Metonymy defined is simply the change of one noun for another related one.
(“Figures Of Speech Used In The Bible” page 538)

The several various forms of this figure can be found on page 539, with many pages of examples following. As with the entire index of scriptures containing figures of speech that Dr. Bullinger provides, these are only examples that he references in the book, and in no wise is the index exhaustive. If we therefore suspect that a figure is present in a verse or verses, we should try to understand the verse in light of the description of the figure. We must always first consider scripture to be literal, and taken to mean what is said at face value. Only when there seem to be contradictions present should we consider what is said to be non-literal, or not at face value.

When contradictions seem to be present, we begin a quest to understand with a goal of eliminating contradictions, because the Word of God is without error. God does not lie, and God does not make mistakes. His word is perfect and true, and can be trusted to be without error. Man’s words and man’s works are not error free, therefore no single version or translation of the Bible is without error. When God breathed His word to holy men inspiring them to write, we can be sure that what He wanted written was written, within the parameters of each individual human writer’s ability.

When I read Psalm 50:7-12 KJV – “Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against thee: I [am] God, [even] thy God.

8 – I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, [to have been] continually before me.

9 – I will take no bullock out of thy house, [nor] he goats out of thy folds.

10 – For every beast of the forest [is] mine, [and] the cattle upon a thousand hills.

11 – I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field [are] mine.

12 – If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world [is] mine, and the fulness thereof …”,
and then I read 2 Corinthians. 4:4 “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”…
I see an apparent contradiction.

How can everything belong to God the Creator, the Father of Jesus Christ and we his brethren, and yet God’s adversary is called the god of this world? The answer resides in the world, or the meaning of the word, that is.

In Psalm 50:12 the word “world” is in Hebrew תֵּבֵל ; tebel ; tā·vāl’ , and refers to any place that is inhabited or habitable. Basically, anywhere man is, or life itself is, belongs to God the Creator. It does not belong to the god of this world, who is the Devil. Let’s look at one more example of this word in Psalm 89.

Psa 89:11 – The heavens [are] thine, the earth also [is] thine: [as for] the world [H8398] and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them. [H8398 page 2]
That pretty much covers everything.

The Greek word used for “world” in both of these verses is οικουμενην , oikoumené (Strong’s G3625), and it carries a similar meaning. Habitable means capable of being inhabited, or sustaining life. Inhabited means that it is or does have life, that is to say, human life, at least in the context we are dealing with here.

Both of these words, tebel and oikoumené, are geographic terms, but by implication refer also to the people who live in them. When the word “world” is used, but it means the people of the world, it is the figure of speech Metonymy.

Let’s look at a few more examples of Metonymy used with different words which are related to our study.

John 12:31 – Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world* be cast out.

John 14:30 – Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world* cometh, and hath nothing in me.

John 16:11 – Of judgment, because the prince of this world* is judged.

κόσμος* (G2889) refers to the physical world, up to and including all of creation.
By the exchange of nouns it refers to those who inhabit the physical world.

But the word for “world” used in 2 Cor. 4:4 is the word aiōn, αἰών (G165). Whereas oikoumené and kosmōs are physical terms, and through exchange mean the people of that physical realm, aiōn deals with time rather than space. A strong clue in identifying the Metonymy here is in the previous verse.
2 Cor. 4:3 “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:…”. Here the word “lost” is the word
apollymi , ä-po’l-lü-mē , ap-ol’-loo-mee, and is much more forceful than just lost. It means to be destroyed and to perish.

The very day that Adam sinned he and all mankind became subject to death. Not just physical death, but complete non-existence, for God said “the day that thou eatest thereof, dying thou shalt die”.
(Gen. 2:17)

We see then that “… if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost…”. If the good news of the Messiah Joshua (Christ Jesus) having come and paid the price of our redemption be hid, it is hid in them that shall perish. Verse 4 continues the clue with the words “in whom”. “Whom” refers to people, namely the people of the world. Why then is the word aion used in reference to time, rather than the word kosmōs or oikoumene? Because without the resurrection of Jesus Christ and our hope in him, this age is all there is. But by being born-again a second time from above (spiritually) by believing in the resurrection of Jesus, and by accepting the lordship of Christ in our lives, we shall not perish, but have everlasting life. Bless you!

Trench’s Synonyms Of The New Testament

Index for 2 Cor. 4:4
Page 577
Page 594
Page 597

See also the figure Metalepsis, or double Metonymy.

Published by Kenneth J. Rossoll  Dec. 9, 2018.
For further insight into why, in the the phrase “god of this world”, “world” refers to the people of this “age” who are without Christ, and therefore without hope, take the time to listen to a 2 part audio teaching by
Rev. Jon O. Nessle entitled “Eternal Judgement” found here -> listen.
May the Fourth be with you!


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