And I made known to them Your name, and will make it known, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.
John 17:26 (LITV)
Here the Son prays to the Father not concerning the world, but concerning those whom the Father has given Him out of the world (Jn 17:9-10); and He speaks here of a very particular love: “the love with which You have loved Me.” This is not the same love by which God “so loved the world” (Jn 3:16) For it is not the world, but whoever believes in Him out of the world that has eternal Life; and that Life is in the Son, and that Life is to know the Father who loves the Son: it is the very Life which the Godhead has within itself, “the love with which You have loved Me.”
For we, who by necessity possess different kinds of affections or loves toward different things, ought not to marvel if God, after whose image we were created, has a holy range of affections infinitely beyond the wisdom of our own. We dare not be so arrogant as to postulate that just because “God so loved the world,” He cannot still be “angry with the wicked every day,” or “hate all the workers of iniquity,” or “abhor the bloody and deceitful man.” (Ps 5:5-6, 7:11, 10:3) Truly, it is because God is love that He must absolutely hate; and not only the sin, but the sinner also. He is jealous for the glory of His own great Name, and the sins of men who were made in His image are defamatory to that Name.
The purest love necessitates the purest hatred. A man with a heart after God’s own heart was able to say of the Lord’s enemies, “I hate them with a perfect hatred…” (Ps 139:22) The man who loves one thing and does not hate the other is lying to himself; and God is not such a one. For He loves all that is good, right, perfect, and holy; and the higher these are, the more in His love are they evidenced to abide. Therefore He must hate all that is wicked, perverse, corrupt, and unholy; and the lower these are, the more under His wrath are they evidenced to abide.
Who then are we to judge that God should not have a general affection for the whole creation, yet also reserve a specific and salvific love for only a portion? The God of all the earth will do right; and in so doing He separates His righteous ones from the wicked before the latter are destroyed (Gen 18). And the righteous are so because He has mercifully made them vessels of honor, and of covenant love. He had the right to hate all men, yet He has chosen to lavish such love upon a people: the very love with which the Father loves the Son.