THOUGHTS FROM JOHN’S LETTERS

5 GOD IS LIGHT

John wrote: ‘This is the message we heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth’ (1John 1:5, 6).

In these words John is telling us that Jesus Christ revealed the nature of God as light. To know God by knowing Jesus Christ is to be removed from the darkness of spiritual ignorance and error into the spiritual light of knowing the true God.

Here John expresses the same truth that we find in his introduction to his gospel:

‘The light (Jesus Christ) shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it’ (John 1:5).

‘The true light (Jesus Christ) that gives light to every man was coming into the world’ (John 1:9).

‘The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We have seen his glory ...’ (John 1:14).

‘No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known’ (John 1:18).

This is also the same truth that Jesus himself affirmed:

‘This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light ...’ (John 3:19).

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

‘While I am in the world, I am the light of the world’ (John 9:5).

‘When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness; (John 12:45 – 46).

And that is affirmed by other biblical writers:

Isaiah, recording God’s word about the promised Saviour: ‘It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to the tribes of Jacob ... I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth’ (Isaiah 49:6).

Matthew, reporting on Jesus’ ministry, quoted from Isaiah 9:2: ‘the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned’ (Matthew 4:16).

Luke, reporting what Simeon said as he held the baby Jesus in his arms: ‘my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel’ (Luke 2:30 – 32).

Paul, recalling the commission given to him by Jesus Christ: ‘I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God ...’ (Acts 26:17, 18).

Paul, summarizing the message of Moses and the prophets: ‘that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles’ (Acts 26:23).

Paul, on the reversal of darkness that happens then a person believes in Christ: ‘The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God ... For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ’ (2Corinthians 4:4, 6).

John concludes his first letter with a statement that affirms this truth that the true God is known by knowing Jesus Christ. To know Jesus Christ is to know the true God. To walk with Jesus is to be in the light. It is to walk in the light. Because it is to walk with God. Any other position, any other ‘god’ concept, is outlawed:

‘We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true – even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Dear children, keep yourselves from idols’ (1John 5:19 – 21).

©Rosemary Bardsley 2021