VERSE 9: Hate
Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.
“Hates”: John’s metaphor of darkness is the foundation used to introduce the supreme unholy attribute of hate in the same way that his metaphor of light is the foundation used to introduce the supreme holy attribute of love. “Hate” demarcates the children of the devil, who are sons of the Murderer, and “Love” demarcates the children of God, who are sons of Life.
“Hate” (μισέω) is used especially of malicious feelings towards others (Matt. 10:22; 24:10; Luke 6:22, 27; 19:14; John 3:20) and towards the very nature of God (John 7:7; 15:18, 19, 23–25; Titus 3:3).
Quite often our modern concept of hate narrowly depicts the idea hate as vile malice or murder, but the Biblical depiction is slightly broader:
Luke 6:22 (CSB) Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you, insult you, and slander your name as evil because of the Son of Man.
This series of actions expands what Jesus means when he said that people will hate Christians to include “exclusion”, “insults”, and “slander”. Jesus juxtaposes the hateful response of Satan’s children towards God’s children with the loving response of his children towards those who hate them (“exclude”, “insult”, or “slander”: see Matthew 5:43-44 for the Christian response).
John only has the kind of hate that is a perversion of God’s divine nature, holy fellowship, and truth in mind. There are forms of “hate” that John does not have in view:
Revelation 2:6 (CSB) Yet you do have this: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Hebrews 1:9 (CSB) You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; this is why God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of joy beyond your companions.
Jude 23 (CSB) save others by snatching them from the fire; have mercy on others but with fear, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.
Luke 14:26 (CSB) “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, and even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.
John’s metaphor of darkness expresses those things that are perversions of the divine nature, holy fellowship, and truth of God. But God does possess holy hate, and Christ’s disciples likewise possess holy hate for “demonic deception”, “lawlessness”, “the stain of sin”, and anything that is “exalted to the place of God”.
Therefore, in this instance we must understand “hate” as the spitefully-driven failure to deny oneself for the sake of one’s brethren: even to the point of laying down one’s life for a brother or sister (John 15:13); of considering one’s own plight before your brother’s or sister’s (1 Cor 13:5); of disregarding the need of our brothers and sisters who have been robbed and afflicted (Luke 10:30–37); of despising weak brothers and sisters (Matt 18:10); of refusing to supply the physical needs of our brothers and sisters (Matt 25:42); and of making no effort to welcome and care for brothers and sisters seeking refuge, clothing, or medical help (Matt 25:43). We show hate when these failures are driven by a spiteful unwillingness to help and love our brothers or sisters in Christ.