Due to the lack of serious study within the Christian Church, many false and misunderstood teachings have crept in. Not only do many popular teachings lack Biblical and historical context, they are also propounded by failing to properly understand the phrases and words that have been translated into English. In this study we will examine some Greek words to get a bit more clarity.
The Greek words that are translated “world” in the English Bible are: oikoumene, kosmos, ge, and aion. For the sake of this study, we will focus on oikumene and aion, namely because they are the 2 words that speak of things that were about to come (the oikoumene to come (Hebrews 2:5) and the aion to come (Hebrews 6:5)”.
The term “oikumene” seems to be best understood as referring to the surrounding environment, or what some would refer to as economy (order of things). This is used in the following places in Scripture: Matthew 24:14; Luke 2:1; Luke 4:5; Luke 21:26; Acts 11:28; Acts 17:6; Acts 19:27; Acts 24:5; Romans 10:18; Hebrews 1:6; Hebrews 2:5; Revelation 3:10; Revelation 12:9; and Revelation 16:14.
Honest and careful study, “rightly dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)”, would lead us to understand the world commonly translated world from the Greek oikumene is not speaking about the whole planet. Therefore, this causes a challenge to what many are expecting to happen throughout the whole planet – BECAUSE THE WORD DOESN’T MEAN THAT!!!
Peter Leithart, a NT scholar, made a good point in remarking, “In many passages of the New Testament, oikumene refers to the Greco-Roman imperial world. More theologically, it refers to the arrangement of Israel and Gentiles that God formed during and after the exile”.
The term “aion” references a denoted period of time. The Jews understood 2 ages – the present evil age and the age to come, both periods of time marked out by the systems being used (Old Covenant- New Covenant). This is used in the following places in Scripture: Matthew 12:32; Matthew 13:22, 39, 40, 49; Matthew 24:3; Matthew 28:20; Mark 4:19; Mark 10:30; Luke 1:70; Luke 16:8; Luke 18:30; Luke 20:34-35; Acts 15:8; Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 1:20; 1 Corinthians 2:6-8; 1 Corinthians 3:18; 1 Corinthians 10:11; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Galatians 1:4; Ephesians 1:21; Ephesians 2:2, 7; Ephesians 3:9; Ephesians 6:12; Colossians 1:26; 1 Timothy 6:17; 2 Timothy 4:10; Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 6:5; Hebrews 9:26; Hebrews 11:3.
Reading the “end of the age” in line with what Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24:3 helps clarify what was being referred to as the “end times”. When we read these words consistently and appropriately we are able to let go of false teachings and hopes that misapply what was being detailed throughout the Scriptures. Instead of the 1st century disciples hoping for an end to the planet, we note they were hoping for an end of the oikoumene and the aion, which surely occurred after the destruction of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem during the Roman-Jewish War of AD 70.
Lastly, many continue and propound confusion by asserting that before the end comes, the gospel must be preached to the entire “world”, however they fail to understand how the words for “world” are used. The following link will bring you to a chart that shows the different uses of words that applied to the “Great Commission”, as well as other thoughts to further your understanding:
Blessings in Christ Jesus,
Pastor Michael Miano
The Blue Point Bible Church