"WORLD" - John's Ten Uses of the Word by Pastor John Samson
The word â€œworldâ€ (Greek: Kosmos) appears 185 times in the New Testament: 78 times in John, 8 in Matthew, 3 in Mark, and 3 also in Luke. The vast majority of its occurrences are therefore in Johnâ€™s writings, as it is also found 24 times in Johnâ€™s three epistles, and just three times in Peter.
John uses the word â€œworldâ€ in ten different ways in his Gospel.
1. The Entire Universe - John 1:10; 1:3; 17:5
2. The Physical Earth - John 13:1; 16:33; 21:25
3. The World System - John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11 (see also similar usage in Gal 1:4 â€“ Paul)
4. All humanity minus believers - John 7:7; 15:18
5. A Big Group but less than all people everywhere - John 12:19
6. The Elect Only - John 3:17
7. The Non-Elect Only - John 17:9
8. The Realm of Mankind - John 1:10; (this is very probably the best understanding of the word "world" in John 3:16 also)
9. Jews and Gentiles (not just Israel but many Gentiles too) - John 4:42
10. The General Public (as distinguished from a private group) â€“ not those in small private groups - John 7:4
Seeing this list can be very helpful â€“ especially when traditions reign supreme in some peopleâ€™s minds that "world" always means all people everywhere. Sometimes it does, but most of the time, it does not. It is a tradition that is very strong but one that cannot survive biblical scrutiny. It is the context that always establishes the meaning of words and their usage.