Leon L. Combs, M.A., M.Div., Ph.D.
December 14, 2015

Probably not so surprising since I am a physicist by training, the topic of light has been of considerable interest to me for many years. I sent four weekly letters this year on this topic to the readers receiving my letters and here I have collected them together and added a bit to the topic. I pray that this will be as helpful to you as it was to me. We start with Paul’s letter to the Ephesians on how God’s people are children of light.

Eph 5:8-10 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light 9(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.

In this chapter Paul has cautioned believers concerning their behavior, to walk in love, to put away sins, and to speak as those who are beloved children of God. Now Paul moves on to tell us why we should not do any of the negative things that he had just mentioned in this letter such as immorality, impurity, greed, filthiness and silly talk, coarse jesting, immorality, impurity, covetous, or idolatry.

The word “for” at the beginning of verse 8 tells us that what follows explains why righteous behavior is required. Note that he says that we were formerly darkness, not that we merely walked in darkness. He also says that we are now light in the Lord, not that we walk in the light of the Lord. I find both of those statements very interesting!! We were darkness. We are now light in the Lord. While we were darkness in and of ourselves, now we are light in the Lord, not in ourselves. These statements expose the vast difference between Christianity and other religions. In other religions one studies the foundations and teachings of the religion and begins to walk in that religion, meaning that the person follows the principles of that particular religious doctrine. Christianity is vastly different from any other religion. I even prefer to not call it a religion. All people originally are darkness for there is no light within them. They are spiritually dead! A Christian is a born-again person with a new heart and a spirit that now is alive and is part of the Kingdom of God. The light that we have become is the presence of God Himself within us so that we now possess light that shines into the darkness of the world.

The word “light” appears 200 times in the entire Bible and 72 times in the New Testament. This word is in Genesis: “Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.” (Gen 1:3) This verse has puzzled me for many years, as I could not understand what God created here when He “let there be light”. What I do know is that God has always been the creator of light and after a person is born again, he/she then also becomes light that again is created by God. Note also that there is a distinction from the sun and the light: “Thine is the day, Thine also is the night; Thou hast prepared the light and the sun.” (Psa 74:16). I bolded “and” to note that God created both light and the sun. This double creation certainly implies that the created light is not that which comes from the sun.

Furthermore God says: “The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these.” (Isa 45:7) God makes it perfectly clear that He alone is the one who formed light and created darkness. Forming something implies that it was made from something that already existed and creating something implies making it from “scratch”. We don’t normally like to associate God with being the One who created calamity, but here it is clear that indeed that is so.

Light is A Seed

We normally think of the sun as a natural source of the light in the world, but the Word of God (Psa 74:16 above) tells us that God prepared both the light and the sun. So what is “light” literally and/or symbolically? We get a clue from: “Light is sown like seed for the righteous, And gladness for the upright in heart.” (Psa 97:11)

God associates this light with a seed, but only for the righteous. So this light is something that is available only for the righteous, and God Himself sows it in us, the righteous. What is the purpose of a seed? A seed is planted so that it brings forth another result. For example, a planted acorn will, if properly planted and nourished, bring forth a mighty oak tree. But the acorn does not directly bring forth another acorn since it brings forth a tree that then produces more acorns. This seed analogy then means that the light put in us by God brings forth something greater within us as it functions within our life. Paul states in Eph 5:9 that the fruit of this seed consists of all goodness, righteousness, and truth. Thus the fruit of the light is the sanctification of the Christian as he grows in the Spirit.

Light is God’s Word

We also see further: Psa 119:105 “Thy word is a lamp to my feet, And a light to my path.”
Psa 119:130 “The unfolding of Thy words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.

So the Word of God is a light (same word) for the path of the righteous, meaning that the Word of God will guide our path in this world. We also see that the unfolding (true understanding) of God’s words gives (yields, brings forth) light and this proper teaching of the Word of God brings understanding of God even to the simple or untaught. Also note the following:

Light Brings Wisdom

God’s Word warns us not to substitute darkness for light or light for darkness: Isa 5:20 “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” The context here has to do with wisdom, so there is a special “woe” assigned to people who substitute the wisdom of the world for the wisdom of God, which reminds me of the following:
“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.” (Col 2:8)

Now we seem to be making some progress in our understanding of “light”. Light is associated with the wisdom of God that provides guidance for God’s people and is obtained by God sowing it in His people and in the proper interpretation of His Word to His people.

Previously we began our examination of God’s word relating to believers being light in the Lord. The foundational change that occurs within a person who is born again and God’s imperative that we walk as children of light. We know that symbolically light is the seed that beings goodness and righteousness and truth. Light describes God’s Word and brings wisdom. We are admonished to walk as children of light.

Walk in Light

From the following verse in Isaiah we learn that those who walk in darkness have no light, so the person who does not have light planted within him walks in darkness, obeys and participates in the evil of the world, and has no fear of the Lord: “Who is among you that fears the Lord, That obeys the voice of His servant, That walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.” (Isa 50:10)

This light is not just for our pleasure, but God has a purpose in giving us this light: “I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you, And I will appoint you as a covenant to the people, As a light to the nations,” (Isa 42:6)

We who are the righteous, serve as a light to the nations, meaning that the wisdom and glory of God that He has placed in us will cause us to be leaders for others to follow the true God.

Jesus, the Light of the World

The Bible certainly contains analogies of this light with the sun and other heavenly bodies:
Jer 31:35 “Thus says the Lord, Who gives the sun for light by day, And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The Lord of hosts is His name:”
Heb 1:1-3 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, (2) in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (3) And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Jesus told us that He was the light of the world while He was in the world: "While I am in the world, I am the light of the world." (John 9:5) After His ascension, His light continues through those who are His.

Believers are Sons of Light

Jesus also said that while He was here, they should believe in Him and they would become “sons of light”: “While you have the light, believe in the light, in order that you may become sons of light." These things Jesus spoke, and He departed and hid Himself from them.” (John 12:36) Jesus also compared this “light” with the light of a lamp: “If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it shall be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays.” (Luke 11:36)

Of course, to have no darkness in our body at all would be a state of complete sanctification and we would be totally illumined (completely understanding all aspects of God). While this will not occur as long as we are here on this earth, we are becoming progressively more “light” as we are sanctified.

God is Light

We even have the Word from God that He is light: “And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” (1John 1:5)

This analogy seems to be that God has given the world light (general revelation) and to each of His children He has given a more special light (specific revelation). That “light” is not just a physical phenomenon but also a spiritual condition generated by God Himself for those who belong to Him in Christ. Since we know that this light functions as a seed in the life of a righteous person, what is brought forth from this seed is the very glory of God. This light is the very cause of the sanctification (bringing a person more and more into the very likeness of God) of the righteous.

As we see ourselves as light to our families, friends, and acquaintances, we are mindful of our responsibility as Christians in a corrupt world obligated to live consistently to please God.

We have seen how God describes believers as light in the Lord. We have contrasted that light with the darkness of the world without Christ, considered Light as a seed that produces righteousness and goodness, recognized that God’s Word is light that also brings wisdom, and we are commanded to live consistent with Jesus, who is the Light of the world. Believers are sons of light because God is Light. Therefore, the physical phenomenon of light leads us to truths about our spiritual condition of light. What more do we know about this phenomenon?

The Phenomenon is a Created Light

Now let us consider the meaning of the first verse we considered in our pursuit of understanding the word “light”: “Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light” (Gen 1:4)

To answer this question, we also remember we have seen that God is light:

1John 1:5-7 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. (6) If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; (7) but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Even though the Word says that God is light, we know that Gen 1:3 does not mean that God created Himself!!! Also, even though Jesus said that He was light (John 8:12; 9:5; 12:46), the verse does not mean that God created Jesus at that point in time for the Trinity has always existed. This concept might belong to the following general category of secret things that we will not know until later: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.” (Deut 29:29)

However, if we look at the next few verses in Genesis we see the following:

Gen 1:3-5 “Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. 4And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.”

Some scholars have understood Gen 1:3 to mean this was the first time God let light reach the earth, but this is not what the verse says. To “let something be” means “to create it”. From all that we have studied, I very tentatively want to say that what God “let be” here was the very Glory of Himself that would be reflected by all of creation: For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (Rom 1:20) The separation that He created between light and the darkness was between knowledge of the true meaning of all of creation and the knowledge that man could discover on his own about the creation itself.

Thus God Himself created a divide between a general revelation and a specific revelation of Himself. It is only those who receive the seed of light who can correctly understand the glory of God. He then set up the physical analogy of the two understandings as “day” and “night” that is consistently used throughout Scripture. What God established from the very beginning of creation is that understanding about who He is can only be understood by His specific revelation to those whom He regenerates and gives this light. The most brilliant of all people cannot develop that true understanding of spiritual things unless God Himself acts first to reveal them.

This creation of light and its separation from darkness is like a veil that God has placed before all creation, and it was only at the completion of the work of Jesus Christ that the veil was torn for those to whom He reveals Himself. The following verses corroborate this interpretation.

I can testify that when I was born again the fall of 1970, that veil was taken away as, for the first time in my life; I could truly understand the Word of God. That occasion was as though a light had been turned on and now I understand what that meant to me.

In summary then, the light that God created as He told us in Genesis 1:3 is the general revelation that looking at all His creation would show forth His glory. In essence He “painted” creation with His glory. This revelation is also discussed by Paul:

Rom 1:18-20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, (19) because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. (20) For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

The darkness is attributed to the work of Satan in blinding minds so those people cannot see the light:

2Cor 4:3-4 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, (4) in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

We have been studying the dramatic implications of God’s act of redeeming believers from the darkness of the world into the Light of Christ. Light reveals God’s glory both in creation and in those who are children of Light.

God separated this revelatory light from the darkness so that only His children could understand the creation as a manifestation of the glory of God. Looking at such heavenly scenes as the one below, anyone can see an example of the general revelation of light showing forth His glory. However only special revelation can show God’s children the true purpose of the heavenly creations: to reveal something of the glory of a personal, loving Father in Heaven who loves His children and desires that they all appreciate His radiant Glory. We also see this revelation clearly stated in the following Scripture: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” (Rom 1:20)

To not proclaim the universe in such greatness and glory is to rob God of His glory and, in my opinion, is a sin. As a scientist, I cannot help but also note the correlation with the vision that God has given us of the electromagnetic spectrum. The visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum is a very small fraction of the total spectrum so that we are legally blind relative to the entire spectrum. Notice below a large portion of the electromagnetic spectrum and note that the visible region is only a very small part of the total:

Relating vision to the total revelation of God, the world is blind and only has a general revelation as discussed in Romans chapter 1 and in our previous three lessons. Once we are born again, God plants the seed of light within us and we become light and have the special revelation of God that He gives only to His children.

Now we will look at some more verses in this fifth chapter of Ephesians to try to further develop our understanding. Looking at the following verses, Ephesians 5:9 is not in the oldest manuscripts, but it seems consistent with Gal 5:22-23 (the fruit of the Spirit) and both tell us the fruit of light or the Spirit is all goodness and righteousness and truth.

Eph 5:9-12 (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), (10) trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. (11) Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; (12) for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.

Ephesians 5:10-12 elaborate upon our behavior in the world as the chosen people of God for whom God has torn the veil. Paul tells us to learn what is pleasing to the Lord, and how do we do that? We have to “learn Him”. We discussed this concept of “learning Him” rather than “learning about Him” in our study of Eph 4:20 that was sent as Letter 1505 on March 15, 2015. From that letter we read the following:

However the Greek word that Paul uses here that we interpret “learn Christ” means to literally “learn a person” rather than to learn about a person. Christians don’t spend their time learning the historical Jesus or studying about Jesus. We learn Jesus, just as you learn your son or your dad. You don’t read a diary about what your son did during the day to learn your son. You spend time with him, interact with him, and really try to know him and not about him. I spend my life learning my wife, not learning about her. Again, I don’t read a daily diary of her activities. I spend time with her, interact with her in various situations, go through good and hard times with her at my side. I am learning her. In exactly the same way we learn Jesus.

Here again we are urged to learn Him so that we would know what is pleasing to Him and live accordingly.

Paul tells us not to participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness. The people who are still darkness are the people who have not been given the seed of light and are still darkness as we once were. The deeds of these people are totally unfruitful so that they do not store up treasures in heaven for themselves and they do not do deeds that bring love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control. We are told not only to not participate in deeds of darkness, but we are to expose them. In verse 12 Paul writes that it is disgraceful to even speak of these evil things done in secret. How are we to expose them if we should not even speak of these secret acts? We let our light shine upon the deeds of darkness. I have heard a number of instances of Christians who were strongly criticized for being judgmental toward a sinner even though the Christian did not say a word! Merely the presence of a Christian can expose those who are practicing deeds of darkness.

How radically different Christians are through the transforming power of God in our regeneration and in our love for Him! Our witness to the world is that we are light in a very, very dark place. May God help us all to shine in the places where He put us. To further our understanding of light and its applications, let us look further at this chapter of Ephesians:

Eph 5:13-16 “But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. 14For this reason it says, "Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you."” 15Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, 16making the most of your time, because the days are evil.

Verse 13 validates my comments in the previous discussion concerning light as Paul tells us that ALL things become visible when they are exposed by the light. Our light exposes the deeds of darkness. Certainly the last part of verse 13 must be taken in a spiritual sense for certainly “everything that becomes visible is light” cannot be taken in a physical sense. Another valid interpretation of the last part of verse 13 is “where everything is made visible there is light”. Either interpretation leads us to the conclusion that Paul is referring to the spiritual rebirth of a person which happened to the people at Ephesus and elsewhere. Verse 14 certainly reinforces this interpretation. It is a religious hymn that Paul is quoting here. The exact origin of the hymn is not certain. Most people think that verse 14 is based upon Isaiah 60:1 and is a hymn sung by people as someone was being baptized:

Isa 60:1-2 "Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. 2"For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you.

In the early church baptism was described as enlightenment (photismos), perhaps being the basis of understanding the following verse: Heb 10:32-33 But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated.

Certainly the exhortations to “awake” and “arise” place this hymn in the context of a resurrection or rebirth. These people who have been born again now have the light of Christ shining upon them. Personally I like the analogy with a rebirth and a resultant baptism very much. This verse from Isaiah seems very appropriate as a hymn to be sung at a baptismal service.

Therefore – based upon all that has been discussed above – we should be careful how we walk in this world. I am afraid that I often walk as an unwise man, and I am ashamed when such times are brought to my memory. Christians have an incredible array of assistance to help them walk in the world, and yet we often walk as blind men rather than people of sight. We walk into situations with little or no prayer, with little or no Bible study relating to such situations, and shamefully with little or no dependence upon the Holy Spirit. Such shameful times seem analogous to our walking into a situation wearing spiritual blinders, and then we are surprised when something bad happens to us as a result of this foray into enemy territory without being properly prepared. I am reminded of the following Scripture:

Luke 14:31 “Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and take counsel whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?”

The Luke verse is in the context of Jesus telling people the cost of being His disciple starting with the following exhortation: “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:27) Of course, to “carry his own cross” means to die to self. Everyone at that time understood what “carry his own cross” meant, as the horror of crucifixion was well known. Today we hear people say something like “your spine problem is your cross to bear” and this is a terrible misinterpretation of this phrase. But to “die to self” is not a once in a lifetime event as is clarified in the following: “And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)

Continuing with Eph 5:16, we begin to see some areas in which the Christian can exercise wisdom as he/she walks in the world. Most people do not seem to understand the importance of time and especially do not seem to contemplate what little time they have available even if they live a long life. There are many Greek words for time. The Greek word “chronos” refers only to the flow of time and is the word from which we obtain the word “chronology”. The Greek word “aion” is interpreted in English as “age”. However neither of these words is used in this section. The Greek word used is “kairos” and refers to a moment that is especially significant or favorable. Jesus used this word when He said “My appointed time is near” (Matt 26:18). Therefore, when Paul tells us to “make the most of our time because the days are evil” he is telling us that we should treat each moment as a moment in time that is especially significant or favorable.

God has seen to it that we live here at this particular time in history, and we are to treat each second as a very precious moment in our time allocation. None of us knows when our end on this earth will come. God has allotted us each a period of time in which to live here: “Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Thy book they were all written, The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.” (Psa 139:16) Before the beginning of time, God put us here in this time/space period. God has allotted to each of us a period of time on earth and He has chosen us as His children to walk in the paths that He created for us: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:10)

So we are to make the most of our time, all the time, to the glory of God. Then we are to let our light shine in the darkness to reveal the light of the Lord: