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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

The conception of the world in the apostolic writings is one of much complexity. Its content is derived partly from the OT, partly from later Judaism; but it has also assimilated an important element from Greek thought, and the peculiar experience of early Christianity has added to it a sinister significance of its own. Thus the various synonyms by which it is expressed reveal so many narrowly differentiated senses in each, and also shade off into each other in such a way, that a delicate problem for exact exegesis is often created. The three terms chiefly to be considered are ἡ οἰκουμένη, ὁ αἰὼν οὗτος, and ὁ κόσμος, which in their proper significance denote the world respectively as a place, a period, and a system.

1. The spatial conception of the world.-The spatial conception of the world as the orbis terrarum, the comprehensive abode of man and scene of human life, is rendered in the OT by àÈøÈö and its more poetical synonym úÌÅáÇi, which in the lxx are translated, the former by γῆ, the latter by οἰκουμένη (vice versa in a few passages in Isaiah). In the apostolic writings γῆ is retained in this sense in quotations from the lxx (e.g.  Acts 2:19,  Romans 9:17,  Hebrews 1:10), also in  Acts 17:26,  James 5:5, and frequently in the Apocalypse ( Revelation 1:5;  Revelation 1:7;  Revelation 3:10, etc.). The more distinctive term is ἡ οἰκουμένη (sc. γῆ). Originally it was used, with racial self-consciousness, to signify the territorial extent of Greek life and civilization (Herod. iv. 110); but after the conquests of Alexander, and in consequence of the same unifying influences as those by which the Greek dialects were merged in the κοινή, it came to express a view and feeling of the inhabited world as overpassing all national distinctions and boundaries. Later, when the rule of the Caesars seemed to be practically co-extensive with the habitable earth, it acquired a more special sense-the Empire as a territorial unity (e.g.  Luke 2:1); but in the apostolic writings it has the larger significance, the world-wide abode of man ( Acts 11:28;  Acts 17:6;  Acts 19:27 by passionate exaggeration,  Acts 24:5,  Romans 10:18,  Revelation 3:10;  Revelation 16:14), or, by a natural transition, mankind ( Acts 17:31,  Revelation 12:9). As an example of the elasticity which characterizes the use of these terms, it may be noted that to express the same thought of the world-wide field for the dissemination of the gospel St. Paul prefers κόσμος ( Romans 1:8,  Colossians 1:6); and that, on the contrary, the writer of Hebrews gives to οἰκουμένη the proper significance both of κόσμος, the ‘terrestrial order’ ( Hebrews 1:6), and of αἰών (cf. the unique τὴν μέλλουσαν οἰκουμένην of  Hebrews 2:5 and μέλλοντος αἰῶνος,  Hebrews 6:5).

2. The temporal conception of the world.-The temporal conception of the world as a saeculum, a cycle of history, complete within itself yet related to a before and an after, is distinctively expressed by αἰών, or in contrast with the ‘world to come,’ as actually it always is, by ὁ αἰὼν οὗτος ( 1 Corinthians 1:20;  1 Corinthians 2:6-8;  1 Corinthians 3:18,  2 Corinthians 4:4,  Ephesians 1:21; variants, ὁ ἐνεστὼς αἰών,  Galatians 1:4; ὁ αἰὼν τοῦ κόσμου τούτου,  Ephesians 2:2; ὁ νῦν αἰών,  1 Timothy 6:17,  2 Timothy 4:10,  Titus 2:12; ὁ νῦν καιρός,  Romans 3:26;  Romans 8:18).

The use of in this sense, as denoting the present order of existence, does not occur in the OT ( Ecclesiastes 3:11?), but is characteristic of later Hebraism, the contrast between the two ‘aeons’ being an essential feature in the Apocalyptic view of history. Dalman remarks upon the absence of evidence for this form of expression in any extant pre-Christian writing (Words of Jesus, p. 148); it occurs chiefly in the later parts of the Baruch Apocalypse, in 4 Ezra (e.g. 6:9, 7:12, 13, 8:1, 52) and the Slavonic Enoch. In Rabbinism (Dalman, p. 150) the earliest witnesses for the expression are Hillel and Jochanan ben Zakkai (fl. c. a.d. 80). The idea, however, is vouched for by earlier documents, Enoch, Jubilees, Assumption of Moses (see on the whole subject Bousset’s Religion des Judentums2, p. 278 ff.), and the frequency of its occurrence in the NT, with the assumption of its familiarity, seems to imply its popular currency (contrariwise, Dalman-‘the expressions characterised the language of the learned rather than that of the people’ [p. 151]).

But while αἰὼν οὗτος in primarily a time-concept, this world-age in contrast with the future age of the ‘regeneration,’ the temporal element tends to become secondary. The notion of a period of time (emphatic in  1 Corinthians 7:31) is always implied; but the ruling idea approximates to that which properly belongs to the κὀσμος, the organic system of terrestrial existence (e.g. in  1 Corinthians 1:20ὁ αἰὼν οὗτος and ὁ κόσμος are parallel and synonymous). The opposition between the two ‘aeons’ is qualitative even more than temporal: the one is ‘evil’ ( Galatians 1:4), and under the dominion of the Devil ( 2 Corinthians 4:4) and kindred spirits ( 1 Corinthians 2:6;  1 Corinthians 2:8), a world of sin and death in contrast with that other eternal world of righteousness ( 2 Peter 3:13) and life. The two, indeed, are thought of as in a sense contemporaneous; the ‘world to come’ projects itself into the present; its ‘powers’ are already experienced by all in whom the Spirit of God dwells and the work of spiritual quickening and transformation is begun ( Hebrews 6:5).

3. The world as an organic system.-The world as an organic system, a universe, is distinctively ὁ κόσμος.

The idea which underlies all the various uses of κόσμος is that of order or arrangement (as in the common Homeric phrases, κατὰ κόσμον = ‘in an orderly manner’; κατὰ κόσμον καθίζειν = ‘to sit in order’), and since the strongest impression of unvarying and reliable order in nature is given by the movement of the heavenly bodies, it was probably to this that the term was first applied in a more special sense. In classical Greek, while it is sometime used with reference to the firmament above, and its sense is not anywhere restricted to the earth, so also in the lxx it translates öÈáÈà, the ‘host’ of heaven (in Enoch also, κόσμος τῶν φωστήρων, xx. 4), and elsewhere appears only in the sense at ‘ornament.’ Pythagoras is credited with having been the first to employ the word to express the philosophical conception of an ordered universe of being (plutarch, de Plac. Phil. 886 B); and from the Pythagoraeans it passed into the common vocabulary of philosophic poetry and speculation. Plato (Gorgias, 508 A) defines κόσμος in its widest extent, οὐρανὸν καὶ γῆν καὶ θεοὺς καὶ ἀνθρώπους τὴν κοινωνίαν συνέχειν καὶ φιλίαν καὶ κοσμιότητα καὶ σωφροσύνην καὶ δικαιότητα, καὶ τὸ ὅλον τοῦτο διὰ ταῦτα κόσμον καλοῦσιν … οὐκ ἀκοσμίαν, οὐδὲ ἀκολασίαν. In Stoicism the idea was further developed in a mystical and pantheistic fashion. The universe, the macrocosm, was conceived after the analogy or the microcosm, man. It was a ζῷον ἔμψυχον καὶ λογικόν; and as the human organism consists of a body and an animating soul, so God was the eternal world-soul animating and ruling the imperishable world-body. Through the influence especially of Posidonius, this conception of the Cosmos became widely influential in the Graeco-Roman world (see P. Wendland, Die hellenistischrömische Kultur, Tübingen, 1907, p. 84ff.). In the OT there is neither term nor conception corresponding to the Hellenic κόσμος (yet cf.  Jeremiah 10:16,  Ecclesiastes 11:5); it is in Hellenistic compositions such as 2 Maccabees and the Book of Wisdom that they first appear in Judaism. In the latter the idea of the Cosmos is specially prominent. ἡ σύστασις κόσμου is formed by the word of God out of formless matter ( Wisdom of Solomon 1:14;  Wisdom of Solomon 7:17;  Wisdom of Solomon 11:7) and the ever-living Spirit of God is active in all things ( Wisdom of Solomon 12:1); Divine wisdom and beauty pervade the world in all its diverse parts, establishing all things by number, measure, and weight ( Wisdom of Solomon 7:24,  Wisdom of Solomon 8:1,  Wisdom of Solomon 11:20), at the same time giving to human intelligence its power to apprehend the Divine ordering of all things ( Wisdom of Solomon 7:17-23,  Wisdom of Solomon 8:8), a striking anticipation of  Romans 1:20. In the same book there is another anticipation of NT usage, the employment, unknown to classical Greek, of κόσμος for the world of mankind, the human race as a unity. Thus Adam is described as πρωτόπλαστος πατὴρ κόσμου Wisdom of Solomon 10:1); a multitude of wise men is the salvation of the world ( Wisdom of Solomon 6:24), as the family of Noah was its hope ( Wisdom of Solomon 14:6).

Such indications of the penetration of Hellenic influences into Jewish thought explain, from a historical point of view, the use of κόσμος, both as term and as concept, in the apostolic writings, (a) Primarily the Cosmos is the rerum natura, the sum of terrestrial things, without moral reference. Occasionally the conception is simply this ( 1 Corinthians 8:4, there is no such thing as an idol, ἐν κόσμῳ;  1 Corinthians 14:10, there are various kinds of sounds in it); but normally the thought of God as Creator of the Cosmos is expressed or implied (e.g.  Acts 17:24,  Romans 1:20,  Ephesians 1:4,  Hebrews 4:3).

The simple pictorial phrase, ‘the heaven and the earth,’ by which the OT expresses the idea of the visible creation as contrasted with the Creator, is still retained in the liturgical and rhetorical style ( Acts 4:24;  Acts 14:15;  Acts 17:24), and for the sake of special emphasis ( Ephesians 1:10,  Philippians 2:10,  Colossians 1:16;  Colossians 1:20,  Revelation 20:11;  Revelation 21:1). To the same effect Paul uses ἡ κτίσις ( Romans 8:19-22,  Colossians 1:15;  2 Peter 3:4,  Revelation 3:14), but more frequently τὰ πάντα ( Romans 9:5;  Romans 11:36,  1 Corinthians 8:6;  1 Corinthians 15:28, etc.; cf.  Hebrews 1:3;  Hebrews 2:8;  Hebrews 2:10;  Hebrews 3:4,  Revelation 4:11).

And when the Cosmos is defined as the ‘terrestrial order’ it is to be remembered that in the apostolic cosmology this includes the heavens with their inhabitants as well as the earth and mankind. The world created in the πρωτότοκος includes ‘all things in the heavens and upon the earth, visible and invisible’ ( Colossians 1:16). ‘Heaven,’ in the popular sense of the word, the sphere of God’s immediate self-manifestation, the place of His Throne and Majesty on high ( Colossians 3:1;  Hebrews 1:3), the sphere from which Christ comes ( 1 Corinthians 15:47) and to which He returns ( 1 Corinthians 3:1), the kingdom of eternal light in which believers already have an inheritance ( 2 Corinthians 5:1,  Philippians 3:20,  Colossians 1:12), is ‘above all heavens’ ( Ephesians 4:10). It does not belong to ‘this world’ or to ‘this age’. All else does. The heavens and the spiritual beings that dwell therein belong naturally and morally to the same cosmic system as the earth and its inhabitants ( 1 Corinthians 2:6;  1 Corinthians 2:8;  1 Corinthians 4:9;  1 Corinthians 6:2-3;  1 Corinthians 11:10,  Ephesians 2:2;  Ephesians 6:12,  Colossians 1:16;  Colossians 1:20;  Colossians 2:8;  Colossians 2:20).

(b) Yet the immediate interest in the Cosmos lies in its relation to man as the physical environment of his life, and thus it naturally acquires the more limited significance of the terrestrial order in association with mankind-the world of human existence, into which sin comes ( Romans 5:12-13), into which Christ comes ( 1 Timothy 1:15,  Hebrews 10:5,  1 John 4:9), where He is believed on ( 1 Timothy 3:16). (For Jewish parallels see Dalman, p. 173.) Hence also it easily comes to mean (as already in Enoch [see above]) mankind in general ( 1 Corinthians 4:13,  Hebrews 11:33); and, by further natural transitions, worldly possessions ( 1 John 3:17), and the whole complex of man’s secular activities and relationships ( 1 Corinthians 7:29-33).

More characteristically the word is used with moral implications more or less strong. In the majority of its occurrences the idea is coloured by the dark significance of the αἰὼν οὗτος. It is the present material order together with its inhabitants, both demonic and human, as lying under the power of evil, destitute of God’s Spirit and insensible to Divine influence-not merely profane and unchristian humanity, but the whole organism of existence which is alienated from God by sin. It has a spirit of its own ( 1 Corinthians 2:12) which is antagonistic to the Spirit of God; a wisdom of its own ( 1 Corinthians 1:20-21) which is foolishness with God ( 1 Corinthians 3:19); a sorrow of its own ( 2 Corinthians 7:10) which is opposite in character and effect to godly sorrow; its moral life is governed by the ‘prince of the power of the air’ ( Ephesians 2:12; cf.  2 Corinthians 4:4); physically it lies directly under the dominion of elemental powers (στοιχεῖα) hostile to man ( Colossians 2:8;  Colossians 2:20,  Galatians 4:3); the Christian is redeemed from it and inwardly no longer belongs to it ( Galatians 6:14,  Colossians 2:20); its kingdoms finally become the Kingdom of God and of His Christ ( Revelation 11:15; cf.  1 Corinthians 15:28,  Ephesians 1:10,  Colossians 1:20) in the new Cosmos which arises in its place ( Revelation 21:1).

But here, again, since the primary interest is in man and his salvation, the Cosmos naturally comes to mean the human race as under sin, and as the object of Christ’s redeeming and reconciling work ( Romans 3:10-19,  2 Corinthians 5:19,  1 John 2:2;  1 John 4:14). In the later apostolic writings, especially the Johannine, it takes on a still darker hue. It is not only the world of fallen sinful humanity; it is that portion of society, Jewish or Gentile, with its opinions, sentiments, and influences, which is definitely antagonistic to the Church and the Christian cause. It hates the people of Christ as Cain hated Abel ( 1 John 3:12-13); its character and conduct are dominated by the ‘lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the vainglory of life’ ( 1 John 2:16), and are morally polluted ( James 1:27;  2 Peter 2:20); it offers a fruitful field to anti-Christian teaching ( 1 John 4:1;  1 John 4:7,  2 John 1:7); its friendship is incompatible with loyalty to God ( James 4:4,  1 John 2:15).

For the sake of clearness the various uses of κόσμος may be thus tabulated, with the proviso that at certain points classification cannot be more than tentative.

(a) κόσμος = adornment ( 1 Peter 3:3).

(b) = (metaphorically) a universe ( James 3:6).

(c) = οἰκουμένη, the world-wide abode of mankind ( Romans 1:8,  Colossians 1:6;  1 Peter 5:9).

(d) = the Gentile world in contrast with the elect people ( Romans 4:13;  Romans 11:12;  Romans 11:15).

(e) = the terrestrial order, without moral implication: simply as such ( 1 Corinthians 8:4;  1 Corinthians 14:10,  Ephesians 2:12 [?]), as related to the Creator ( Acts 17:24,  Romans 1:20,  1 Corinthians 3:22,  Ephesians 1:4,  Hebrews 4:3;  Hebrews 9:28;  1 Peter 1:20,  2 Peter 2:5;  2 Peter 3:6,  Revelation 13:6;  Revelation 17:8).

(f) = the terrestrial order without moral reference, but as especially associated with humankind ( Romans 5:12-13,  1 Timothy 1:15;  1 Timothy 3:16;  1 Timothy 6:7,  Hebrews 10:5,  1 John 4:9), as associated with men and angels ( 1 Corinthians 4:9), with the secular activities and relationships of men ( 1 Corinthians 7:31-34,  2 Corinthians 1:12 [?]).

(g) = mankind in general ( 1 Corinthians 4:13,  Hebrews 11:38).

(h) = material possessions ( 1 John 3:17).

(i) = the terrestrial order, together with its inhabitants as lying under the power of evil ( 1 Corinthians 1:20-21;  1 Corinthians 1:27-28;  1 Corinthians 2:12;  1 Corinthians 3:19;  1 Corinthians 5:10;  1 Corinthians 6:2;  1 Corinthians 11:32,  2 Corinthians 7:10,  Galatians 4:3;  Galatians 6:14,  Ephesians 2:2,  Colossians 2:8;  Colossians 2:20,  James 2:5,  1 John 4:17,  Revelation 11:5).

(j) = the human race as sinful and needing redemption ( Romans 3:6;  Romans 3:19,  2 Corinthians 5:19,  1 John 2:2;  1 John 4:14).

(k) = the human society as definitely hostile to christ, the gospel, and the Church ( Hebrews 11:7,  James 1:27;  James 4:4;  2 Peter 1:4;  2 Peter 2:20,  1 John 2:15-17;  1 John 3:1;  1 John 3:13;  1 John 4:1;  1 John 4:3-5;  1 John 4:17;  1 John 5:4-5;  1 John 5:19,  2 John 1:7).

To sum up, the world is an organic whole of being, a system (συνέστηκεν,  Colossians 1:17) in which there is a complete interrelation of parts; having a transitory existence, beginning in time and in time coming to an end, an ‘aeon’ within an encircling eternity; not self-originating but created; in the most ultimate sense God’s world, because not only created but continually upheld and animated by him ( Acts 17:28); and not only God’s world but Christ’s, who mediatorially is the source of its existence and the active principle of its unity (q.v. ). But while necessarily retaining its creaturely dependence on God and its natural unity, it has fallen as a whole under the dominion of moral and consequently of physical evil. Sin and death entered into the human Cosmos through the disobedience of our first father ( Romans 5:12,  1 Corinthians 15:22), but anterior to this, and in some causal relation to it, sin was existent in the angelic Cosmos ( 2 Corinthians 11:3,  1 Timothy 2:14;  2 Peter 2:4,  1 John 3:8), and from this source human sin is still inspired ( 2 Corinthians 4:4,  Ephesians 2:2, etc.). Into the speculative question of the origin of evil apostolic thought does not enter. It is enough that sin is not inherent in the Cosmos, but entered into it, and that therefore its presence there may come to an end. Christ has come into the Cosmos, directly into the world of mankind, and God is in Him reconciling it unto Himself. But the scope of Christ’s redeeming work is destined to include the whole Cosmos in both its physical and its spiritual elements ( Romans 8:21,  Ephesians 1:10,  Colossians 1:20,  1 Corinthians 15:24-28). Yet this ultimate consummation will not be attained within the present aeon. That must pass away through the fires of Divine judgment, before Christ is universally triumphant, and God is all in all.

This scheme of the world and its history inevitably leaves vast questions shrouded in mystery, and in its conception of the intermediate process by which nature is operated and governed it moves in regions of ideas which are remote from those of the modern mind. Yet essentially all that it endeavours to express in the terms of contemporary thought-that man is God’s creature and child; that, therefore, the existing condition of human life is radically abnormal and sinfully wrong, yet is salvable by the sacrificial love of God in Christ; that the world is God’s world, and that, therefore, its existing condition also is abnormal and cannot be otherwise regarded than as the correlate of sin; that it is a fruitful source of temptation to the evil tendencies in man but also a school of salutary discipline and a field of moral victory for those who seek the things that are above; and that, finally, a new and perfect environment is destined for the regenerate and perfected life-all this belongs to what is central and abiding in the Christian faith. See, further, art. Worldliness.

Literature.-V. H. Stanton, art. ‘World’ in Hdb; A Ritschl and J. Weiss, art. ‘Welt’ in PRE 3; H. Cremer, Lexicon of NT Greek3, Edinburgh, 1880; commentaries, esp. J. Weiss, Der erste Korintherbrief9, Tübingen, 1910 (particularly the note on 1:19, 20), and B. F. Westcott, The Gospel according to St. John , 2 vols., London, 1908, i. 64ff.; W. Beyschlag, NT Theology, Eng. tr. , 2 vols., Edinburgh, 1895. ii. 100-109; G. Dalman, The Words of Jesus, Eng. tr. , do., 1902, pp. 147-179; W. Bousset, Die Religion des Judentums2, Berlin, 1906, pp. 278-286; M. Dibelius, Die Geisterwelt im Glauben des Paulus, Göttingen, 1909.

Robert Law.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]


1. In OT . In general it may be said that the normal expression for such conception of the Universe as the Hebrews had reached is ‘the heavens and the earth’ (  Genesis 1:1 ,   Psalms 89:11 ,   1 Chronicles 16:31 ), and that ‘world’ is an equivalent expression for ‘ earth. ’ So far as there is a difference, the ‘world’ is rather the fruitful, habitable earth, e.g. , ‘the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein’ (  Psalms 24:1; cf.   Psalms 50:12;   Psalms 90:2 ,   Isaiah 34:1 ). The religious sentiments awakened by the contemplation of Nature appear also in references to the heavens and the sea ( e.g.   Psalms 8:1-9;   Psalms 19:1-14 ,   Job 38:1-41;   Job 39:1-30 ). But of the ethical depreciation of the world, so prominent in some NT writings, there are in the OT few traces. The ‘world’ is to be judged in righteousness (  Psalms 9:8;   Psalms 96:13;   Psalms 98:9 ), and punished for its evil (  Isaiah 13:11 ). The transient character of its riches and pleasures, with the consequent folly of absorption in them, is perhaps indicated by another Hebrew word (meaning ‘duration‘; cf. ‘ æon ’ below) rendered ‘world’ at   Psalms 17:14 (‘men of the world, whose portion is in this life,’ cf. RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ); also by the same word at   Psalms 49:1 (see the whole Psalm). A word of similar meaning is rendered ‘world’ in AV [Note: Authorized Version.] at   Psalms 73:12 ,   Ecclesiastes 3:11 , but RV [Note: Revised Version.] retains ‘world’ only in the latter passage, and gives quite another turn to the sense.

The ethical aspect of the ‘world’ does not receive any fresh emphasis in the Apocrypha, though in the Book of Wisdom both the scientific interest in regard to the world and the impulses of natural religion are notably quickened ( Wis 7:17-22; Wis 9:9; Wis 11:17; Wis 11:22; Wis 13:1-9 , cf. Sir 17:1-32; Sir 18:1-33 ). There is ample contrast between the stability of the righteous and the vanity of ungodly prosperity ( e.g. Wis 1:1-16; Wis 2:1-24; Wis 3:1-19; Wis 4:1-20; Wis 5:1-23 ), but the latter is not identified with the ‘world.’ It is, noticeable that in the Apocrypha the word kosmos , which in the LXX [Note: Septuagint.] means ‘adornment,’ has reached its sense of ‘world,’ conceived as a beautiful order; in the NT this becomes the prevalent word.

2. In NT . (1) aiôn (¿on) , ‘ age ,’ is used of the world in its time-aspect: human history is conceived as made up of ages, successive and contemporaneous, converging to and consummated in the Christ. These in their sum constitute the ‘world’: God is their Maker (  Hebrews 1:2;   Hebrews 11:3 [AV [Note: Authorized Version.] and RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘worlds,’ but ‘world’ better represents the thought]) and their King (  1 Timothy 1:17 RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ,   Revelation 15:3 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ). Hence the phrases ‘since the world began,’ lit . ‘from the age’ (  Luke 1:70 ,   John 9:32 ,   Acts 15:18 ); and ‘the end of the world,’ lit . the ‘consummation of the age’ (  Matthew 13:39-40;   Matthew 13:49;   Matthew 24:3;   Matthew 28:20 ) or ‘of the ages’ (  Hebrews 9:26 ). All the ‘ends of the world’ so conceived meet in the Christian era (  1 Corinthians 10:11 [RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘ages’], cf.   Hebrews 11:39-40 ). Under this time-aspect, also, the NT writers identify their own age with the ‘world,’ and this, as not merely actual but as typical, is set in new lights. As ‘this world,’ ‘this present world,’ it is contrasted explicitly or implicitly with ‘the world to come’ (  Matthew 12:32 ,   Mark 10:30 ,   Luke 18:30;   Luke 20:34-35 ,   Ephesians 1:21;   Ephesians 2:7 ,   2 Timothy 4:10 ,   Titus 2:12 ,   Hebrews 6:5 ).

In some of these passages there is implied a moral condemnation of this world; elsewhere this receives deeper emphasis. ‘The cares of the world choke the word’ ( Matthew 13:22 ,   Mark 4:19 ): the ‘sons of this world’ are contrasted with the ‘sons of light’ (  Luke 16:8; cf.   Romans 12:2 ,   Ephesians 2:2 ‘according to the transient fashion [ æon ] of this material world [ kosmos ]’). This world is evil (  Galatians 1:4 ), its wisdom is naught ( 1Co 1:20;   1 Corinthians 2:6;   1 Corinthians 3:18 ), its rulers crucified the Lord of glory (  1 Corinthians 2:8 ); finally, it is the ‘god of this world’ that has blinded the minds of the unhelieving (  2 Corinthians 4:4 ). This ethical use of æon = ‘world’ is not found in the Johannine writings.

(2) But the most frequent term for ‘world’ is kosmos , which is sometimes extended in meaning to the material universe, as in the phrases ‘from the beginning (‘foundation,’ ‘creation’) of the world’ ( e.g.   Matthew 24:21;   Matthew 25:34 ,   Hebrews 4:6 ,   Romans 1:20; for the implied thought of Divine creation cf.   Acts 14:17;   Acts 17:24 ). More commonly, however, the word is used of the earth, and especially the earth as the abode of man. To ‘gain the whole world’ is to become possessed of all possible material wealth and earthly power (  Matthew 16:26 ,   Mark 8:36 ,   Luke 9:25 ). Because ‘sin entered into the world’ (  Romans 5:12 ), it is become the scene of the Incarnation and the object of Redemption (  2 Corinthians 5:19 ,   1 Timothy 1:15 ,   Hebrews 10:5 ,   John 1:9-10;   John 1:29;   John 3:16-17;   John 12:47 ), the scene also, alien but inevitable, of the Christian disciple’s life and discipline, mission and victory (  Matthew 5:14;   Matthew 13:38;   Matthew 26:13 ,   John 17:16 ,   Romans 1:8 ,   1 Corinthians 3:22; 1Co 4:9;   1 Corinthians 5:10;   1 Corinthians 7:31 ,   2 Corinthians 1:12 ,   Philippians 2:16 , Col 1:8 ,   1 Peter 5:9 ,   Revelation 11:15 ). From this virtual identification of the ‘world’ with mankind, and mankind as separated from and hostile to God, there comes the ethical signification of the word specially developed in the writings of St. Paul and St. John.

( a ) The Epp. of St. Paul . To the Galatians St. Paul describes the pre-Christian life as slavery to ‘the rudiments of the world’ (  Galatians 4:3 , cf.   Galatians 4:9 ); through Christ the world is crucified to him and he to the world (  Galatians 6:14 ). Both thoughts recur in Colossians (  Galatians 2:8;   Galatians 2:20 ). In writing to the Corinthians he condemns the wisdom, the passing fashion, the care, the sorrow of the world (  1 Corinthians 1:20-21;   1 Corinthians 3:19;   1 Corinthians 7:31;   1 Corinthians 7:33-34 ,   2 Corinthians 7:10; cf. aiôn above), and declares the Divine choice to rest upon all that the world least esteems (  1 Corinthians 1:27-28 , cf.   James 2:5 ). This perception of the true worth of things is granted to those who ‘received not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God’ (  1 Corinthians 2:12 ); hence ‘the saints shall judge the world’ (  1 Corinthians 6:2; cf.   1 Corinthians 11:32 ). In the argument of Romans the thought of the Divine judgment of the ‘world’ has incidental place, but in the climax St. Paul conceives of the ‘fall’ of Israel as leading to ‘the riches of the world,’ and of the ‘casting away’ of them as the ‘reconciling of the world’ (  1 Corinthians 11:12;   1 Corinthians 11:16; cf.   1 Corinthians 11:32 and   1 Corinthians 5:12-13 ). What. St. Paul condemns, then, is hardly the world as essentially evil, but the world-spirit which leads to evil by its neglect of the unseen and eternal, and by its blindness to the true scale of values revealed in the gospel of Christ crucified.

( b ) The Gospel and First Ep. of St. John . In these two writings occur more than half the NT instances of the word we are considering. That is, the term kosmos is characteristic of St. John, and, setting aside his frequent use of it in the non-ethical sense, especially as the sphere of the incarnation and saving work of Christ, we find an ethical conception of the ‘world’ deeper in its shadows than that of St. Paul. It is true that Jesus is the Light of the world (  John 1:9;   John 3:19;   John 8:12;   John 9:5;   John 12:46 ), its Life-giver (  John 6:33;   John 6:51 ), its Saviour (  John 3:17 ,   John 4:42 ,   John 12:47 ); yet ‘the world knew him not’ (  John 1:10 ), and the Fourth Gospel sets out its story of His persistent rejection by the world, in language which at times seems to pass beyond a mere record of contemporary unbelief, and almost to assert an essential dualism of good and evil (  John 7:7 ,   John 8:23 ,   John 9:39 ,   John 12:31 ,   John 14:17;   John 14:30 ,   John 16:11;   John 16:20 ). Here the ‘world’ is not simply the worldly spirit, but the great mass of mankind in deadly hostility to Christ and His teaching. In contrast stand His disciples, his own which were in the world’ (  John 13:1 ), chosen out of the world (  John 15:18 , cf.   John 17:6 ), but not of it, and therefore hated as He was hated (  John 15:18-19 ,   John 17:14;   John 17:16 ). For them He intercedes as He does not for the world (  John 17:8 ). In the 1st Ep. of St. John the same sharp contrasts meet us. The world lies within the scope of God’s redemptive purpose in Jesus Christ (  John 2:2 ,   John 4:14 ), yet it stands opposed to His followers as a thing wholly evil, with which they may hold no traffic (  John 2:15-17 , cf.   James 4:4 ), knowing them not and hating them (  James 3:1;   James 3:13 ). It is conceived as under the sway of a power essentially hostile to God, the antichrist (  James 2:18;   James 2:22 ,   James 4:3; cf. ‘the prince of this world’   John 12:31;   John 14:30;   John 16:11 ) and is therefore not to be entreated and persuaded, but fought and overcome by the ‘greater one’ who is in the disciple of Christ (  John 4:4 ,   John 5:4-5 ). Faith ‘overcometh the world,’ but St. John reserves for his closing words his darkest expression of a persistent dualism of good and evil, light and darkness: ‘We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in the evil one’ (  John 5:19 ).

The idiomatic uses of the term ‘world’ in  John 7:4;   John 12:19 ,   1 John 3:17 are sufficiently obvious. For the difficult expression ‘the world of iniquity’ applied to the tongue (  James 3:6 ), see the Commentaries.

S. W. Green.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [3]

The biblical concept of world falls into five categories: the physical world, the human world, the moral world, the temporal world, and the coming world.

The Physical World . The physical world at its largest extent includes the whole universe, the cosmos ( John 1:9;  Acts 17:24 ) or the creation ( Romans 8:20 ). When biblical writers refer to the world, however, they usually mean the earth itself, not including sun, moon, and stars. No clear Old Testament references appear to the world as a planet, although  Isaiah 40:22 , "the circle of the earth, " is suggestive to some. Many Old Testament uses of world or earth ( eres, in poetry sometimes tebel [   Genesis 1:1 ) or an expansion of that expression ( Exodus 20:11;  Nehemiah 9:6 ).

Scripture affirms first of all that God created the world ( Genesis 1:1-2:4;  Acts 4:24;  14:15;  Revelation 10:6 ). Because he created it, he owns it and may be addressed as its Lord ( Matthew 11:25;  Luke 10:21;  Acts 17:24 ). The whole world is full of its Creator's glory ( Isaiah 6:3 ). Because God is Creator and Lord of the earth, it holds only secondary value; a believer must not swear by it ( Matthew 5:34-35 ) or accumulate treasure on it ( Matthew 6:19 ).

God designed the world to be fruitful. His creation includes provision for animals as well as for people ( Psalm 104:10-22 ).

God's judgment encompasses the physical world. He flooded it in Noah's time and it lies ready for his judgment at the end ( 2 Peter 3:7,10 ). The world's permanence is only relative. At the end God's angels will gather his chosen ones "from the ends of earth to the ends of heaven" ( Mark 13:27; NRSV ). Until that time the earth is the arena of God's activity through his people. Christians are to witness to Jesus "to the ends of the earth" ( Acts 1:8 ).

The Human World . The human world includes dry land where people can live, the inhabited earth where they do live, and by metonymy, the people who live there.

The dry land appears in contrast to the sea in  Genesis 1:9-10 and   Revelation 10:2 . Much of this dry land makes up the inhabited earth. The inhabited earth was created with delight by God's wisdom ( Proverbs 8:27-31 ). Before Jesus' birth Caesar Augustus attempted to take a census of "the whole world" (really only the Roman Empire  Luke 2:1 ). The tempter offered Jesus "all the kingdoms" of the inhabited world ( Luke 4:5; cf.  Matthew 4:8 ). Jesus predicted that the gospel would be preached to the whole world ( Matthew 24:14;  26:13; cf.  Romans 10:18 ), a prediction so successful that the early church, in its opponents' opinion, upset the whole world ( Acts 17:6 ). The whole world is deceived by the devil ( Revelation 12:9 ) and will experience great trouble before the end ( Luke 21:26;  Revelation 3:10 ).

The people of the world are called simply the "world" or the "earth" occasionally in the Old Testament and frequently in the New Testament. "Yahweh will judge the world, " or a similar statement, means he will judge the world's inhabitants ( Psalm 9:8;  96:13;  Isaiah 13:11;  26:9 ). Similar New Testament references to the Christ's or his apostles' authority appear. The Son of Man "has authority on the earth, " authority over the people of the world ( Matthew 9:6; parallels  Mark 2:10;  Luke 5:24 ). The apostles have a derived authority, the power of "binding and loosing" ( Matthew 16:19;  18:18 ).

In the Johannine literature the "world" often means the people of the world. The world did not know the Word ( John 1:10 ), the Lamb who would take away its sin ( John 1:29 ). God loved the world, sending his Son into it to save rather than condemn it ( John 3:16-17;  12:47;  1 John 4:9 ). The Son of God is the "Savior of the world" ( John 4:42;  1 John 4:14 ), giving life to it as the "bread of life" ( John 6:33,51 ).

The Moral World . The moral world includes people indifferent or hostile to God, the God-hostile environment generally, and in the widest sense, corruption and evil summed up under the general term "the world."

If the people of the world can be spoken of as "the world" in a neutral sense, "the world" can also refer to the subclass of indifferent and hostile people who reject God and his ways. Before the flood nearly all the people of the world became corrupt ( Genesis 6:11 ). In Jesus' time the world hated him ( John 7:7 ) and will hate his followers ( John 15:18-19 ). The world, ungodly people, cannot receive the things of God ( John 14:17,22;  16:8-9; cf.  1 John 3:1 ) and is not even worthy of the people of faith who live among them ( Hebrews 11:38 ).

In the New Testament the world also appears as a hostile environment. Because of the hatred of the world's people, the Son asks the Father to protect his followers rather than remove them from their alien surroundings ( John 17:14-16 ). Paul expresses his indifference to the world by saying he "is crucified" as far as the world is concerned ( Galatians 6:14 ). Seven times in 1Corinthians 1-3Paul refers to the world's ignorance of God and its powerlessness to find him without the cross of Christ.

Because of the world's hostility to God, it is full of corruption ( 2 Peter 1:4 ) and stands as a symbol of corruption. One cannot be friendly with the evil world and love God at the same time ( James 4:4;  1 John 2:15-17 ). Believers by their faith must "overcome the world" ( 1 John 5:4-5 ), killing whatever belongs to their "earthly nature" ( Colossians 3:5 ) and denying "worldly passions" ( Titus 2:12 ).

The Temporal and Coming Worlds . Although the Old Testament presents the idea that the present world is temporary ( Psalm 102:25-27 ), the distinction between this world/age and the world/age to come does not appear clearly until the late intertestamental and New Testament periods. By the time of the New Testament, the distinction is clear and frequent.

Satan rules only this world ( John 12:31;  14:30;  16:11;  2 Corinthians 4:4 ), not the next one, while Jesus' kingdom is "not of this world" ( John 18:36 ) but belongs to the coming age. Jesus warns that a person may "gain the whole world" (the material things of this passing age) yet lose life in the next ( Matthew 16:26; parallels  Mark 8:36;  Luke 9:25 ). Paul expresses concern that believers may become so caught up in the affairs of this world that they will experience undue hardship in living for Christ ( 1 Corinthians 7:29-35 ).

The present world is passing away even now ( 1 John 2:17 ). Living in this transient world, one must not love it ( 2 Timothy 4:10 ), become conformed to its ways ( Romans 12:2 ), or fall in love with its godless "wisdom" ( 1 Corinthians 2:6;  3:18-19;  James 3:15 ). Instead one must live a godly life ( Titus 2:12 ), avoiding the snares of the "present evil age" from which Christ's death has set his people free ( Galatians 1:4 ). The believer may look forward to the new world, "a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness" ( 2 Peter 3:13; cf.  Revelation 21:1-5 ).

Carl Bridges, Jr.

See also Ages Age; Victory

Bibliography . H. Sasse, TDNT, 1:197-209; 3:867-98.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [4]

1: Κόσμος (Strong'S #2889 — Noun Masculine — kosmos — kos'-mos )

primarily "order, arrangement, ornament, adornment" ( 1—Peter 3:3 , see Adorn , B), is used to denote (a) the "earth," e.g.,  Matthew 13;35;  John 21:25;  Acts 17:24;  Romans 1:20 (probably here the universe: it had this meaning among the Greeks, owing to the order observable in it);   1—Timothy 6:7;  Hebrews 4:3;  9:26; (b) the "earth" in contrast with Heaven,  1—John 3:17 (perhaps also   Romans 4:13 ); (c) by metonymy, the "human race, mankind," e.g.,  Matthew 5:14;  John 1:9 [here "that cometh (RV, 'coming') into the world" is said of Christ, not of "every man;" by His coming into the world He was the light for all men];   1—John 3:10;  3:16,17 (thrice),19; 4:42, and frequently in Rom. 1Cor. and 1John; (d) "Gentiles" as distinguished from Jews, e.g.,   Romans 11:12,15 , where the meaning is that all who will may be reconciled (cp.  2—Corinthians 5:19 ); (e) the "present condition of human affairs," in alienation from and opposition to God, e.g.,  John 7:7;  8:23;  14:30;  1—Corinthians 2:12;  Galatians 4:3;  6:14;  Colossians 2:8;  James 1:27;  1—John 4:5 (thrice); 5:19; (f) the "sum of temporal possessions,"   Matthew 16:26;  1—Corinthians 7:31 (1st part); (g) metaphorically, of the "tongue" as "a world (of iniquity),"   James 3:6; expressive of magnitude and variety.

2: Αἰών (Strong'S #165 — Noun Masculine — aion — ahee-ohn' )

"an age, a period of time," marked in the NT usage by spiritual or moral characteristics, is sometimes translated "world;" the RV marg. always has "age." The following are details concerning the world in this respect; its cares,  Matthew 13:22; its sons,  Luke 16:8;  20:34; its rulers,  1—Corinthians 2:6,8; its wisdom,  1—Corinthians 1:20;  2:6;  3:18 , its fashion,  Romans 12:2; its character,  Galatians 1:4; its god,  2—Corinthians 4:4 . The phrase "the end of the world" should be rendered "the end of the age," in most places (see End , A, No. 2); in  1—Corinthians 10:11 , AV, "the ends (tele) of the world," RV, "the ends of the ages," probably signifies the fulfillment of the Divine purposes concerning the ages in regard to the church [this would come under End, A No. 1, (c)]. In  Hebrews 11:3 [lit., "the ages (have been prepared)"] the word indicates all that the successive periods contain; cp.   Hebrews 1:2 . Aion is always to be distinguished from kosmos, even where the two seem to express the same idea, e.g.,  1—Corinthians 3:18 , aion,  1—Corinthians 3:19 , kosmos; the two are used together in  Ephesians 2:2 , lit., "the age of this world." For a list of phrases containing aion, with their respective meanings, see Ever , B.

3: Οἰκουμένη (Strong'S #3625 — Noun Feminine — oikoumene — oy-kou-men'-ay )

"the inhabited earth" (see Earth , No. 2), is used (a) of the whole inhabited world,  Matthew 24:14;  Luke 4:5;  21:26;  Romans 10:18;  Hebrews 1:6;  Revelation 3:10;  16:14; by metonymy, of its inhabitants,  Acts 17:31;  Revelation 12:9; (b) of the Roman Empire, the world as viewed by the writer or speaker,  Luke 2:1;  Acts 11:28;  24:5; by metonymy, of its inhabitants,  Acts 17:6;  19:27; (c) the inhabited world in a coming age,  Hebrews 2:5 .

 Revelation 13:3 Romans 16:25 2—Timothy 1:9 Titus 1:2Eternal

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [5]

In the Bible, as in ordinary speech, ‘the world’ may refer to the physical world of God’s creation or to the people who inhabit that world ( Psalms 90:2;  Psalms 98:7;  Psalms 98:9;  Matthew 25:34;  John 3:16;  Romans 10:18). Because of sin, the world has become a place where Satan rules in people’s lives ( John 12:31;  Romans 5:12;  2 Corinthians 4:4;  1 John 5:19). Therefore, the Bible frequently speaks of the present world, or present age, as something that is evil and that is opposed to God ( John 7:7;  John 17:25;  James 4:4;  1 John 2:15). The world in this sense is the subject of the present article – the world of sinful human beings along with all the wrong attitudes that characterize them.

Living in the world

Chief among the characteristics of the ordinary (unbelieving) people of the world are covetousness and pride. Their lives are governed according to what they want to get or want to do, without any regard for God ( 1 John 2:16). This is worldliness, and it is an evil that the Bible warns Christians against. The lives of Christians are to be governed by an attitude that trusts in God, not in personal possessions or ambitions. To be constantly worried about such things is the attitude of unbelievers, not of Christians ( Matthew 6:31-32).

The temptation to worldliness may not lie in the more obviously sinful things of life. It may lie in those everyday things that are not sinful in themselves at all, such as food, work, possessions and concern for the future. These things can become wrong when people have wrong attitudes towards them (cf.  Romans 1:25).

If Christians cannot see the relation that these things have to the life of faith in God, their attitude to them can readily become worldly. Ambition can very easily become selfish ambition, wisdom become worldly wisdom, and thoughts for the future become faithless anxiety ( Matthew 6:33-34;  1 Corinthians 1:20;  1 Corinthians 2:7-8;  1 Corinthians 2:12;  1 Corinthians 3:19;  James 3:13-17;  James 4:13-17).

Worldly people are those whose values in life are determined by what they understand of the world they see around them. Godly people are those whose values are determined by what they understand of God ( 2 Corinthians 4:18;  2 Corinthians 5:7;  1 John 2:17). This does not mean that the godly must rid themselves of all possessions, power and status. But it does mean that they will not pursue those things at all costs, and will even sacrifice them when they conflict with their commitment to Jesus Christ ( Matthew 19:29;  Galatians 2:20;  Galatians 6:14;  Philippians 3:7-8).

Overcoming the world

Some Christians build a set of laws for themselves to live by, hoping that the laws will prevent them from doing what they believe to be worldly. But the very act of making laws to live by is worldly. Such people refuse to trust in the indwelling Spirit to direct their enjoyment of the freedom God has given them. Instead they trust in the methods of those who still ‘belong to the world’, who still live ‘in the flesh’ ( Galatians 3:3;  Galatians 4:9-11;  Galatians 5:1;  Colossians 2:20-23; see Flesh ). The Christians’ liberty does not mean they are free to commit sin ( Romans 6:1-2;  Romans 6:12;  Galatians 5:13;  1 John 3:4-6), but neither do human laws enable them to overcome sin ( Colossians 2:23; see Freedom ).

Christians cannot overcome the temptations of the world by using the methods of the world. They can overcome them only by trusting in the power of Christ, who has conquered Satan, the prince of the world ( John 12:31;  John 14:30;  John 16:11;  John 16:33;  1 John 5:4-5; see Temptation ). One day this same Christ will return, to free the world completely from Satan’s power ( Revelation 19:16;  Revelation 20:2-3;  Revelation 20:10).

Meanwhile Christians have to live in an evil world, while not joining in the sins of the world. They may find that, as a result, the people of the world will hate them ( John 15:18;  John 17:14-17). But they must remain faithful to Christ and keep themselves from being corrupted by the world’s evil. Only in this way can they properly carry out their function of delivering people from the corruption of sin ( Matthew 5:13-16;  John 17:18;  James 1:27).

People's Dictionary of the Bible [6]

World. This word in the A. V. is the translation of five Hebrew and four Greek words. It is therefore not always plain in what sense it is used. The Hebrew terms have these literal meanings: "The earth," "rest," "the grave,"  Isaiah 38:11; "the world," corresponding to Aion in the New Testament, or that which is finite, temporary,  Job 11:17; "the veiled," unlimited time, whether past or future; used very frequently, and generally translated "forever;" and, finally, the poetical term for "world," which occurs some 37 times, but in various meanings which are easily understood. When the Hebrews desired to express the universe they employed a phrase like "heaven and earth and the sea, and all that in them is."  Exodus 20:11. In the New Testament the Greek words are equally diverse: 1. Aion, "duration," thus used of time past,  Luke 1:70, of time present, with the idea of evil, both moral and physical.  Mark 4:19. Hence "children of this world," or worldly men,  Luke 16:8; and so Satan is called "the god of this world."  2 Corinthians 4:4 Aion is also put for endless duration, eternity,  1 Timothy 6:16, to signify the material world as created by the deity,  Hebrews 11:3; also the world to come, the kingdom of the Messiah. 2. Ge, the earth, in contrast to the heavens.  Revelation 13:3. 3. Kosmos, used in several senses:(a) the universe, the heavens, and the earth,  Matthew 13:35, and thence for the inhabitants of the universe,  1 Corinthians 4:9, and an aggregate.  James 3:6. ( B ) This lower world as the abode of man,  John 16:18; the inhabitants of the earth or mankind.  Matthew 5:14. ( C ) The present world, as opposed to the kingdom of Christ,  John 12:25; specifically, the wealth and enjoyments and cares of this world.  Matthew 16:26, and so for those who seek the opposite things to the kingdom of God, the worldlings.  John 15:19. 4. Oikoumene, the inhabited earth,  Matthew 24:14, the people of it,  Acts 17:31, sometimes the Roman empire, the then civilized world,  Acts 17:6, including Palestine and adjacent parts.  Luke 2:1;  Acts 11:28. The Jews distinguished two worlds, or sons, the present aeon to the appearance of the Messiah, and the future aeon, or the Messianic era, which is to last forever. The closing days of the present order of things were called "the last days."  Isaiah 2:2;  Micah 4:1;  Acts 2:17. The same phraseology is found in the New Testament, but the dividing-line is marked by the second instead of the first advent of the Messiah.  Matthew 12:32;  1 Corinthians 10:11;  Galatians 4:3;  Hebrews 1:2;  Hebrews 6:5;  Hebrews 9:26.

King James Dictionary [7]

WORLD, n. This seems to be a compound word, and probably is named from roundness, the vault but this is not certain.

1. The universe the whole system of created globes or vast bodies of matter. 2. The earth the terraqueous globe sometimes called the lower world. 3. The heavens as when we speak of the heavenly world, or upper world. 4. System of beings or the orbs which occupy space, and all the beings which inhabit them.  Hebrews 11 .

God--hath in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things by whom also he made the worlds.  Hebrews 1 .

There may be other worlds, where the inhabitants have never violated their allegiance to their Almighty sovereign.

5. Present state of existence as while we are in the world.

Behold, these are the ungodly who prosper in the world.  Psalms 73 .

6. A secular life. By the world we sometimes understand the things of this world, its pleasures and interests. A great part of mankind are more anxious to enjoy the world to than secure divine favor. 7. Public life, or society as banished from the world. 8. Business or trouble of life.

From this world-wearied flesh.

9. A great multitude or quantity as a world of business a world of charms. 10. Mankind people in general in an indefinite sense. Let the world see your fortitude.

Whose disposition, all the world well knows--

11. Course of life. He begins the world with little property, but with many friends. 12. Universal empire.

This through the east just vengeance hurld, and lost poor Antony the world.

13. The customs and manners of men the practice of life. A knowledge of the world is necessary for a man of business it is essential to politeness. 14. All the world contains.

Had I a thousand worlds, I would give them all for one year more to devote to God.

15. The principal nations or countries of the earth. Alexander conquered the world. 16. The Roman empire. 17. A large tract of country a wide compass of things.

I must descry new worlds.

18. The inhabitants of the earth the whole human race.  John 3 . 19. The carnal state or corruption of the earth as the present evil world the course of this world.  Galatians 1 .  Ephesians 2 . 20. The ungodly part of the world.

I pray not for the world, but for them that thou hast given men.  John 17 .

21. Time as in the phrase, world without end. 22. A collection of wonders. Not in use.

In the world, in possibility. All the precaution in the world would not save him.

For all the world,

1. Exactly. Little used. 2. For any consideration.

Webster's Dictionary [8]

(1): ( n.) The inhabitants of the earth; the human race; people in general; the public; mankind.

(2): ( n.) In a more restricted sense, that part of the earth and its concerns which is known to any one, or contemplated by any one; a division of the globe, or of its inhabitants; human affairs as seen from a certain position, or from a given point of view; also, state of existence; scene of life and action; as, the Old World; the New World; the religious world; the Catholic world; the upper world; the future world; the heathen world.

(3): ( n.) The earth and its inhabitants, with their concerns; the sum of human affairs and interests.

(4): ( n.) As an emblem of immensity, a great multitude or quantity; a large number.

(5): ( n.) The earth and its affairs as distinguished from heaven; concerns of this life as distinguished from those of the life to come; the present existence and its interests; hence, secular affairs; engrossment or absorption in the affairs of this life; worldly corruption; the ungodly or wicked part of mankind.

(6): ( n.) Any planet or heavenly body, especially when considered as inhabited, and as the scene of interests analogous with human interests; as, a plurality of worlds.

(7): ( n.) Individual experience of, or concern with, life; course of life; sum of the affairs which affect the individual; as, to begin the world with no property; to lose all, and begin the world anew.

(8): ( n.) The customs, practices, and interests of men; general affairs of life; human society; public affairs and occupations; as, a knowledge of the world.

(9): ( n.) The earth and the surrounding heavens; the creation; the system of created things; existent creation; the universe.

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [9]

The whole system of created things. (

See Creation It is taken also for a secular life, the present state of existence, and the pleasure and interests which steal away the soul from God. The love of the World does not consist in the use and enjoyment of the comforts God gives us, but in an inordinate attachment to the things of time and sense.

1. "We love the world too much, " says Dr. Jortin, "when, for the sake of any profit or pleasure, we willfully, knowingly, and deliberately transgress the commands of God.

2. When we take more pains about the present life than the next.

3. When we cannot be contented, patient, or resigned, under low and inconvenient circumstances.

4. We love the world too much when we cannot part with any thing we possess to those who want, deserve, and have a right to it.

5. When we envy those who are more fortunate and more favoured by the world than we are.

6. When we honour, and esteem, and favour persons purely according to their birth, fortunes, and success, measuring our judgment and approbation by their outward appearance and situation in life.

7. When worldly prosperity makes us proud, and vain, and arrogant.

8. When we omit no opportunity of enjoying the good things of this life; when our great and chief business is to divert ourselves till we contract an indifference for rational and manly occupations, deceiving ourselves, and fancying that we are not in a bad condition because others are worse than we."

See Jortin's Ser. vol. 3: ser. 9.; Bishop Hopkins on the Vanity of the World; Dr. Stennet's Sermon on Conformity to the World; H. Moore on Education, chap. 9. vol. 2:; R. Walker's Sermons, vol. 4: ser. 20.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [10]

The earth on which we dwell,  1 Samuel 2:8; its inhabitants,  John 3:16 , or a large number of them,  John 12:19 . In several places it is equivalent to "land," meaning the Roman Empire, or Judea and its vicinity,  Luke 2:1   4:3   Acts 11:28 . It also denotes the objects and interests of time and sense,  Galatians 6:14   1 John 2:15 .

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [11]

The Scriptures not only mean by this word to describe the heavens and the earth, but not unfrequently it is put for the people. Hence the apostle saith, "the world (that is, mankind) by wisdom knew not God." ( 1 Corinthians 1:21) The term by which the Hebrews marked the universe, was Thebel.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [12]

is the English term by which our translators have rendered four Hebrew words (in addition to the general term אֶרֶוֹ , Erits, "earth"):

1.' חֶדֶל , Chedel, which is erroneously supposed by some to have arisen by transposition of letters from חלד , comes from a root which signifies "to rest," to "discontinue," and hence "to cease from life," "to be at rest;" and as a noun, "the place of rest," "the grave." 'The word occurs in the complaint uttered by Hezekiah, when in prospect of dissolution, and when he contemplates his state among the inhabitants, not of the upper, but the lower world ( Isaiah 38:11); thus combining with many other passages to show that the Hebrews, probably borrowing the idea from the Egyptian tombs, had a vague conception of some shadowy state where the manes of their departed friends lay at rest in their ashes, retaining only an indefinable personality in a land of darkness and "the shadow of death" ( Job 10:21-22).

2. חֶלֶד , Cheled (Psalm 42:14), means "to conceal," and derivatively "any hidden thing," hence "age," "antiquity," "remote and hidden ages;" also "the world," as the hidden or unknown thing ( Psalms 49:1).

3. עוֹלָם , Olam (in the New Test. Αἰών ), the root-signification of which is "to hide," denotes a very remote, indefinite, and therefore unknown period in time past or time to come, which metaphysicians call eternity a parte ante, and eternity a, parte post ( Ecclesiastes 3:11). In  Psalms 73:12, it is rendered "world;" but in this and in the previous instance it may be questioned whether the natural creation is really meant, and not rather "the world" in our metaphorical use of the term, as denoting the intelligent world, the rational inhabitants of the earth, and still more specifically that portion of them with which we are immediately concerned.

4. תֵּבֵל , Tebel (the usual word so rendered the Greek Κόσμος ), comes from a root that signifies "to flow," and as water is the unfailing cause of fertility in the East, it denotes "to be productive," "to bear fruit;" and as a noun, "the fruit-bearer," that is, the earth. This word is frequently rendered "world" in the common version, but if more was intended than the earth on which we dwell, it may be doubted if the passages in which it occurs will justify the translators. In truth, the Hebrews had no word which comprised the entire visible universe. When they wanted to speak comprehensively of God's creation, they joined two words together and used the phrase "heaven and earth" ( Genesis 1:1). We have already seen that they had an idea of an under world; the meaning of their ordinary term for earth,

אֶרֶוֹ , which signifies the "lower," shows that they also regarded the earth as beneath the sun; while the term for heaven, שָׁמִיַם , denoting "what is elevated," indicates that their view was that the heavens, or the heights, were above. Above, below, and under these three relations of space comprehend their conception of the world. (See Earth); (See Heaven).

The following Greek words are also translated "world:"

1. Κσόμος , Kosmos, the world, Universe ( Matthew 13:35;  Matthew 24:21;  Luke 11:50;  John 17:5;  John 17:24;  Acts 17:24;  Romans 1:20); the inhabitants thereof ( 1 Corinthians 4:9); also the Earth, as the abode of man ( Matthew 13:38;  Mark 16:15;  John 1:9;  John 3:19;  John 6:14;  John 16:21;  John 16:28;  John 21:25;  Hebrews 10:5;  Matthew 4:8;  Romans 1:8); the inhabitants of the earth ( Matthew 5:14;  John 1:29;  John 3:16;  John 17:14;  John 17:25;  Romans 3:6;  Romans 3:19;  Hebrews 11:7;  2 Peter 2:5;  1 John 2:2); the multitude, as we say "everybody" ( John 7:4;  John 12:19;  John 14:22;  John 18:20;  2 Corinthians 1:12;  2 Peter 2:5); also the Heathen world ( Romans 11:12;  Romans 11:15). It likewise designates the state of the world, as opposed to the kingdom of Christ ( Matthew 16:26;  Mark 8:36;  John 18:36;  1 Corinthians 3:22;  1 Corinthians 5:10;  Ephesians 2:2;  Galatians 6:14;  James 4:4) and men of the world, worldlings ( John 12:31;  1 Corinthians 1:2;  1 Corinthians 3:19;  2 Corinthians 7:10;  Philippians 2:15); also the Jewish Dispensation, founded on Sinai and ended on Calvary ( Ephesians 1:4;  1 Peter 1:20;  Hebrews 9:26)

2. Οἰκουμένη , Oikounene, the inhabited earth, the World as known to the ancients ( Matthew 4:8;  Matthew 24:14;  Luke 4:5;  Romans 10:18;  Hebrews 1:6;  Revelation 16:14); the inhabitants of the earth ( Acts 17:31;  Acts 19:27;  Revelation 3:10;  Revelation 12:9); the Roman empire ( Acts 17:6;  Acts 24:5); Palestine and the adjacent countries ( Luke 2:1;  Acts 11:28).

3. Αἰών , Aihn, the World, or Age, the present Time, or the future, as implying duration ( Matthew 12:32;  Mark 10:50;  Mark 3:28-29;  Luke 18:30); the present world or age, with its cares, temptations, evils, etc. ( Matthew 13:22;  Luke 16:8;  Luke 20:34;  Romans 12:2;  1 Corinthians 1:20;  1 Corinthians 2:6;  1 Corinthians 2:8;  2 Corinthians 4:4;  2 Timothy 4:10;  Titus 1:12;  Galatians 1:4); and men of the world, wicked generation ( Ephesians 2:2;  Luke 16:8;  Luke 20:34); also the World Itself, as an object of creation and existence ( Matthew 13:40;  Matthew 24:3;  Hebrews 1:2;  Hebrews 11:3). This term also denotes the age or world before the Messiah, i.e., the Jewish dispensation ( 1 Corinthians 10:11;  Hebrews 9:26); also, after the Messiah, i.e., the Gospel Dispensation ( Hebrews 2:5;  Hebrews 6:5). (See Cosmogony).

In popular Christian phraseology, the world is taken also for a secular life, the present state of existence, and the pleasures and interests which steal away the soul from God. The love of the world does not consist in the use and enjoyment of the comforts God gives us, but in an inordinate attachment to the things of time and sense. We love the world too much

(1) when, for the sake of any profit or pleasure, we wilfully, knowingly, and deliberately transgress the commands of God;

(2) when we take more pains about the present life than the next;

(3) when we cannot be contented, patient, or resigned, under low and inconvenient circumstances;

(4) when we cannot part with anything we possess to those who want, deserve, and have a right to it;

(5) when we envy those who are more fortunate and more favored by the world than we are;

(6) when we honor and esteem and favor persons purely according to their birth, fortunes, and success, measuring our judgment and approbation by their outward appearance and situation in life;

(7) when worldly prosperity makes us proud and vain and arrogant;

(8) when we omit no opportunity of enjoying the good things of this life; when our great and chief business is to divert ourselves till we contract an indifference for rational and manly occupations, deceiving ourselves, and fancying that we are not in a bad condition because others are worse than we (Jortin, Sermons, volume 3, ser. 9). See Hopkins, On The Vanity Of The World; Stennet, Sermon On Conformity To The World;. More, On Education, volume 2, chapter 9; Walker, Sermons, volume 4, ser. 20.