Light of the World 



Jesus Christ testifies that He is the light of the world:



  • “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, 'I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.'”
  • (John 8:12).


  • “'As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.'”
  • (John 9:5).



Holman Hunt, Jesus is the Light of the World


Perhaps not so coincidentally, Jehovah God is the light:



  • “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
  • (Psalm 27:1).


  • “For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.”
  • (Psalm 36:9).




Isaiah 60 Prologue to John
Light to the Gentiles The Lamb is the Lamp
Literalism

Isaiah 60

Isaiah Chapter 60 promises an unusual rising in the Messianic Age. The LORD Himself, the living God, will rise and shine upon His people:



  • “Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you.. . .

  • “The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; But the Lord will be to you an everlasting light, and your God your glory. Your sun shall no longer go down, nor shall your moon withdraw itself; for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended.”
  • (Isaiah 60:1-20).



It is a truism to associate 'light' with God, for instance,

"I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen." (1 Timothy 6:13-16).

God's glory is His constant accompaniment. Some might object that this is not the right context in which to set Jesus' description of Himself as the 'Light of the World,' because after all He also calls believers to be the light of world, and He is scarcely calling upon them to be God. But realizing that He also preached the Messianic Age as come upon the people, and realizing also that Isaiah plainly identifies the "light" of the Messianic Age with Jehovah God, He does seem to be saying something noteworthy here.

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Prologue to John

Another important New Testament reference to Jesus as the 'light' is found in the prologue to John's gospel,



  • “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
    He was in the beginning with God.
    All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
    In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
    And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not úcomprehend it.
    There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
    This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.
    He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
    That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world..”
  • (John 1:1-9).



Author of Life


We know that God is light, from the New Testament: "This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." (1 John 1:5). This theme is also present in the Old Testament, as found there by Philo Judaeus, an elder contemporary of Jesus and Paul. Though unaware that the Word of God had become incarnate, he knew that the Word was the Light:

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  • "God is light, for in the Psalms it is said 'The Lord is my light and my saviour' (ps. xxvi (xxvii). 1); and not only light, but the archetype of every other light..." (Philo Judaeus, De Somn. 1.75 quoted in C. H. Dodd, The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, p. 55.)


  • "And it is easy otherwise by means of argument to perceive this, since God is the first light, 'For the Lord is my light and my Savior' [Psalm 27:1], is the language of the Psalms; and not only the light, but He is also the archetypal pattern of every other light, or rather He is more ancient and more sublime than even the archetypal model, though He is spoken of as the model; for the real model was his own most perfect Word, the light, and he himself is like to no created thing." (Philo Judaeus, On Dreams, Book I, XIII, 75)."


  • "But according to the third signification, when he speaks of the sun, he means the divine Word, the model of that sun which moves about through the heaven, as has been said before, and with respect to which it is said, 'the sun went forth upon the earth, and Lot entered into Segor, and the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire.' [Genesis 19:23-24]." (Philo Judaeus, On Dreams, Book I, XV, 85).


  • "When therefore you hear that God has been seen by man, you must consider that this is said without any reference to that light which is perceptible by the external senses, for it is natural that that which is appreciable only by the intellect should be presented to the intellect alone; and the fountain of the purest light is God; so that when God appears to the soul He pours forth His beams without any shade, and beaming with the most radiant brilliancy." (Philo Judaeus, On the Change of Names, I, 6).


  • "Do you think that you would be unable to look at the unmodified light of the sun? If you were to try to do so, your sight would be extinguished by the brilliancy of his rays, and be wholly blinded by a close approach to that luminary, before it could perceive anything, and yet the sun is only one of the works of God, a portion of the heaven, a fragment of compressed aether, but you are nevertheless able to gaze upon those uncreated powers which exist around Him, and emit the most dazzling light, without any veil or modification?" (Philo Judaeus, On the Unchangeableness of God, XVII, 78).


  • "...but to God, as dwelling in pure light, all things are visible; for He penetrating into the very recesses of the soul, is able to see, with the most perfect certainty, what is invisible to others..." (Philo Judaeus, On the Unchangeableness of God, VI, 29).





Light to the Gentiles

At the time of the Lord's first advent, the pagan nations were sunk in deepest darkness, worshipping sticks and stones. In a passage the Lord applied to Himself, the Messiah is promised specifically as the light to the gentiles:


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  • “I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness, and will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, Those who sit in darkness from the prison house.”
  • (Isaiah 42:6-7)


  • “Indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
  • (Isaiah 49:6).


  • “The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”
  • (Isaiah 60:4).



Sometimes you will hear from Muslims and anti-missionary Jews that the Messiah is only for the Jews, but the Old Testament could not be clearer in proclaiming the Gentile nations also as His inheritance.

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The Nations


The Lamb is the Lamp

The glory of the Lord will light the new Jerusalem:



  • “Run, speak to this young man, saying: 'Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls, because of the multitude of men and livestock in it. For I,' says the LORD, 'will be a wall of fire all around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.'”
  • (Zechariah 2:4-5)




As John explains in the Book of Revelation, the Lamb will be the lamp of the new Jerusalem: "The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. " (Revelation 21:23). The Lamb, the light source of the new Jerusalem, is the LORD, Israel's Light: "So the Light of Israel will be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame. . ." (Isaiah 10:17).

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The Logos


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Literalism

As seen above, Jesus is the Light in virtue of His pre-existing identity as the Logos. As the intelligible light, He fulfills the same role in revealing the rational structure of the world as the sun does in showing us visible objects. He is the Word of God. He illumines us, His people, also in light of His special functions as the Messiah. It might seem that some of these meanings are metaphorical, but certain of His closest disciples at least took this whole matter very, very literally:

“Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, 'Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.'” (Matthew 17:1-4).
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The Transfiguration


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