There are four Greek words which are thus translated; and it is most important that they should be, in each occurrence, carefully distinguished.  They are as follows :--
  1. kosmos = the world as created, ordered, and arranged.  Hence it is used in the LXX for the Heb. word rendered "ornament".  See Ex. 33:5, 6.  Isa. 49:18.  Jer. 4:30.  Ezek. 7:20, &c.  It denotes the opposite of what man has called "chaos", which God never created.  See notes on Isa. 45:18 and Gen. 1:2 :  for the Heb. bara' means not only to create, but that what was created was beautiful.  The root, meaning to carve, plane, polish, implies both order and beauty.  Cp. Ap. 146.

  2. aion = an age, or age-time, the duration of which is indefinite, and may be limited or extended as the contest of each occurrence may demand. The root meaning of aion is expressed by the Heb 'olam (see Ap. 151. I. A and II. A) which denotes indefinite unknown or concealed duration; just as we speak of the "patriarchal age",  or "the golden age", &c.  Hence, it has come to denote any given period of time, characterized by a special form of Divine administration or dispensation.

    In the plural we have the Heb. 'olamim and Gr. 'aiones used of ages, or of a succession of age-times, and of an abiding age to age.  From this comes the adjective aionios (Ap. 151. II. B), used of an unrestricted duration, as distinct from a particular or limited age-time.  These age-times must be distinct or they could not be added to, or multiplied, as in the expression aions of aions. These ages or age-times were all prepared and arranged by God (see Heb. 1:2; 11:3); and there is a constant distinction in the New Testament between "this age", and the "coming age" (see Matt. 12:32.  Heb. 1:2.  Eph. 1:21).

    "This age" is characterized by such passages as Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43.  Mark 4:19; 10:30.  Rom. 12:2. 1Cor. 2:8.  2Cor. 4:4.  Gal. 1:4.  Eph. 2:2 (transl. "course").  2Tim 4:10.  Tit. 2:12. The "coming age" is characterized in such passages as Matt. 13:39, 40, 49; 24:3; 28:20.  Mark 10:30.  Luke 18:30; 20:35.  1Cor. 15:23.  Tit. 2:13. The conjunction of these ages is spoken of as the sunteleia, marking the end of one age and the beginning of another.

    Other indefinite durations are mentioned, but they always refer to some unknown and prolonged continuance of the end of which cannot be seen; such as the end of life (Ex. 21:6).  Hence the Hebrew Priesthood was so characterized because its end could not be foreseen (see Ex. 40:15.  1Sam. 1:22.  Heb. 7:12).  It is used in the same way in other connections (see Matt. 21:19.  John 8:35).  For further information see Ap. 151. II. A.

  3. oikoumene = the world as inhabited.  It is from the verb oikeo = to dwell.  It is used of the habitable world, as distinct from the kosmos (No. 1 above, which = the world as created).  Hence it is used in a more limited and special sense of the Roman Empire, which was then predominant.  See Luke 2:1; 4:5;  21:26.  It is sometimes put by the Fig. Metonymy (of the Adjunct), Ap. 6, for the inhabitants (Acts 17:6, 31.  Heb. 2:5, 6, &c).

  4. ge = land, as distinct from water; or earth as distinct from heaven; or region or territory, used of one special land, or country, as distinct from other countries, in which peoples dwell, each on its own soil.

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