SPECIAL TOPIC: PAUL'S USE OF KOSMOS (WORLD)

Paul uses the term kosmos in several ways.

1. all the created order (cf. Rom. 1:20; Eph. 1:4; 1 Cor. 3:22; 8:4,5)

2. this planet (cf. 2 Cor. 1:12; Eph. 1:10; Col. 1:20; 1 Tim. 1:15; 3:16; 6:7)

3. humans (cf. Rom. 3:6,19; 11:15; 1 Cor. 1:27-28; 4:9,13;2 Cor. 5:19; Col. 1:6)

4. humans organized and functioning apart from God (cf. 1 Cor. 1:20-21; 2:12; 3:19; 11:32; Gal. 4:3; Eph. 2:2,12; Phil. 2:15; Col. 2:8,20-23).  It is very similar to John's usage (i.e., 1 John 2:15-17)

5. the current world structures (cf. 1 Cor. 7:29-31; Gal. 6:14, similar to Phil. 3:4-9, where Paul describes Jewish structures)

In some ways these overlap and it is hard to categorize every usage. This term, like so many in Paul's thought, must be defined by the immediate context and not a pre-set definition.  Paul's terminology was fluid (cf. James Stewart's A Man in Christ). He was not attempting to set up a systematic theology, but proclaim Christ.

 

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