[1Jo 2:17 ESV] (17) And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

[1Jo 2:17 mGNT] καὶ ὁ κόσμος παράγεται καὶ ἡ ἐπιθυμία αὐτοῦ ὁ δὲ ποιῶν τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ μένει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα

Would the "world" here refer to:

  • Judaism as a theocratic system
  • carnal people in general
  • Rome
  • planet Earth
  • something else?

Possibly related:

[1Co 7:31 ESV] (31) and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

[1Co 7:31 mGNT] καὶ οἱ χρώμενοι τὸν κόσμον ὡς μὴ καταχρώμενοι παράγει γὰρ τὸ σχῆμα τοῦ κόσμου τούτου


First, I could not find any instance of κόσμος (kosmos) referring to the Roman world, nor to Judaism specifically. οἰκουμένη (oikoumené) tends to used in these meanings, eg, Luke 2:1, Acts 11:28, etc. Further, I could not find an instance of κόσμος (kosmos) referring to carnal (or unconverted or wicked) people exclusively.

BDAG lists eight meanings for κόσμος (kosmos), the most of which (three are essentially Greek literature uses) all surround the totality of humanity, eg,

#3. the sum total of everything here and now

#4. the sum total of all things above the level of the animals

#5. planet earth as a place inhabitation

#6. humanity in general

#7. the system of human existence

Thus, there is little that is exclusive about the meaning of this word. It appears to include everything about the current world of humanity.

1 John 2:17 should not be separated from the previous two verses. Paul presents a singular choice - to love the Father (and all that entails) or to love the world. He even lists that which defines love of the world - desire of the flesh, desire of the eyes, and the pride of riches; these three create our human love of the world and all it offers.

In order to help make this decision, John then reminds us (v17) that the world (all who love it) will pass away but those who love the Father will live forever (NIV, NRSV, NLT, NASB, etc). The promise of a new world consisting of a new heaven and new earth occurs in other places as well, 2 Peter 3:13, Rev 21:1. See also Matt 24:29-31.

  • So in the next verse, when he says it is the "final hour" is he referring to the passing away of the whole of humanity is around the corner?: [1Jo 2:18 ESV] (18) Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.
    – Ruminator
    Apr 22 '19 at 0:24
  • Also, I believe you left out the most relevant entry in BDAG which is #8!
    – Ruminator
    Apr 22 '19 at 0:38
  • While that is true, all except one (John 3:6) were examples from non-biblical literature, so definitely no relevant here. The other meanings were VERY common in the Bible.
    – user25930
    Apr 22 '19 at 2:25
  • The term "last hour", "last days" etc, is consistently used of the time since Jesus resurrection. For example, Acts 2:17, 2 Tim 3:1, Heb 2:1, James 5:3, 1 Peter 1:5, 20, 2 Peter 3:3, Jude 18, Rev 2:16, etc.
    – user25930
    Apr 22 '19 at 2:29
  • So was John just being dramatic in order to create an air of anticipation for us who are living in the distant future? Can we safely ignore the flashing red light (since that seems to be all it does)?
    – Ruminator
    Apr 22 '19 at 8:19

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