In the New Testament Scriptures, there are several Greek words translated “world.” The most common is “cosmos,” origin of our words cosmic, cosmopolitan, and cosmetics. Its basic meaning is “a complex, unified system or arrangement of harmony, order and beauty.” And this gives rise to secondary meanings like “appropriate, fitting (modesty), fashion, adorn, ornament.” Of all New Testament writers, John uses “cosmos” or “world” the most. And this article focuses on that one word in the gospel of John concerning the world that God so loved, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (3:16).
The gospel of John is that Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God, perfect image of the Father and loved by Him before the foundation of the world, is sent into the world to save the world (3:17; 4:42; 17:5). He is the Lamb slain to take away the sins of the world (1:29). He is the eternal Prophet and Word born into the world to bear witness to the truth and speak those things He heard from God (6:14; 8:26; 18:20). He is the Bread from heaven that gives life to the world (6:33). He is the true Light that enlightens every man who comes into the world (1:4, 9; 8:12; 9:5).
God sent His beloved, only-begotten Son into the world He so loved, but the world loved Him not; His Son made the world, but the world knew Him not; God’s Word came into the world, but the world received Him not (7:7; 14:16-17). The world neither loves, knows, nor receives the Son because He is from above, the glorified Light of God, sanctified by His Father before the world was; but the world is from beneath, in darkness and blind, loves darkness rather than light, and its deeds are evil (8:23; 10:36; 11:27; 1:10; 3:19; 17:13).
Yet the Son came into the world. He loves the world, yet He prays not for the world (3:16; 17:9). He came not to judge the world, yet for judgment He did come into the world (3:17; 12:77; 9:39; 12:31). He is the Light of God that makes the blind to see, but the seeing to be blind. He is Light to those who walk in it so they abide not in darkness, but is a stumbling-stone to those who walk in night (9:39; 11:9-10; 12:46). He is the Son of God born to die to draw the world to Himself, but who lives to overcome the world and cast out the prince of this world (12:31-32; 16:33). He is the Truth of God, such that whosoever believes in Him shall have everlasting life from sin and whosoever believes not shall die in sin (8:24). He is the Life of God, so that he who loves his life in this world loses it, but he who hates his life in this world keeps it unto life eternal (12:25).
Jesus came into this world but has departed unto the Father, having loved His own in the world (16:28; 13:1). His own are given to Him by the Father before the world and chosen by Him out of the world (15:9; 17:4-6). They are in the world but, like the Son, are not of this world, are born from above and sent into this world and, therefore, like the Son, are hated by the world (15:19; 17:18). To them, the Son manifests His Father’s name so they know Him (17:25), hear His voice (18:37), keep His word (17:6), are given peace and comfort and have His joy fulfilled in themselves (16:7; 17:13). And in Him they are all one, even as Father and Son are one— the Son in them and Father in the Son—that the world may believe that the Father sent His Son and may know He loves Him (17:21-23). For His own He prays, not that they be taken out of the world but, rather, kept in the world and kept from its evil (17:11-15). For His own He prays, that they may be where He is, to behold the glory given Him as Son loved before the foundation of the world (17:24).
These, and many other things Jesus did, which if every one was written, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen (21:25).