"He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him." (John 1:10)
This lesson is the first in the series on "Christians and the World." This lesson explains the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words for "the world" in the Old and New Testaments.
Consider. What does the expression, "the world," mean to you? Do you think of just the physical earth which God created? Or, do you think about the people of the world? Does the world described in the Bible include people who know Christ as well as those who do not know Christ?
"The World" - Old Testament Definition
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word used most often for "the world" is tebel (pronounced as tay-bale'). "The world" (tebel) is the earth as moist and therefore inhabited (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, Ref. 1). So, the word for "the world" in the Old Testament refers to the earth and by implication to the inhabitants of the earth (Ref. 1). The first mention of "the world" (tebel) in the Old Testament occurs in 1 Samuel 2:8. Tebel occurs 36 times in the Old Testament (Ref. 1).
The Old Testament describes "the world" in these four main ways:
"The World" - New Testament Definition
In the New Testament, the Greek word used most often for "the world" is kosmos. Kosmos means an "ordered system" (like the universe, creation) (Ref. 7). Kosmos also refers to the inhabitants of the world and to worldly affairs. Kosmos occurs 186 times in the New Testament (Ref. 7). "The world" (kosmos) occurs more often in the Gospel of John than in any other New Testament book (more than 70 occurrences in John).
The New Testament writers use "the world" (kosmos) in three main ways:
The Hebrew and Greek words for "the world" in both the Old and New Testaments include not only the physical world which God created but also the people of the world. Even though God loves all the people of the world, some people know and love Christ, and others do not know Christ. Some people are hostile to Christ and to those who follow Christ. I plan to discuss God's love for the world in the next lesson in this series.
Apply. John, Jesus' disciple, wrote about Jesus, "He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him" (John 1:10). If you do not know Jesus Christ, put your faith and trust in him. Ask him to forgive your sins, and he will cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Ask Jesus to come into your life. You and he will begin a new relationship and you will know him better each day. If you already do know Jesus, ask him to show you what steps you can take to help other people know him as their Savior and Lord.
"And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, 'Hush, be still.' And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm." (Mark 4:39)
"O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard And hushed their raging at Thy word ..." -- William Whiting (1860, Ref. 1)
Background. "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" is a hymn traditionally associated with seafarers, particularly in the maritime armed services (Ref. 2). The hymn became popular with the Royal Navy and the United States Navy in the late 19th century. The hymn also has a long tradition in civilian maritime contexts as well, being regularly sung during services on ocean crossings (Ref. 2).
In America, "Eternal Father" is often called the Navy Hymn because it is sung at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. In 1879, Lieutenant Commander Charles Jackson Train was a navigation instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy and the master of the Midshipman Choir. Train began the practice of concluding worship services with the 1861 version of the hymn every Sunday. The hymn eventually became a service-wide tradition, becoming known as the Navy Hymn (Ref. 2).
The U.S. Navy Band played “Eternal Father” in 1963 as U.S. President John Kennedy's body was carried up the steps of the U.S. Capitol to lie in state. Kennedy was a PT (Patrol Torpedo) boat commander in World War II (Ref. 2, Ref. 3).
“Eternal Father” was played by the Navy Band and the Coast Guard Band during the funeral of U.S. former President Ronald Reagan. The hymn was also played at the Memorial Ceremony in Norfolk, VA for the USS Cole (DDG-67) after the bombing of the ship in October 2000. It was performed by the U.S. Navy Sea Chanters at the State Funeral of U.S. former President Gerald R. Ford, who had served in the U.S. Navy during World War II in the Pacific Theater (Ref. 2).
The congregation and choir at Washington National Cathedral sang "Eternal Father" during the funerals for Senator John McCain on September 1, 2018 and for former U.S. President George H. W. Bush on December 5, 2018. Both served as U.S. Navy pilots (Ref. 2).
Hymn Text Author. William Whiting (1825-1878) was an Anglican churchman and resided on the English coast near the ocean (Ref. 2, Ref. 4). At the age of thirty-five he felt his life spared by God when a violent storm in the Mediterranean nearly claimed the ship he was traveling on. The storm instilled his belief in God’s command over the rage and calm of the sea (Ref. 2).
When Whiting was headmaster at Winchester College Chorister’s School some years later, the memory of his voyage allowed Whiting to provide comfort to one of the boys he taught (Ref. 5). One day, a student confided that he was about to embark on a journey to America – "a voyage fraught with danger at that time" (Ref. 5). "A sympathetic Whiting described his own frightening experience, and he and the other boys prayed for the terrified student. And then Whiting told him, 'Before you depart, I will give you something to anchor your faith' " (Ref. 5).
Whiting wrote a poem describing God’s power even over the mighty oceans (Ref. 2, Ref. 5). That poem, written in 1860, became the original text for the hymn, "Eternal Father, Strong to Save."
Hymn Tune Composer. John Bacchus Dykes (1823-1876) was an English clergyman and a prolific hymn tune composer (Ref. 6). Dykes composed the tune for "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" in 1861. Dykes fittingly named the tune "Melita" after a location associated with a Biblical shipwreck. Melita was the island where the Apostle Paul was shipwrecked (Acts 27:41-28:1). Today we know it as the isle of Malta (Ref. 2).
Reverend Dykes published sermons and articles on religion but is best known for over 300 hymn tunes he composed (Ref. 7). In addition to his tune, Melita ("Eternal Father, Strong to Save"), John Dykes’ composed well-known tunes including Nicaea ("Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!") and St. Agnes ("Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee," "Happy the Home When God is There").
Scripture References. Ref. 2 and Ref. 8 provide the original verses of "Eternal Father, Strong to Save," 1861 version. You also can follow the verses by downloading the sheet music (link at top of this post, or by clicking here).
Listen - "Eternal Father, Strong to Save."
U.S. Naval Academy Men's Glee Club - U.S.S. Arizona Memorial - 19March2007
Dramatic Storm Video - Marine Nationale de France with Praque Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus - 11June2013
Military Wives - Eternal Father, Strong to Save - 10March2013
Apply. Pray for those who are serving in harm's way and need God's protection. Pray for yourself and others who are going through a storm and ask Jesus to bring calm and peace out of distress and trouble.
5. Ref. 5 begins on the next line
Mr. Whitney V. Myers. Christian. For more information, please visit the Author Page.
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25Aug19 - "Characteristics of a Child of God - Part 1" (Matthew 7:16)
Questions & Answers
"What is Eternal Life?" (John 17:3)