Shraddha and bhakti -- faith and devotion -- are the two words repeatedly stressed in the previous two Cantos. The key last shloka of Canto XII clinches the favoured status of devoted believers :'Dear to me are those who along this deathless dharma, and follow me with shraddha. They are my devotees, and I love them'.
So far, in seven consecutive shlokas, 13 - 19, Krishna has described the good points in the character of an ideal devotee (bhakta) : compassion for all creatures, freedom from jealousy, fear and worry, self-sufficiency, indifference to ups and downs, self-control, determination, decisiveness, impartiality to friend and foe, equal-mindedness in devotion, praise and blame; silence, satisfaction; single-mindedness in devotion. At the end of each shloka he remarks : 'sa me priyah' (he is dear to me).
In the final shloka of the Canto, he adds, 'bhaktase-ativa me priyah'. 'Ativa priyah' ('exceedingly dear') -- the only way one can express it in English is by using the word 'love'. 'I love such devotees' is what Krishna is saying. A stage has now been reached in the relationship between confused Arjuna and the confident Krishna when their Nara-Narayan closeness asserts itself. This intimacy is very special. Arjuna has been described by Krishna as his 'sakha' ( a word for which there is no parallel in English, though 'loving friend and loved friend' comes near); and now Arjuna is on the brink of becoming a still more special person : a sakha-bhakta, a loved and loving friend-cum-devotee.