Luke 14:26 – teaching hate?

Luke 14:26 – “Does Jesus teach hate here?”

This argument shows a simple ignorance of the way ancient authors used language. It’s called hyperbole, and it’s very common rhetorical technique used in ancient writings.
Everyone in Jesus’ day understood that he was not teaching literal hate, but rather “love less than me.”

Other Examples – There are other examples from the Bible where “love”/”hate” comparisons are used which clearly do not mean literal hatred but “love less than”, for example Genesis 29:30-31. Another example is Luke 16:13:

No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.

Here it is obviously not literal hate that is meant, for Jesus is describing someone freely choosing to serve two masters. We can give examples of this hyperbole from secular writings too – in the greek Corpus Hermeticum, we read

“If you do not first hate your body, my child, you cannot love yourself” (Poimandres 4:6)

In a war song in Poetae Lyrici Graeci, it is said that in battle, men

“must count his own life his enemy for the honor of Sparta”

Is this teaching a literal hatred? Obviously not.  Just like Jesus’ saying, it means “love less than”.

Jesus’ Actual Teaching – In Matthew 10:37, we have very clearly the meaning of Jesus’ words: “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me”.  Jesus maintained the Taurat’s emphasis on honoring father and mother – in Matthew 19:19, Jesus listed “honoring father and mother” as one of the top six commandments. He likewise criticizes the Pharisees for not honoring their father and mother (Mt 15:4,5).

Another Litmus Test –  There is another helpful litmus test for evaluating the meaning of a passage: Have radical adherents of that book ever understood that passage that way?  For example, we may argue over whether a certain scriptural verse advocates violence.  If zealous believers have regularly used it to support violence and hatred down through history, it’s quite likely that it does indeed teach violence or hate. By contrast, with Luke 14:26, there is no record of any believer ever understanding this passage to teach a literal hatred for one’s own parents.

(primary source:

Related Links:

Matthew 23:9—”How can Jesus tell people to call no man their father on earth? Should a father get no respect?”


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