In Herman Ridderbos’ excellent commentary on John , he has some great insights into the way Jesus uses the world “world.” We’re going to be looking at the biblical idea of “the world” in chapter 2 of John’s first letter tonight, so I thought this would make a good “appetizer.” Enjoy…
[On John 15:18-19] The coming of Jesus, especially the authority with which conducted himself in the world as the Son of God, encounters radical and, as it were, monolithic opposition (cf. 3.19ff.; 7:7; 10.33,etc), the real cause and culpable character of which is further pointed out in vss. 21ff. That hatred will also be directed at the disciples. If they were “of the world” (vs. 19), that is, if they let their conduct be conditioned by their belonging to the world, the world would not hate them (7:7), but would love them, regard them as its own, and deal with them as such. The disciples, however, as persons who have been called out of the world by Jesus and made his possessions and friends (cf. vss. 14-16), do not belong to the world. For that reason the world hates them as killjoys – as followers of the one who constantly finds fault with the world and consigns it to God’s judgment because of its estrangement from God.
[On John 16:8-11] Still, even here this antithesis is not just directed against the world. Here, too, the positive significance of the proclamation of judgment in the Word of God that continues to go out to the world remains in force. As long as that Word goes out, judgment is not God’s final and definitive word. Therefore, in announcing the witness against the world, Jesus is not taking his leave from the world in order from now on to go on only with his disciples. What determines the nature of this antithesis is Jesus’ absolute and unremitting claim on the world, the claim with which he was sent into the world by the Father and which he, even as he returns to the Father, asserts over the world with undiminished vigor by the sending of his Spirit, not to condemn the world but to save it.
[On John 17:17-19] Verses 18 and 19 speak of that mission. With “as you have sent me into the world” Jesus appeals to the agreement of the mandate he has given his disciples with his own mission from the Father and to the fact that their mission is based on his own and therefore serves to continue the Father’s work. The content and purpose of the disciples’ consecration are thus place in a clear perspective. They do not consecrate themselves to service for God away from the world, but rather in the act of entering into the world. Again we encounter here the nuanced use of the word “world” in the Forth Gospel. Although it frequently means nothing other than the domain of “the ruler of the world” and as such the sum total of human life in its alienation from and independence of God, here again the usage clearly shows how the world cannot be abandoned by God (cf. 3:16) or by Jesus (cf. 6:51) or, therefore by the disciples.
(p. 523, 534-535, 5565-556)