Chronos v. Kairos
The Greek language (as well as the other Biblical languages, Hebrew and Aramaic) has many nuances that give us more insight into the meaning of the word that’s used. There are many words in the English language that actually have multiple versions in Greek. There are at least 3 Greek words for love for example: Eros, Phileō, and Agapē. Eros is sensual/sexual love. Phileō is warm, mutual respect kind of brotherly love. Agapē is deep sacrificial love-such as the love that Jesus displayed on the cross.
Time is a fascinating thing in and of itself, but the words used for time in the New Testament shed further light on the nature of time from God’s perspective. In English we have one word for time, but in New Testament Greek there are two—chronos and kairos.
We think of time more like chronos from which we get the word chronological. We think of time linearly. The other Greek word for time is kairos which means appointed time, or opportune moment. It speaks more to an occasion—a moment in time.
When you think back over your life and flip through your memories, you don’t think chronologically. You think in terms of moments. Bad moments. Good moments. Milestones. Critical junctures where something occurred to influence the trajectory of your life. Things that had a lasting impact.
Bible prophecy (or any of God’s activity for that matter) is the convergence of chronos and kairos. God’s foreknowledge and his pre-telling of history collide with linear time. God is outside of time and views it more like an object than a duration. He created time. We can’t wrap our heads around that—but that’s a good thing because we are not God.
There are key events in Bible prophecy that are set-times or appointed times. A few weeks ago I talked about how even the demons recognized there was an appointed time of future judgment. We see time chronologically. We see events unfold in real time. We are agents of free will and our choices do affect events. But God has mysteriously planned the intentional collision of chronology and appointed events. All chronology converges into prophesied events of the end-times. Chronos merges with kairos at critical junctures.
That should affect our daily choices, and it should inspire awe and confidence in the only Being who has a 100% track record of telling us history in advance.
Jesus came the first time at “just the right time (see Romans 5:6).” In AD 33 chronos and kairos collided. Scripture tells is this will happen again at the return of Christ.
Habakkuk 2:3 tells us, “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”
God also has appointed kairos times in our lives as his plans intersect our lives. Let’s make sure that we position ourselves to intersect with God’s appointed moments as we live linearly.
I’d love to hear from you today. How does this play out in our daily lives? Let me know what you think.
For further study: from Strong’s Concordance
Original Word: χρόνος, ου, ὁ
Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine
Phonetic Spelling: (khron’-os)
Short Definition: time, a particular time, season
Definition: time, a particular time, season.
Kairos: time, season
Original Word: καιρός, οῦ, ὁ
Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine
Phonetic Spelling: (kahee-ros’)
Short Definition: fitting season, opportunity, time
Definition: fitting season, season, opportunity, occasion, time.