As it turns out, there’s time, and there’s time, chronos, and kairos.


That’s something I was failing to take into account when I published that last post… the first time (heh). As a result, the more I strove diligently to use chronos time effectively, the more disastrous grew the day, until I realized my failure to use kairos time. Here’s what I was missing:


A. a fixed and definite time, the time when things are brought to crisis, the decisive epoch waited for

B. opportune or seasonable time

C. the right time…


I. time either long or short.

a space of time (in general, and thus properly distinguished from [kairos], which designates a fixed or special occasion; …”

[Outline of biblical usage and explanation of kairos (Strong’s #G2540), and chronos (#G5550): (from which we get chronological, chronometer, etc.) courtesy Blue Letter Bible]

In other words, chronos is what we deal with when we set the timer to so many minutes, count the days or hours that are passing, or speak of happenings taking place during the same time period.

But kairos is what Ephesians 5:16 and Colossians 4:5-6 are talking about, instructing believers to seize the opportune time. It’s what verses like John 7:8 and Matthew 26:18 use to indicate God’s set time for a particular event, such as Christ’s death on the cross.

My mind didn’t have the labels for these two varieties of time, at the time. I only came upon them later in this wise post at Flowing Faith. But I knew I was getting it wrong as the tumbled, jumbled thoughts and feelings increased, and finally I went to my blog and deleted that post I’d spent over an hour trying to illustrate with photos that had kept refusing to come out well. Yes, chucked it in “trash.” (I retrieved it later, as you can see—but at the right (kairos) time, God’s time.)

It’s all fine and good to consider the minutes I have, to set timers and use big fat detailed planners to keep the days and hours and seconds in some kind of order and to remember all the commitments I maybe shouldn’t have made but did. But that chronos planning is secondary.

God’s kairos time is the opportune time, the specific moment or moments when He will be actively at work with us in the specific purpose He has for it. Or, rather, maybe it’s the other way ’round: we will then be cooperating with His working at that time.

That morning I had neglected a kairos appointment: for prayer and communion with Him. Instead I went charging into trying humanly to use the hours and minutes of fleeting chronos time before they burned up in the sunlight. In so doing, I actually wasted those minutes.

This experience gives new meaning to Ecclesiastes 3:1’s “There is a … time to every purpose under heaven.” God’s purposes happen according to God’s time planning, no matter how much we try to wrestle them into our planner schedules. And when it comes to planners and calendars, one of the most red-letter kairos appointments we need to write in–and keep!–are those times aside with Him in prayer.

Also, flashing back through my mind come a pair of quotes I heard several years ago, whose truth I got to witness personally as part of prayer backup for a local short-term missions team:

“You can do more than pray after you have prayed; but you can never do more than pray until you have prayed.” -A.J. Gordon

“Prayer strikes the winning blow; service is simply [gathering] up the [results].” -S.D. Gordon


10 thoughts on “Time, and Time Again (Some Definitions, and Considerations)

  1. I learned something valuable here…thanks for sharing, Sylvia! Those kairos appointments with our Lord are vital to make our chronos moments count 🙂

  2. Just before I found this, my husband reminded me to be patient about something. “But I have been waiting since November!” I responded. Then this….sigh…God’s timing. Not mine.

  3. Hm, Laurie. Sounds like a kairos moment, huh?
    Yeah, that waiting… Sometimes you wonder if it’s God, or something else. But I guess everything ultimately plays out in God’s timing anyhow, because after all, He is God. Prayers for wisdom for you… And we need to get together! Time keeps flying by faster. (Chronos time that would be. Heh.) I’ll email you. God bless!

  4. Sylvia- A timely reminder to keep time, esp chronos in perspective with kairos…it is way to easy for me to get caught up in chronos time when what I truly need is the kairos variety…Thanks!

    1. Me too, Kel. Though I hope I’m learning and “getting it” more often. Seeing these two words and how they’re used is helpful to me. (Fellow word-lover.)

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