"The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." (John 1:5)
This lesson explains the meaning of John 1:5.
Consider. What does this verse (John 1:5) mean to you? How would you explain "The Light shines in the darkness" to an inquisitive believer or to a person who does not know Christ?
Scriptures in this lesson are taken from the 1995 New American Standard Bible (NASB) on the Bible Gateway website (Ref. 1) unless indicated otherwise.
1. The Light shines in the darkness
a. What is "The Light"?
Throughout the New Testament, "light" figuratively denotes truth and knowledge together with spiritual purity (Thayer's Greek Lexicon, Ref. 2). In John 1:5, the "Light" is God's divine illumination to reveal and impart life through Jesus Christ. The Light that shines in the darkness is the life-giving, saving truth embodied in Christ and by his love and effort imparted to mankind (Ref. 2).
b. Was the "Light" only in the past or is it ongoing?
The Light of Christ is perpetual. It always shines, and it never ceases. The life-giving, saving truth of Christ shining in the darkness was an on-going truth for the Apostle John and is an ongoing truth for us today -- not only for us, but also for us to share with others.
The verb "shines" in John 1:5 is in the present tense (Englishman's Concordance, Ref. 3). A Greek verb in the present tense means a present, continued action that is an actual fact (Ref. 4). The Greek verb for "shines" is phainó and means to shed light or appear (Strong's Concordance, Ref. 3). John uses the same word in 1 John 2:8.
c. In John and 1 John, what is the "darkness"?
In John 1:5 the Greek word for "darkness" is skotia (pronounced skot-ee'-ah) (Ref. 5). Skotia [darkness] figuratively means ignorance (lack of knowledge) of divine things, wickedness, and the resultant misery (Ref. 5).
John uses skotia figuratively for "darkness" in John 1:5, John 8:12, John 12:35, John 12:46, 1 John 1:5, as well as 1 John 2:8, 9, and 11. For example, Jesus said, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life" (John 8:12).
Skotia also has a literal meaning -- dark because of the absence of daylight (John 6:17, John 20:1).
d. How does a person get out of the "darkness"?
Believe in Jesus
Jesus tells us how we (or any person) can get out of spiritual darkness. Jesus said, "I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness" (John 12:46). The key for getting out of the darkness and into the light is to believe in Jesus. The Greek word for "believe" in John 12:46 is pisteuó (pronounced pist-yoo'-o). Pisteuó means trust in, have faith in, and put confidence in (Ref. 6). A person who believes in Jesus trusts in, has faith in, and puts their confidence in Jesus.
2. And the darkness did not comprehend it or overcome it
The Greek verb translated as "comprehend" or "overcome" in John 1:5 is katalambanó (pronounced kat-al-am-ban'-o) (HELPS Word-studies, Ref. 7). Katalambanó means:
Let us rejoice! The Light of Jesus Christ is perpetual and is victorious over the darkness. The Light of Christ shining in the darkness gives us hope. As disciples of Christ, let us seek ways we can help provide the Light of Christ to others, to help them "see the Light" so that they will not remain in darkness.
Summary. In John 1:5, the "Light" is God's divine illumination to reveal and impart life through Jesus Christ to mankind. The Light shines perpetually, and it never ceases. Because of ignorance and wickedness, the darkness has not perceived or understood the Light. The darkness has not overcome the Light nor will it ever overcome the Light. As Christ's disciples, we have hope because Christ and his light are victorious over the darkness.
Apply. Think for a moment. In your own words, how would you describe the meaning of "The Light shines in the darkness"? How can you share the Light of Christ with others?
"Jesus is the Light of the World" - John 8:12, John 12:46
"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)
This lesson is intended primarily for young people -- youth and young adults. You are considering the path or direction for your life. You may be feeling the call from Jesus Christ to commit your life, your way, to him. Yet, the world is attractive to you; its ways are enticing you (1 John 2:15-17). You may be feeling the world pulling you in opposition to the call of commitment to Jesus Christ. You are at a "fork in the road." Which way will you choose?
This lesson encourages you to enter through the narrow gate which is Jesus Christ and to follow Jesus on the path that leads to life.
1. Choose Jesus Christ instead of the world
Make the decision. Choose to enter the kingdom of God by the narrow gate which is Jesus Christ himself.
The broad way of the world may be attractive to you - for example, desire for "success" in the world's eyes, accumulating wealth, and prestige. Yet, Jesus says the broad way leads to destruction -- life cut off from Christ, ruin, or loss (Ref. 1). That ruin or loss can occur during this earthly life, for example, from love of money (1 Timothy 6:9, Matthew 6:24), or at the final judgment (Revelation 20:15). Even though God does love the people of the world and sent his Son to save us (John 3:16), Jesus' disciple John warns us not to love the things of the world such as pride and lust (1 John 2:15-17).
2. Search for and find the narrow gate
Jesus said, "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:14, italics added). The implication from this verse is that instead of our choosing the broad way of the world, we should actively search for and find the narrow gate which is Christ. The Greek word for find in Matthew 7:14 means find, learn, discover, especially after searching (Ref. 2). Jesus said, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you" (Matthew 7:7).
3. Enter through the narrow gate by faith in Christ
Enter through the narrow gate by placing your faith and trust in God's Son, Jesus Christ. God has ordained that the path to life and the way to God the Father is through his Son. Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6). Jesus also said, "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture" (John 10:9).
4. Follow Jesus -- the way that leads to life
Jesus himself is the way that leads to life (John 14:6, Matthew 7:14). The life that Jesus leads us to is full in both the physical and spiritual sense (Ref. 3). Jesus promises believers an abundant life (John 10:10) -- a life filled with purpose, growth, work, and service.
Note that as we follow Jesus on the path that leads to life, the path is not easy. In Matthew 7:14 Jesus said "the way is narrow that leads to life." The word narrow in narrow way in Matthew 7:14 means constricted by pressure, and implies trouble and affliction (Ref. 4). Despite the obstacles that we will encounter on the way that leads to life, Jesus promises to be with us always (Matthew 28:20); he gives us the Holy Spirit to help us (John 14:16, John 16:13). Jesus promises that he will lead us as we follow him on the way to our heavenly Father and to our heavenly destination (John 14:6, John 14:2-3).
Apply. Make the decision. Choose the way of Christ instead of the way of the world. Search for and find the narrow gate which is Jesus Christ himself. Enter through the narrow gate by placing your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Choose to follow Jesus on the path that leads to life and to our Father in heaven.
"Jesus is the Door" - John 10:7, John 10:9
"Jesus is the Way to the Father" - John 14:6
"Do Not Love the World" - 1 John 2:15
Photo Copyright: hydromet
"For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." (John 3:17)
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." (John 10:10)
"For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10)
This lesson explains 11 biblical reasons why Jesus Christ came into the world. Ten of these reasons are in the words of Jesus himself.
Consider. If an unbeliever or an inquisitive new believer were to ask you, "Why did Jesus come?," what would you say?
1. Jesus Came to Fulfill the Law and the Prophets
Early in his ministry, it was important for Jesus to establish why he came (Ref. 1). Jesus said to his hearers, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill" (Matthew 5:17). To Jesus, the scriptures were absolutely authoritative (Luke 24:44). Jesus came to cause God's will in the law (the first five books of the Old Testament) to be obeyed as it should be. Jesus also came to fulfill the prophecies and promises in the writings of the prophets, Psalms, and the other books of the Old Testament (Thayer's Greek Lexicon - Ref. 2).
2. Jesus Came to Save the World
Jesus spoke the following famous words in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." Then Jesus continued the thought in John 3:17. "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him" (John 3:17). The Greek word for saved is sózó (pronounced sode'-zo) and means deliver out of danger and into safety; used principally of God rescuing believers from the penalty and power of sin – and into His provisions (safety) (Ref. 3). Because God in love sent his Son to save the world, Jesus has already delivered you and me -- all those who believe in him -- out of danger into his safety.
3. Jesus Came to Save Sinners
The Apostle Paul wrote, "It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all" (1 Timothy 1:15). Sinners are hamartólos -- people who "fall short of what God approves, i.e. what is 'wide of the mark'" (Ref. 4). That category, "sinners," actually includes all of us -- "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
4. Jesus Came to Preach the Kingdom of God
When Jesus went out from Capernum to a solitary place (Luke 4:31, Luke 4:42), he told the multitudes who were searching for him, "I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose" (Luke 4:43). Jesus also used the same word for preach when he quoted Isaiah 61:1 -- "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor" (Luke 4:18). In Luke 4:18 and Luke 4:43, the Greek word for preach is euaggelizó (pronounced yoo-ang-ghel-id'-zo) which means to "proclaim the good news" (Ref. 5).
5. Jesus Came Down from Heaven to Do the Father's Will
Jesus said to the people, "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me" (John 6:37-38).
In John 6:40, Jesus explained what the will of his Father was in sending him. "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day." It is the Father's will that everyone who believes in his Son may have eternal life. If you would like to read more about eternal life, please see "What Is Eternal Life?" (Ref. 6)
6. Jesus Came into this World so that Those Who Do Not See May See
In John 9:1-12 Jesus healed the sight of a man who had been blind from birth. The formerly blind man testified to the Pharisees about Jesus, but they refused to "see" and believe in Jesus (John 9:13-34). The Pharisees then put the formerly blind man out of the synagogue (John 9:22, John 9:34). After the formerly blind man had been put out of the synagogue, Jesus found him, and the man who could now see physically and spiritually worshiped Jesus as Lord (John 9:35-38). Jesus then said in the presence of the Pharisees, "For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind" (John 9:39).
7. Jesus Came that We May Have Life and Have it Abundantly
In John 10:8-10 Jesus said, "All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." The Greek word for abundantly is perissos (pronounced per-is-sos') and means all-around, beyond what is anticipated, exceeding expectation, "more than enough" (Ref. 7). In the words of the Amplified Bible, Jesus said, "The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows]" (John 10:10 AMP).
8. Jesus Came to Serve and to Give His Life as a Ransom for Many
Jesus said about himself, "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28). When Jesus said he came to serve, the word in the Greek text is diakoneó which means to minister and to care for the needs of others, for example, as a slave waiting on table for guests (Ref. 8). When Jesus said that he came to give his life as a ransom for many, the word in the Greek text for ransom is lutron (pronounced loo'-tron) which was the price to free a slave (Ref. 9). The ransom price that Jesus paid to free us from slavery to sin was his blood (1 Peter 1:18-19, Hebrews 9:11-12).
9. Jesus Came to Seek and Save that which Was Lost
Notice in Luke 19:1-2 that Zaccheus was a tax gatherer, a person despised by the Jews and the religious leaders of Jesus' day. Yet, God gave Zaccheus the desire to see Jesus (Luke 19:3-4). Jesus extended his grace to Zaccheus and said he wanted to stay at Zaccheus' home (Luke 19:5). Zaccheus indicated his conversion, his turning away from sin when he stated that he would repay anyone he had defrauded (Luke 19:8). Jesus then said, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:9-10).
The Greek word for lost, apollumi (pronounced ap-ol'-loo-mee), has a severe meaning, and we need to pay attention. Apollumi (being lost) implies to die with the implication of ruin and permanent (absolute) destruction by experiencing a miserable end (HELPS Word-studies - Ref. 10). "Jesus Christ came to save Zaccheus, you, and me from experiencing ruin, permanent destruction, and a miserable end" (Ref. 11).
For further study on the nature of God to seek and save the lost, read the parables of The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin, and The Prodigal Son in Luke 15:1-32.
10. Jesus Came as Light into the World
Jesus said, "I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness" (John 12:46). Jesus came as light into the world so that everyone who believes in (has faith in, trusts in - Ref. 12) him shall not remain in (abide in, stay in - Ref. 13) darkness (moral and spiritual obscurity which blocks the light of God when faith is lacking - Ref. 14). Without Christ, man is in darkness. When we believe in Christ, God transfers us from the domain of darkness to the kingdom of His Son (Colossians 1:13).
11. Jesus Came into the World to Bear Witness to the Truth
Early in the morning on the day he was to be crucified, Jesus stood before Pilate. Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" (John 18:37). Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice" (John 18:37). The Greek noun for truth, alétheia, means reality — the opposite of what is false or illusion (HELPS Word-studies - Ref. 15). Jesus came to testify, to be a witness to us about the reality of God's truth. Listen to his voice. He is the Truth (John 14:6).
Apply. Which of these reasons for Jesus' coming would you share with others? Bear witness to others of the truth of Jesus and why he came into the world.
"Biblical Definition of the World" (John 1:10)
"What is Eternal Life?" (John 17:3)
"What is Redemption?" (Ephesians 1:7)
"What Does 'To Be Saved' Mean in the New Testament?" (Acts 16:31)
"Jesus - Witness to the Truth" (John 18:37)
"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.'" (John 14:6)
Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6). This lesson explains the "I am the life" portion of this verse. I encourage you to read first the two predecessor lessons which explain the "I am the way" and "I am the truth" portions of this verse. Here are the links:
"Jesus is the Way to Heaven" (Ref. 1)
"Jesus is the Truth" (Ref. 2)
The About the Way page also teaches about the Way of God in the Old Testament and the Way in the New Testament.
Consider. What does it mean to you that Jesus Christ said "I am the life"?
Jesus is the Creator and Source of Life
Jesus Christ is the source or fountain of all life. Scripture tells us "For by Him all things were created" and "All things have been created through Him and for Him" (Colossians 1:16). John writes, "All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being" (John 1:3).
The Greek word for life is zóé, which means both physical (present) and spiritual (particularly future) existence (Ref. 3). Life always comes from and is sustained by God.
"Life" here has no limitation, and includes life of the body, the life of the soul, the life of the spirit, life in the present, and life in the future (Ref. 4).
Life is through Christ Rather than the Law
Jesus' Jewish listeners were familiar with the law given through Moses. Yes. God gave the law (Exodus 20:1-17, Exodus 24:12). Yes. God instructed the Israelites to obey the law (Deuteronomy 30:15-18). However, the law itself did not impart life. Only Jesus can impart life. I suggest that this point is central to what Jesus meant when he said "I am the life."
The Apostle Paul emphasizes faith in Christ versus the inability of the law to impart life. "If righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (Galatians 2:21). "For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law" (Galatians 3:21). "The law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith" (Galatians 3:24, italics added).
Jesus is the Key to Blessed Life
Jesus spoke about the sheep under his care, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they [believers] may have life, and have it abundantly" (John 10:10, brackets added). The Greek word for abundantly in this verse is perissos, which means all-around and going beyond the expected limit (more than enough) (Ref. 5). As believers in Christ, Jesus cares for us and meets our needs. David, the Psalmist, captured this truth when he wrote, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake" (Psalm 23:1-3).
Jesus is the Giver of Eternal Life
Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand" (John 10:27-28, italics added).
The Greek word for eternal in eternal life is aiónios, which means unending, and age-long (Strong's Concordance - Ref. 6). Aiónios includes the character of that which lasts for an age, as contrasted with that which is brief and fleeting (Ref. 6). "Aiónios does not focus on the future per se, but rather on the quality of the age it relates to. Thus, believers live in eternal life right now, experiencing this quality of God's life now as a present possession" (Helps Word-studies - Ref. 6, Ref. 7).
Jesus Christ is the life. Jesus imparts life that the law cannot impart. Jesus is the key to a blessed life. To those who believe in him, Jesus gives eternal life - the quality of life which begins now and continues into eternity after our physical death. Thanks be to God for Jesus who is our life!
Apply. Take time now to thank God for the life that he gives you through his Son, Jesus Christ.
(Ellicott's Commentary on John 1:4)
(Click the link above)
Mr. Whitney V. Myers. Christian. For more information, please visit the Author Page.
I plan to provide new postings about once a month.
(subject to change)
(most recent three months)