From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

Light —Apart from the ordinary use of this word to denote outward light (as in  Luke 11:36,  Matthew 17:2;  Matthew 24:29 etc.), there are three applications of the metaphor of light in the Synoptic Gospels which demand attention.

1. The first occurs in the figurative and somewhat enigmatic saying preserved in  Matthew 6:22-23 =  Luke 11:34-35, where the eye is called the lamp of the body, the symbolism pointing to sincerity of soul as the decisive feature of life. Each Evangelist gives the saying a different setting. In Mt.’s version of the Sermon on the Mount it occurs in a context laying stress upon the supreme need of the heavenly mind in religion; and as the main rival to God in man’s affections is the world, in the shape of material wealth, the pursuit of the single mind is naturally correlated with the avoidance of covetousness. This shade of meaning is reflected from  Matthew 6:19-21;  Matthew 6:24-25 (see Mammon) upon the intervening logion . The soul is to human life what the eye is to the body (so Philo, de Opif. Mundi , 17, ‘reason [νοῦς] is to the soul what the eye is to the body’); it is a lamp, by means of which the way and work of life are illuminated. As the functions of the physical life depend largely upon the soundness of the organs of vision, by means of which men move safely and freely in the outside world, so the mental and moral health of man is bound up with the condition of his inner life. The inward disposition (cf.  John 11:10) is the key to all (cf. Ruskin’s Queen of the Air , § 93; Eagle’s Nest , §§ 106–110). The employment of ‘light’ in this connexion is thus one illustration of the inwardness of the teaching of Jesus. He brought men from the circumference to the centre, laid supreme stress on motive, and sought to emphasize—as in this saying—the vital importance of the inner spirit for conduct. The symbolism turns on the ethical meaning implied in ‘single’ (ἁπλοῦς) and ‘evil’ (πονηρός), the former suggesting ‘liberality,’ the latter ‘niggardliness’ in the moral sphere. Hence ‘light’ means that condition of life which is void of covetousness and the grasping spirit. Such a spirit confuses life by diverting it from the supreme inward and heavenly aim which is its true pursuit. The hoarding temper, which absorbs men in outward possessions, is pronounced by Jesus to be a flaw in the moral vision, a speck that blurs ‘the light that is in thee,’ i.e. the inner light of conscience, the heart, or the soul. When the latter is darkened by the intrusion of a divided affection, especially in the form of some appetite such as covetousness or worldliness, then ‘how great is the darkness’! For religion, as Christ taught it, is not admitting God into life. It is putting Him first in life. Faith is not thinking Him good, but hailing Him as best. And nothing can be more ominous than when the soul, which is man’s delicate faculty for seeing and choosing God, is diverted to double-mindedness or to an attempt to reconcile the competing interests of God and of the world. The outcome is compromise and its inevitable product, hypocrisy—that sin which a Frenchman once called the firstfruits of English society—ripening under the very breath of conventional religion.—The logion may be, as Brandt suggests, a Jewish aphorism based on  Proverbs 20:27, which Jesus here quotes and applies.

The introduction of the saying in  Luke 11:33-36 is due to the key-word λύχνος. Here, as often, Lk. groups sayings together less from their internal correspondence than from some verbal common element. He sharpens the point of the saying by introducing  Luke 11:35. As eyes may become injured by the blinding glare and dust which make ophthalmia a prevalent complaint in the East, so, it is implied, the inner disposition lies exposed to risk and disease, against which it is a man’s duty to guard. For if the heart rules the life, the life, on the other hand, can stain and spoil the heart. Yet the stress of the saying falls on attention to the inward life as determining the course and value of the outer. ‘ “Take care of the little things of life, and the great things will take care of themselves,” is the maxim of the trader, which is sometimes, and with a certain degree of truth, applied to the service of God. But much more true is it in religion, that we should take care of the great things, and the trifles of life will take care of themselves. “If thine eye be single, thy whole body will be full of light.” Christianity is not acquired, as an art, by long practice; it does not carve and polish human nature with a graving tool; it makes the whole man; first pouring out his soul before God, and then casting him in a mould’ (Jowett’s Paul , ii. 117).—The point of  Luke 11:36 is not easy to grasp. It seems a somewhat tautological expansion of  Luke 11:34 b (so Blass). D [Note: Deuteronomist.] , Syr [Note: yr Syriac.] cur etc., omit it, while Syr [Note: yr Syriac.] sin has a different form of it; yet, as Wellhausen observes, it does not read like an interpolation, and probably we must be content to suspect, with Westcott and Hort, e.g. , and J. Weiss (in Meyer8 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] , pp. 476–477), some primitive corruption of the text.

2. The connexion of  Luke 11:33 with the saying is not immediate.  Luke 11:33 is simply an equivalent of  Mark 5:14-16, which is incorporated here under the rubric of ‘light,’ and Luke has already more appropriately used it in  Luke 8:16 (=  Mark 4:21) in the second phase of the light-symbolism in the Gospels, viz. that of influence . The disciples are cautioned against the tendency, whether due to modesty or to cowardice, to refrain from letting their faith tell upon the world. In  Luke 11:33 it is impossible to trace any very obvious connexion between this and what precedes, any more than between it and what follows, unless the idea of the editor is that Solomon’s wisdom and Jonah’s preaching were frank and open to the world (hence  Luke 11:33), while no sign ( Luke 11:29) is needed if the inner heart be pure and true ( Luke 11:34-38). The context in Matthew 5 is much more congenial. Jesus is warning His disciples that while their relation to the outside world is often full of annoyance and suffering, yet this bitter experience ( Matthew 5:10 f.) must not drive them into a parochial and secluded attitude of negative protest. ‘You are the light of the world,’ He urges. You owe it a duty. Your faith lays you under an obligation to let your life tell upon your environment (cf. EBi [Note: Bi Encyclopaedia Biblica.] , 4377, 4384–4385), instead of weakly relapsing into some esoteric or Essene-like seclusion. The allusion to good works is peculiar to Matthew. It emphasizes that frankness of spirit and necessity of good conduct which the saying upon light advocates as the sole reasonable position for Christian disciples to assume. The vocation of a Christian is to be visible. And visibility means influence. The reference is not to Apostles but to Christians in general, nor is preaching in view. What Jesus inculcates is an attitude of consistent goodness, void of monasticism and ostentation alike, as corresponding to the nature of His Kingdom, whose property and destiny it is to become manifest to the world (cf. Mozley’s Parochial and Occasional Sermons , p. 212 f.).

This latter idea, without the moral counsel, is reproduced by  Mark 4:21 (=  Luke 8:16) as a sequel to the interpretation of the parable of the Seeds, as if to suggest that such knowledge as had just been imparted to the disciples was not to be kept to themselves but to be diffused like light (cf. Menzies, Earliest Gospel , pp. 112–114), the placing of the lamp in its proper position perhaps corresponding (so Jülicher) to the fruitful and useful qualities of the good seed in the good soil ( Mark 4:20). Others, like Wrede ( das Messiasgeheimnis , p. 68 f.), prefer to read the saying in the light of the Apostolic age, as if it meant that after the Resurrection all reserve upon the Christian mysteries was to be thrown aside ( Mark 4:11). This, however, cannot be the original sense of the saying, and there is no reason why one should give up the interpretation which makes the lamp here equivalent to the teaching of Jesus or the knowledge of the gospel (see Expos. Nov. 1900, on ‘The Peril and the Comfort of Exposure’). The point is less general than in  Matthew 5:14-16. But the essential bearing of the saying is the same, viz. that as the function of light is to radiate, so Christian privileges imply the duty of propaganda. Similarly,  Matthew 10:27 =  Luke 12:3 (cf. Jülicher’s Gleichnisreden , ii. 86 f.). In the fourth of the New Oxyrhynchus Logia, we have the words: ‘for there is nothing hidden which shall not be made manifest, nor buried which shall not be raised.’

3. If Christians, however, are to arise and shine, it must be because their light has come. Consequently revelation is also embraced under the light-symbolism of the Gospels, in  Matthew 4:16,  Luke 1:79 [ Isaiah 9:2]  Luke 2:32, where the reference, based on OT quotations, is to the redeeming life of Christ. This semi-mystical application, which associates light with the Divine effluence, runs far back into human history. ‘Heaven means both the world of light above us and the world of hope within us, and the earliest name of the Divine beings is simply “the bright ones.” Such names are more than metaphors. But if they were simply metaphors, they would show how closely the world without is adapted to express and render definite the yearnings and the fears of the world within’ (J. Wedgwood, The Moral Ideal , pp. 6, 7). It is needless to illustrate from ancient thought how light was almost invariably, if variously, allied to the conception of heaven and the Divine nature, the latter being conceived as radiant and glorious. The gradual evolution of the religious idea slowly purified the symbolism, especially in the deeper reaches of faith within the later Judaism (notably in the Book of Enoch). The semi-physical element, though not entirely excluded even from the NT idea of glory and spiritual phenomena, came to be subordinated to the moral and mystical. The purity, the noiseless energy, the streaming rays of light, all suggested religious qualities to the mind, until the light of God came to be an expression for the healing influence and vitalizing power exercised by Him over human life. The light of Christ, the Messiah, was thus His ministry (see Bruce’s Galilean Gospel , p. 13 f.). His person formed the creative power in the life of the human soul. Through work and word alike, His being operated with quickening effect upon the responsive hearts of His own people.

This application of the metaphor of light to the Divine revelation in Jesus is developed especially in the Fourth Gospel, where ‘light’ is reserved almost exclusively for this purpose. John the Baptist is indeed described once as ‘the burning and shining lamp,’ in whose light (cf.  John 1:7-8) the Jews were ‘willing to rejoice for a season’ ( John 5:35, cf.  Sirach 48:1), with all a shallow nature’s delight in transient impressions (see Martensen’s Individual Ethics , p. 385). And Christians are incidentally called ‘sons of light’ ( John 12:36, cf.  Luke 16:8). But, if John the Baptist is the lamp , Jesus is the Light  ; if Christians become sons of light , it is by believing on the Light . It is not Christians but Christ, the incarnate Logos, who is the Light of the world ( John 1:4;  John 8:12;  John 9:5;  John 12:46). Already in the ancient mind the supreme God had been frequently defined as the God of light, and the later Judaism had expressed its profounder consciousness of this truth in the collocation of life and light ( e.g.  Psalms 36:9, En 58:3) and in the employment of ‘light’ as a summary expression not only for cosmic vitality, but for the bliss of mankind, chiefly, though not solely, in the future (cf. Volz, Jüdische Eschatologie , 328 f.). In the Fourth Gospel, however, this idea is developed with singular precision and breadth. The Logos-Christ is defined in the Prologue not only as Logos but as Life and Light, the former category being confined to Christ’s being as a Divine factor in the creation and in the essence of God ( John 1:1-3), as well as to His incarnation ( John 1:14-18), after which it is dropped. The intervening paragraph ( John 1:4-13), dealing with the Logos-Christ as a historical phenomenon, is subsumed under the category of Light and Life, which afterwards dominates the entire Gospel, except (curiously enough) the closing speeches ( John 1:14-17), where the symbolism of Light is entirely absent. ‘In him was life, and the life was the light of men.’ This profound sentence really gives the keynote to the Gospel, in which Christ as the Light represents the essential Truth of God as revealed to human knowledge. The Messiah ( e.g. En 48:4) and the Logos (as in Philo) had already been hailed as Light. But here the metaphor of light denotes much more than the self-revelation of God in the person of Jesus (Weiss); it describes the transcendent life streaming out on men, the absolute nature of God as truth, as the supreme reality for man to believe in, and by his belief to share. In sharp antithesis to this Light is the Darkness, by which the writer symbolizes all that is contrary to God in human life, whether unbelief or disobedience, all that resists the true Life which it is the function of the Light to produce in humanity, all the ignorance and wilful rejection of Christ which issue in practical consequences of confusion and rebellion. Historically, this opposition emerged during Christ’s lifetime in the Jews’ rejection of His mission. But, as the present tense φαίνει seems to imply, the truth is general; the same enmity pervades every age—a conception to which there is a remarkable parallel in the Logos-teaching of Heraclitus (cf. Pfleiderer’s Urchrist. 2 ii. 339). This antithesis means more, however, than a metaphysical dualism running through the world. The hostility of men to the Light is described as their own choice and fault ( John 3:19-20), and this conception naturally permeates the entire Gospel. The determinism is apparent rather than real. Whether positive or negative, the attitude of men to God in Christ is run back to their own wills, although the writer makes no attempt to correlate this strictly with Divine prescience. Nor, again, is the conception purely intellectual, though the terminology would seem occasionally to suggest this view. Light and darkness represent moral good and evil as these are presented in the spiritual order introduced by Christ. To love the light ( John 3:19-21) is not a theoretical attitude, but a practical, equivalent to doing the truth . The light has to be followed ( John 8:12, cf.  John 12:35 f.); Christ’s revelation is an appeal to the reason and conscience of mankind as the controlling principle of conduct; ‘the light of life’ is the light which brings life, and life is more than mere intellectualism ( John 17:3). To walk in or by the light is to have one’s character and conduct determined by the influence of Christ, the latter being as indispensable to vitality in the moral and religious sphere as light is to physical growth (cf.  2 Samuel 23:4,  Psalms 49:19;  Psalms 56:13 etc.). See, further, art. Truth.

These and other applications of this metaphor throughout the Fourth Gospel are all suggested in the somewhat abstract language of the Prologue. Three further points may be selected as typical of this mode of thought.

( a ) The function of Christ as the Light is described as bearing not only upon the creation of the Universe, but on the spiritual and moral life of men ( John 1:3-4). In this sphere it encounters an obstacle in the error and evil of man’s nature, but encounters it successfully. This is proleptically described in  John 1:5 (cf.  1 John 2:8), where οὐ κατέλαβεν probably means ‘failed to overpower, or extinguish’ (cf.  John 12:35,  Sirach 15:7); despite the opposition of man’s ignorance and corruption, the true Light makes its way. The climax of this triumph in history is then described. It was heralded by the prophetic mission of John the Baptist, the allusion to whom is, like  John 5:35, carefully phrased in order to bring out the transient and subordinate character of his ministry (cf. Lightfoot’s Colossians , p. 401); whereupon the historic functions of the real Light are resumed in  John 5:9 f. ‘The true light, which lightens every man, was coming into the world’; i.e. had arrived, even when the Baptist was preaching (cf.  John 5:26). Later on, this is frankly stated by Jesus Himself at the feast of Tabernacles, when brilliant illuminations were held every night—a symbolism which may have suggested the cry, ‘I am the light of the world’ ( John 8:12; cf.  Isaiah 60:1). The description in  John 1:9 is probably an echo of Testament of Levi 13:4 (‘the light of the Lord was given to lighten every man’).

( b ) While the Light is the Christian revelation, it is implied that already ( John 3:21), not merely in Judaism but throughout humanity (cf.  John 11:52,  John 12:21 f.), there were individuals whose honesty and sincerity had prepared them to receive the truth of God ( John 1:11-12) mentally and morally. When the light fell on those who sat in darkness, some were content to sit still. But others rose to welcome the fuller knowledge of God in the perfect revelation of Christ’s person, men like Nathanael and the Greeks. For it is characteristic of the Fourth Gospel that good people, rather than sinners (as in the Synoptic narratives), flock to Christ. The Logos, as Hausrath puts it, draws God’s children to the light as a magnet attracts metals, while mere stones are left unmoved by its presence. And God’s children are those who respond to Christ by the exercise of their moral instincts and religious affections. Unlike Philo, the author refuses to trace back this lack of susceptibility towards God to any source in the material constitution of mankind (cf.  John 8:44); but the semi-Gnostic idea of a special class remains.

( c ) Upon the other hand, Christ, the Light, came to His own people; and there are repeated allusions to the brief opportunity of the Jews ( John 9:4,  John 11:9-10,  John 12:35-36), in sayings which warn the nation against trilling with its privilege,—a privilege soon to be taken from its unworthy keeping. Here the author is reflecting the period in which he writes, when the Jews’ day of grace had passed, with tragic consequences to themselves. ‘Light, accept the blessed light, if you will have it when Heaven vouchsafes. You refuse? Very well: the “light” is more and more withdrawn, … and furthermore, by due sequence, infallible as the foundations of the universe and Nature’s oldest law, the light returns on you, this time, with lightning ’ (Carlyle’s Latter-Day Pamphlets , iii. ad fin. ).

Literature.—In addition to the references already given, see Norris, the Cambridge Platonist, Reason and Religion , p. 222 f.; Berkeley, Siris , § 210; and, for the use of the idea in morals and religion, Fiske, Myths and Myth-Making , p. 104 f., and D. G. Brinton, Religion of Primitive Peoples , p. 73 f. The use of the symbol in the Gospels is analyzed by Titius, die Johan. Ansehauung d. Seligkeit (1900), p. 119 f.; Holtzmann, Neutest. Theologie , ii. 304 f., 399 f.; and especially Grill, Untersuchungen über die Entstehung des vierten Evang. (1902), pp. 1–31, 217–225, 259–271, 308 f. See also Dalman, Worte Jesu , 1. (English translation) iv. § 3; and Drummond, Philo Judœus , i. 217 f. For the moral uses of the word see Phillips Brooks, Candle of the Lord , 305, Light of the World , 1; R. W. Church, Village Sermons , i. 296, iii. 46: B. F. Westcott, Revelation of the Father , 45; F. Temple, Rugby Sermons , 3rd series, 149; G. Macdonald, Unspoken Sermons , iii. 163; G. A. Smith, Forgiveness of Sins , 89; R. Rainy, Sojourning with God , 64.

J. Moffatt.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [2]

Light always involves the removal of darkness in the unfolding of biblical history and theology. The contrast of light and darkness is common to all of the words for "light" in both Old and New Testaments (esp. Heb. or [אֹור]; Gk. phos [Φῶς]). The literal contrast between metaphysical good and evil, God and evil forces, believers and unbelievers. The Bible entertains no thought that darkness is equal in power to God's light. God is the absolute Sovereign who rules over the darkness and the powers of evil.

Light Is Good . The importance of light and darkness is dramatically presented in the opening sentences of the biblical record. In response to the darkness that was over the surface of the deep ( Genesis 1:2 ), God spoke and light came into being. Darkness and light are evocative words in Hebrew. Darkness evokes everything that is anti-God: the wicked ( Proverbs 2:13 ), judgment ( Exodus 10:21 ), death ( Psalm 88:12 ). Light is the first of the Creator's works, manifesting the divine operation in a world that is darkness and chaos without it. While light is not itself divine, it is often used metaphorically for life ( Psalm 56:13 ), salvation ( Isaiah 9:2 ), the commandments ( Proverbs 6:23 ), and the divine presence of God ( Exodus 10:23 ). In the first creative act, "God saw that the light was good" ( Genesis 1:3 ).

God Is Light . If light represents goodness in antithesis to the evil associated with darkness, it is a natural step for the biblical authors to understand God, the ultimate good, as light. Light symbolizes the holy God. Light signifies God's presence and favor ( Psalm 27:1;  Isaiah 9:2;  2 Corinthians 4:6 ) in contrast to God's judgment ( Amos 5:18 ). Throughout the Old Testament light is regularly associated with God and his word, with salvation, with goodness, with truth, with life. The New Testament resonates with these themes, so that the holiness of God is presented in such a way that it is said that God "lives in unapproachable light" ( 1 Timothy 6:16 ). God is light ( 1 John 1:5 ) and the Father of lights ( James 1:17 ) who dispels darkness.

The Johannine writings gather up the Old Testament understanding of light and show its summation in Jesus Christ (thirty-three of the seventy-two occurrences of phos [   1 John 1:5-7 ). Jesus declares that he is "the light of the world" ( John 8:12;  9:5 ). Jesus is the incarnate Word of God, who has come as the light that enlightens all people ( John 1:4-14 ), so that those believing in him will no longer be in darkness (12:46).

Paul concurs as he harks back to the creation account: "For God, who said, Let light shine out of darkness, ' make 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 ). Through the Word of God light came into existence ( Genesis 1:1-3 ), and through the revelation of God in Jesus Christ the Word brought light to humanity.

The Light of Salvation and Life for Believers Those responding to the light are ushered into the sphere of life in which darkness is dispelled. Salvation brings light to those in darkness (  Job 22:28;  Psalm 27:1;  Isaiah 9:2;  Matthew 4:15-16 ). Jesus Christ is life-giving light, in whom is life ( John 1:4 ), and those who follow him "will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" ( John 8:12 ). Believers are "sons of light" ( John 12:36;  Ephesians 5:8;  1 Thessalonians 5:5 ).

Light possesses powers essential to true life. Hence "to be in the light" means simply "to live"—both life eternal and life temporal. The one who has come into the light of Jesus Christ is brought into the ethical life characterized by light (cf.  Luke 16:8;  John 3:19-21;  12:36;  2 Corinthians 6:14;  Colossians 1:12-14;  1 Thessalonians 5:5;  1 Peter 2:9 ). The godly person enjoys the light of life in the present age ( 1 John 2:10 ). Paul intentionally contrasts the old life in darkness with new life in the light in Christ Jesus ( Ephesians 4:17-24 ). Although Satan can disguise himself as "an angel of light, " Christians live in the true light of salvation, laying aside the deeds of darkness and putting on the protective "armor of light" ( Romans 13:12 ). The revealed will of God provides light to the heart, soul, and mind of humanity, providing guidance in a dark world ( Psalm 19:7-10;  119:105,130 ). A stark contrast will characterize the old life and the new: "For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of lightfor the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true" ( Ephesians 5:8-9 ). The truly Christian life is a life of light.

A Light to the World . God is light, who dispels the darkness of this world. Jesus came as the light of the world, breaking through the darkness of sin by his work on the cross. It follows that believers are a light to the world as well. Jesus describes his disciples as light and light-bearers ( Matthew 5:14-16 ). Paul indicates to believers in Asia Minor and Macedonia that their lives are a shining light of witness to the world around them ( Ephesians 5:8;  Philippians 2:15 ). It is the task of all believers to pass on the divine light they have received. What they have received in the secret intimacy of the community of believers they are to proclaim fearlessly "in the light" of public ( Matthew 10:27;  Luke 12:3 ). All those who have entered into the light now bear responsibility as missionaries of Christ, shining out as "lights in a dark world" with the light of God himself ( Philippians 2:15 ).

The Light Yet to Come . While both the Old Testament and New Testament describe the future of the ungodly in terms of eschatological darkness, symbolizing perdition, they equally describe the future glory for believers in terms of light. In the New Jerusalem there will be no more night ( Revelation 22:5 ), and the city will not need the sun, moon, or created light to shine on it, "for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light" ( Revelation 21:23-24 ). The prophetic word of God is what brings hope of the light yet to come, and Peter provides an appropriate admonition: "You will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in you hearts" ( 2 Peter 1:19 ). At the future appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ all darkness will be dispelled, and believers will walk in purity, peace, and joy in the light of the living God.

Michael J. Wilkins

Bibliography . E. R. Achtemeier, Int 17 (1963): 439-49; F. G. Carver, Wesleyan Theological Journal 23 (1986): 7-32; H. Conzelmann, TDNT, 9:310-58; D. Guthrie, New Testament Theology  ; H.-C. Hahn et al., NIDNTT, 2:484-96; G. Hawthorne, R. P. Martin, and D. G. Reid, Dictionary of Paul and His Letters  ; G. E. Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament  ; G. Wenham,  Genesis 1-15 .

King James Dictionary [3]

LIGHT, n. lite. L. lux, light and luceo, to shine. Eng. luck, both in elements and radical sense.

1. That ethereal agent or matter which makes objects perceptible to the sense of seeing, but the particles of which are separately invisible. It is now generally believed that light is a fluid, or real matter, existing independent of other substances, with properties peculiar to itself. Its velocity is astonishing, as it passes through a space of nearly twelve millions of miles in a minute. Light, when decomposed, is found to consist of rays differently colored as red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. The sun is the principal source of light in the solar system but light is also emitted from bodies ignited, or in combustion, and is reflected from enlightened bodies, as the moon. Light is also emitted from certain putrefying substances. It is usually united with heat, but it exists also independent of it. 2. That flood of luminous rays which flows from the sun and constitutes day.

God called the light day, and the darkness he called night.  Genesis 1 .

3. Day the dawn of day.

The murderer rising with the light, killeth the poor and needy.  Job 24 .

4. Life.

O, spring to light, auspicious babe, be born!

5. Any thing that gives light as a lamp, candle, taper, lighted tower, star, &c.

Then he called for a light, and sprang in -  Acts 16 .

I have set thee to be a light to the Gentiles.  Acts 13 .

And God made two great lights.  Genesis 1 .

6. The illuminated part of a picture the part which lies open to the luminary by which the piece is supposed to be enlightened, and is painted in vivid colors opposed to shade. 7. Illumination of mind instruction knowledge.

I opened Ariosto in Italian, and the very first two lines gave me light to all I could desire.

Light, understanding and wisdom - was found in him.  Daniel 5 .

8. Means of knowing. By using such lights as we have, we may arrive at probability, if not at certainty. 9. Open view a visible state a state of being seen by the eye, or perceived, understood or known. Further researches will doubtless bring to light many isles yet undiscovered further experiments will bring to light properties of matter yet unknown. 10. Public view or notice.

Why am I ask'd what next shall see the light?

11. Explanation illustration means of understanding. One part of Scripture throws light on another. 12. Point of view situation to be seen or viewed a use of the word taken from painting. It is useful to exhibit a subject in a variety of lights. Let every thought be presented in a strong light. In whatever light we view this event, it must be considered an evil. 13. A window a place that admits light to enter.

 1 Kings 7 .

14. A pane of glass as a window with twelve lights. 15. In Scripture, God, the source of knowledge.

God is light.  1 John 1 .

16. Christ.

That was the true light, that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.  John 1 .

17. Joy comfort felicity.

Light is sown for the righteous.  Psalms 97 .

18. Saving knowledge.

It is because there is no light in them.  Isaiah 8 .

19. Prosperity happiness.

Then shall thy light break forth as the morning.  Isaiah 58

20. Support comfort deliverance.  Micah 7 . 21. The gospel.  Matthew 4 . 22. The understanding or judgment.  Matthew 6 . 23. The gifts and graces of christians.  Matthew 5 . 24. A moral instructor, as John the Baptist.  John 5 . 25. A true christian, a person enlightened.  Ephesians 5 . 26. A good king, the guide of his people. Sam. 21.

The light of the countenance, favor smiles.  Psalms 4 .

To stand in one's own light, to be the means of preventing good, or frustrating one's own purposes.

To come to light, to be detected to be discovered or found.

LIGHT, a. lite.

1. Bright clear not dark or obscure as, the morning is light the apartment is light. 2. In colors, white or whitish as a light color a light brown a light complexion.

LIGHT, a. lite.

1. Having little weight not tending to the center of gravity with force not heavy. A feather is light, compared with lead or silver but a thing is light only comparatively. That which is light to a man, may be heavy to a child. A light burden for a camel, may be insupportable to a horse. 2. Not burdensome easy to be lifted, borne or carried by physical strength as a light burden, weight or load. 3. Not oppressive easy to be suffered or endured as a light affliction.  2 Corinthians 4 . 4. Easy to be performed not difficult not requiring great strength or exertion. The task is light the work is light. 5. Easy to be digested not oppressive to the stomach as light food. It may signify also, contained little nutriment. 6. Not heavily armed, or armed with light weapons as light troops a troop of light horse. 7. Active swift nimble.

Asahel was as light of foot as a wild roe. Sam. 2.

8. Not encumbered unembarrassed clear of impediments.

Unmarried men are best masters, but not best subjects for they are light to run away.

9. Not laden not deeply laden not sufficiently ballasted. The ship returned light. 10. Slight trifling not important as a light error. 11. Not dense not gross as light vapors light fumes. 12. Small inconsiderable not copious or vehement as a light rain a light snow. 13. Not strong not violent moderate as a light wind. 14. Easy to admit influence inconsiderate easily influenced by trifling considerations unsteady unsettled volatile as a light, vain person a light mind.

There is no greater argument of a light and inconsiderate person, than profanely to scoff at religion.

15. Gay airy indulging levity wanting dignity or solidity trifling.

Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light.

We may neither be light in prayer, now wrathful in debate.

16. Wanton unchaste as a woman of light carriage.

A light wife doth make a heavy husband.

17. Not of legal weight clipped diminished as light coin.

To set light by, to undervalue to slight to treat as of no importance to despise.

To make light of, to treat as of little consequence to slight to disregard.

LIGHT, lite.

1. To kindle to inflame to set fire to as, to light a candle or lamp sometimes with up as, to light up an inextinguishable flame. We often hear lit used for lighted as, he lit a candle but this is inelegant. 2. To give light to.

Ah hopeless, lasting flames! like those that burn to light the dead -

3. To illuminate to fill or spread over with light as, to light a room to light the streets of a city. 4. To lighten to ease of a burden. Not in use. See Lighten.

LIGHT, lite.

1. To fall on to come to by chance to happen to find with on.

A weaker man may sometimes light on notions which had escaped a wiser.

2. To fall on to strike.

They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.  Revelation 7 .

3. To descend, as from a horse or carriage with down, off, or from.

He lighten down from his chariot.  2 Kings 5 .

She lighted off the camel.  Genesis 24 .

To settle to rest to stoop from flight. The bee lights on this flower and that.

Webster's Dictionary [4]

(1): ( superl.) Well leavened; not heavy; as, light bread.

(2): ( n.) One who is conspicuous or noteworthy; a model or example; as, the lights of the age or of antiquity.

(3): ( n.) Prosperity; happiness; joy; felicity.

(4): ( superl.) Not copious or heavy; not dense; not inconsiderable; as, a light rain; a light snow; light vapors.

(5): ( superl.) Not strong or violent; moderate; as, a light wind.

(6): ( superl.) Not pressing heavily or hard upon; hence, having an easy, graceful manner; delicate; as, a light touch; a light style of execution.

(7): ( superl.) Easy to admit influence; inconsiderate; easily influenced by trifling considerations; unsteady; unsettled; volatile; as, a light, vain person; a light mind.

(8): ( superl.) Indulging in, or inclined to, levity; wanting dignity or solemnity; trifling; gay; frivolous; airy; unsubstantial.

(9): ( superl.) Not quite sound or normal; somewhat impaired or deranged; dizzy; giddy.

(10): ( superl.) Not heavily burdened; not deeply laden; not sufficiently ballasted; as, the ship returned light.

(11): ( n.) A firework made by filling a case with a substance which burns brilliantly with a white or colored flame; as, a Bengal light.

(12): ( superl) Having light; not dark or obscure; bright; clear; as, the apartment is light.

(13): ( v. i.) To dismount; to descend, as from a horse or carriage; to alight; - with from, off, on, upon, at, in.

(14): ( adv.) Lightly; cheaply.

(15): ( v. i.) To come by chance; to happen; - with on or upon; formerly with into.

(16): ( v. i.) To come down suddenly and forcibly; to fall; - with on or upon.

(17): ( v. i.) To descend from flight, and rest, perch, or settle, as a bird or insect.

(18): ( v. i.) To feel light; to be made happy.

(19): ( n.) That agent, force, or action in nature by the operation of which upon the organs of sight, objects are rendered visible or luminous.

(20): ( n.) That which furnishes, or is a source of, light, as the sun, a star, a candle, a lighthouse, etc.

(21): ( n.) The time during which the light of the sun is visible; day; especially, the dawn of day.

(22): ( n.) The brightness of the eye or eyes.

(23): ( n.) The medium through which light is admitted, as a window, or window pane; a skylight; in architecture, one of the compartments of a window made by a mullion or mullions.

(24): ( n.) Life; existence.

(25): ( n.) Open view; a visible state or condition; public observation; publicity.

(26): ( n.) The power of perception by vision.

(27): ( n.) That which illumines or makes clear to the mind; mental or spiritual illumination; enlightenment; knowledge; information.

(28): ( v. t.) To lighten; to ease of a burden; to take off.

(29): ( n.) The manner in which the light strikes upon a picture; that part of a picture which represents those objects upon which the light is supposed to fall; the more illuminated part of a landscape or other scene; - opposed to shade. Cf. Chiaroscuro.

(30): ( n.) Appearance due to the particular facts and circumstances presented to view; point of view; as, to state things fairly and put them in the right light.

(31): ( superl.) Wanton; unchaste; as, a woman of light character.

(32): ( v. i.) To be illuminated; to receive light; to brighten; - with up; as, the room lights up very well.

(33): ( v. i.) To become ignited; to take fire; as, the match will not light.

(34): ( superl) White or whitish; not intense or very marked; not of a deep shade; moderately colored; as, a light color; a light brown; a light complexion.

(35): ( superl.) Loose; sandy; easily pulverized; as, a light soil.

(36): ( superl.) Slight; not important; as, a light error.

(37): ( n.) To set fire to; to cause to burn; to set burning; to ignite; to kindle; as, to light a candle or lamp; to light the gas; - sometimes with up.

(38): ( n.) To give light to; to illuminate; to fill with light; to spread over with light; - often with up.

(39): ( n.) To attend or conduct with a light; to show the way to by means of a light.

(40): ( superl.) Not of the legal, standard, or usual weight; clipped; diminished; as, light coin.

(41): ( superl.) Easily bestowed; inconsiderately rendered.

(42): ( superl.) Having little, or comparatively little, weight; not tending to the center of gravity with force; not heavy.

(43): ( superl.) Not burdensome; easy to be lifted, borne, or carried by physical strength; as, a light burden, or load.

(44): ( superl.) Easy to be endured or performed; not severe; not difficult; as, a light affliction or task.

(45): ( superl.) Easy to be digested; not oppressive to the stomach; as, light food; also, containing little nutriment.

(46): ( superl.) Not heavily armed; armed with light weapons; as, light troops; a troop of light horse.

(47): ( superl.) Not encumbered; unembarrassed; clear of impediments; hence, active; nimble; swift.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [5]

φως , is used in a physical sense,  Matthew 17:2;  Acts 9:3;  Acts 12:7;  2 Corinthians 4:6; for a fire giving light,  Mark 14:54;  Luke 22:56; for a torch, candle, or lamp,  Acts 16:29; and for the material light of heaven, as the sun, moon, or stars,  Psalms 136:7;  James 1:17 . Figuratively taken, it signifies a manifest or open state of things,  Matthew 10:27;  Luke 12:3; also prosperity, truth, and joy.

God is said to dwell in light inaccessible,  1 Timothy 6:16 . This seems to contain a reference to the glory and splendour which shone in the holy of holies, where Jehovah appeared in the luminous cloud above the mercy seat, and which none but the high priest, and he only once a year, was permitted to approach unto,  Leviticus 16:2;  Ezekiel 1:22;  Ezekiel 1:26;  Ezekiel 1:28; but this was typical of the glory of the celestial world. It signifies, also, instruction, both by doctrine and example,  Matthew 5:16;  John 5:35; or persons considered as giving such light,  Matthew 5:14;  Romans 2:19 . It is applied figuratively to Christ, the true Light, the Sun of Righteousness, who is that in the spiritual, which the material light is in the natural, world; who is the great Author, not only of illumination and knowledge, but of spiritual life, health, and joy to the souls of men.

The images of light and darkness, says Bishop Lowth, are commonly made use of in all languages to imply or denote prosperity and adversity, agreeably to the common sense and perception which all men have of the objects themselves. But the Hebrews employ those metaphors more frequently and with less variation than other people: indeed, they seldom refrain from them whenever the subject requires or will even admit of their introduction. These expressions, therefore, may be accounted among those forms of speech, which in the parabolic style are established and defined; since they exhibit the most noted and familiar images, and the application of them on this occasion is justified by an acknowledged analogy, and approved by constant and unvarying custom. In the use of images, so conspicuous and so familiar among the Hebrews, a degree of boldness is excusable. The Latins introduce them more sparingly, and therefore are more cautious in the application of them. But the Hebrews, upon a subject more sublime indeed, in itself, and illustrating it by an idea which was more habitual to them, more daringly exalt their strains, and give a loose rein to the spirit of poetry. They display, for instance, not the image of the spring, of Aurora, of the dreary night, but the sun and stars as rising with increased splendour in a new creation, or again involved in chaos and primeval darkness. Does the sacred bard promise to his people a renewal of the divine favour, and a recommencement of universal prosperity? In what magnificent colours does he depict it! Such, indeed, as no translation can illustrate, but such as none can obscure:—

"The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, And the light of the sun shall be sevenfold."

 Isaiah 30:26 .

But even this is not sufficient:—

"No longer shalt thou have the sun for thy light by day; Nor by night shall the brightness of the moon enlighten thee:

For Jehovah shall be to thee an everlasting light, And thy God shall be thy glory.

Thy sun shall no more decline; Neither shall thy moon wane;

For Jehovah shall be thine everlasting light; And the days of thy mourning shall cease."

 Isaiah 60:19-20 .

In another place he has admirably diversified the same sentiment:—

"And the moon shall be confounded, And the sun shall be ashamed;

For Jehovah, God of Hosts, shall reign

On Mount Sion, and in Jerusalem:

And before his ancients shall he be glorified."

Isaiah 24:25.

On the other hand, denouncing ruin against the proud king of Egypt:—

"And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heavens.

And the stars thereof will I make dark: I will involve the sun in a cloud,

Nor shall the moon give out her light.

All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, And I will set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord Jehovah."

 Ezekiel 27:7-8 .

These expressions are bold and daring; but the imagery is well known, the use of it is common, the signification definite: they are therefore perspicuous, clear, and truly magnificent.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words [6]

A. Verb.

'Ôr ( אוֹר , Strong'S #216), “to become light, become lighted up (of daybreak), give light, cause light to shine.” This verb is found also in Akkadian and Canaanite. The Akkadian word urru —means “light,” but generally “day.”

'Ôr means “to become light” in Gen. 44:3: “As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away, they and their asses.” The word means “to give light” in Num. 8:2: “… the seven lamps shall give light over against the candlestick.”

B. Nouns.

'Ôr ( אוֹר , Strong'S #216), “light.” This noun appears about 120 times and is clearly a poetic term.

The first occurrence of 'ôr is in the Creation account: “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light” (Gen. 1:3). Here “light” is the opposite of “darkness.” The opposition of “light” and “darkness” is not a unique phenomenon. It occurs frequently as a literary device: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20); and “In that day they shall roar against them like the roaring of the sea: and if one look unto the land, behold darkness and sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof” (Isa. 5:30). In Hebrew various antonyms of are used in parallel constructions: “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined” (Isa. 9:2).

The basic meaning of 'ôr is “daylight” (cf. Gen. 1:3). In the Hebrew mind the “day” began at the rising of the sun: “And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springeth out of the earth by clear shining after rain” (2 Sam. 23:4). The “light” given by the heavenly bodies was also known as 'ôr: —“Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound” (Isa. 30:26).

In the metaphorical use 'ôr signifies life over against death: “For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?” (Ps. 56:13). To walk in the “light” of the face of a superior (Prov. 16:15), or of God (Ps. 89:15), is an expression of a joyful, blessed life in which the quality of life is enhanced. The believer is assured of God’s “light,” even in a period of difficulty; cf. “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me” (Mic. 7:8; cf. Ps. 23:4).

In the Septuagint 'ôr has many translations, of which phos —(“light”) is most frequent.

The noun ‘ur means “shine; light-giving.” This word occurs infrequently, once in Isa. 50:11: “Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light [ ‘ur ] of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled.”

‘Orah refers to “light.” This noun means “light” in Ps. 139:12: “Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.”

Ma’or also means “light.” This noun appears about 20 times. Ma’or occurs more than once in Gen. 1:16: “And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.”

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [7]

By common usage, in Bible times as well as today, light is figuratively associated with things that are good. In like manner darkness is usually associated with things that are bad ( Job 30:26;  Psalms 112:4;  John 3:19-20; see Darkness ).

In particular, light is associated with God. He is clothed in light, he dwells in light, he is light. Because God is separate from all creation, and especially from all things sinful, light is symbolic of God’s holiness ( Psalms 104:2;  Daniel 2:22;  1 Timothy 6:16;  1 John 1:5). It is also symbolic of the holiness that should characterize God’s people. As light can have no partnership with darkness, so God’s people should have no partnership with sin ( Proverbs 4:18-19;  Isaiah 2:5;  Romans 13:12-13;  2 Corinthians 6:14;  Ephesians 5:8-11;  1 John 1:6-7;  1 John 2:9-10; see Holiness ).

Just as the uniqueness of God is symbolized by light, so is the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, who is God in human form ( Matthew 17:2;  Acts 9:3-5;  Revelation 1:16). Jesus likened his coming into the world to the coming of light into darkness. He is the light of the world, who brings the life and salvation of God into a world that is dark and dead because of sin ( Matthew 4:16;  John 1:4-5;  John 3:19;  John 8:12;  John 12:35-36;  John 12:46;  2 Corinthians 4:6; cf.  Psalms 27:1).

Those who turn to Christ for salvation are, by God’s grace, transferred from a kingdom of darkness into a kingdom of light ( Colossians 1:12-13;  1 Peter 2:9). They become lights in the world, as they take the good news of Jesus Christ to those who are still in darkness ( Matthew 5:14-16;  Acts 13:47;  Philippians 2:15;  Revelation 11:4; see Witness ). God’s Word is also a light, as it guides them along the path of life ( Psalms 119:105;  Proverbs 6:23; see Lamp ).

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [8]

LIGHT. To the ancient mind light was a holy thing, and the Scriptures associate it with God. He dwells in light (  Exodus 24:10 ,   1 Timothy 6:16 ); He is clothed with light (  Psalms 104:2 ); He is light, and in Him is no darkness at all (  1 John 1:5 ); His glory is the effulgence of His light (  Revelation 21:23 ). Cf. the ancient Greek Evening Hymn rendered by Keble: ‘Hail, gladdening Light, of His pure glory poured,’ etc. Hence Jesus, God Incarnate, is called ‘the Light of the world’ (  John 1:4-5;   John 1:9;   John 18:12 ), ‘an effulgence of the glory of God’ (  Hebrews 1:3 ); and salvation is defined as walking in His light and being enlightened by it (  John 8:12;   John 12:36;   John 12:38 , 1Jn 1:7 ,   2 Corinthians 4:6 ,   Ephesians 5:8;   Ephesians 5:14 ,   1 Thessalonians 5:5 ,   1 Peter 2:3 ). And Christians as His representatives and witnesses are the light of the world (  Matthew 5:14;   Matthew 5:16 ,   Philippians 2:15 ). On the contrary, a godless life is darkness (  John 3:10;   John 8:12;   John 12:46 ,   1 John 2:11 ).

David Smith.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [9]

Besides the references to physical light as existing distinct from the sun, and then emanating from the sun as the great light-bearer, the term is mainly used in scripture in a moral sense. Light from God is His word revealing Himself, and not only making manifest the dangers here, but acting as a lamp in showing the true path.  Psalm 119:105 . The Psalmist asked Jehovah to lift upon him the light of His countenance (  Psalm 4:6 ), and declared that Jehovah Himself was his light,   Psalm 27:1 . As natural light brings vigour and health to the body, so the light of God gives cheerfulness and strength to the soul.

"God is light," and the Lord Jesus came to the earth as the true light which lighteth every man. He not only exposed all the evil in the world and all the false pretensions of the leaders of Israel; but "the life was the light of men."  John 1:4;  John 8:12 . Christians are "light in the Lord," and are exhorted to walk as "children of light."  Ephesians 5:8;  1 Thessalonians 5:5 . In the midst of darkness they are set to shine as lights in the world.  Philippians 2:15 . A grave responsibility rests upon them lest they should not have the heavenly lustre that would characterise them as having in their hearts the light of the glory of the Lord. If the light in the Christian become darkness by his not walking in the reality of it, how great is that darkness!  Matthew 6:23 .

It has been very properly said that light is appropriately descriptive of God; for light, invisible in itself, manifests everything. Christians, as we have seen, are 'light in the Lord,' and thus convict the unfruitful works of darkness; but here we may notice that it is not said of them, as of God, that they are 'love,' for love is the sovereign spring of activity in God.

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [10]

This word is used in many ways in the Scripture. Sometimes it refers to man's intellect as in  Isaiah 50:11. Sometimes it refers to the Word of GOD, as in  Psalm 119:105. Sometimes it refers to false doctrines as in  Matthew 6:23. It is also a type of the Christian who walks with GOD, as in  Ephesians 5:8. It refers also to the testimony of the Christian, as in  Matthew 5:16. It is a figure of the state of the believer after he leaves Satan's kingdom of darkness, and is brought into GOD's Kingdom. (  Acts 26:18). It refers to the walk of the believer in which he serves the Lord in a godly way, and directs his life according to the Word of GOD, as in1Jo  1:7. It refers to the defense of the believer who lives above reproach and has a godly testimony before his neighbors, as in  Romans 13:12. Christ Jesus Himself is the light of the world, as He affirms in  John 8:12 (a) In some strange way the entrance of Christ into the life and heart enables the mind to become intelligent and intellectual. Only where Christ Jesus is loved and His Word is preached do we find minds active for the blessing of others, and alert in inventing that which will be a blessing to mankind. The blessings which we enjoy in civilization, such as electronics, transportation, communication, refrigeration, manufacturing, agriculture, chemistry, physics and institutions of learning are all products of protestant countries where Christ Jesus is permitted to rule and reign in the heart of people, and the Word of GOD is read, preached and taught publicly, and without hindrance. (See  John 1:4).

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [11]

This is another of the characters of the Lord Jesus Christ; for as Jesus is the life, so is he the light of men. Coming up from all eternity in the councils of peace, for the salvation of his people, he is the everlasting light and glory of his people. He it is that first caused the light to shine out of darkness in the original creation of nature. In like manner, he is the first to cause light to shine out of darkness in the new creation, when the day spring from on high first shines in upon the soul, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. ( 2 Corinthians 4:6) Oh! rise, thou Son of righteousness, on the souls of thy redeemed with healing in thy wings that they may go forth and grow up as calves of the stall, ( Malachi 4:2;  Luke 2:32;  Psalms 4:6;  John 8:12, etc.)

Easton's Bible Dictionary [12]

 Genesis 1:3 1 Kings 11:36 Isaiah 58:8 Esther 8:16 Psalm 97:11 Psalm 119:105 Isaiah 8:20 Matthew 4:16 Colossians 1:12 Revelation 21:23-25 1 Timothy 6:16 Matthew 5:16 John 5:35 Malachi 4:2 Luke 2:32 John 1:7-9 James 1:17 2 Corinthians 11:14 John 5:35 Matthew 5:14

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [13]

One of the most wonderful, cheering, and useful of all the works of God; called into being on the first of the six days of creation, by his voice: "Let there be light;" and there was light. No object better illustrates whatever is pure, glorious, spiritual, joyful, and beneficent. Hence the beauty and force of the expressions, "God is light,"  1 John 1:5 , and "the Father of lights,"  James 1:17; Christ is the "Sun of righteousness," and "the light of the world,"  John 1:9   8:12 . So also the word of God is "a light,"  Psalm 119:105; truth and Christians are lights,  John 3:19   12:36; prosperity is "light,"  Esther 8:16; and heaven is full of light,  Revelation 21:23-25 . The opposite of all these is "darkness."

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [14]

 Matthew 3:16 Revelation 7:16Strike.  Acts 27:41Fall

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [15]

lı̄t ( אור , 'ōr , מאור , mā'ōr  ; φῶς , phṓs  ; many other words):

1. Origin of Light

2. A C omprehensive Term

(1) Natural Light

(2) Artificial Light

(3) Miraculous Light

(4) Mental, Moral, Spiritual Light

3. An Attribute of Holiness

(1) God

(2) Christ

(3) Christians

(4) The Church

4. Symbolism

5. Expressive Terms

1. Origin of Light:

The creation of light was the initial step in the creation of life. "Let there be light" ( Genesis 1:3 ) was the first word of God spoken after His creative Spirit "moved" upon the primary material out of which He created the heavens and the earth, and which lay, until the utterance of that word, in the chaos of darkness and desolation. Something akin, possibly, to the all-pervasive electro-magnetic activity of the aurora borealis penetrated the chaotic night of the world. The ultimate focusing of light (on the 4th day of creation,  Genesis 1:14 ) in suns, stars, and solar systems brought the initial creative process to completion, as the essential condition of all organic life. The origin of light thus finds its explanation in the purpose and very nature of God whom John defines as not only the Author of light but, in an all-inclusive sense, as light itself: "God is light" ( 1 John 1:5 ).

2. A C omprehensive Term:

The word "light" is Divinely rich in its comprehensiveness and meaning. Its material splendor is used throughout the Scriptures as the symbol and synonym of all that is luminous and radiant in the mental, moral and spiritual life of men and angels; while the eternal God, because of His holiness and moral perfection, is pictured as "dwelling in light unapproachable" ( 1 Timothy 6:16 ). Every phase of the word, from the original light in the natural world to the spiritual glory of the celestial, is found in Holy Writ.

(1) Natural Light.

The light of day ( Genesis 1:5 ); of sun, moon and stars; "lights in the firmament" ( Genesis 1:14-18;  Psalm 74:16;  Psalm 136:7;  Psalm 148:3;  Ecclesiastes 12:2;  Revelation 22:5 ). Its characteristics are beauty, radiance, utility. It "rejoiceth the heart" ( Proverbs 15:30 ); "Truly the light is sweet" ( Ecclesiastes 11:7 ); without it men stumble and are helpless ( John 11:9 ,  John 11:10 ); it is something for which they wait with inexpressible longing ( Job 30:26; compare  Psalm 130:6 ). Life, joy, activity and all blessings are dependent upon light.

Light and life are almost synonymous to the inhabitants of Palestine, and in the same way darkness and death. Theirs is the land of sunshine. When they go to other lands of clouded skies their only thought is to return to the brightness and sunshine of their native land. In Palestine there is hardly a day in the whole year when the sun does not shine for some part of it, while for five months of the year there is scarcely an interruption of the sunshine. Time is reckoned from sunset to sunset. The day's labor closes with the coming of darkness. "Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labor until the evening" ( Psalm 104:23 ).

The suddenness of the change from darkness to light with the rising sun and the disappearance of the sun in the evening is more striking than in more northern countries, and it is not strange that in the ancient days there should have arisen a worship of the sun as the giver of light and happiness, and that Job should mention the enticement of sun-worship when he "beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness" ( Job 31:26 ). The severest plague in Egypt next to the slaying of the firstborn was the plague of darkness which fell upon the Egyptians ( Exodus 10:23 ). This love of light finds expression in both Old Testament and New Testament in a very extensive use of the word to express those things which are most to be desired and most helpful to man, and in this connection we find some of the most beautiful figures in the Bible.

(2) Artificial Light.

When natural light fails, man by discovery or invention provides himself with some temporary substitute, however dim and inadequate. The ancient Hebrews had "oil for the light" ( Exodus 25:6;  Exodus 35:8;  Leviticus 24:2 ) and lamps ( Exodus 35:14;  Matthew 5:15 ). "There were many lights. (λαμπάς , lampás ) in the upper chamber" at Troas, where Paul preached until midnight ( Acts 20:8 ); so  Jeremiah 25:10 the Revised Version (British and American), "light of the lamp;" the King James Version, "candle."

(3) Miraculous Light.

When the appalling plague of "thick darkness," for three days, enveloped the Egyptians, terrified and rendered them helpless, "all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings" ( Exodus 10:23 ). Whether the darkness was due to a Divinely-ordered natural cause or the light was the natural light of day, the process that preserved the interspersed Israelites from the encompassing darkness was supernatural. Miraculous, also, even though through natural agency, was the "pillar of fire" that gave light to the Israelites escaping from Pharaoh ( Exodus 13:21;  Exodus 14:20;  Psalm 78:14 ), "He led them ... all the night with a light of fire." Supernatural was the effulgence at Christ's transfiguration that made "his garments ... white as the light" ( Matthew 17:2 ). Under the same category Paul classifies 'the great light' that 'suddenly shone round about him from heaven' on the way to Damascus ( Acts 22:6; compare  Acts 9:3 ). In these rare instances the supernatural light was not only symbolic of an inner spiritual light, but instrumental, in part at least, in revealing or preparing the way for it.

(4) Mental, Moral, Spiritual Light.

The phenomena of natural light have their counterpart in the inner life of man. Few words lend themselves with such beauty and appropriateness to the experiences, conditions, and radiance of the spiritual life. For this reason the Scriptures use "light" largely in the figurative sense. Borrowed from the natural world, it is, nevertheless, inherently suited to portray spiritual realities. In secular life a distinct line of demarcation is drawn between intellectual and spiritual knowledge and illumination. Education that enlightens the mind may leave the moral man untouched. This distinction rarely obtains in the Bible, which deals with man as a spiritual being and looks upon his faculties as interdependent in their action.

( a ) A few passages, however, refer to the light that comes chiefly to the intellect or mind through Divine instruction, e.g.   Psalm 119:130 , "The opening of thy words giveth light"; so  Proverbs 6:23 , "The law is light." Even here the instruction includes moral as well as mental enlightenment.

( b ) Moral:   Job 24:13 ,  Job 24:16 has to do exclusively with man's moral attitude to truth: "rebel against the light"; "know not the light."   Isaiah 5:20 describes a moral confusion and blindness, which cannot distinguish light from darkness.

( 100 ) For the most part, however, light and life go together. It is the product of salvation: "Yahweh is my light and my salvation" (  Psalm 27:1 ). "Light," figuratively used, has to do preeminently with spiritual life, including also the illumination that floods all the faculties of the soul: intellect, conscience, reason, will. In the moral realm the enlightenment of these faculties is dependent wholly on the renewal of the spirit. "In thy light ... we see light" ( Psalm 36:9 ); "The life was the light of men" ( John 1:4 ).

3. An Attribute of Holiness:

Light is an attribute of holiness, and thus a personal quality. It is the outshining of Deity.

(1) God.

"God is light, and in him is no darkness at all" ( 1 John 1:5 ). Darkness is the universal symbol and condition of sin and death; light the symbol and expression of holiness. "The light of Israel will be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame" ( Isaiah 10:17 ). God, by His presence and grace, is to us a "marvellous light" ( 1 Peter 2:9 ). The glory of His holiness and presence is the "everlasting light" of the redeemed in heaven ( Isaiah 60:19 ,  Isaiah 60:20;  Revelation 21:23 ,  Revelation 21:24;  Revelation 22:5 ).

(2) Christ.

Christ, the eternal Word ( λόγος , lógos ,   John 1:1 ), who said "Let there be light" ( Genesis 1:3 ), is Himself the "effulgence of (God's) glory" ( Hebrews 1:3 ), "the light which lighteth every man, coming into the world" ( John 1:9 ) (compare the statements concerning Wisdom in The Wisdom of Solomon 7:25 f and concerning Christ in  Hebrews 1:3; and see Creeds; Logos; Johannine Theology; Wisdom ). As the predicted Messiah, He was to be "for alight of the Gentiles" ( Isaiah 42:6;  Isaiah 49:6 ). His birth was the fulfillment of this prophecy ( Luke 2:32 ). Jesus called Himself "the light of the world" ( John 8:12;  John 9:5;  John 12:46 ); As light He was "God ... manifest in the flesh ( 1 Timothy 3:16 the King James Version). "The Word was God" (  John 1:1 ). Jesus as λόγος is the eternal expression of God as a word is the expression of a thought. In the threefold essence of His being God is Life ( ζωή , zōḗ ) ( John 5:26;  John 6:57 ); God is Love ( ἀγάπη , agápē ) ( 1 John 4:8 ); God is Light ( φῶς , phṓs ) ( 1 John 1:5 ). Thus Christ, the lógos , manifesting the three aspects of the Divine Nature, is Life, Love and Light, and these three are inseparable and constitute the glory . which the disciples beheld in Him, "glory as of the only begotten from the Father" ( John 1:14 ). In revealing and giving life, Christ becomes "the light of men" ( John 1:4 ). God gives "the light of the knowledge of (his) glory in the face of Jesus Christ" ( 2 Corinthians 4:6 ), and this salvation is called "the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ" ( 2 Corinthians 4:4 ). Christ is thus the Teacher, Enlightener ("Christ shall give thee light,"  Ephesians 5:14 the King James Version), Guide, Saviour of men.

(3) Christians.

All who catch and reflect the light of God and of Christ are called "light," "lights." (a) John the Baptist: "a burning and a shining light" (  John 5:35 the King James Version). It is significant that this pre-Christian prophet was termed λύχνος , lúchnos , while the disciples of the new dispensation are called φῶς , phṓs ( Matthew 5:14 ): "Ye are the light of the world." (b) Henceforth Christians and saints were called "children of light" ( Luke 16:8;  John 12:36;  Ephesians 5:8 ), and were expected to be "seen as lights in the world" ( Philippians 2:15 ). (c) The Jew who possessed the law mistakenly supposed he was "a light of them that are in darkness" ( Romans 2:19 ).

(4) The Church.

Zion was to "shine" because her 'light had come' ( Isaiah 60:1 ). The Gentiles were to come to her light ( Isaiah 60:3 ). Her mission as the enlightener of the world was symbolized in the ornamentations of her priesthood. The Urim of the high priest's breastplate signified light, and the name itself is but the plural form of the Hebrew 'ōr . It stood for revelation , and Thummim for truth . The church of the Christian dispensation was to be even more radiant with the light of God and of Christ. The seven churches of Asia were revealed to John, by the Spirit, as seven golden candlesticks, and her ministers as seven stars, both luminous with the light of the Gospel revelation. In Ephesians, Christ, who is the Light of the world, is the Head of the church, the latter being His body through which His glory is to be manifested to the world, "to make all men see," etc. ( Ephesians 3:9 ,  Ephesians 3:10 ). "Unto him be the glory in the church" ( Ephesians 3:21 ), the church bringing glory to God, by revealing His glory to men through its reproduction of the life and light of Christ.

4. Symbolism:

Light symbolizes: (1) the eye , "The light of the body is the eye" (  Matthew 6:22 , the King James Version;  Luke 11:34 ); (2) watchfulhess , "Let your lights (the Revised Version (British and American) "lamps") be burning," the figure being taken from the parable of the Virgins; (3) protection , "armor ( Romans 13:12 ), the garment of a holy and Christ-like life; (4) the sphere of the Christian's daily walk , "inheritance of the saints in light" ( Colossians 1:12 ); (5) heaven , for the inheritance just referred to includes the world above in which "the Lamb is the light thereof"; (6) prosperity , relief ( Esther 8:16;  Job 30:26 ), in contrast with the calamities of the wicked whose "light ... shall be put out" ( Job 18:5 ); (7) joy and gladness (  Job 3:20;  Psalm 97:11;  Psalm 112:4 ); (8) God's favor , the light of thy countenance" ( Psalm 4:6;  Psalm 44:3;  Psalm 89:15 ), and a king's favor (  Proverbs 16:15 ); (9) life (  Psalm 13:3;  Psalm 49:19;  John 1:4 ).

5. Expressive Terms:

Expressive terms are: (1) "fruit of the light" ( Ephesians 5:9 ), i.e. goodness, righteousness, truth; (2) "light in the Lord" ( Ephesians 5:8 ), indicating the source of light (compare  Isaiah 2:5 ); (3) "inheritance of the saints in light" ( Colossians 1:12 ), a present experience issuing in heaven; (4) "Father of lights" ( James 1:17 ), signifying the Creator of the heavenly bodies; (5) "marvellous light" ( 1 Peter 2:9 ), the light of God's presence and fellowship; (6) "Walk in the light" ( 1 John 1:7 ), in the light of God's teaching and companionship; (7) "abideth in the light" ( 1 John 2:10 ), in love, Divine and fraternal; (8) "Light of the glorious gospel of Christ "; "light of the knowledge of the glory of God" ( 2 Corinthians 4:4 ,  2 Corinthians 4:6 the King James Version).

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [16]

(properly אוֹר , Or Φῶς , from its Shining) is represented in the Scriptures as the immediate result and offspring of a divine command ( Genesis 1:3), where doubtless we are to understand a reappearance of the celestial luminaries, still partially obscured by the haze that settled as a pall over the grave of nature at some tremendous cataclysm which well-nigh reduced the globe to its pristine chaos, rather than their actual formation, although they are subsequently introduced ( Genesis 1:14 sq.). In consequence of the intense brilliancy and beneficial influence of light in an Eastern climate, it easily and naturally became, with Orientals, a representative of the highest human good. From this idea the transition was an easy one, in corrupt and superstitious minds, to deift the great sources of light. (See Sun); (See Moon). When "Eastern nations beheld the sun shining in his strength, or the moon walking in her brightness, their hearts were secretly enticed, and their mouth kissed their hand in token of adoration ( Job 31:26-27). (See Adoration). This 'iniquity' the Hebrews not only avoided, but when they considered the heavens they recognized the work of God's fingers, and learned a lesson of humility as well as of reverence ( Psalms 8:3 sq.). On the contrary, the entire residue of the East, with scarcely any exception, worshipped the sun and the light, primarily, perhaps, as symbols of divine power and goodness, but, in a more degenerate state. as themselves divine; whence, in conjunction with darkness, the negation of light, arose the doctrine of dualism, two principles, the one of light, the good power, the other of darkness, the evil power, a corruption which rose and spread the more easily because the whole of human life, being a checkered scene, seems divided as between two conflicting agencies, the bright and the dark, the joyous and the sorrowful, what is called prosperous and what is called adverse." But in the Scriptures the purer symbolism is everywhere maintained (see Wemyss, Symbol. Dict. s.v.). "All the more joyous emotions of the mind, all the pleasing sensations of the frame, all the happy hours of domestic intercourse, were habitually described among the Hebrews under imagery derived from light ( 1 Kings 11:36;  Isaiah 58:8,  Esther 8:16;  Psalms 97:11). The transition was natural from earthly to heavenly, from corporeal to spiritual things, and so light came to typify true religion and the felicity which it imparts. But as light not only came from God, but also makes man's way clear before him, so it was employed to signify moral truth, and preeminently that divine system of truth which is set forth in the Bible, from its earliest gleamings onward to the perfect day of the great sun of righteousness. The application of the term to religious topics had the greater propriety because the light in the world, being accompanied by heat, purifies, quickens, enriches, which efforts it is the peculiar province of true religion to produce in the human soul ( Isaiah 8:20,  Matthew 4:16;  Psalms 119:105;  2 Peter 1:19;  Ephesians 5:8;  2 Timothy 1:10;  1 Peter 2:9)."

Besides its physical sense ( Matthew 17:2;  Acts 9:3;  Acts 12:7;  2 Corinthians 4:6), the term light is used by metonymy for a fire giving light ( Mark 14:54;  Luke 22:56), for a torch, candle, or lamp ( Acts 16:29); for the material light of heaven, as the sun, moon, or stars ( Psalms 136:7;  James 1:17). In figurative language it signifies a manifest or open state of things ( Matthew 10:27;  Luke 12:3), and in a higher sense the eternal source of truth, purity, and joy ( 1 John 1:5). God is said to dwell in light inaccessible ( 1 Timothy 6:16), which seems to contain a reference to the glory and splendor that shone in the holy of holies, where Jehovah appeared in the luminous cloud above the mercy seat, and which none but the high-priest, and he only once a year, was permitted to approach ( Leviticus 16:2;  Ezekiel 1:22;  Ezekiel 1:26;  Ezekiel 1:28). This light was typical of the glory of the celestial world. (See Shekinah).

Light itself is employed to signify the edicts, laws, rules, or directions that proceed from ruling powers for the good of their subjects. Thus of the great king of all the earth the Psalmist says, "Thy word is a light unto my path" ( Psalms 119:105), and "Thy judgments are as the light" ( Hosea 6:5). Agreeably to the notion of lights being the symbols of good government, light also signifies protection, deliverance, and joy. Light also frequently signifies instruction both by doctrine and example ( Matthew 5:16;  John 5:35), or persons considered as giving such light ( Matthew 5:14;  Romans 2:19). It is applied in the highest sense to Christ, the true light, the sun of righteousness, who is that in the spiritual which the material light is in the natural world, the great author not only of illumination and knowledge, but of spiritual life, health, and joy to the souls of men ( Isaiah 60:1). "Among the personifications on this point which Scripture presents we may specify,

(1.) God. The apostle James (1:17) declares that 'every good and perfect gift cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning,' obviously referring to the faithfulness of God and the constancy of his goodness, which shine on undimmed and unshadowed. So Paul ( 1 Timothy 6:16), 'God who dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto.' Here the idea intended by the imagery is the incomprehensibleness of the self-existent and eternal God.

(2.) Light is also applied to Christ: 'The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light' ( Matthew 4:16;  Luke 2:32;  John 1:4 sq.). 'He was the true light;' 'I am the light of the world' ( John 8:12;  John 12:35-36).

(3.) It is further used of angels, as in  2 Corinthians 11:14 : 'Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.'

(4.) Light is moreover employed of men: John the Baptist 'was a burning and a shining light' ( John 5:35); 'Ye are the light of the world' ( Matthew 5:14; see also  Acts 13:47;  Ephesians 5:8)." (See Lights).

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [17]

Light is represented in the Scriptures as the immediate result and offspring of a divine command . The earth was void and dark, when God said, 'Let light be, and light was.' This is represented as having preceded the placing of lights in the firmament of heaven, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also' (, sq.). Whatever opinion may be entertained as to the facility with which these two separate acts may be reconciled, it cannot be questioned that the origin of light, as of every other part of the universe, is thus referred to the exertion of the divine will: as little can it be denied that the narrative in the original is so simple, yet at the same time so majestic and impressive, both in thought and diction, as to fill the heart with a lofty and pleasurable sentiment of awe and wonder.

The divine origin of light made the subject one of special interest to the Biblical nations—the rather because light in the East has a clearness, a brilliancy, is accompanied by an intensity of heat, and is followed in its influence by a largeness of good, of which the inhabitants of less genial climes can have no conception. Light easily and naturally became, in consequence, with Orientals, a representative of the highest human good. All the more joyous emotions of the mind, all the pleasing sensations of the frame, all the happy hours of domestic intercourse, were described under imagery derived from light . The transition was natural from earthly to heavenly, from corporeal to spiritual things; and so light came to typify true religion and the felicity which it imparts. But as light not only came from God, but also makes man's way clear before him, so it was employed to signify moral truth, and pre-eminently that divine system of truth which is set forth in the Bible, from its earliest gleaming onward to the perfect day of the Great Sun of Righteousness. The application of the term to religious topics had the greater propriety because the light in the world, being accompanied by heat, purifies, quickens, enriches; which efforts it is the peculiar province of true religion to produce in the human soul (;;;;;; ).

It is doubtless owing to the special providence under which the divine lessons of the Bible were delivered, that the views which the Hebrews took on this subject, while they were high and worthy, did not pass into superstition, and so cease to be truly religious. Other Eastern nations beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness, and their hearts were secretly enticed, and their mouth kissed their hand in token of adoration . This 'iniquity' the Hebrews not only avoided, but when they considered the heavens they recognized the work of God's fingers, and learned a lesson of humility as well as of reverence (, sq.).

Among the personifications on this point which Scripture presents we may specify,

God. The Apostle James declares that 'every good and perfect gift cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning;' obviously referring to the faithfulness of God, and the constancy of his goodness, which shine on undimmed and unshadowed. So Paul 'God who dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto.' Here the idea intended by the imagery is the incomprehensibleness of the self-existent and eternal God.

Light is also applied to Christ: 'The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light' (;; , sq.). 'He was the true light;' 'I am the light of the world' .

It is further used of angels, as in : 'Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.'

Light is moreover employed of men: John the Baptist 'was a burning and a shining light' 'Ye are the light of the world' (; see also; ).