Bill Mounce

For an Informed Love of God

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Thursday, September 2, 2021

Is “Beloved” Still a Word? (Romans 12:19)

Translators have to be comfortable with compromise. Rarely can you hit the nail on the head, and generally you either over- or under-translate. What do you call all the people in your church? Beloved? I think not.


Oh, for pity's sake, you are suggesting that English speakers may not know what "beloved" means? As you yourself noted, it is based on the same root English word, "love," as the Greek αγαπητοι is based on αγαπη. So, even a barely literate person should be able to figure that out. Then, what of all the teachings about what "love" is, in the New Testament? Any reasonably Bible literate person is going to know that he is not making some romantic, sentimental, or otherwise ambiguously questionable gesture, but referring to those who are "loved" in the way that "love" is described in the New Testament (John 3:16, 1 John 3:16, 1 Cor 13, etc.) Anything with the word "friend" in it doesn't do it justice, leaving us with the same dilemma as when Jesus asked Peter three times whether he "loved" (αγαπη vs. φιλος) him. Really, as much as I cringe at reading the KJV, and hate to admit it, people still read the KJV and mostly understand it, and that's loaded with archaic terms no longer used at all in English. Yet I still hear plenty of people still using the word "beloved" in colloquial speech, although I will grant that it has the same religious feel as "thee" and "thou," or perhaps "brethren," and I hear it mostly from the pulpit. But I cannot think of a better English word to use. "Dear friends"? Many people say that "a dog is man's best friend."

I assumed beloved meant “loved by God”. If so, then ‘Dear friends’ misses that point.

I would agree “beloved” often translated from Gr. Agapetos…presumes something much deeper than “friend-love”….much more than acquaintance….beloved to me although sometimes ambiguous I.e. romantic love vs. deeper brotherly love….is the most accurate translation of the the word when taken in context.

I still see multitudes of 'beloved' in obituaries as the best word to describe the intensity of the affection for the deceased. Reads better than ' my loved father', or 'my father who was loved'...vs..."my beloved father". As an adjective, it helps make the flow of a statement referring to a loved one more about them than the speaker.