kairos time, kairos moment

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If you said that kairos time was the Christian version of carpe diem (“seize the day”), you would be more right than wrong. Kairos time refers to a window of opportunity, but this window is also a limited-time offer.

def-kairos-time-thumbIn some parts of the church, it has become increasingly important to try to discern the will of God for as many of life’s decisions as possible. Christians are keeping a wide and watchful eye for the Godincidences and checks in their spirit that help them figure out what God wants them to do and when he wants them to do it. Some of the more ambitious Christians are even putting God to the test, in a manner of speaking, by laying out what are called “fleeces.”

And so here is another term that frequently comes into play in these conversations about God’s will. The term is kairos, and it refers to a way of perceiving time as a series of important or significant events or moments. Some Christians have referred to this kind of time as “God’s time” or “sacred time,” and it is often contrasted with the ordinary kind of time that you measure with a wristwatch or a calendar. You see, according to a clock or a calendar, every day is alike—every day is 24 hours, and there are always 365 days in a year (unless it’s leap year, and then it’s 366). But in God’s time, some times are more important than others, and there are windows of opportunity that open and close and we need to be aware of the movement of kairos time or else we may miss out on something big God wants to do in our lives and in the lives of others.

Does that sound exciting? Have a look at the wealth of citations in the definitions below to read people actually talking about kairos time and kairos moments.

Now from a linguistics perspective, kairos is an excellent example of how Christians incorporate certain Greek words into their everyday language without a second thought. If you thought that Christianese was hard for outsiders to understand when it was just English words being used in new ways, just imagine how hard it is for new Christians or non-Christians to understand what is being said when some phrases are not even in English! Greek words such as agape (as in, agape love), ecclesia, ethos, icthus, koinonia, logos, oikos, rhema, and zoe all get tossed around in casual conversation, and for most non-Christian native English speakers those terms just, well, sound like Greek!

In a future blog post I’ll talk about all the Hebrew words that Christians incorporate into their casual language. It’s a wonder we understand ourselves sometimes with all these languages mixed together!

A wide variety of Christians use the term kairos and its various combinations. I have found quotations of the term in use by mainline Christians and evangelicals and charismatics. How about you? Do you use it? Have you heard it in combinations other than kairos moment, kairos opportunity, kairos seasonkairos time, and kairos timing?


kairos n. [From Greek kairos ‘the suitable or appropriate time for something to occur or for something to be accomplished,’ frequently contrasted with Greek chronos ‘time in general; time as objectively measured using calendars and clocks’] A moment in time or a timeframe in which God makes it possible for something of lasting importance or significance to happen.
Sometimes the word kairos is translated colloquially as “God’s time” (see citations for 1951, 1956, 1982), “sacred time” (see 1978 citation), “favorable time” (see 1997 citation), or “opportune time.” The word chronos is sometimes translated as “clock time,” “man’s time” (see 1978 citation), “linear time,” or “measured time” in order to emphasize the difference in meaning between kairos and chronos.
See also *greek words; *kairos moment; *kairos opportunity; *kairos season; *kairos time; *redeem the time; *timing (God’s timing).
1951 Ferré The Christian Understanding of God 86 : From the point of view of both purpose and experience, kairos certainly is the primary mode of time, and God’s kairos may determine the nature of the standard kronos. The mystery of kairos! The mystery of ecstasy! The mystery of God’s time! 1956 Kantonen A Theology for Christian Stewardship 121 : But there is another kind of time, God’s time, expressed by the word kairos. It cannot be measured by clocks or calendars but by the fulfilment of God’s purpose. 1964 Harvey A Handbook of Theological Terms s.v. kairos : Until very recently, it [=kairos] was widely regarded as meaning “fulfilled time” or “just the right time” and so was contrasted with the Greek word chronos, … which is alleged to be more specifically connected with measurable or clock time. 1967 Capon The Romance of the Word: One Man’s Love Affair with Theology 47 : For human time, for existential time—for the time that is to chronos as place is to abstract space—they had a word which, to the best of my knowledge, has not come into English at all: kairos—season, high time, opportunity. 1976 L’Engle Spirit and Light: Essays in Hist. Theology 39 : Kairos, “God’s time,” as against chronos, “man’s time.” 1977 Godwin What It Means to Be Born Again 124–5 : The Greek words chronos and kairos both mean time, and they shed light on the now moments of life. Chronos just means time—any old time. Our English words chronology, chronometer, and chronic are rooted in this general term. But kairos means season, and it refers to the opportune time, the decisive moment, the now moment. Kairos is the Greek word used in “redeeming the time” in Ephesians 5:16 and Colossians 4:5 (KJV). The thought in those bible passages is to make the most of time by seizing life’s opportunities. 1978 Military Chaplains’ Rev. 58 : Although he has been separated from his faith community by chronos, linear time, he will recognize that kairos, the sacred time of the community has perdured through the years. 1982 The Teilhard Rev. and J. of Creative Evolution vols. 17–20 81 : Thus, kairos is God’s time, while chronos is man’s time, invented for man’s busy-work purposes of planning, recording and organizing coordinated human action. 1983 Hargrove, Jones Reaching Youth Today: Heirs to the Whirlwind 115 : Kairos means a favorable time, a time of special opportunity, a time in a person’s life for God-given possibility to become actualized. 1992 Bickel, Nordlie The Goal of the Gospel: God’s Purpose in Saving You 229 : They have turned “doing time” into God’s time, their opportune moment, their kairos for the Lord. These men are in prison, their freedom limited, yet they are making the most of every opportunity to glorify God. 1997 Rouet Liturgy and the Arts 70 : The liturgical moment, this “favorable time” or kairos, expresses the word as both utterance and event as it acts within the Church. 2003 Melander, Eppley Our Lives Are Not Our Own: Saying “Yes” to God 53 : The term here is kairos, suggesting a God-moment, a portion in history when the “timing” is right. In a sense, chronos is about clock time and kairos is about God’s time. 2011 Helen Other People’s Country 000 : In some circles the concept of kairos is understood as “God’s time.” In this religious sense, the word is frequently employed to describe a period of confusion; a time of disruption in which the old rules no longer work the way they once did.
kairos moment n. [See *kairos] Also *kairos time; *kairos opportunity; *kairos season. A time of opportunity in which God makes it possible for someone to do or experience something of lasting importance and significance. \zseemoreat{*kairos}
See also *redeem the time; *timing.
1973 The Chicago Theological Seminary Register vols. 64–66 10 : Our resurrection took place in what was and remains one of the kairos moments of my life. For a long time then we huddled in a close circle weeping and rejoicing. 1979 Leadership Profiles from Bible Personalities 58 : The congregation had outgrown its building. I was aggressive in trying to convince the deacons that we should build…. What I did not realize was that the time was not right. The kairos moment had not come. I could get no response from the “power people” in the congregation. 1982 Ogilvie What God First Thought of You 56 : We live in duration time for the realization of the kairos moment when God breaks through to execute his plan and purpose. The incarnation was a kairos event in history. Now in our post-resurrection, post-Pentecost aion, God continues to make all of life a kairos succession of maximized moments. 1985 Morgan Is There Life After Divorce in the Church 13 : The accidental integrated fellowship at Antioch, the timely conversion of Paul, and Peter’s experience at Caesarea were all kairos moments which forced the church to deal with the inequity. 1986 Larson The Power to Make Things New 10 : It was born out of a kairos moment, kairos being the Greek word for “time,” often translated “moment of opportunity.” 1990 Ridenour The Traveler’s Guide to Life at Warp Speed: 30 Short Readings to Help You Slow Down and Catch Up with God 262 : Think of some kairos moments that have come your way lately. Use Ecclesiastes 3:1–8 to take inventory. Did you seize the opportunities to plant or uproot? What about tearing down and building up? What have you mended lately? 1991 Otis The Last of the Giants 35 : Today, kairos moments are all about us—extraordinary events flowing out of heavenly vials of vintage intercession…. Though the majority of God’s people may not be familiar with the proper term for this fullness of time. 1991 Quaker Life XXXII. 4 : We learn to experience time in a different way; we experience what Christians know as kairos moments. It’s different from chronos. Chronos is just time that goes on and on. 1991 Episcopal Peace Fellowship 58 : In his opening remarks, my colleague Jim Hobart said, “There are from time to time what are called in Christian Circles ‘kairos’ moments. These are brief ‘openings,’ a moment when the time and place and the persons and the issues come together, are thrown together.” 1995 Wiebe Border Crossing: A Spiritual Journey 96 : The stories older people tell are often about God’s breakthroughs, those kairos moments in their lives that become clearer with each year. The events may have been ambiguous for a time, but the light of additional experience convinces the older adult that God is with him or her. 1999 Grenz, Guretzki, Nordling Pocket Dict. of Theological Terms 70 : Hence a “kairos moment” is an event in history in which God unveils some dimension of the eternal purposes of salvation to humankind or an event that is central in God’s dealings with humans. 2006 Claydon New Vision, a New Heart, a Renewed Call 382 : Praying what is on the heart of God for a specific group at a “kairos” moment can launch people group movements and transformation of societies. 2006 Cilliers God for Us: An Analysis and Assessment of Dutch Reformed Preaching 21 : These are unrepeatable moments, kairos moments, in which God allows a specific objective to be fulfilled at a specific time. 2009 Hammett Making Shifts Without Making Waves 51 : These “kairos moments” (divine appointments in the fertile soil of life lessons) test our character, integrity, soulfulness, and willingness to embrace this transformational moment.
kairos time n. [See *kairos] Syn *kairos moment.
1982 Seamands Putting Away Childish Things 127 : If the Holy Spirit has “ripened” you, it is your kairos time. If it is your kairos time, it is God’s time. 1984 Harbaugh Pastor As Person 139 : Persons in crisis need pastors able to help them remain open to kairos. Kairos time, as we have said, is not our time. It is God’s time; it is grace-full time. 1984 Larson Wind and Fire: Living Out the Book of Acts 23 : Jesus operated on kairos time, not chronos time. 1985 France The Gospel According to Matthew 366 : Kairos (time) often refers to an appointed, climactic moment, the time of fulfilment or consummation. 1989 Gillis It’s About Time: Time Management for Church Professionals 66 : In “kairos” time all events are viewed according to God’s understanding of time, which is measured primarily by events of quality, rather than quantity. 1996 Cook Tea Time with God 125 : Kairos time, however, means purposeful time, time which God has filled with meaning, the “right” time. We have all experienced “kairos” moments—times when everything came together, times when it was “right” to make an important call or write a crucial letter, apply for a particular job, or have a decisive talk with a friend or spouse. 2011 Goll Signs, Wonders and the Supernatural Life 109 : Realize that He [=God] has His own specific timing and strategies, what we often call God’s kairos timing.
kairos opportunity n. [See *kairos] Syn *kairos moment.
1988 Logan The Kairos Covenant: Standing with South African Christians 176 : The orientation toward tyranny adopted by the Kairos Document suggests that God is calling for committed involvement in the struggle against apartheid at this crucial hour of kairos opportunity. 1991 Harrison, Henderson Hope for the World 55 : How will the church around the world respond to this kairos opportunity? There are many sad examples of missed opportunity in history. 1991 Otis The Last of the Giants 231 : Kairos opportunities in which divinely engineered (or redeemed) circumstances offer extraordinary evangelistic potential. 1995 Eagan Restoration and Renewal 133 : Jesus’ desire and prayer for Christian unity remains unanswered, despite much effort and good will by the Protestant, Orthodox, and Catholic churches. Why? Has the kairos opportunity for unity passed the churches by? 2001 Wagner, Hamon Destiny of a Nation: How Prophets and Intercessors Can Mold History 94 : The seasons are changing, and we must be willing to change with them and move as the Spirit of God leads us in order to seize the kairos opportunities at hand! 2005 Sheets, Pierce Releasing the Prophetic Destiny of a Nation 61 : We need to understand the times, seize our kairos opportunities, and move into the future with victory! 2007 Pierce, Sytsema The Future War of the Church 31 : Let us move as the Spirit of God leads us in order to seize the kairos opportunities at hand!
kairos season n. [See *kairos] Syn *kairos moment.
1995 Wagner, Peters, Wilson Praying Through the 100 Gateway Cities of the 10/40 Window 21 : Each of us must play our part as a soldier of the cross in this crucial hour. Let us rise to action today so we do not look back on this kairos season tomorrow with regret for what could have been. 1997 Sheets Intercessory Prayer: How God Can Use Your Prayers to Move Heaven 87,88 : I heard a guest lecturer at Christ for the Nations in Dallas, Texas, tell another interesting story involving not a kairos moment, but a kairos season of building boundaries of protection…. About a month later—remember, I said this was a kairos season and I said he prayed daily—his daughter received a promotion at work. 2009 Goll The Coming Israel Awakening 56 : All of this evidence points to the fact that we are in the midst of a kairos season, a strategic time.
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