Greetings, Father Oleg.
The Gospel According to St. Luke. Chapter 14. Verse 26
“…if any man cometh unto me, and hateth not his own father, and
mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own
life also, he cannot be my disciple;”
Does it mean “hate as an obstacle on the way to God” and only together
with “yea, and his own life also”? In other references this sounds
less radical. But how did this harsh definition - “hate” –
come about? Is the translation correct?
I’ve more than once written about the right approach to the Holy Scripture.
The Scripture is inspired by God, i.e., was written by inspiration of the Holy
Spirit. The natural man will not be able to discern spiritual things.
The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians. Chapter 2
14Now the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they
are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually
In this case you allowed two very widely spread errors in the approach to the
scriptural text. 1 – not balancing one passage of Scripture by all others
of the same topic. 2 – wrong understanding of the meaning of the Lord’s
saying in general and of the word “hate” in particular.
The literal translation is correct.
Now tell me, how the closest people and your kindred can, in and of themselves,
be an obstacle on your way to God? Certainly, there are times when someone from
among your relatives (or even all of them) do become an obstacle, but in this
case the Lord addresses all and does so in general terms, which excludes such
The balancing references to this passage are the commandments to honor one’s
father and mother, to love one’s wife, to take care of one’s children,
the saying by Paul the Apostle that, if anyone does not provide for those of
his household, he is worse than an unbeliever, etc. These balancing passages
won’t allow us to stray into a false understanding of the Lord’s
words in view of the use of the word “hate”, but rather are key
to the correct interpretation both of this word and of the whole context.
We ought not to forget that this commandment, as all of the others, is transcendental
(world denying) and can be correctly understood only in light of it. Including
the words about hating one’s own life is also helpful for the right understanding
of the passage. It refers not to common hate that we are to show for the sin,
for example, or applying to our normal life or relatives. It refers in this
case to the right state of mind of a faithful follower of Christ, namely: we
ought to prefer God and what pertains to God always, in everything and to everything,
and to view all other things with the denial of the worldly. Thus, the word
“hate” in this context must mean “not prefer to God”.
In another commandment, similar and close to this one in its meaning, concerning
our attitude towards our relatives the Lord says the same thing but on the opposite
side of hate, which is love:
The Gospel According to St. Matthew. Chapter 10
37He 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.;
In comparing the two commandments we conclude that:
“loves … more than Me” = does not hate” followed by
the consequence of breaking them:
“cannot be My disciple” = “is not worthy of Me”.
As we see, everything in these commandments connected with the proper attitude
towards relatives spins around the Person of the Savior. The attitude towards
them is compared to the attitude to Him. That’s why harsh words are used,
which attack our favoritism towards our kindred. Apostle Paul’s harsh
words about flesh and blood (meaning our carnal addictions) can be rightly applied
to relatives, too:
The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians. Chapter 15
Under “his own life” one must understand life according to one’s
own sinful will, life of the old man in his lusts.
50Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of
God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
God is a pure Spirit, that’s why any addiction to the carnal or the material
makes a person incapable of uniting with Him in the Spirit. That’s why,
from the spiritual point of view, addiction to relatives (but not relatives
themselves) is an obstacle on the way to unity with God. That is why a commandment
is given to hate this addiction in the spiritual sense, but hate not towards
relatives in this life.