The use of the term "Kosmos "

Andrew Lee -

Question:

One of my students was confused last night about the use of the term Kosmos in Module 2 to “represent the present world structure and system of rebellion and sin” and Ladd’s use of the term in his book The Gospel of the Kingdom, “something which is in proper order or harmony” (Ladd, 25) and ask me about it. The only thing I could come up with was that the TUMI material was using Kosmos I some sort of theological sense as opposed to the normal use of the word. I thought I would check with you all to see if you had any thoughts.

 

Davis, Rev. Dr. Don L. (2012-02-09). The Kingdom of God, Module 2 (The Capstone Curriculum) (Kindle Locations 395-396). TUMI / World Impact. Kindle Edition.

 

Answer:

The terms translated "world" in the Greek have different meanings, dependent on the context and purpose of the author using it.  One skill you ought to help your students acquire is the ability to know that words neither have univocal (singular and final) uses.  We are referring to English translations of Greek terms, and in all language study, we should remind ourselves that words have multiple applications.  The term is used 186 times in the NT, and dependent on the author and context, the meanings shift and vary.  For instance, John uses the term 23 times in 1 John, and his context and usage refers largely to the world system in opposition to the Father, i.e., 1 John 2:15-17 (ESV)  15  Do not love the world or 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 desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17  And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.  This context is consistent with my usage you quote in Module 2.  This "order" is associated with demonic influence, control and structure.  However, the term can be used also to refer to Ladd's understanding "something which is in proper order or harmony" such as its use in Acts 17.24
"Acts 17:24 (ESV)  24  The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man" which carries Ladd's sense.  In order to do proper word study you must 1) eliminate the idea that words have univocal, final, once-for-all meanings, 2) look at how words are being used by authors in their own literary and theological context, and 3) focus on the "usages" of terms rather that the "absolute meanings" of terms.  Nothing beats simply finding a term and exploring the various ways and means in which contemporary authors used them--you are more likely to find possible insight that way than thinking that words can either mean "this" or "that."

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