“Jacob Have I Loved, But Esau Have I Hated”
"As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Romans 9:13). Calvinists theologians have held to a false doctrine of 'predestination,' saying this verse proves that God loves only some people and that He hates others. They say that God chooses heaven for those He loves, and He chooses hell for those He hates. He chooses those He loves for blessings, and He chooses those He hates for curses and judgment.
But, is this really what Romans 9:13 teaches? I think not! Let's search the Scripture for the answer, to explain God's "election" and see what exactly it really means.
Again, we must always note ‘context’ for sound interpretation of the Bible! Romans 9:13 needs to be read in the context of verses 10-13. “
… when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; 11 (For the children being Not Yet Born, neither having done any good or evil, (so) that the purpose of God according to ‘election’ might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 12 It was said unto her, The elder (Jacob) shall ‘serve’ the younger (Esau). 13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. (Rom. 9:10-13)
When the Scriptures talk about “election” it has nothing to do with being chosen by God unto soul salvation and eternal life. A verse to prove this is Isaiah 42:1, where Israel’s Messiah (Jesus) is called the “elect” of JEHOVAH God. “Behold my ‘servant,’ whom I uphold; mine ‘elect,’ in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.”
So then, what does “election” actually mean in the Bible? It means to be ‘elected,’ chosen to ‘serve’ the God of the Bible! Here is the sequence; those in history whom God ‘foreknew’ that they would believe His Word… to them… He then ‘elects’ (chooses) them to ‘serve’ Him, as seen also in Rom. 8:28-30.
Look again at Romans 9:11-12 to see the Bible’s definition of “election”; “the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, (so) that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 12It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.” Note how the Apostle Paul, like Isaiah earlier, connected “election” with “service.” In the Bible, unlike in theology, both terms have nothing to do with people going to heaven or hell, rather to those foreknown of God ‘to believe,’ and so they are justified before God (cf. Rom. 4:8), He then gives them a role in which they may ‘serve’ as members of His family.
“The God of Abraham, Isaac, And Jacob” Under the Abrahamic Covenant, God promised to Abraham’s seed to form a nation of people, who He would use to bless “all the other families of the world.” We read;
“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3 (KJV)
Esau was born of Abrahams’ flesh in unbelief, but Isaac was born of Abraham in faith. God’s covenant with Abraham passed to his second son Isaac rather than his firstborn son, Ishmael. “
Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! 19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. 21 But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.” (Gen. 17:18-21)
Isaac had two sons by his wife Rebekah, twins who were named Esau (firstborn) and Jacob. God’s words to Rebekah are “the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.” (Gen. 25:23). Earlier, we read where Paul quoted this in Rom. 9:12: “…The elder shall serve the younger.”
We see now that the Abrahamic Covenant has extended from Abraham’s son Isaac, to Isaac’s second son Jacob, rather than his firstborn, Esau.
“(Running from Esau, Jacob dreamt) And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; 14And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. 16And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.” (Genesis 28: 13-16)
So, when the Bible uses the expression, “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” what it is really communicating is the extension of the Abrahamic Covenant to Abraham’s son (Isaac) and grandson (Jacob called Israel). Jacob later fathered 12 sons who became ‘the 12 tribes of the nation Israel” that God originally spoke to Abraham in Genesis 12. “And he [God] gave him [Abraham] the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs” (Acts 7:8) who will bless and serve the Gentiles (nations) of the earth during the Millennium.
Going back to Romans 9:6-13 to summarize these Old Testament concepts:
“6Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For They Are Not All Israel, which are of Israel: 7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham (as the Arabs are), are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. 9 For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son. 10 And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; 11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, (so) that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” (Rom. 9:6-13)
“Jacob Have I Loved, But Esau Have I Hated” - Now we have gotten to the difficult verse for some. Paul here in Romans 9:13 quotes Malachi 1:1-3. “The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi. 2I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, 3And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.”
(Note Esau’s lineage, the Arabs were a nomadic people, in the deserts of the middle east wilderness.)
The Prophet Malachi wrote about 400 B.C., over 1,000 years after Esau and Jacob had died. So, Malachi was not referring to the two men individually, but rather their descendants, as the nations that originated from them. The context of Mal. 1:2-3 and Rom. 9:13 is not individuals but rather nations. Malachi is addressing Israel, a nation, God’s special nation. Now, go back to God’s words to Rebekah in Gen. 25:23:
“And the LORD said unto her (Sarah), Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder (Esau) shall serve the younger (Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel)).”
This speaks of how Jacob’s nation (Israel) will one day rule over Esau’s nation, the Edomites, who God considered to be as the ‘Gentiles,’ not Israelites). The Hebrew word Edom means “red,” and is derived from the name of its founder, Esau, the elder son of the Hebrew patriarch Isaac, because he was born “red all over.” As a young adult, Esau sold his birthright to his brother Jacob for “red pottage.” (read Gen 25:29-34).
Per the Abrahamic Covenant, God chose Israel as His chief nation in the Earth. Israel is to be His channel of salvation and blessing to serve the nations (Gentiles). Before today’s age of grace, if Esau’s descendants were to partake of the salvation and blessings of the God of creation, they must come to Him through Jacob’s Israel. The Edomites would have to bless (serve, submit to) Israel if they are to be blessed of God. The Jewish Tanakh describes the Edomite people as the descendants of Esau.
The key to understanding Romans 9 is to remember that it does not deal with the salvation of individuals, but rather it explains two nations, 1) Israel and,2) Esau’s Edomites. What Paul is arguing in the first half of Romans 9 is that not all of Abraham’s descendants are participants in God’s purpose and program in the Earth. The Old Testament Covenants apply only to descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel). Islam claims Ishmael and Esau, who are not part of God’s special nation; they’re not heirs of the Abrahamic Covenant. They are not God’s ‘elect as servants’ on the Earth. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and their children will be God’s earthly servants. Only the believing descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will become God’s special people in “the ages to come,” via “the first resurrection” (Rev. 20:5). Therefore, God does not consider every descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, a member of “Israel.” A true Jew is one who has both Abraham’s physical genes as well as Abraham’s (spiritual) faith.
By Arthur J Licursi as adapted from Shawn Brasseaux