John’s gospel, in particular, talks much about “the world.” κόσμως (cosmos, “the world”) has different meanings. It can be taken to mean:
- the created order;
- all of humanity;
- humanity as fallen.
It can sometimes be a little difficult to determine which meaning is intended by a specific usage. In this week’s gospel lectionary reading, John 17:6-19, the writer uses κόσμως eleven times. Eleven. He’s trying to tell us something. But what?
This text is part of the longest Jesus prayer in the gospels and is part of the farewell discourse—his last meal and conversation with his friends.
I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours…
And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world…
I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask…
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