Why does the “Gloria Patri” end with the phrase “world without end” when the Bible clearly teaches that the world will someday end?

The Gloria Patri is one of the oldest hymns in the world (second century) and was originally written in the Greek language.  A literal translation of the final phrase kai eis tous aiwvos twv aiwvwv would be “and unto the ages of the ages.”

Centuries later, and when Latin became the most common language in Christendom, the Gloria Patri was translated and the final phrase was rendered et in saecula saeculorum which also literally means “and to the ages of ages.”

It wasn’t until the 16th century that the Gloria Patri was translated into English; with the last phrase being rendered “world without end.”

While this may sound like a poor translation to modern readers, it was actually a fairly accurate one according to the meaning of the word “world” at that time.

The English word “world” was originally a compound word which referred more to “the ages” than to our physical planet.

Wer meant “man” and Ald meant “old” and the two were combined as Werold (i.e., man-age) as a description of this present age (as opposed to the afterlife).

Of course, the meaning of the word “world” has changed over the years, but that should not prevent us from understanding, appreciating, and fully approving of the final phrase of the Gloria Patri as perfectly biblical (c.f., Ephesians 3:21 and Romans 11:36).

Answered by Pastor McShaffrey