Crossing Boulevard

with Rev. Rachel

Someone once said, “If you do not know the words, you can hardly know the thing.” The Church has a word bank. After “angels” and before “calling” there is:

BELOVED be-luv'-ed, be-luv'-d' (agapetos)

A term of affectionate endearment common to both Testaments; Limited chiefly to two Hebrew words and their derivatives: 'ahebh, "to breathe" or "long for," hence, to love, corresponding to the New Testament, agapao, "to prefer," i.e. a love based on respect and benevolent regard; dodh, "love," chiefly love based on sense and emotion, akin to phileo (Latin amare). Both words used of God's love for God’s chosen: e.g. Benjamin "beloved of Yahweh" (Deuteronomy 33:12).

In the New Testament "beloved" used exclusively of Divine and Christian love, an affection begotten in the community of the spiritual life in Christ, e.g. "beloved in the Lord" (Romans 16:8). The beauty, unity, endearment of this love is historically unique. "Brethren" in Christ are "beloved" (1 Thessalonians 1:4; 1 Corinthians 15:58; James 1:16; 2:5).

John is the conspicuous New Testament illustration of the depth and tenderness of Christian love. In his epistles alone he addresses his disciples 12 times as "beloved."

The term rises to still Diviner significance as an epithet of Christ, whom Paul terms "the Beloved." This is the word used repeatedly to express God’s infinite affection for Jesus (Matthew 3:17; 12:18; 17:5; Mark 1:11; 9:7; Luke 3:22; 20:13).

Agapetos is 9 times "dearly beloved" (the Revised Version omits "dearly") and 3 times "well beloved" (the Revised Version omits "well"). The former rendering found only once in the Old Testament (yedhidhuth, "something beloved"), portraying God's tender love for God’s people: "dearly beloved of my soul" (Jeremiah 12:7). Thrice is Daniel spoken of as "greatly beloved" of Gabriel and of God (hamudhoth, "precious," i.e. delight = beloved; Daniel 9:23; 10:11,19).

Through the apostles the word has become familiar in pastoral and sermonic address. Few New Testament words better illustrate the power and impress of the Christian spirit on succeeding centuries than this.”

Orr, James, M.A., D.D. Editor. BELOVED. "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.