On a casual usage of the term world, most consider it to be a term describing either the planet earth, or the population of humans upon the earth and all other aspects of this worlds system. But in this article I will seek to argue scripturally that the term “world” a translation from the Greek term Kosmos, has to be interpreted according to how God uses the term in Holy scripture by focusing on the context and subject matter being spoken of by God!
Setting aside habits, traditions, bias, or perhaps just our very loose way of using our English language in a more neutral manner is hard to do many times. But it must be done. Usage of our English grammar along with the actual meaning of a term in Greek is a essential procedure in getting the right thought, doctrine and theological meaning of a portion of scripture one is studying.
To study this appropriately we need to find a portion of the word of God which will be very helpful in showing how one can be easily influenced away from Biblical teachings using just a normal thought process we all have as we use the English term World! Let’s examine the term in the Bible which is found in John 3:16. Most of us are familiar with that verse of scripture and have heard certain explanations since childhood which usually stays with us into our adult age. It reads:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”
As we look at and consider the term ‘world’, we must remember that the term “Kosmos” (world) is NOT used with a uniform significance in the New Testament. It is used in quite a few different ways. I will give a few examples to show this:
- Kosmos is used of the Universe as a whole. – Acts 17:24 – “God that made the world and all things therein seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth.”
- Kosmos is used of the earth. – John 13:1; Ephesians 1:4, etc.! “When Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart OUT OF THIS WORLD unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world He loved them unto the end.” —- Depart out of this world signifies THIS EARTH. Also: “According as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world.” – Signifies before the earth was created – compare Job 38:4.
- Kosmos is used of the world-system. John 12:31,’Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the Prince of this world be cast out — compare Matt. 4:8 and 1 John 5:19.
- Kosmos is used of the WHOLE HUMAN RACE. Romans 3: 19 – “Now we know that what things the law says, it says to them who are under the law: that EVERY mouth may be stopped and ALL THE WORLD may become guilty before God.”
- Kosmos is used of Humanity MINUS BELIEVERS: John 15:18 and Romans 3:6. “If the WORLD hate you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” – Believers do not HATE Christ, so that “the world” here must signify the world of Un-Believers in contrast from believers who love Christ. Also, note: “God forbid: for then how shall God JUDGE the WORLD.” Here is another passage where “the world” CANNOT mean “you, me, and everybody.” For Believers WILL NOT be Judged by God – See John 5:24. So this is the world of unbelievers HE is speaking about.
- KOSMOS is used of Gentiles in Contrast from Jews: Romans 11:12, reads, “Now if the fall of them (Israel) be the Riches of the World, and the diminishing of them (Israel) the Riches of the Gentiles; how much more their (Israels) fulness.” Note: The first clause is DEFINED by the latter clause. Here, again, “the world” cannot signify all humanity for it EXCLUDES Israel.
- Kosmos is used of believers ONLY: John 1:29; 3:16, 17, 6:33; 12:47; 1 Cor. 4:9; 2 Cor. 5:19. I leave these verses for you to turn to and see what they say. Be careful and note exactly WHAT IS SAID AND PREDICATED OF ‘THE WORLD’ IN EACH PLACE.
So it is seen that Kosmos has at least 7 clear defined different meanings in the N.T.! So study of context, noting also what is predicated of the world in each passage, and note this, as one studies all scripture on any or all words!
The principle subject of John 3:16 is Christ as the Gift of God. The first clause tells us WHAT moved God to GIVE His only begotten Son. That was HIS great LOVE. The second clause informs us FOR WHOM GOD GAVE HIS SON, and that is for WHOEVER or better EVERY ONE who believes. While the last clause makes known WHY God gave His Son (His purpose), and that is, that EVERYONE that believes should not perish but have everlasting life.”
This verse has to do with God’s world of believers or God’s elect ones. In contrast to “the world of the ungodly unbelievers” – 2 Peter 2:5.
In 1 Peter 1:1, Peter is writing this letter to a particular people. It states “……I am writing to God’s CHOSEN PEOPLE….”. Note verse 2: “God the Father…..Knew you and chose you long ago, and HIS Spirit has MADE you Holy.
Verse 21, states, “……through Christ YOU have COME TO TRUST in God, it is because of Christ we have come to trust and then obedience takes place not because of us! Because of HIM and HIS work, i.e., His calling, drawing, opening up our eyes, heart, ears and spiritual abilities to engage in calling upon Him, repenting, having faith in Him, and walking with Him. In other words the NEW BIRTH HAD TO TAKE PLACE BEFORE ANY OF THE OTHER TAKES PLACE. A NEW ABILITY HAD TO BE GIVEN TO A LOST SIN BOUND PERSON AND ONE WHO LIVES IN DARKNESS AND UNDER THE CHAINS OF SATAN’S BONDAGE.
BOTTOM TAKE OUT LINE:
Christ Jesus was sent into the world (all meanings here because He came to the earth, lived in the world system, presented Himself to pagans and people of faith, etc.!) Scripture reveals to us HE came to LIVE a holy, sacred, righteous life without sin, and to be taken and killed on a Cross by the pagan unbelieving world of humans both Jews and Gentiles, and shed His blood on that Cross actually paying the penalty for HIS PEOPLE’S SINS, ACTUALLY ATONING FOR THEIR SINS AND NO ONE ELSE’S!
POINT: No one else’s because if It were for all people then ALL people would be saved and forgiven for all of their sins the biggest one being UNBELIEF! But, we know the Bible doesn’t teach that at all. People do go to hell, and people do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and have to pay for their own sin and punishment in hell and eventually the lake of fire. So, the Atonement was for the Lost Sheep, some were alive and followers at that moment, others had passed away in history past, and others in the future who will be saved and forgiven are included in this work of blood shedding and death on the Cross.
Also, Christ arose. If he had not risen from the dead we would all still be in our sins and nothing we are teaching and saying has any value ever. He arose, and now HE is seated at the Right Hand of God the Father making intercession for each of HIS SHEEP on a 24/7 basis throughout the rest of history. He also sent back the Holy Spirit to take His place in the actual body of the believers revealing and guiding them in their faith. Now, we are looking for His return to complete the following: Resurrect our bodies from the grave (all who have passed away), translate Christians into a new spiritual body if He comes in the air and we are still here, and then glorify all of us. Also, He will burn up the heavens above us and the earth beneath us and make it all new without any curse, sin, or evil or decay. Also, a New City will come down from heaven prepared for us in order for us to Live with HIM on planet earth which has been restored to perfection along with us. That is our hope today!! Maranatha!!
P.S. A thorough study of the teachings of scripture on Complete Depravity of the human from conception due to Adam’s fall in the garden of Eden is an essential doctrine that goes along with the teaching of this article due to its implications on ‘all’ humanity. Also, a study of the Definite Atonement made by Christ for HIS people is essential! Complete depravity does not mean a human being engages in the full extent the fallen nature and its fruits of sin, but it does mean people are as bad off as they could possible be until Jesus Christ saves them. Definite atonement does mean that Christ and His blood shedding and Cross work was not done with “hoping’ someone may be saved or with the idea that one could decide and make a personal choice to take it or leave it, as if it was a product on a market shelf. It does mean the blood did do what it was shed to do and His payment was made for actual sin and sins of HIS people and they WILL be forgiven and set free from the wrath and punishment they deserve. The Blood work did its work for His people and that is definite and cannot be otherwise. What God does He does perfectly and without any error and also without making happen what He desired it to accomplish.