Word Studies

The Examination of Biblical Words in Their Context

by James T. Bartsch

15 "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17)

World (kósmos)

In the NT, “world” (kósmos, 2889) appears in a variety of nuances. According to Friberg, the most basic meaning of the word is "something welll-arranged." (1) It speaks of a woman's adornment (1 Pet 3:3); (2) It speaks of the created world (Matt. 13:35; 24:21; 25:34; John 1:10; 17:5, 24; 21:25; Acts 17:24; Rom. 1:20); (3) It speaks of the world of humanity (Matt. 26:13; Mark 16:15) all of whom God loves and for whom Christ died (John 1:29; 3:16; 4:42; 17:23), and who are accountable to God (Rom. 3:6, 19); (4) It speaks of the inhabited earth (Rom. 1:8); (5) It speak of the sum total of something that has various parts (James 3:6); and last, (6) It speaks of a sinister, ethically-degenerate system of thought and perception headed up by Satan and promoted by evil, but influential men who are deceived by Satan and are actively promoting his anti-God agenda, whether they realize it or not. Since they are deceived, they perceive of themselves as being wise and sophisticated. But in God's view they have been duped and blinded by Satan and are not the sophisticated proponents of enlightened society they think they are. They are rather, dangerous and degenerate purveyors of sophisticated evil. It is this last definition of the world that is primarily in view in this article. Most of the references to the world in this ethically-challenged context come from the pen of the Apostle John, both in his gospel and in his first epistle.

An Expansion of Meaning (6): In the NT, “world” (kósmos, 2889) appears frequently as an evil, Satanic-inspired, negative influence and system of thought that has an evil connotation when used, as here, in ethical contexts. Some of these are as follows: (1) The world hates Jesus (John 7:7); (2) Satan is the ruler of this world (John 12:31; 16:11); (3) The world cannot give peace (John 14:27); (4) The world hates followers of Jesus (John 15:18, 19; 17:14; 1 John 3:13); (5) The Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8); (6) The world is a source of tribulation for believers (John 16:33); (7) Believers are not “of the world” (John 17:14, 16); (8) The world does not know God (John 17:25); (9) The world has its own, ungodly wisdom (1 Cor. 1:20, 21) which is foolishness to God (1 Cor. 3:19); (10) The world will be condemned (1 Cor. 11:32); (11) The world has a deadly sorrow (2 Cor. 7:10); (12) The world emits an aura of darkness, crookedness, and perversity (Php. 2:15); (13) The world has its “elementary principles” which are inimical to the values of Christ (Col. 2:8, 20); (14) Friendship with the world is hostility toward God. Whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God (James 4:4). (15) The world is characterized by a corruption that provokes “lust” (meaning it emits a strong attraction) (2 Pet. 1:4); (16) The world defiles (2 Pet. 2:20); (17) The Christian is not to love the world or the things in the world. If he does so, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15); (18) Everything that is in the world is characterized by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. None of this comes from the Father (1 John 2:16); (19) The world is temporary, passing away. So also its lusts (1 John 2:17); (20) The world does not know believers because it never knew God (1 John 3:1); (21) The world is characterized by deceptive false prophets and the spirit of antichrist (1 John 4:1, 3; 2 John 1:7); (22) The One who is in the believer is greater than the one who is in the world (1 John 4:4); (23) The world listens to its own (1 John 4:5); (24) Whatever is born of God overcomes the world by virtue of his faith (1 John 5:4, 5); (25) The whole world reclines comfortably under the influence of the evil one (1 John 5:19); and, finally, (26) The time will come when the kingdom of the world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, who will reign forever (Rev. 11:15).

(Scripture quotation taken from the NASB.)

Updated May 23, 2016

Last updated August 31, 2018

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