Chesed is complicated. It is more than lovingkindness that is often used to translate chesed. The term implies four actions that are interrelated.
First it is benevolence or kindness toward someone within the context of relationship. It must be from the heart. Second, one one has experienced it, one now has an obligation to reciprocity. Third, it assumes a pay it forward attitude whereby I am obligated to pass chesed to someone else. Fourth, chesed is relational. It is the attitudinal and active posture of community. It is not isolated to the individual as lovingkindness might imply. Chesed cannot exist outside of community. Chesed almost defines Matthew 5:3–10 in that it the glue to a covenant relationship in a collective identity.
This is why it is difficult to define Chesed in one English word.
Cheryl Durham, Ph.D.
Cheryl is the Executive Director at Living Truth. She is also currently Dean of Students and Professor of New Testament Culture and History at Master's International University of Divinity. She holds a Bachelor and Master's Degree in Biblical Counseling, a Doctor of Biblical Studies in Worldview and a Ph.D. in New Testament History and Culture.