Forgive me, but today I have my hermeneutical hat on and I'm digging for treasure. In this day of "political correctness" and watching what we say so that we're not misinterpreted, I am often perplexed by our English language. This becomes an issue when reading our Bibles and trying to understand what Scripture is actually saying; especially when there are multiple Hebrew or Greek words used for our one English expression. For example, even the word "Word" has more than one meaning in the Bible, and the distinction is substantial. There is the rhema word; an inspired thought or creative idea from God, conceived in your spirit, but birthed into your natural understanding by divine illumination. You just know that your understanding has been revealed by the Holy Spirit! The logos word is the revealing and understanding that Jesus Christ is God; having been both presented to man and known by man.
But the word I'm interested in today is the word "world" as it was used by Jesus. If you asked any person on the street in America, whether a Believer or not, what that word means, you would probably get a simple one word definition: earth. But in the four Gospels, Jesus uttered "world" 91 times, and there were three meanings attached to the one English word "world". According to Strong's Concordance, He used the Greek word kosmos 78 times, the Greek word aion 12 times, and the Greek word oikoumene only once.
I want to make it clear that I believe and understand that all the words in the Bible are God-inspired and important, and I am not attempting to divide the word according to black or red letters. But in this day and age when our physical world is shrinking, and our words seem to have a greater consequence than ever, I wanted to examine some of the most important words spoken to us by Jesus and see if how He used the word "world" might impact us.
So with that Old Testament reference in mind, let's look at what Jesus said when He talked about the world and the implications for us. Since Jesus made it clear that the Parable of the Sower is the foundation for understanding all the other parables as well as the Kingdom of God, it is interesting to consider Matthew 13, verses 38 and 39. Here is how our most common English translations read, The field is the world [kosmos]; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world [aion]; and the reapers are the angels.
The first usage of the word "world" is the one He used the most -- the Greek word kosmos, and it means "the present condition of human affairs; mankind in opposition to God; and specifically not associated with the Ekklesia". The second usage is the Greek word aion, from which we get our English word eon, which means "age; an era; a period marked by spiritual or moral characteristics".
Can you see how applying the correct word [and its meaning] affects our understanding of the passage? Jesus is saying that as the Sower, He is spreading the seed of the Gospel of the Kingdom to mankind and it will affect the "condition of human affairs". The harvest is the period that is marked by the spiritual characteristics of those who "produced grain [from the good news of the Gospel of the kingdom], some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty". We must be able to "see" beyond the language barrier and understand that He's not talking about the physical earth or about the end of the world, but rather about mankind's need of a better government system.
That's why He also uses kosmos in Mark 16:15, when after His resurrection He appears to the disciples in the Upper Room and tells them, As you go into all the world [kosmos], preach openly the wonderful news of the gospel [of the kingdom] to the entire human race! In other words, as you go into the present governing system of authority and control, and its powers of influence [which affect the condition of human affairs], tell them the wonderful news that there's a new government that has arrived! It is time to go back to the original government that God established in the Garden -- where there was endless provision [instead of man having to meet his needs by the sweat of his brow]; where man received instruction directly from God as he walked and talked with Him in the cool of the day [instead of being self-educated or deceived by the lies of the Enemy]; and where the rules of God were perfect for the welfare of man all his days [instead of man deciding for himself that he can be his own god and eat from today's defiled tree of knowledge of good and evil].
The fall of man was the end of his rulership of the inhabited earth, which is the meaning [in Matthew 24:14] of the only time Jesus used the Greek word oikoumene in regards to "world": And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Here "world" does mean the inhabited earth. And Jesus makes the Father's goal in sending Him very clear: Jesus came to bring a government, and His assignment was to re-introduce God's ruling authority to the KOSMOS, those institutions in Satan's kingdom on earth who had governing authority, systems of control [in place], and which displayed powerful influence.
I'm sure you can think of ways that man needs a new form of government that effects our physical and spiritual well-being. Just consider the forms of government that man has devised on his own [with the help of the Enemy] ... the welfare system; the military/industrial complex; underfunded education systems; the Federal Reserve and the IRS. All that constitutes the devil's kingdom realm on earth.
When we receive Christ as our Savior, He tells us we are "born again". Then Jesus says that unless we are born again [saved], "we cannot see [perceive] the kingdom of God". Salvation is the first step to entering the kingdom of God. Once we take that first step, we are a citizen of Heaven [seated with Jesus in the heavenly realm] and we submit to that government. If something comes against us, our government in Heaven is activated!
You see, Jesus didn't come to fulfill the Abrahamic covenant in an attempt to get Israel back in possession of tebel [the Hebrew word for "the land"]. He came to restore the Adamic covenant, because the KOSMOS [government of human affairs] belongs to Jesus! He came to give us a new government from a divine Kingdom. Right now, we are citizens of two different kingdoms -- Heaven and Earth. He told us how to pray ... to make the kingdom here on earth resemble the one in Heaven. We are to be fighting against Satan's kingdom with YHWH's kingdom. We need to act as citizens of God's kingdom by living our lives as His ruling authority on earth, thereby effecting the human condition in all spheres of existence. We are not just citizens of this planet. We have a higher identity. We are citizens of the KOSMOS! When we practice living by the principles of the Kosmos, we live in the power of the Kingdom. We must stay positioned in that role if we are going to see our families, communities, and nation transformed!
John 3:17 God did not send His Son into the world to judge and condemn the world, but to be its Savior and rescue it [so that they should live by His hand of power]!