When we read the Bible, we frequently see the term “world” appear in a few different ways. So what in the world does the Bible mean when it uses the word world? Let’s find out together.
There are three common ways the term “world” is used in Scripture. The first is, naturally, to refer to the physical world itself. The second refers to the people of the earth, either the collective human population, or a collection of people from all nations and backgrounds.
The third way the Bible uses the term is to refer to an active and evil spiritual force that is in direct conflict with God and His kingdom. In other words, the world is opposed to God, operating under Satan’s control (Eph. 2:2; John 14:30), and displaying the same self- centeredness and deceit that is found within his character.
We see this playing out all around us, every day. It’s on the news, on the internet, and in our neighborhoods. So what are we, if we are followers of Jesus, supposed to do about it?
Well, Christians are called to overcome this world of spiritual evil by faith in the Son of God (1 John 5:4-5). This means that we recognize that our only hope for a life free from sin is found in the gospel—in Jesus’ defeat of sin in his death and resurrection. And so we can love the people of the world while we honestly confront and challenge the world that is opposed to God, knowing that the powers at work in this world will be finally and fully defeated when Jesus returns.