Hating Your Family

Did our Rabbi really tell us we need to foment feelings of hatred for our closest relatives?

Artwork from the Torah Club Jesus, My Rabbi study, lesson "Sheep Among Wolves". (Image and art © First Fruits of Zion)

Rabbi Yeshua warned His disciples that allegiance to Him would bring family strife and division. He told them, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26).

This is a hard saying—nearly incomprehensible outside of a Hebrew and rabbinic context. Does the Master really require us to harbor contempt for our family before we can follow Him in discipleship? Does He call only hateful and bitter disciples?

In the English language, love and hate are antithetical and absolute opposites. In Hebrew the terms do not always possess the same absolute antithesis, especially when used in contrast against one another. The Bible sometimes uses “love” and “hate” to show an order of preference. For example, the Torah says that Jacob loved Rachel but hated Leah, meaning only that he loved Rachel more than Leah.

In that case, the Master’s words should be translated to English as follows:

If anyone comes to me and does not love his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—less than he loves me, he cannot be my disciple.

This is how Matthew interpreted the saying as well: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37).

Yeshua’s attitude about placing discipleship above family reflected the rabbinic ideas of the day.

The sages taught that a disciple’s familial loyalties should be first with his teacher (and fellow disciples). A disciple’s allegiance to his teacher outweighs all other loves and passions. As mentioned above (in Matthew 10:25), a school of disciples referred to their rabbi as the “father” of a household, hence the terms House of Hillel and House of Shammai. Fellow disciples were brothers. Yeshua and the fellowship of His disciples functioned as such a brotherhood.

As with the other schools of the sages, Yeshua’s family of disciples took precedence over the natural family, a common model for teacher-disciple relationships. For example, the Mishnah asks whether one should favor his father or his teacher first. In a surprising parallel to Yeshua’s own words, the Mishnah speaks of a disciple preferring his teacher and even carrying his master’s heavy burden:

If a [disciple] has to choose between his father’s [priorities] and his master’s [priorities], those of his master take precedence. For his father brought him into this world, but his master, who taught him wisdom, will bring him into the life of the World to Come. But if his father is also a sage, that of his father takes precedence. If his father and his master were both carrying heavy burdens, he removes that of his master [and carries it for him], and afterward removes that of his father. If his father and his master were taken captive, he ransoms his master, and afterward he ransoms his father. (Mishnah)

In a similar way, Rabbi Yeshua instructed His disciples to place their priorities first with Him and even to carry His burden: “He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:38).

Join the Conversation:

Join the FFOZ Mission

Two thousand years ago, we began drifting away from the simple truths taught by the Jewish Jesus. Today a prophetic resurgence of truth is breaking out.

FFOZ Friends are at the forefront of this restoration, advancing and sustaining the mission to restore truth through Messianic Jewish teaching for Christians and Jews.

Learn about FFOZ Friends Sign Up Today

Share this Teaching

Beginning of Wisdom study track

Discover God's wisdom for today's foolishness through Torah Club's new small-group Bible study lesson track for 2022-23, The Beginning of Wisdom.

The new study track highlights God’s divine wisdom through the weekly Torah portions. The Beginning of Wisdom is direct, counter-cultural, and biblically rooted, calling Yeshua’s disciples to magnify their fear and love of God.



Gospel Insights

Get these teachings about a life of discipleship and the deeper meaning of the words of Yeshua delivered to your inbox free once a week.


© 2023 First Fruits of Zion, Inc., All Rights Reserved


First Fruits of Zion

© 2023, All Rights Reserved

Copyright Privacy Contact Help Donate