Malachi 1:3—If God is love, how could He hate any person?

Problem: In the latter part of verse 2 and the first part of verse 3, God says, “Yet Jacob I have loved; But Esau I have hated.” But, John says, “God is love” (1 John 4:16). How can a God of love hate any one person?

Solution: First of all, God is not speaking about the person Esau, but of the nation that came from him, namely, Edom. So God is not expressing hate toward any person here.

Further, the nation Edom was deserving of God’s indignation for their “violence against your brother Jacob [Israel]” (Obad. 10). They sided with Israel’s enemies, blocked the way of their escape, and even delivered up those who remained (vv. 12–14).

Finally, like the Nicolaitans, God hates the works of the sinner, not the sinner himself. John commends the believers that “hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate” (Rev. 2:6; also see comments on Ps. 5:5).

See All Problems

This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.