Aug 05

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The word “world” and understanding how it is used in the New Testament is most important, as one is “Studying the word of God!” Does it refer to the earth, people, or a limited period of time? Of course, in answering these questions, in our efforts to understand the New Testament, it is necessary to start with the Greek word used by the inspired writers!
The apostle Peter will help us in our study. First, it is critical in any effort to understand a text, that we know who is being written about. Peter answers this question in these words: “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts” (2 Pet. 3:3). Therefore, as we continue to read what the apostle wrote, we must understand he is addressing “scoffers.” The Greek word “scoffers” is the “empaiktēs” and Strong gives this: “a derider, that is, (by implication) a false teacher: – mocker, scoffer.” Strong also pointed out, that the word comes from: “empaizō.” This helps us, as this Greek word means: “to jeer at, that is, deride: – mock.” The words these jeering mockers said, should never be used as truth! They did not know the truth! Peter followed with: “And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (verse 4). The jeering mockers were questioning the very truthfulness of Jesus; for it was Jesus who “promised” that he would come again (John 14:1-3). Yet, not even seventy years had passed from the time of the “promise” and there were “scoffers!”
Now, please notice with care, just what the “mockers” were saying: “for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” Here they revealed their own lack of understanding of the subject! Had all things continued, “since the fathers fell asleep,” “from the beginning of the creation!” Peter takes them to task, as he replied; first, “For this they willingly are ignorant.” It is not that they did not have the necessary information, but that they were, “willingly” “ignorant!” In other words, they deliberately put themselves outside of the truth which was readily at hand! Second, Peter takes them to the truth: “that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water.” Did you notice that Peter did not use the word “world,” but the word “earth?” He is describing creation; as Moses wrote: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen.1:1). Had “all things” continued from creation until the time of Peter? No, they had not! Third, Peter states: “Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished” (verse 6). Now, it is most important for us to see a change in words: 1) earth and 2) world. Question: what does Peter say, “perished?” Was it the “earth,” or was it the “world?” Before continuing, look at the word “perished;” the Greek “apollumi,” which means: “1) to destroy, 1a) to put out of the way entirely, abolish, put an end to ruin.” Did this happen to the “world” or to the “earth?” Here we have personal evidence, as we are presently living on the “earth!” Therefore, Fourth, Peter used the Greek word “kosmos,” in identifying what “perished, which means: “an apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government.” The word “kosmos” can also mean: “the inhabitants of the earth, men, the human family;” and this is what Peter wrote that “perished.” It was “the inhabitants of the earth” that was “destroyed,” that was “put out of the way entirely.”
Fifth, Peter informs us, it is necessary that we see that the people “perished,” they were no more! On the other hand, Peter wrote: “But the heavens and the earth, which are NOW by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” It is true, that “the heavens and the earth” of Noah’s day, were changed, but they did not “perish!” However, the people, “the world,” “the kosmos,” did “perish!” Sixth, Peter gives us some most important information, as he addresses the “heavens and the earth,” in his time and our time; that they are: “kept in store.” Just how are the “heavens and the earth” “kept in store?” Friends, get this please: “by the same word!” The word of God! It was God who brought to an end those living in Noah’s day. The “heavens and the earth” are now “reserved unto fire against the day of judgment!”
In this limited study, it is impossible to cover all that is needed, but it is our trust that these three articles, have brought to your mind, that we must be careful when “Studying the word of God!” It is necessary, to notice the words, to pick up on the fact, that the writer has changed words. To understand that the words: 1) world and 2) earth, are not the same and do not refer to the same thing!

Frank R. Williams

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