The first (N.T. word translated “world”) is kosmos. It is used in at least three different ways. In a number of passages it means the round planet earth on which man has his existence. Is such passages the Revised Version sometimes substitutes the word “earth.” (See Matthew 4:14; 13:38; Acts 17:24; etc.) When John wrote of Jesus that “He was in the world” (John 1:10), he was referring to this planet earth. It is this world, the earth, which is the scene of the prophesied demonic activity.
The second usage of the word kosmos refers to the inhabitants of this world, or earth. Both of these first two usages appear together in one verse: “He was in the word [earth] and the world [earth] was made by Him, and the world [inhabitants of the earth] knew Him not” (John 1:10). This world of mankind is the world God loves. Jesus said, “For God so loved the world” (John 3:16). However, there is that segment of the world of mankind that is alienated from God (Ephesians 2:12: 4:18) and hostile to Christ and His followers. Our Lord said, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18). So then it is this unregenerated world of mankind through whom the demons will accomplish their wicked deeds.
The third use of the word kosmos in Scripture refers to the combined activities, affairs, advantages, and accumulated assets of the worldly men on the earth. The Bible calls all these “the things that are in the world” (I John 2:15), “this worlds goods (I John 3:17). This usage of kosmos is not limited to material things, but it includes abstract things which have spiritual and moral (or immoral) values. Paul warns the believer to beware of “the wisdom of this world” (I Cor 1:20; 2:6; 3:19), “the spirit of the world” (2:12), and “the fashion of this world” (7:31). Peter wrote of the “corruption that is in the world” (2 Peter 1:4), and “the pollutions of the world” (2:20).
Dr. Merrill Unger made note of the fact that “In more than thirty important passages the Greek word kosmos...is employed in the New Testament to portray the whole mass of unregenerate men alienated from God, hostile to Christ, and organized governmentally as a system or federation under Satan (John 7:7; 14:27; I Cor. 1:21; 11:32; 1 Pet. 5:9; I John 3:1, 13; et al.”
The second Greek word is aion. It likewise is translated world. However, it connotes the idea of time and is more accurately rendered “age.” The disciples questioned Jesus about the “end of the world [age]” (Matthew 24:3), speaking of that time when He would return to the earth. Paul used the same word when he wrote of our Lord Jesus Christ, “Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world [age]” (Gal. 1:4). This present aion, from Pentecost to the return of Christ, is described as “evil.”