Time Management Series
“Biblical Concepts of Time for Today” (SL#26)
by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., adapted from SkillTrack® 12.1 - Time Management
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 9-11 (NIV)
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: . . . What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
When we think of “time” in the Bible, it usually brings to mind ancient history, early civilizations and antiquity, writings and events from “a long time ago.” It is easy to let “time” become the great distance between ourselves and Scripture! But Scripture offers a rich array of ways to understand and utilize “time,” all of which can contribute to your study of time management. Looking first at biblical concepts of time will give you a strong foundation for time management. You may find that “time” closes, not widens, the gap between Holy text and your life today. How do we use the word “time”?
Glossary: “time” (contemporary uses)--(from The American Heritage® Dictionary)
- A non-spatial continuum from the past through the present to the future.
- An interval separating two points on this continuum; a duration.
- A number, as of years, days, or minutes, of such an interval.
- An interval, especially a span of years, marked by similar events, conditions; an era.
- Times--the present with respect to prevailing conditions and trends: a suitable or opportune moment or season.
- An appointed or fated moment, especially of death or giving birth.
- One’s lifetime, one’s period of greatest activity or engagement.
Four Biblical Approaches
This series of articles encourages you to “have the time of your life” in the deepest possible sense. It means more than just planning your day and week efficiently (though that certainly is a big part of it for most of us). Consider carefully the depth of biblical “time” as outlined here. It is a first big step toward understanding the power and importance of your time; log your own thoughts!
This article will investigate four primary ways Scripture discusses “time.” Follow links to Scripture, commentary and glossary references as you consider your own definitions of “time.” Have you been thinking broadly enough to respond to the challenges of Scripture? Which areas of “time” have you been neglecting? Record your thoughts as you review.
John 14:9 (NIV) Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”
Acts 1:7 (NIV) He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.”
Glossary: “chronology” (from WordNet® 1.6, ©1997 Princeton University)
1: arrangement of events in time 2: a record of events in the order of their occurrence 3: the determination of the actual temporal sequence of past events.
Commentary: Eph. 5:15-16 What is meant is simply to make the best possible use of all circumstances like prudent merchants. Kairos (“opportunity,” NIV) is the right moment, which Paul urges his readers to grasp lest it be wasted.
Glossary: opportunity (from Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary)
1. Fit or convenient time; a time or place favorable for executing a purpose; a suitable combination of conditions; suitable occasion; chance.
Mark 1:15 (NIV) “The time has come” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.”
Commentary: Mark 1:15 (from Zondervan Commentary) Time here is not simply chronological time (chronos) but the decisive time (kairos) for God’s action. . . He marks the fulfillment of the special salvation-time which is distinguished from all other time.
Galatians 4:4-5 (NIV) But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.
Commentary: Gal. 4:4-5 (from Zondervan Commentary) It was a time when the pax Romana extended over most of the civilized earth; when travel and commerce were therefore possible; . . . great roads linked the empire of the Caesars, . . . far more significantly by the all-pervasive language of the Greeks. Add the fact that the world was sunk in a moral abyss so low that even the pagans cried out against it and that spiritual hunger was everywhere evident. . . . Viewed theologically, however, it may also be said that the time was full because God himself had filled it with meaning.
Commentary: 2 Cor. 4:18 (from Zondervan Commentary) Behind the contrast . . . is the Pauline tension between the “already” and the “not yet,” the contrast between what is now seen by mortals and what is as yet hidden from mortal gaze. . . . Paul was profoundly aware that the present age is transient (cf. 2 Cor. 7:31), whereas the age to come is eternal in the sense of being “destined to last for ever,” and that his afflictions were temporary but his reward eternal.
Revelation 10:6 (NIV) And he swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said, “There will be no more delay [time]!”
Glossary: “eternity” (from Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary) 1. Infinite duration, without beginning in the past or end in the future; also, duration without end in the future; endless time. 2. Condition which begins at death; immortality.
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by Lloyd Elder & Associates, Inc.
For full citation of referenced works, see Bibliography/Links at www.servantleaderstoday.com
Adapted by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., Founding Director, Moench Center for Church Leadership
Abstract: “Time” by E. Jenni,
Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. R-Z
Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1962 (from pp. 643-649)
A Study Abstract prepared by Lloyd Elder
To understand the biblical concept of time, one must take care not to assume unconsciously our modern Western scientific or philosophical interpretation of time in the Bible or to carry it over into the Bible. The Bible itself becomes the benchmark of its meaning of “time”:
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