Christ, the Beloved

Ryan Martin

Bible-Pastor

In Ephesians 1:6, Paul tells us that God the Father’s election, sanctification, predestination, and adoption of sinners serves a greater end in his plan. All these spiritual blessings have been given to believers to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (ESV)

In one respect, Ephesians 1:6 teaches us how God does all that he does for his own glory. He has eternally purposed the praise and worship of his people. The verse ends by telling us that he has done this through Christ.1Indeed, a repeated, emphasized theme of the whole of Ephesians 1:3–14 is about that God’s grace comes to believers exclusively through the Mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ. “Through Christ,” … Continue reading

The title “Beloved” that Paul uses for our Lord in verse 6 (a participle from the verb ἀγαπάω)is unique to his writings.2Though I believe that “Beloved” comes from the life of Christ, it’s worth noting that Paul uses a participle, and not the more common noun “beloved” or ἀγαπητός. When Paul uses … Continue reading Nowhere else does Paul refer to Christ with that name. He does use a similar but still slightly different expression in Colossians 1:13: He has . . . transferred us to the kingdom of the Son of his love (τοῦ υἱοῦ τῆς ἀγάπης αὐτοῦ, my translation).

Some scholars have suggested that first-century Jews used it as a messianic title, but the expression does not have Old Testament firm precedent to refer to the coming Christ.3One possible but very ambiguous exception would be Isaiah 5:1. Also see Matt 12:18’s citation of Isaiah 42:1. Interestingly, when Luke gives the account of the Transfiguration, he does not say … Continue reading Paul had to get this title from somewhere. Perhaps the name was revealed to him by special revelation through the Holy Spirit or Christ himself. Yet I believe that the title Beloved is best understood as coming from the life of Christ.4See the good discussion on the name “Beloved” in Harold W. Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002), 203–4.

At his baptism, the Father spoke of Jesus as “my beloved Son” (ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός, Matt 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22). Similarly, at his Transfiguration, the Father again called the radiant Jesus “my beloved Son” (ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός, Matt 17:5; Mark 9:7; cf. Luke 17:35).5In his account of the Transfiguration in 2 Peter 1, Peter also refers to Jesus Christ as the “Beloved Son.” See 2 Pet 1:17. Also, the expression shows up—clearly referring to our Lord Jesus—in Mark and Luke’s account of the wicked tenants (Mark 12:6; Luke 20:13).

What does the expression teach us? As an aside, it teaches us that the Apostle Paul really did know intimately the apostolic account(s) of the life of our Lord. While some scholars have for decades tried to drive a wedge between Paul and the Gospels, using an expression like “Beloved” to name Christ Jesus shows that Paul was well acquainted with the life of the Lord that was being orally passed down and Scripturally documented in the early church during the decades after his ascension.

More importantly, the term “Beloved” teaches us how greatly the Father loves his Son. Jesus Christ is the Beloved sent from the Father. Consequentially, our love for the Son should be constantly rising to ascend towards the infinite love God the Father has for his Eternal Son. If the Father loves the Son so dearly, then it is only right for all creation to adore, admire and worship the Son sent from the Father. This Father infinitely glories in the saving work of his Son.

Ephesians 1:6 also teaches us that just as the Father wants all creation to praise the glory of his grace, so the Father wants us to praise the Beloved Son as the expression of that grace. Right after saying that the Father has bestowed upon believers great spiritual blessings, he says to the praise of the glory of his grace, and then connects that grace with the Beloved Son, adding, with which he has blessed (literally, graced) us in the Beloved. The grace of God that God the Father wants us to admire and praise comes to us through Christ, the Beloved.

A couple passages come immediately to mind. Hebrews 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. Or John 1:14: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. Christ is the revelation of the glory and grace of God. He came to display God’s glorious grace to us. This display was revealed most completely and finally at the cross. Yet he does not simply reveal God’s grace. He obtained God’s grace through his death and resurrection. The glory of God’s grace with which God has “graced” us was obtained by Jesus Christ.

God’s eternal plan has been to glorify himself. He chose us from eternity past and sent his Son to save us so that our lives would be a continual sacrifice of worship and whole-hearted love. Even in eternity past, he willed to make people the trophies of the grace of his Beloved Son, so that into the blessedness of eternity they would filled, like the saints and angels in heaven (see the book of Revelation), with eternal praise.

Salvation is all of the Triune God, so that the Triune God alone gets the glory. God deserves our eternal praise for the beauty, the majesty, and the glory of his grace, a grace especially revealed in the incarnate, Beloved Son.

References

References
1 Indeed, a repeated, emphasized theme of the whole of Ephesians 1:3–14 is about that God’s grace comes to believers exclusively through the Mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ. “Through Christ,” “in Christ,” “in him,” and similar expressions referring to Christ appear no less than 11 times in the span of these 12 verses.
2 Though I believe that “Beloved” comes from the life of Christ, it’s worth noting that Paul uses a participle, and not the more common noun “beloved” or ἀγαπητός. When Paul uses that form of “beloved,” it is in reference to beloved believers, and not to Christ. For example, see Rom 16:5, 8, 9; 1 Cor 4:17; & Philem 16.
3 One possible but very ambiguous exception would be Isaiah 5:1. Also see Matt 12:18’s citation of Isaiah 42:1. Interestingly, when Luke gives the account of the Transfiguration, he does not say “Beloved Son,” but “my Chosen One,” another clear allusion to Isa 42:1.
4 See the good discussion on the name “Beloved” in Harold W. Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002), 203–4.
5 In his account of the Transfiguration in 2 Peter 1, Peter also refers to Jesus Christ as the “Beloved Son.” See 2 Pet 1:17.
Author Bible-Pastor

Ryan Martin

Pastor Columbiaville Baptist Church

Ryan Martin is the pastor of Columbiaville Baptist Church of Columbiaville, Michigan. He has received the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy (historical theology) degrees from Central Baptist Theological Seminary. His dissertation was on the role of affections and passions in the theology of Jonathan Edwards. He is the author of Understanding Affections in the Theology of Jonathan Edwards (T&T Clark, 2019). He has also contributed to several other publications, including Hymns to the Living God (2017), the Conservative Christian Declaration (2014), the Jonathan Edwards Encyclopedia (2017), and Regeneration, Revival, and Creation (2020).

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