Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | July 12, 2007

Why is He the “True Light” ? (Lesson 2: Question 3 Answer)

3.  Why does the author provide emphasis by using the term “true light”? Does the true light enlighten “every” man?  Or is every man that is enlightened, enlightened by Him?

As indicated above, Vos points out that the stronger form of “true” in the Greek is employed in this verse.  He points out this emphasis identifies Christ as being comprised of the reality from heaven revealed. 16 

Possibly this is to acknowledge that in the post-fall era the light of God is not entirely absent (Rom 1).  It is implicitly affirming that there is some remnant of the light in this world.  However, over time it had been corrupted, twisted and misrepresented in a manner that required special intervention from God to republish a correct standard.  This point is picked up by John Calvin in his comments to verse 5:

The light which still dwells in corrupt nature consists chiefly of two parts; for, first, all men naturally possess some seed of religion; and, secondly, the distinction between good and evil is engraven on their consciences.  But what are the fruits that ultimately spring from it, except that religion degenerates into a thousand monsters of superstition, and conscience perverts every decision, so as to confound vice with virtue. 17

Not only has religion been corrupted, but it has “degenerated into a thousand monsters of superstition.”  This was evident in the ancient and pre-modern eras when the worship of the objects of nature dominated.  Although, there were remnants of the truth contained in these religions (sacrifices, priesthood, god, etc), the practices had departed from the truth.  Rather than worshiping the true God they worshipped idols. Rather than follow the divinely revealed substitutes (bulls, goats and sheep) they despicably sacrificed their children or virgins as substitutes.  As noted above, Calvin also appeals to an innate sense of natural law engraven on their consciences (Rom 2:14-16).  This is another example of the light of God not entirely absent.  In fact it is imperative that this “law” remain within the constitution of every man, otherwise the basis of his judgment before God on the last day would be problematic.

As a result of this corruption of the remaining light in the world, the true light was sent to enlighten men to the truth.  It required an intrusion from the true “reality of heaven” itself to provide this reformation desperately needed.  Although, it would not literally enlighten every man on earth, every man who came into contact with and accepted this light would truly be enlightened.

16 Geerhardus Vos (1948) Biblical Theology Old Testament and New Testaments (Banner of Truth Trust, 2000) 356

17 John Calvin (1550) Commentary on the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ According to John (Calvin’s Commentaries, 17; Baker, 2005) 34

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