How do the writers in the Bible tell time? How do we tell time? Is there a difference between the two? Yes!
7 When the wicked dies, his hope will perish, and the expectation of wealth perishes too [his death is coming; is it an event or at a certain hour?].
The Greek language uses two words for time: Kairos, which means, “event,” and Chronos, which stands for the literal time, as on a clock or watch. Whichever one is used indicates how the author intends for us to view his narration. The interesting part is that Kairos is used twice as much as Chronos, and is the cultural way of seeing time/events.
For instance, take Luke 2:6,
6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.
The Greek word, Kairos, is used here indicating that it was an event and not a specific time on a calendar. The NASB says, “the days were completed,” meaning that the baby was ready to be born. Parents wait for the event of the birth–although inducing the birth is common nowadays for convenience and necessity. In our Western minds, most of us heard the story of Jesus’ birth like this:
As Joseph and Mary came into Bethlehem, Joseph couldn’t find a place with any extra rooms. Mary was in labor, so they sought shelter in the barn of a gracious innkeeper.”
Hardly! Who would do that to his wife? Especially the mother of God? More than likely, they arrived in plenty of time with plenty of relatives–on the trip and in Bethlehem–to make room in the stable portion of the dwelling. Can’t we just see all the aunts and cousins running around cleaning and working hard to make a cozy and private place for Mary to give birth? It was quite an event.
Another example gives us a feeling of time, but is really an event. It’s found in Hebrews 9:27-28,
27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.
It sounds like God has appointed a time for each person to die. That would be chronos. Actually, the culture would have us read it as kairos–an event. In other words, it is appointed unto mankind to die once physically–whenever that happens, after which comes judgment. The phrase, “a second time,” is wrapped up in one Greek word, deuterou, and also indicates an event. In fact, Jesus downplays the disciples’ question as to when He is returning,
36 “But of that day and hour [a specific time, as in chronos] no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Matthew 24:36
So, we must learn to take a step back when we read and consider the literal meaning of the text, which means that we look at who wrote it, when, where, to whom, and who translated it and what was their intent (an exact translation or a true meaning translation). Only then are we ready to read the text morally, which means to look at what the central idea of the text is. Finally, we are ready to deduce what the spiritual lesson is for us.
Abba, give us eyes to read and ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to Your Bride, the Church–to us! I believe that You speak to us constantly and that Your Word helps us to tune in and discern what You are saying. Nevertheless, You abide in us and we in You so that we always have Fellowship with the Trinity. May we continue to cultivate the soil of our hearts; prepare us for a rich harvest, O Lord. Amen.