What is the world? I mean, when the bible speaks about it.
It can mean many different things. There are 2 main words used for “world” in the New Testament. One is “aionos” which generally means “age”. The characteristics that mark a definite period of time.
We are told in Romans 12v1-2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world (age), but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” This world has a way of thinking, a spirit in it, which is different than the way we should think as believer, we are not to be conformed to this age, its standards, its ideals, its way of thinking but to be transformed (from the inside out) by the renewing of our minds that we may test and prove in our lives the good acceptable and perfect will of God.
The Lord “gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age“(Galatians 1v4). To me this is a challange and a rebuke, how often I catch myself thinking the way this world thinks and not recognising that this age is an evil age!
Another word for world is “cosmos”. The opposite of “chaos”, it can mean the ordered world system, or the world of people etc etc. The context where it is used tells us exactly what way we are to understand it.
In the Gospel message to unbelievers we love to announce “God so loved the world (cosmos) that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world (cosmos) to condemn the world (cosmos), but that the world (cosmos) through Him might be saved. ” This is the world of people. God gave His Son to provide salvation for all the people of the world! How wonderful!
The same word is used in a different way in 1 John 2v15. “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.” John is telling Christians NOT to love the world! After telling us that God loves the world, how come? The answer is that in this chapter John is speaking about the “world-system”, that is against God, we are not to love that. It has plenty of attractions but they won’t last (1 John 2v16). It is a world that doesn’t understand Christians or Christ (1 John 3v1), in fact it hates Christians (1 John 3v13). It is full of error and false teachers (1 John 4v1-6). Christians will overcome it eventually. It is all under the sway of the Wicked One (1 John 5v19).
Take time to read the wonderful Christian Classic, “Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan on the world system which he speaks of as “Vanity Fair”. (NB I don’t agree with absolutely everything in the book!)