The Biblical Definition of the Word “World”

The world’s population is great. Many live in different worlds on the earth of ours, some are followers of Christ looking forward to the world to come, and some are focused on the evils of this world.

No wonder those who are not followers of Christ are confused by the word “world.” Also, Christians can be confused, many Christians use it in the wrong context inferring the wrong meaning, thus coming to wrong conclusions.

Many meanings arise in the Bible (see below) when one properly uses the Biblical context to define this word. In “Christian lingo” I think many think they are using it as “Sin” or “Unbelievers of Christ”. However, usually this is not the case, most use it instead of the word “culture” or surrounding “society” or maybe “people”. It is almost always used in a negative tone, in an attempt to mimic the Bible.

In a sense, “society” or “culture” might have some overlap with”sin” and “unbelievers” but this is a conflation of terms. As far as I know the Bible never degrades the culture or society around believers unless it contradicts Scripture.

If we mean culture, then lets just say culture, if we mean something else, and the word “world” seems to fit, lets make sure it is the correct word for the correct purpose. If we do mean culture or society, lets understand that culture and society can contain sin or ungodliness, but does not mean sin or ungodliness. If it did, God would be in the wrong, because he loved the “world” meaning people or society!

Note: see the other articles that discuss the World: Thou Shalt Look DifferentLove Not the World.

  • World meaning “Earth” 
    • 2 Peter 2:5  “And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly”
  • World meaning “Sin”
    • 2 Peter 2:20 “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.”
    • 1 John 2:15-17 ” Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
  • World meaning all “People” or “Society”
    • 1 John 2:2  “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”
    • John 3:16 “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.”
  • World meaning “Unbelievers of Christ”
    • 1 John 3:1 “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.”
    • 1 John 3:13 “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.”
  • World meaning “Physical possessions”
    • 1 John 3:17 “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” 
  • World meaning “The After Life”
    • Luke 18:30 “Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.”
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