Revelation: The Land (“Ge”) Is Referenced 22 Times More Often Than the World (“Kosmos”)

It’s well-known that the book of Revelation foretells, among other things, a series of frightening judgments falling upon an entity known as Babylon the Great and “the harlot.” Just as importantly, Revelation also portrays beautiful worship scenes and glorious destinies and realities for God’s people. Regarding the judgments, Does John picture them being poured out upon the entire planet, or upon a particular location?

Jonathan Welton, author of the book “Raptureless,” has created another helpful graphic illustrating the fulfillment of Bible prophecy (See his previous graphic on Daniel 2 illustrating that God’s kingdom has come). Titled “John’s Olivet Discourse: A Look at the Writings of John,” Welton’s graphic [1] makes a case that the book of Revelation contains John’s version of the Olivet Discourse [2] shows some of John’s time tables [3] notes an important principle of Bible interpretation, and [4] shows that John speaks far more about local events in Revelation than he speaks about global events.

We can also add Revelation 1:1 and 1:3 to Welton’s list of time statements made by the apostle John:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place.
Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

The last part of Welton’s graphic is very informative. The following chart takes the numbers he provides (plus a couple more that I looked up) and allows us to see how focused John was on local events in the book of Revelation compared to his gospel account:

John’s books Number of chapters in each book Number of times John uses the word “kosmos,” meaning the entire planet Number of times John uses the word “ge,” meaning the land (a region)
The Gospel According to John 21 57 3
I John 5 17 1
II John 1 1 0
III John 1 0 0
Revelation 22 3 67

In other New Testament passages where the word “ge” is translated as “earth,” many assume that those passages are speaking about the entire planet. We need to be more careful with this assumption. One instance where it appears is in Luke’s version of the Olivet Discourse (Luke 21:23). There, Luke is clearly speaking about Israel. Some Bible versions translate this word as “earth,” while others translate it as “land.” Here is how Luke 21:23 reads, in context:

But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people” (Luke 21:20-23).

The same word that Luke used in reference to Judea is the one that John used 67 times in the book of Revelation.

18 Case Studies on How John Used “Ge” to Speak of 1st Century Israel in Revelation

In 2010 I wrote a 3-part series tracking this phenomenon throughout the book of Revelation. The phrase “those who dwell on the earth” appears 10 times in Revelation, and at least a couple dozen more times in various forms. This series presents 18 case studies showing when and how this expression is used, examining the context in each case, and seeing how it’s used elsewhere in Scripture. A strong case is made that this expression in Revelation indicates 1st century apostate Israel. This series can be seen here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. If you have the time to read it, I believe you’ll find it informative.

A Final Note on How John Used the Word “Kosmos” Three Times in Revelation

Although it’s fun and enlightening to see how John used the word “ge” so many times in reference to the land of Israel, it’s also enlightening to see how he used the word “kosmos” to speak of the planet on which we live. Two of these instances concern those whose names are, or are not, written in the Book of Life. This is a global reference, as it ought to be, for the body of Christ is global and the message of the gospel is for every nation, tribe, language, and tongue. The third reference is to the kingdom of God, its triumph and greatness over all the kingdoms of this world (planet), and the eternal and universal reign of Jesus Christ:

1. “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!'” (Rev. 11:15)
2. “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8).
3. “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is” (Rev. 17:8).

10 thoughts on “Revelation: The Land (“Ge”) Is Referenced 22 Times More Often Than the World (“Kosmos”)

  1. The only thing with which I disagree is the meaning of kosmos. It typically referred to an order, in other words the order of the old covenant world. The world ending as they knew it.


      • I don’t even remember posting here. LOL. Sorry it has taken so long to answer your question Adam. I hope this answer finds you well.

        Strong’s definition:
        κόσμος kósmos, kos’-mos; probably from the base of G2865; orderly arrangement, i.e. decoration; by implication, the world (in a wide or narrow sense, including its inhabitants, literally or figuratively (morally)):—adorning, world.


  2. on the graph (made by Adam) below showing number of times mentioning “Kosmos” and “ge” it appears to be backwards, showing Kosmos mentioned 57 times and ge mentioned 3 times, isn’t that suppose to be the other way around, according to Jonathan’s graph above?


    • Jestrada,

      Thanks for your question. If you look again at the graph I made, you’ll notice that “kosmos” is shown to be mentioned 57 times in John’s gospel account rather than in Revelation. This word is shown to be mentioned only three times in the book of Revelation, just as Jonathan Welton’s graph shows.

      Jonathan did mention the frequency with which John mentioned “kosmos” in his gospel account. It’s in the last paragraph at the bottom of his graphic. I chose to add that information to the top of my own chart, and I believe you must have seen that and thought I was talking about Revelation there. Instead, the numbers concerning Revelation are at the bottom of my own chart.


  3. I enjoyed your post – it is clear and compact but thorough at the same time. Thanks.

    The preterist perspective produces really useful information, but I do feel personally that it also bulldozes some context and meaning as it attempts to reconcile the “full” preterist interpretation with scripture.

    The focus on the word “Ge” as meaning only land, would be fine, except it doesn’t seem to fit, not just with Strong’s concordance definition, but also with context of the scriptures. Let me give an example from your post above – Rev 13:8.

    In this verse you have both Ges and Kosmos. “All who dwell on the earth” and “foundation of the world”. Now, as far as I can tell there is a small problem if “earth”/Ges really meant “land”, because as you correctly state in your post regarding Kosmos – “Two of these instances concern those whose names are, or are not, written in the Book of Life. This is a global reference”

    Yet the word Ges immediately precedes the word Kosmos – my point being it is the same context. The subjects who are not in the Book of Life are those “who dwell on the Earth” – i.e. Ges. Surely if that is the case here in Rev 13:8 and you accept this verse has a global implication, then the same could easily be true of other verses containing “Ge”?


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