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It is written:
“As it is written, “JACOB I HAVE LOVED, BUT ESAU I HAVE HATED.” 14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! 15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOMEVER I WILL HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOMEVER I WILL HAVE COMPASSION.” 16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.” (Romans 9:13-16)
Calvinists love to come to this passage, because they believe that within it they find the teaching of unconditional election.
However, as we have learned, the passage teachings nothing of the sort.
You will recall that in Romans 9, Paul has been discussing the fact that being one of God’s chosen people is not dependent upon bloodline or national descent. Now, he is going to built on that fact with the statement, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”
This passage, of course, was said of the descendants of Jacob and Esau (i.e, Israel and Edom), and not about Jacob and Esau as individuals.
Well, how had God “loved” the descendants of Israel, and “hated” the descendants of Edom?
One scholar of the Hebrew language has well written:
““The Hebrew and Aramaic for “hated” is better translated as “turned away from” or “rejected” from and by God. God is speaking, not to the person but to the nation Israel as a promise through Jacob who is also Israel. God rejected Esau for the promise of the seed or Messiah, and by his choice, he gave the promise to Jacob. Nothing is speaking of an individual promise of salvation or eternal life by God’s choice. To make this even more clear about God speaking about the people of Israel Paul quotes Exodus 33: 19 where we read how Moses is pleading with God to show mercy and grace to his people. Moses asked God on his behalf, “… and consider that this nation is Thy people.’” JPS. Moses continues to plead with God for his people until God answers, “’ I will make all My goodness pass before thee, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee, and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.’” JPS. This has nothing to do with God choosing who will be saved or receive eternal life. This is about how he has established Israel as a people and how he will continue to judge them for their rejection of Moses and Yeshua-Jesus.” (Dr. Al Garza, Calvinism Challenged: How The Hebrew Bible, Jewish Sources, Jesus, The Apostles and Paul Refute Calvinism, 1060-1072 (Kindle Edition); Sefer Press Publishing)
So, God is not talking about literally “hating” Esau (or the people descended from him, i.e., the nation of Edom). Instead, he is building on the point that he has been making, i.e., that being one of God’s chose people is not dependent on bloodline or national membership.
Calvinists use this passage to try and claim that God hates the “unelect” babies in the womb, from the moment of conception. Some go so far as to claim that these babies will be in eternal torment!
This is the kind of sick and ‘“depraved” doctrine that can arise from lifting passages of Scripture out of their contexts and trying to twist them to fit Gnostic heresy.
The truth is, there are numerous examples in Scripture where the word “hate” has reference to metaphorical choosing or rejecting. For example:
“Jesus himself speaks to the Jews using their own language conventions, when he says: If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14: 26) He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. And he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10: 37-38) The parallel text of Matthew 10: 37 shows us that again the word hate in Luke is not literal, but implies ‘love less than’ (see also Proverbs 13: 24 and Matthew 6: 24 for other uses of love-hate in such comparisons). We may see, therefore, that when the Bible uses the word ‘hate’ as a contrast to ‘love’, it intends us to understand it to mean ‘love less than’. This is its meaning in all other references, and we must suppose it to be so in Malachi 1: 2-3. The verse does not mean that in a literal hatred of Esau and his descendants God has condemned every one of them to hell. It simply refers to the higher position of the Hebrew race in the strategy of God. Sanday & Headlam, in their commentary on Romans wrote: The absolute election of Jacob–the ‘loving’ of Jacob and the ‘hating’ of Esau–has reference simply to the election of one to higher privileges as head of the chosen race, than the other. It has nothing to do with the eternal salvation. Moreover, in the original to which St Paul is referring, Esau is simply a synonym for Edom. (In this instance they were quoting Charles Gore in Studia Biblica vol iii, p 44.)” (Roger Forster & Paul Marston, God’s Strategy in Human History: Volume 1 – God’s Path to Victory, 1776-1788 (Kindle Edition); PUSH Publishing)
Furthermore, did you notice what Dr. Garza pointed out about the rest of the passage that we are studying? When Paul quotes Moses about: “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOMEVER I WILL HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOMEVER I WILL HAVE COMPASSION,” what was being discussed? God predestining individuals to Hell before they were conceived? No! He is continuing his discussion of NATIONS.
So, what shall we take away from this?
First, in Romans 9:13-16, Paul is continuing his discussion of how adoption into God’s chosen people is not based on bloodline. He advances his thought regarding the right of God to accept or reject a nation. Nothing in the passage is discussing children being predestined to Heaven or Hell!
Second, when Paul discusses God “loving” Jacob and “hating” Esau, he is continuing his discussion of nations and not individuals. He is not claiming that God hates certain children in the womb, and loves others! Instead, Paul is wanting us to understand that God the right to accept or reject nations. As we will see, He has done this throughout history, and He is not unjust for doing so!
Calvinism horribly twists this passage of Scripture out of context, and yet when we study we can see clearly that the doctrine of unconditional election is simply false.