The Bible Theme of Light vs. Darkness

Audio (5:16)

In World War II, Britain imposed blackout conditions during the German blitz, so that bombers wouldn't have any light to guide them in their night-time bombings of Britain's cities. People had blackout curtains over their windows. Special covers were constructed over car headlights so that light couldn't be seen from above and came out of only a small slit.

Blackout regulation compliance was carefully monitored in London. Under blackout conditions, even a small light peeking through would be visible, and would seem especially bright in contrast to the darkness around.

Closely related to our study of Jesus' glory is the persistent theme of the conflict of light vs. darkness. It is seen throughout the New Testament and some of the Old. For example:

"The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2 Corinthians 4:4)

Here, Paul explicitly links the light vs. darkness theme with Christ's glory. But in most cases, the symbol of light implicitly stands in for God's glory.

"The people living in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned."
(Matthew 4:16, quoting Isaiah 9:2)

Of course, in the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus declares:

"You are the light of the world.... Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14a, 16)

Jesus also gives a parable about the eyes that are good vs. bad, letting light into the body or keeping it in darkness (Matthew 6:22), but it falls to the Apostle John to emphasize this theme most fully in both his Gospel and his First Epistle. For example, John's Gospel begins:

"In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it." (John 1:4-5)

"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)

"I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness." (John 12:46)

"The darkness is passing and the true light is already shining." (1 John 2:8)

Paul often speaks in terms of the light of Christ, based on the prophecy given him by Ananias at his conversion in Damascus.

"I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God." (Acts 26:17b-18a)

"Their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened." (Romans 1:21b)

"God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." (2 Corinthians 4:6)

"They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts." (Ephesians 4:18)

"You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light." (Ephesians 5:8)

"Our struggle is ...  against the powers of this dark world." (Ephesians 6:12)

The Glorious Kingdom: A Disciple's Guide to Kingdom Glory and Authority, by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Available in PDF and Kindle formats

"He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves." (Colossians 1:13)

"You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness." (1 Thessalonians 5:5)

Peter continues the theme.

"That you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." (1 Peter 2:9)

Copyright © 2024, Ralph F. Wilson. <> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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