Calvinist/Reformed Baptists often cite the the following verses associated with Jacob being selected as opposed to Esau as examples of supporting the Doctrine of Calvinism/Predestination(i.e. Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, etc. ):

Malachi 1:1-5

1 The [a]oracle of the word of the Lord to Israel through [b]Malachi. 2 “I have loved you,” says the Lord. But you say, “How have You loved us?” “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob; 3 but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness.” 4 Though Edom says, “We have been beaten down, but we will [c]return and build up the ruins”; thus says the Lord of hosts, “They may build, but I will tear down; and men will call them the [d]wicked territory, and the people [e]toward whom the Lord is indignant forever.” 5 Your eyes will see this and you will say, “The Lord [f]be magnified beyond the [g]border of Israel!”

Romans 9:6-18

6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7 nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s [a]descendants, but: “[b]through Isaac your [c]descendants will be named.” 8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as [d]descendants. 9 For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; 11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would [e]stand, not [f]because of works but [g]because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed [h]throughout the whole earth.” 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

Genesis 33:4-15

4 Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. 5 He lifted his eyes and saw the women and the children, and said, “[a]Who are these with you?” So he said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” ................................................. 8 And he said, “What do you mean by all this company which I have met?” And he said, “To find favor in the sight of my lord.” 9 But Esau said, “I have plenty, my brother; let what you have be your own.” 10 Jacob said, “No, please, if now I have found favor in your sight, then take my present from my hand, [c]for I see your face as one sees the face of God, and you have received me favorably. 11 Please take my [d]gift which has been brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me and because I have [e]plenty.” Thus he urged him and he took it.

However, in light of the Genesis 33:4-15 passage of scripture which describes reconciliation between Esau, who was rejected by God, and Jacob, who was selected by God, it does Not seem that the story of Jacob and Esau had anything to do with the Calvinist doctrine's idea that God predetermined that some people be saved, and condemning other to eternal damnation.

Therefore, when Malachi 1:2-3 and Romans 9:13 claim that God loved Jacob but God hated Esau, it might be:

  • alluding to the fact that God chose Jacob(Israel) to be the blessed nation whose most important progeny would be The Messiah, Jesus Christ, The Lord & Saviour.

  •  and also alluding to the fact that Jacob(Israel)'s posterity would be a blessed nation whose people will be prosperous in numerous ways including spiritually, materially, etc.

Malachi 1:2-3

................“Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob; 3 but I have hated Esau.............

Romans 9:13

.Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

To conclude, the aforementioned passages of scripture has Nothing to do with Esau's salvation, but has more to do with literary devices of hyperbole, figure of speech, etc.

Is the aforementioned evaluation/assessment correct?

4 Answers 4


It is a quick thing to say, that in "but Esau I hated" Romans 9:13, "hated" is relative. I think that to make a case for "hated" being absolute takes longer:

"...you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies..". Psalm 5:5-6 ESV.

"your right hand will find out those who hate you...The LORD will swallow them up in his wrath.." Psalm 21:8-9 ESV.

The word "hate" in these verses refer to God hating. In each case the Hebrew word for hate [Strong's 8130] being the same as "hated" in Malachi 1:3.

Esau's family line, the people of Edom, are "the people with whom the LORD is angry forever". Malachi 1:4 ESV. "Forever" means there is no relenting. God hating in an absolute sense is when there is no relenting.

"Thus says the LORD GOD: Because Edom acted revengefully against the house of Judah...they shall know my vengeance,..". Ezekiel 25:12-14.

"Thus says the LORD: "For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,..". Amos 1:11.

I think vengeance and punishment that God does not revoke, are the same as "indignation forever".

But "Esau I hated" in Romans 9:13 is very different from ,"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother". Luke 14:26. When Christians love their parents dearly, but prayerfully put God first they still love their parents; at least they are not desiring that they be swallowed up in wrath. [Psalm 21].

God is "perfect in knowledge". Job 37:16.

"All things were made by him" John 1:3.

God knew what would happen if he made Esau the way that he did, and he went ahead with it.

  • Thanks. Based on your response, are you saying that Malachi 1:2-3 & Romans 9:13 are examples of scripture that support Doctrine of Calvinism/Predestination(i.e. Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, etc. ) ? Oct 30, 2021 at 21:20
  • 1
    @crazy Tech Yes. I think we see Unconditional Election in Romans 9:11. "in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls....As it is written, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." In my answer I give verses to argue that God's hate is not a watered down version of his love but totally different. And different because of him who calls we see in 9:11..
    – C. Stroud
    Oct 30, 2021 at 22:05

It's a matter of a difference in the language. Love and hate were being used as relative terms, not absolute. 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.


I think everyone here is familiar with the concept of agape love. Aγαπάω expresses much more than a simple emotional or existential response. This represents an elevated level of devotion. This is love that seeks the highest standard of good for the sake of another.

Hated, from μισέω, has two levels of meaning. It can mean to hate, detest, or utterly despise. This represents an absence of love. It is so used in such passages as

Revelation 2:6,

“But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”

Romans 7:15,

“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.”

Luke 6:22,

“Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man’s sake.”

The second level of meaning is on a comparative level. Helps Word Studies informs us that μισέω means

“to love someone or something less than someone (something) else, i.e, [simply] to renounce one choice in favor of another.”

“In Luke 14:26: [Jesus says], “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate (μισέω, '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” (NASU). Note the comparative meaning which centers [around] a moral choice, elevating one value over another.]”

(See also Strongs NT 3404: μισέω). So, this stresses the presence of love for both parties where one must be preferred above the other.

  • +1 God Loved Jacob comparatively/relatively more than Esau May 24, 2021 at 1:09
  • Perhaps. The issue with these two brothers seems to be a bit more complex because we know from Heb. 12:16 that Esau was considered a profane or godless man.
    – oldhermit
    May 24, 2021 at 1:17
  • Esau was prospered. Maybe he repented of his anger toward Jacob, and God then blessed him. Gen. 33:10 is a curious verse...that Jacob looked upon Esau as if to see the face of Elohim. God is surely repelled by sinners....but if we turn to Him, He will enfold us. Jacob noticed something different about Esau. What God hates can find Grace in a moment.
    – tblue
    May 24, 2021 at 1:46
  • Esau's blessing had nothing to do with repentance. He prospered according to the blessing he received from Isaac. As the Hebrew writer explains in Heb 12:17, "For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears."
    – oldhermit
    May 24, 2021 at 1:55
  • @oldhermit - Blessing from Isaac? Gen. 27:39 - His father Isaac answered him, "Your dwelling will be away from the earth's richness, away from the dew of heaven above. 40 You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother. But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck. In Heb. 12:17, there is another meaning for "metanoias" - that there could be no reversal of the blessing given to Jacob, though Esau sought it with tears. Gen. 27:38 - Esau said to his father, "Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!" Then Esau wept aloud.
    – tblue
    May 24, 2021 at 2:23

the opposite of Love is hate, so either you use love or hate, but at what degree is that? You could love God 100% and love Esau 90% So to write it up God I love Esau i hate. He who does not hate his father, meaning if you love your Father more than Jesus, - that is not giving LOVE GOD Above ALL (100%).

  • This does not provide an answer to the question. Once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post; instead, provide answers that don't require clarification from the asker. - From Review
    – agarza
    Sep 29, 2022 at 12:59
  • Hi @agarza, so can you help on my comment? instead of telling reputation. I do not have the reputation of the pharisees and teacher of the law All i have is the reputation of Jesus who loves me :)
    – lexsch
    Oct 3, 2022 at 0:51
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  • @lexsch -- Here's some help: what you've posted is more of a comment about the issue rather than a formal answer to the question. You might want to wait for question where you can contribute specific knowledge about the issue rather than giving your personal viewpoint (not that your viewpoint is wrong.) By giving answers that other people consider useful, or by asking well constructed question, you get reputation points. One of the rewards of reputation is to post comments on other people's posts, where you don't have to be so formal as in an "answer." Hope that helped. Oct 4, 2022 at 4:31
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