I DON’T HAVE TIME
T. Pierce Brown
Often we hear the expression, “I don’t have time” when a person is offering an excuse for not doing what they know they should be doing. We may reply, “You have all the time anyone has.”
Occasionally when I am in a home Bible study with a person who seems convinced of the Truth, but is not ready to obey the gospel, he will say, “Give me a little time.” We may reply, “I cannot give you any time. You have all the time there is.”
Those answers may be correct and good, but whatever answer we give may not be as good as it might be if we do not understand that both in Greek and English the term “time” may have at least two different meanings. The Greek language is more precise than English, for it uses different words for different meanings. For example in Hebrews 5:12 we find, “For when by reason of the time (chronos) ye ought to be teachers, ye have need again that some one teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food.” The word “chronos” refers to a period, whether long or short, in which a series of events may take place. It may thus refer to a particular date for an occurrence, whether past, present or future, as in Acts7:17, “But as the time of the promise drew nigh which God vouchsafed unto Abraham, the people grew and multiplied inEgypt.” So in Hebrews 5, he means, “You have been Christians long enough that you should be able to teach others, but you still need to be taught the first principles.”
In Ephesians 5:16, we read, “redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” The word there is “kainos” and refers, not to the ongoing of events, but of an appropriate season. That is, “You have an opportune moment; use it!”
Generally “chronos” signifies the quantity, whereas “kainos” signifies the quality of the period under consideration. Sometimes “kainos” is used when we might have expected “chronos.” When Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:66, “For I am already being offered, and the time (kainos) of my departure is come,” one might assume that he is talking about the fact that the passage of all events that would happen before he died had almost transpired. Then he might assume that there is no difference in meaning in “chronos” and “kainos.” But one should rather conclude that Paul used the word that more nearly signified the meaning he wanted to express–that the nature or quality of the period that would characterize his departure was in his mind, rather than merely the fact that the time had come when he was about to die.
In Acts 1:7, the Holy Spirit used both words. “And he said unto them, It is not for you to know times (chronous) or seasons (kairous), which the Father hath set within his own authority.” By that he means that the Father determines the length or duration of the periods between certain events as well as the nature, quality, or characteristics of those periods or the events within the periods.
The same distinction is to be found in 1 Thessalonians 5:1, “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that aught be written unto you.” The times (chronon) refers to the length of the periods. The seasons (kairon) refers to the special quality of the periods related to the coming of Christ.
So, when a person says, “Give me time,” although we cannot give him “chronos,” we can offer him the “kainos” (the opportune moment) which God provided so he may do what God said. For “Now is the accepted time (kairos), behold now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). It is possible for one to have more “chronos,” yet never have another “kainos.” Felix said, “When I have a more convenient season (kairon) I will call for thee,” but there is no record that he ever had it. He had the time then–both “chronos” and “kainos”, but though he had “chronos” later, he may never have had “kainos.”
This is why we constantly urge our listeners to do what you can, where you are, with what you have, when you can, for you may never have that “kainos” again. You may, by God’s grace, be given more time (chronos) to do other things, but may never have the opportunity (kainos) to do what you should have done in the first place.