passage the OP has asked about - these are all good related thoughts, but seem to avoid the actual passage which is being asked about.
    – Steve can help
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 8:59

The best explanation I've seen is Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg's explanation in his commentary on Genesis, Becoming Israel, p.72 in pdf version:

In fact, the idea of “disliking, hating or favoring someone less” works quite differently in Biblical Hebrew.

This is especially true when it is expressed in contrast of “loving someone.” The phraseology expresses the idea of intensity of feeling in comparison. In other words, “Jacob I loved… Esau I hated” (Mal. 1:2-3) is rendered quite literally in our modern terms. Translated from ancient Hebrew and interpreted into our modern way of speaking it could arguably mean something like “Esau I loved, but Jacob I favored with my great covenantal love.” The same is the case with Jesus’ statement that one must love Him and hate his parents (Luke 14:26). This is an idiomatic Hebraism that makes a comparison and does not actually instruct one to express hatred towards one’s parents. That would be absurd, given God’s explicit commandment to honor them.


Easy. The word translated as "hate" simply means "to love less than" or "to have lesser priority than". It does NOT mean what our modern word "hate" means. In fact Jesus in Matthew 15:4 reiterated the command to "love" father and mother.

  • 1
    Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange! Be sure to take our site tour to learn more about us. Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 1:48

I am studying Deuteronomy 13 and it made me think of the words Jesus spoke and was recorded here in Luke 14:26. READ DEUT. 6:1-9 and compare it to what Jesus is saying. The message in both places is the same, to choose God and His ways and to be loyal to God above everyone else is it not? HE may have even been eluding to these verses in the law. But Jesus always expanded the law further. Not only should we not allow others to turn us from God but we should not allow worldly interests turn us away or should we allow our own selfishness to keep us back from following and accepting salvation and grace. What profit is fame, riches, popularity if you choose them as important and God's salvation as nothing. To the damnation of your eternal soul. Also Matthew 10:37-39, John 12:25-26 and Acts 5:29 also comes to mind. Read the prophesy of Zechariah 13:2-5 which is another example of choosing GOD over a deceiving son who would turn you from Faith. Israel was chosen to be God's priests but they were stiff necked so he whittled the priesthood down to one tribe. In the newly acquired promise land (which I Belive pictures heaven) Israel was to utterly destroy the idol worshipers and leave no trace of their idolatry to latter tempt and snare them. But perhaps a son, a daughter, a best friend, or even your beloved wife is snared and begins to worship false God's and encourages you to do so. God warns the Israelite to not hide or conceal or pity them. They have chosen to become as the inhabitants were. God's enemy. It says you are to be among the first to take their life as a prime witness to their idolatry. If all of Israel loved God more than others idolatry would not have rooted and spread. Mark them that cause division among you AND AVOID THEM. OR... Come out from among them (unbelievers) and be ye separate saith the Lord.

  • 1
    It would help if you could edit this to 1) add paragraph breaks, 2) quote all the verses you reference.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Sep 20, 2015 at 0:03
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    – ThaddeusB
    Commented Sep 20, 2015 at 3:35

Jesus was not talking about hating any person or group of persons. The possessive case is used clearly here. Jesus was well aware of the damaging idea of belief that you own anything. (i.e. possessions) this frame of mind is small and anchors the persons spirit more firmly to the physical world. His teaching is all about finding liberation in the mind. Or salvation as he calls it. The soul is intermingled with the mind during our physical sojourn here. To free the mind is also to free the soul from the prison of the body while living in it. Hence to give up the idea that your parents or siblings 'belong' to you is a liberating concept. We cannot come close to the Creator in our lives if we are more attached the the physical objects and people of this world. So "he who does not hate his ---" is related to possession. Remember he also said 'and his own life also --' It is hatred of an idea which he is recommending not of any people. His teaching is all about love for everyone - how can any rational person think he was talking about hating people. If we are able to see that all things really belong to He who made them, including our own lives, then we become liberated. This leads us to discover the eternal life of the soul. Which is here and now. (i.e. is at hand). The Kingdom of Heaven is not less that the state of perfect peace which cannot die, which is within our own soul.


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.


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.

  • 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 Commented Oct 17, 2011 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
    Commented Oct 18, 2011 at 3:58

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