According to the NIV Exhaustive Concordance, The word “WORLD” occurs in the whole Bible for 261 times, including “WORLD’S” and “WORLDLY”. This word has triggered a lot of arguments and debates not only among the theologians, but also among the lay believers. The theologians might argued whether the “World” in John 3:16 refers to the whole human race, or just the chosen believers. As for the lay believers, many husbands feel unfair to be described as “one loves the world” by their wives simply because of buying a new IPhone.
Occurrences in Paul’s Letters
Paul uses this word (including “world’s” and “worldly”) frequently in his letters. There are totally about 60+ explicit usages and 2 more implicit references to this word. The meaning of this word according to context can be categorized into 5 meanings: the world of space (the cosmos), the creation by God, this age, and the coming age.
The World of Space is a geographic usage of the Greek word kosmos. It can be translated to “the earth” or “the universe”. In Romans 10:18, when Paul quotes Ps 19:4 that “to the ends of the world”, he is indicating the earth. In some cases this word might mean the Promised Land instead of the planet earth.
God’s creation is a generic usage of this word. While the word is used in this way, it’s talking about the creation of the God. “The World” then is a neutral word as the object of God’s divine creation. Such usage can be found in Romans 1:20, 25, 4:17; 1 Cor 1:28, etc.
An assignment for New Testament Survey
In Mark 15:21, when Jesus was led to the place where he was going to be crucified, the soldiers forced a passerby named Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross for Jesus. It is also recorded in other two synoptic gospels, Matthew 27:32 and Luke 23:26. I was asked several times by some believers in the church on the significance of this person. I also found different interpretations on the figure of Simon. Some even explain that this insertion indicates that sometimes strangers need to sacrifice because of the persecution to Christians, while some claim that Simon’s act is a deed of sympathetic magnanimity.
So we fist need to know why Simon took the cross over from Jesus. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:41) Jesus says “Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.” According to many commentary books, the Roman rule over Israel of the 1st century was a very oppressive and dominating government. Craig Keener says in his commentary on the situation: “Because tax revenues did not cover all the Roman army’s needs, soldiers could requisition what they required. Romans could legally demand local inhabitants to provide forced labor if they wanted and were known to abuse this privilege.” In the same way, Simon was forced by a Roman soldier to help carry the cross that crucified Christ. Betz notes that “the victim of such a despicable request was legally obliged to comply.”
Cultural / Historical Background: SBL assumed that the book uses a future orientation to challenge the situation of the original readers. Osborn (2002: 1) thinks there are two important attributes associated with the book of Revelation: a. they are predominantly futuristic in perspective, and (b) it is a disjunctive fallacy to take an either-or stance regarding different views and interpretation on a given text. Revelation speaks of certain stability in the situation of the churches but it also indicates a fair amount of persecution. It should be noted that there are both prophecy and apocalyptic in the letter. Prophecy tends to be oracular and apocalyptic visionary. Both center on salvation for the faithful and judgment for the unfaithful.
Contextual Background: Chapter 19 is an illustration of final victory, which is the end of the evil empire at the parousia (19:6-21). It’s the second part of the section of Final judgment at the arrival of the eschaton (17:1-20:15). There are four topics in the section of final judgment: A. Destruction of Babylon the Great (17:1-19:5); B. Final victory (19:6-21); C. The thousand-year reign of Christ and final destruction of Satan (20:1-10); and D. Great white throne judgment (20:11-15). The chorus is indicating the view of believer who is joyful for the returning of Christ. In the selected text, we see the parousia from the view of unbeliever (Osborn, 692).
Cultural / Historical Background: The book of Hebrews is a balanced combination of doctrinal exposition and paraenesis. The audience and author of the book are unknown, but according to the content of the book, traditionally many scholars think it’s written primarily for jewish-Christian audience. The letter was written as an attempt to prevent a relapse into or a failure to move completely out of Judaism (Attridge, 10). However there are other factors involved in this letter, including persecution, the delay of Parousia, and the general fatigue, doubt and lassitude that naturally developed in a community grown too accustomed to its initial commitment.
Contextual Background: the text of 12:1-11 is part of a big chunk starting from 10:26 and finishing at 12:13. It’s the 4th main point of the letter as an exhortation to faithful endurance. It’s the rhetorical climax of the epistle, also contains the author’s last major teaching, and his final general appeal to the readers to avoid apostasy. 10:26-28 is the Paraenetic prelude, 11:1-40 is an encomium on faith, then 12:1-13 is a homily on faithful endurance. The concluding exhortation of the whole book starts from 12:14. The major focus of the text is the virtue mentioned at the end of chapter 10 – the endurance. Particularly toward the conclusion of chapter 11, the endurance here is linked to the endurance of persecution.
Structure: The text has three major sections. The first section is vv. 1-3, talking about Jesus the inaugurator and perfecter of faith and endurance. Then vv 4-6 is a citiation of the Scripture, followed by an expository application of vv. 7-11. I would rather segment it into three metaphors: metaphor of race (vv.1-2), metaphor of wrestling (vv.3-4), and metaphor of discipline (vv.5-11).
Contextual Background: This passage starts without transitional links to preceding text. But it joins directly into the gnomic collection of sayings in chapter 12. It belongs to the section of 12:1-15:13, which talks about living together according to the gospel so as to sustain the hope of global transformation. Christians’ attitude toward government and authority is a key to earthly life. This passage emphasizes order, authority, civil obedience, payment of taxes or revenue, and honor for civil authorities as “God’s servants.”
Cultural / Historical Background: The passage has been interpreted as a warning not to participate in Jewish zealots, in revolutionary agitation, or create unrest that would jeopardize. It’s also has been seen as a warning against Christian enthusiasm that believed the requirement of a state was no longer necessary. Up to the time that Paul wrote there had been no official persecution of Christians in Rome (Fitzmyer, 662). Paul seems to have learned something about the situation and reaction of Christians at Rome to the conduct of the publican and the general tax-situation under Nero.
Contextual Background: Mark 4 contains four parables of Jesus: the parable of the sower and its interpretation (vv. 1-20), the parable of the lamp (44.21-25), the parable of the secretly growing seed (vv.26-29), and the parable of the mustard seed (vv.30-32). Parables are widely used in both Old Testament and the writings of the rabbis, but it’s the first time that Jesus teaches in parables. Of the four parables in this chapter, the parable of sower is the most important not because it’s the longest, but because Jesus privately explains to his disciples the reason he speaks in parables and he also interpreted the parable. The key theme throughout the chapter is the need to hear and respond to the truth. The repeated command of “Listen!” and “he who has ears to hear, let him hear” is used several times. Before this chapter, the narrative has described the initial proclamation of the Kingdom of God through miracles and teachings. The responses have been surprisingly varied. There are enthusiastic followers (3:13-19) and enemies (3:20-22). We can also notice that not all people who follow and listen to Jesus are faithful followers. This might be the reason for preaching in parables (4:10-12)
Cultural Background: it has been widely claimed that in first century Palestine sowing preceded plowing. The farmer sows seed randomly in broadcast fashion and expecting to return to plow it into the soil later. Jesus in this case might be implying that the good news is being sown far and wide (regardless of the motivation and intention of the audience) in the hopes of drawing a harvest from every possible corner (Wessel and Strauss, 752).