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Kosmos (World - John 3:16) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ben Winslett   
Tuesday, 18 May 2010 16:27

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Perhaps one of the most commonly misused verses in the entire Bible is John 3:16. To one of the Arminian persuasion, this verses states that God loved this world so much, that he gave his only son that we may have eternal life. From what I have seen, the biggest confusion and misinterpretation of this verse, revolves around the word "world."

It is commonly taught outside the Old Baptists, that this verse declares God's love for the entire human race, for the "world" as we know it. If John 3:16 were the only verse in the entire scripture that a man ever read, he may draw that conclusion fairly easily. However, if we read other scriptures and compare, we will find that is not the case. Jesus plainly states in John 17:9, that he "prays not for the world, but for those the Father gave Him." Why would He love the entire world, and then turn around and pray not for the world? That would seem to be a contradiction wouldn't it? If God loved the entire population of mankind, it would contradict verses like Romans 9:13 and Malachi 1:3: "Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated." In argument, One might say "Well, that's just Esau, and no one more." We find that wasn't and isn't true upon study of Jacob and Esau. In Genesis 25, Rebekah had conceived. During her term with child, the children struggled within her (Gen 25:22), resulting in her inquiring to the Lord of her situation. The Lord's reply to her was "Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels..." (Gen 25:23). We found that Esau was of one manner of people, and Jacob of another. What manner of people (worlds) were they of? One manner, Jacob, that the Lord loved, and the other manner, Esau, He hated. This is a picture of the separation between the elect and nonelect. In addition, when Paul writes of this in Romans ch 9, he states that this love and hate, existed when the "children were not yet born, neither having done any good or evil..." Each manner of people, is a world of its own. The world (manner of people, nation) under consideration in John 3:16, is the world like Jacob, which God loved. The world in John 17:9 is the world like Esau, which God does not love and did not give to Christ to save.

One might ask, why so many worlds? Why would the same word world be used to describe these two manner of people? The answer lies in the greek language. The word world in our KJV English Bibles, was translated from the greek word Kosmos. Kosmos is a very rich word, which can be representational of many different sized groups. Kosmos is translated into world 186 times in the New Testament, many times having different meanings and contexts.

One occurrence is Ephesians 1:4, "According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love." World here, which was translated from Kosmos, defines the actual earth.

Another verse is John 14:17 "Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not..." This verse cannot speak of the same Kosmos, or world as John 3:16, it would be a contradiction. This verse speaks of those who do not receive the Spirit, who know not God. This is a totally different world than the one in John 3:16!

There are literally several different uses and meanings of the word world, due to the word it was translated from, kosmos. The key to understanding the meaning of the word, as with any word, is to carefully and prayerfully study and compare the verse at hand to other verses and Biblical Truths. After doing thus, we can be sure the Lord has led us to the proper and intended meaning.

Ben Winslett

Note :

A breakdown and explanation of a common misinterpretation of John 3:16.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 May 2010 17:01


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