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World, The


A term used with various meanings in different parts of the Bible. In the OT, God is Creator of the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:1-2:3), and there is ample reflection on the Creator’s role in establishing the earth and everything in, above, and under it (Job 38), including humankind (Gen 1:26-28; Gen 2:7; Gen 15-24:7; Ps 8:3-8). But in the NT (particularly in the Pauline and Johannine literature) the term takes on special meanings. For Paul “the world” is estranged from God and in need of reconciliation (2Cor 5:19). Still, through God’s action in Christ “the present form of this world is passing away” (1Cor 7:31). Thus Paul can urge the Romans not to be conformed to this world (Rom 12:2). In the Gospel of John, the world is God’s creation through Christ (John 1:3; John 1:10) and the object of God’s salvation in Christ (John 3:16; John 12:47) but, apart from Christ, the world stands under judgment (John 16:8-11). The world hates Jesus and his followers, people who have been separated from the world and are not of the world (John 17:16).

  • Powell, Mark Allan, ed. HarperCollins Bible Dictionary. Abridged Edition. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2009.