Love and Hate; ἀγαπάω and μισέω

If hate is the opposite of love, as many passages indicate, then why don’t we have a book called The Four Hates? Why don’t preachers fulminate against the scary hate of a mother for her crying infant (ἀστοργέω [a + storge]), the emotional hate of one’s ex-best-friend (ἀφιλέω [a + filos]), the even more passionate hate of one’s ex-lover (ὠράω [a+ eros]), while defending the disinterested hate (ἐγαπάω [a + agaph]) of the enemies of one’s country? Love is love. Hate is hate. They come in degrees; they are elicited for different reasons. But in my study—of the NT, LXX, and Josephus so far—the essential character of each one is manifest in every instance.

May God help me to love what He loves and therefore hate what He hates.

Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.


  1. Duncan on May 15, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    Now that’s a thought-provoking point… but can you clarify which of those actually occur in the NT?

    I know μισέω does, but are ἀστοργέω, ἀφιλέω, ὠράω, and ἐγαπάω actual words?

    Hope you’ll pardon the silly question. I don’t have my Bibleworks within reach to check myself.

    • Mark L Ward Jr on May 15, 2009 at 8:45 pm

      No, I made them up! I should have put asterisks next to them—that’s the proper way in linguistics to note that you’re using unattested forms, I believe.

  2. Duncan on May 18, 2009 at 10:52 am

    I suspected as much, no harm done. 😉

    As such, that highlights your point though.

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