“It is not for you to know the times (chronos) or dates (kairos) which the Father has set by His own authority.” Acts 1:7
Two of the Greek words for time in the New Testament are “chronos” and “kairos.” Chronos is the word for sequential time which is how mankind usually thinks about time. There are twenty-four hours in a day, seven days in a week, and fifty two weeks in a year. We make plans and appointments in sequential time and live our lives trying to fulfill them.
Kairos is a word we don’t have one English word to describe. It is not sequential time, but rather, God’s time for something to happen.
Vine’s Expository dictionary gives this distinction: “Chronos marks quantity (of time), kairos, marks quality.” (554) So how does recognizing God’s kairos time practically make a difference in our lives? Let me give a number of ways.
- Although we live in sequential time our priority should be kairos time. Jesus waited for God’s time to go to the feast while his unbelieving brothers had no such concern. “The right time (kairos) for Me has not yet come; for you any time is right.” (John 7:1-2)
- We should not be frustrated by our present difficulties but can have confidence that if we keep doing what’s right, the time (kairos) will come when we will see God’s deliverance. “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God and in due time (kairos) He will exalt you.” (1Peter 5:6) “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time (kairos) we will reap a harvest if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
- History has a purpose and a direction way bigger than us, so we should be able to put all of our minor irritations in perspective. Jesus died at the “right time” (kairos) for us (Romans 5:6); and we can be assured that Jesus will come back in God’s “appointed time” (kairos – Mark 13:33).
- As we respond to God’s dealings with us with a spirit of repentance, He desires “times” (kairos) of refreshing to come to us from the presence of the Lord. (Acts 3:19)