The secular definition of world as defined by Webster is similar to that offered by Wikipedia meaning the earth and human society/civilization dwelling thereon.
There are several Greek words used to define ‘world’ in the New Testament including aion meaning age or time period, ge meaning earth (land) as distinguished from heaven or seas, and kosmos which primarily means order and/or arrangement.
More specifically kosmos is typically used to describe the present world order as opposed to the kingdom of Christ. Such a definition includes the idea of transience, worthlessness, and evil.
But when the word ‘world’ is used in the Bible, one has to examine the specific context to get the intended meaning. In this column only the Greek kosmos will be used. And even kosmos has numerous applications and specific intended messages.
One of the most popular passages in the Bible speaks of the world.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
The specific use of world in this verse means mankind in general. Remember that man was created in the image of God; therefore, God would naturally love His highest creation.
However, later in John’s gospel, Christ differentiates God’s chosen people from those who would reject the free gift of redemption.
“I pray for them (disciples), I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.” John 17:9
‘World’ in this context means those enthralled with transience and evil as opposed to those who reject such ideology and seek the kingdom of God. This differentiation defines the two categories of all mankind.
This division produced hatred between the two groups. Jesus spoke often of the fact that the ‘world’ would hate citizens of the kingdom of God. Those of the kingdom have been redeemed from the desires of the world while remaining in the world to reveal the kingdom of God.
“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world…I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.” John 17:14-15
That brings us to the next point. What is the relationship between the ‘evil one’ and the world?
Jesus refers to the ‘evil one’ who is the devil himself, as the ‘ruler of this world.’
The devil’s authority has been granted, or given to him, by God. Remember when the devil tempted Jesus.
“Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world…and the devil said to Him, ‘All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me…Therefore, if you will worship before me, all will be Yours.’” Luke 4:5-7
The devil acknowledged that his authority had been ‘delivered’ to him. Delivered is synonymous with ‘give’ and ‘granted’ in the Greek.
Such granted authority will prevail through the imminent great tribulation.
John saw a great ‘beast rising up out of the sea.’ The beast is the anti-Christ who will rule over the final world kingdom.
“It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe (people)…All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Revelation 13:7-8
The anti-Christ will be granted/given temporary authority to fulfill God’s plan which was devised ‘from the foundation of the world.’ Note again the division of all mankind, i.e. those written in the Book of Life, and all others.
It was all revealed in the early chapters of Genesis when God cursed Satan for his deception.
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed…” Genesis 3:15
Such enmity has increased through the generations and will in fact accelerate as the 70th week approaches.
The Bible is not silent about the future of the ‘world.’
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