Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | July 1, 2007

Light and Darkness (Lesson 1: Question 9 Answer)

9.  What do you think of when you hear light and darkness?  How does John use these terms in his writing?

John actually connects the concept of life (referenced above) as a definition for Light, “the life was the Light of men.” One wonders if John had Isaiah 9:2 (otherwise it must be Isaiah 42:6) in mind when applying this term to Christ, which states “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.” Nonetheless, this terminology is very common in John who will continue to use this term during the introduction.  When one thinks of light and darkness the ideas of good and evil come to mind.  Moreover, when the light or goodness is considered God Himself is inevitably considered.  This is not a foreign concept to the Scriptures.  God Himself is defined as light (Ps 27:1; Mic 7:8), the “light of Israel” (Isa. 10:17), and uses light to expose that which is hidden (Ps 90:8; 139:11-12; Luke 12:3; Dan 2:22; 1 Cor 4:5). 12 And as John indicates in this verse the darkness will not overcome the light.

The term κατελαβεν in this passage carries the connotation of gaining control over something through pursuit, to catch up with or seize. 13 This is interesting when you consider the verses referenced above that indicate that all things done in the darkness, currently hidden, will be exposed when the light comes.  Thus, it appears that John is building upon this biblical theme that comforts the believer in knowing that evil will be exposed and it will not be able to overcome the power of the Light. 

The term darkness is commonly used to convey man in his sin who is seeking refuge or covering from the Light of God.  The darkness is thought to hide or conceal wicked behavior and is the hour when the most heinous and wicked deeds are performed (Gen 19 – Sodom).  It signifies the fallen state that man finds himself in since Adam’s sin.  The “mind of man is blinded” and at enmity with God by nature. 14 This spiritual darkness that has a strangle hold on man can only be relinquished through the intervention of the “Light of men”.  We who are stained and tainted by the marks of sin hide our rebellious orientation within the darkness.  However, He who is perfectly righteous without spot or blemish overwhelms us rescuing us from the clutches of the darkness. To all those whom the Light shines upon the darkness will be not able to “overcome it”.  Just as turning on a light switch overwhelms the darkness of a room, our Lord’s redemption changes the disposition of our hearts in an instant.  In an instant we are declared righteous from the moment of our belief in His saving work being cloaked in His Light, which envelops our darkness.  We are transferred from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of Light (Col 1:12-13).    

12 The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary edited by Allen C. Meyers (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans Publishing 1987), 657

13 Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature/ revised and edited by FW Danker (Chicago:  The University Chicago Press) 520

14 John Calvin (1550) Commentary on the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ According to John (Calvin’s Commentaries, 17; Baker, 2005) 32

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