What is the meaning of ‘the world’ in the Bible?

What is the meaning of ‘the world’ in the Bible, because in one place the Lord says, “For God so loved the world”, and then in another He says, “Do not love the world” ?

The word ‘world’ in the Bible has three interpretations and if we do not understand each meaning, it can lead to confusion:

1. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”(John 3:16). Here the ‘world’ means the people – ‘whoever’. Therefore, God loves everybody in the world, and created us in His own image; you also must love everyone in the world in Christ, in a pure, fruitful, building way. To deal with the world as people equals love.

2. “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” (1 John 2:15). This verse relates to the ‘things’ of the world; ‘things’ being sins such as adultery and pride.

3. “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). This verse emphasises how much the sin of adultery is displeasing to God. Both James and 1 John explain how we must hate the world as sin, but love the world as people. This is because we are servants of the Lord, and members in the huge body of mankind, and it is our purpose to witness in front of everybody for the Lord.

By Bishop Moussa

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