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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Foundation of the World

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FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD.—The phrase καταβολὴ κόσμου occurs in Matthew 25:34, Luke 11:50, John 17:24 (κόσμου is doubtful in Matthew 13:35, see RVm). It is a common expression in the NT, e.g. Ephesians 1:4, Hebrews 4:3; Hebrews 9:26, 1 Peter 1:20, Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8. In general it denotes a time sense, implying a strong declaration of priority. It always occurs with the prepositions ἀπό or πρό. καταβολή primarily means the laying down or founding of anything, hence the absolute beginning. κόσμος is a word of much more varied meaning, into the different phases of which we need not here enter. Its present use as applied to the Universe is well established. The whole expression is equivalent to the phrase found in Mark 10:6; Mark 13:19 ‘from the beginning of the creation’ (ἀπὸ ἀρχῆς κτίσεως). ‘Old Testament Hebrew has no term which would quite correspond to the Greek ὁ κόσμος’ (Dalman, Words of Jesus, p. 162). Matthew 13:35 is an unliteral rendering of Psalms 78:2 סִנִּי־קָרָם, which the LXX translates ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς. ‘The foundation of the world’ stands for the definite epoch when this present Universe was originated.

W. S. Kerr.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Foundation of the World'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdn/f/foundation-of-the-world.html. 1906-1918.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, December 12th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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