Hatred (στυγητός) expresses a despicable or loathsome attitude. It is in contrast to indifference (μισέω), which conveys the concept of not caring about the well-being of others unless it benefits you. Hate is a type of attitude likened to how a storm makes the sky appear in the distance: dark, gloomy, and threatening, Matthew 16:3.
“Hateful”, as an adjective, is only used once in scripture in Titus 3:3. In submitting to rulers and authorities so that we are ready in every good work, we are to put away blasphemy as we seek peace and show kindness to all. Not forgetting that in our former manner of life, we were disobedient, malice, and hateful while being indifferent to others. Since hateful and indifference are used together in the same sentence to describe a person’s attitude and activities, they do not carry the same meaning. This is important to note because many of our English versions translate indifference (μισέω) as hatred, thereby masking the actual meaning of indifference. The apostle John writes concerning those who say they love God but are indifferent to their fellow brother in the Lord. Since they are showing indifference to a fellow saint, they cannot be loving God, 1 John 4:20. This is not hatred towards others, but not being concerned about their well-being, for indifference expresses an attitude that is apathetic towards others because you have no particular interest in or concern about them. This cloaking in the meaning of indifference also impacts the saint’s understanding of the world system, for it does not have a loathsome or despicable attitude towards Christians; rather, it is indifferent to them. Therefore, the world system has no issue with using Christianity and Christians for its benefit, but the moment they are no longer of any value to it, the world will cast them off. This is indifference, where hatred would not tolerate Christians in any aspect of today’s civilized world.
During Christ’s ministry, a rich man asked how he could obtain eternal life. Because of the manner in which he spoke to Jesus, Jesus responded by telling the man to obey the Mosaic law, for he had addressed Jesus as a good teacher, trying to appease Him with words to get what he wanted, Mark 10:17-19. Replying to Jesus’ statement concerning obedience to the Mosaic law, the rich man informs Him that he has followed the law from his youth, Mark 10:20. It is at this time that Jesus expresses love towards the man, seeking the best for him, and informs him on what he must do, which is to sell all his possessions and follow Him, Mark 10:21. During Christ’s earthly ministry, the Jews had to take up their cross and follow Jesus, Mark 8:34. The cross they would bear was the rejection of their family, friends, and the rulers of Israel for following the Messiah, Matthew 19:29. However, Jesus’ response was not what the man wanted to hear so he went away in grief, hating the word that Jesus said. “But he, while being hateful upon this word, left, being caused to grieve for he had great possessions.” Mark 10:22. He was not sad; rather, his attitude towards Jesus’s word telling him to give away all his goods and follow Him was hatred, for the reason the man would not follow the Messiah was because it would cause him to lose his wealth. Therefore, the issue was not that he was wealthy but that he held his prosperity in this world to be of more value than eternity. In his hatred towards Jesus’ words, we see why Christ stated that the one who is fond of his life in this world will lose it, Mark 8:35-36.
As Christians, we are to abhor malignant evil while clinging to what is proper, Romans 12:9. Abhor is a derivative of hate, showing that when it comes to wickedness and doing things in a wrong manner, these types of works are to be seen as despicable and disgusting. Therefore, we are to loathe anything that is malignant evil, refusing to have any part in it.
A quality of the wrath of God is seen upon those who live an ungodly and unrighteous lifestyle, along with those who hold down the truth in unrighteousness. This wrath is manifested by God turning them over to a reprobate mind and allowing them to destroy themselves through their corrupt desires and works. These are the ones who are full of unrighteousness and haters of God, Romans 1:30.
Although not often used in Scripture, “hatred” expresses a loathsome or vile attitude directed at others or situations that is distinct from indifference and, therefore, should not be used synonymously. As for the Christian, the only aspect of hatred that should be shown is towards anything manifesting malignant evil.