Original Research - Special Collection: Cosmological Perspectives

God and the world in the epistles of Paul

Michael Wolter
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 47, No 2 | a700 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v47i2.700 | © 2013 Michael Wolter | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 February 2013 | Published: 13 November 2013

About the author(s)

Michael Wolter, Department for New Testament, Protestant Theological Faculty, University of Bonn, Germany and Unit of Reformed Theology, North-West University, South Africa


Paul is not interested in cosmological thinking in the proper sense of the word. This article starts by questioning the cosmological language of biblical writings. The authors of the books of the New Testament mostly use terms they found in the Septuagint – with a few remarkable exceptions. This article described how the specific term κόσμος has been used by the New Testament authors. There are two main usages of κόσμος: (1) as an anthropological term to describes mankind in its entirety; and (2) as an ecclesiological term to describes ‘the others’, that is the non-believers or the people outside the church. This is the reason why God is never called ‘the king of the world’; he is only its judge.

Paulus was nie sodanig in kosmologiese denke geïnteresseerd nie. Hierdie artikel begin met ’n vraag na die kosmologiese taalgebruik van Bybelse geskrifte. Die skrywers van die Nuwe Testamentiese boeke het meestal die terme gebruik wat hulle in die Septuaginta gevind het − met ’n paar merkwaardige uitsonderings. Hierdie artikel verduidelik hoe die term κόσμος deur Nuwe Testamentiese skrywers gebruik is. Twee hoofgebruike van κόσμος word genoem: (1) as ’n antropologiese term om die totale mensdom te beskryf; en (2) as ’n ekklesiologiese term om ‘die ander’, naamlik die nie-gelowiges of die buitekerklikes, te beskryf. Dit is die rede waarom God nooit ‘die koning van die wêreld’ genoem word nie; Hy is slegs die regter daarvan.


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