Does God Love Everyone the Same?

Jeff Robinson | March 13, 2017

One of the most common theological questions I’ve been asked as a pastor and professor goes something like this: Does God love everybody in the same way? In other words, did he love Nero to the same degree he loves Billy Graham? Does he love those who reject him the same he loves his redeemed children? Does God hate the sin, but love the sinner?

Too often I’ve heard simplistic answers to this complex question. Historically, one theological camp has answered with an unqualified yes, while some in another offer an unqualified no. Yet truth often lies in the details. What is the meaning of “world”? Is John 3:16 the lens through which every other verse must be read?

The most careful, nuanced, and robustly biblical answer I’ve seen appears in Don Carson’s book The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God (Crossway, 2000). Carson identifies five different ways Scripture speaks of God’s love. 

1. God’s intra-Trinitarian love between the Father and the Son

God’s intra-Trinitarian love not only marks off Christian monotheism from all other monotheisms, but is bound up in surprising ways with revelation and redemption. John’s Gospel is especially rich in this theme (e.g., John 3:35; 5:20). This intra-Trinitarian love is expressed in a relationship of perfection between the…

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