Dear Friends

You may feel that “dear friends” is a somewhat lame greeting. After all, we are used to addressing letters to “Dear So-and-so”, when that person may not be particularly dear to us, or may be hostile towards us, or may not even be known to us personally at all.

“Dear Friends” is, however, a thoroughly biblical way of addressing fellow-believers. It is the NIV translation of the Greek word agapetos, meaning “dear” or “beloved”. It expresses the closest of relationships, such as that between parent and child. It occurs something like 32 times in the New Testament on its own, and also numerous times with a noun (for example, “dear children”, “dear brother(s)”, “dear fellow-servant”). Older English versions tend to use the translation “beloved”, while more modern ones tend to opt for “dear friends”.

It is certainly a wonderful and beautiful truth that as Christians we are God’s beloved, his “dearly loved children” (Ephesians 5:1). It has been said that a person’s greatest need is to know that they are loved. So what could be better than to know that we are loved personally by the sovereign creator of the universe, perfectly, unchangeably and for ever?

What, then, are we saying when we call one another “beloved” or “dear friends”? Are we saying we are dear to each other, or dear to God, or both? Surely it is both! God’s love for us overflows into and is expressed in our love for one another. Let it be so!

With my love,
Chris Hobbs (Senior Minister/Vicar)