Martin Luther on Jacob, Laban, and what it means to hate your father and mother for the sake of God:

It should be carefully noted that Holy Scripture calls all the actions of Jacob by the names of the greatest crimes and vices. Previously it was stated that Jacob stole the heart of Laban the Syrian. Here it says that he fled without his father-in-law’s knowledge and contrary to his will, taking along his substance and disappointing every expectation about a perpetual servitude. All these acts are referred to with the terminology of crimes, as Laban a little later will enlarge on them in rhetorical fashion. As Christ speaks of “hatred” of one’s own mother and father, which is the name of an offense, even though it is the highest virtue (cf. Luke 14:26), so this act is not really a theft, but Holy Scripture speaks in the manner of men, who habitually make such an inference about acts of this kind. In the ears of Laban it is theft and desertion, but by divine law and justice it is regarded as a reward and wages due by virtue of the highest law. So also he who hates father and mother for Christ’s sake does not hate them but loves them, as he who denies himself and loses his own life finds it.[1]


[1]Luther, M. (1999, c1970). Vol. 6: Luther’s works, vol. 6 : Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 31-37 (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther’s Works (6:36). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

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