Does God Love the Non-Elect?

The following is a response I put together in regard to a question that came up in a book study I was leading through John Murray’s Redemption Accomplished and Applied.

So one of the questions that emerged from our discussion tonight was, does God love the non-elect?

Clearly he loves the elect. And if nothing else, he loves them in a unique way unto salvation. But the question was raised, does he also love everyone in some sense (even if not having chosen to save them), even the non-elect?

Here are some helpful resources:

(All of these men are Calvinists by the way. So they are working from these same assumptions that God has a distinguishing love for the elect.)

At least one example of the Bible actually using the word “love” in reference to God’s disposition to the seemingly non-elect is Matthew 5:43-48. Here Jesus tells us to love our enemies precisely based on the model that God — it is the seemingly necessary implication of the analogy — loves his enemies (if God doesn’t love his enemies, the comparison would seem to break down). Namely, God here shows his love to enemies by causing rain to fall on the just and unjust. So we are likewise to love our enemies by showing good to all as well, even enemies.

Similarly Luke 6:35 – “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” How are we sons of God (i.e., like God here — “like father, like son”)? By loving our enemies like he does. In other words, he loves his enemies. And I think “enemies” here most naturally (at least) includes the non-elect.

As I said during our discussion, God is also said to love Israel (e.g., Deut 7-8), which was a nation composed of both believers and, maybe even more predominantly, non-believers.

An example of this might be Hosea 9:15, where God speaks of no longer loving unbelieving Israel who is about to experience his judgment. This is certainly by and large an unbelieving, non-elect people here; and yet he speaks of having shown them love.

You might also argue there’s a seeming ludicrousness if God were to command us to love all people as something morally right that we must do if it were not something he himself was also doing. It would seem to imply he’d be failing to do something that is morally right for him to do. In other words, he would seem to be sinning, which is an absurdity.

So in conclusion…

Yes, it’s important to clarify the unique expression of the love God has the elect. But I also think it’s appropriate and Biblical to speak of a love God shows even towards the non-elect.

“Esau I Hated”–Does God Hate Sinners?

The following is an excerpt (modified slightly to a “blog post” format) from my paper, “God, the Non-Elect, and Romans 9: An Exegetical and Theological Analysis of Reprobation and Hardening in Romans 9.1-23” (see post; see paper). It comes from an  excursus in the paper titled, “Esau I Hated” based on the language in Romans 9:13.

“Esau I Hated”

For many Christians, the three simple words “Esau I hated” (Rom 9:13) form one of the most puzzling statements in their Bible. Is this actually saying that God literally hated Esau? Many respond negatively by pointing out that Paul’s argument in Rom 9:6-13 concerns election. Consequently, “Jacob I loved” means “Jacob I elected” while “Esau I hated” means “Esau I rejected.”[1] Given that Paul’s argument in Rom 9:6-13 concerns election, this interpretation is without a doubt what Paul is teaching as he quotes Malachi 1:2-3. This fact also helps distinguish between God’s action in election and His attitude towards the non-elect. In other words, if “hate” simply refers to God’s attitude towards individuals due to their sin, Rom 9:13 would say, “I hated both Jacob and Esau,” for both are equally depraved. But the text shocks the reader with “Jacob I loved” indicating that behind “love” is the act of election and therefore behind “hate” is the reality of rejection.

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