LIGHT, LIGHT OF THE WORLD That which penetrates and dispels darkness. The concept of “light” appears numerous times in both the Old and New Testaments. God created light (Genesis 1:3). However, a careful reading of the Scriptures reveals that the physical entity that we call “light” is actually only the second form of light in the universe, since everywhere the Bible declares that God Himself is light. Psalms 27:1 says, “The Lord is my light.” In Psalms 104:2, the psalmist testified of the Lord who “covered himself” in light. In John 8:12 Jesus, the God-man, said, “I am the light of the world.” Such expressions make at least two things abundantly clear. First, the origin of light rests with God. Second, in some sense God Himself is the very essence of light. Such statements do not suppose that God is light and nothing more, but they do stress that God is the ultimate source of all knowing and understanding. To this end Psalms 119:105 informs us that God's Word is a “light” to one's path. Here the emphasis lies upon perception and understanding gained when darkness is dispelled and light revealed.
This last concept becomes even clearer in John 3:19; people love darkness better than light, because their deeds are evil. Such statements reveal that the character of light is to reveal and to provide understanding and purity, while the opposite of light or darkness is designed to obscure, to deceive, and to harbor impurity.
A small problem confronts the interpreter who discovers that Jesus said to His disciples in Matthew 5:14, “Ye are the light of the world.” Yet in John 8:12, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” What appears to be a contradiction is not one at all. The moon provides light for the earth just as the sun does. Yet, the actual source of light for both the sun and the moon is the sun. The moon only reflects the light of the sun. By the same token, Jesus, the God-man, is the source of all light. His disciples become reflectors in a darkened world, transmitting through their lives the true light of the eternal Son of God. See Lamps, Lighting, Lampstand.
W. A. Criswell
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.