"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
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"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)
"So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." (Romans 10:17)
This lesson teaches the important role of spiritual hearing in the steps leading to faith and salvation.
Consider. Recall the person or persons who shared with you the word of Christ and helped you to have faith in Christ.
"Faith Comes from Hearing"
The type of hearing that results in faith
The Apostle Paul begins Romans 10:17 with the phrase, "So faith comes from hearing." What, then, is the type of hearing that results in faith?
In Romans 10:17 Paul refers to inner spiritual hearing -- hearing that goes with receiving faith from God (HELPS Word-studies - Ref. 1). (Faith itself is a gift from God - Ephesians 2:8, Ref. 2). Inner spiritual hearing is not just the physical sense of hearing or the organ of the ear (Mark 7:35, Acts 17:20). Inner spiritual hearing is hearing that perceives, understands, accepts, and acts upon the message that the preacher (or teacher, parent, or friend) is telling us about Christ (Ref. 1, Matthew 13:14-15, 1 Thessalonians 2:13, Matthew 7:24).
"And Hearing through the Word of Christ"
Paul concludes Romans 10:17 with the phrase, "and hearing through the word of Christ." What, then, is the "word of Christ" that results in spiritual hearing and faith?
In Romans 10:17 Paul uses the Greek word rhéma (pronounced hray'-mah) for "word" in "word of Christ" (Ref. 3). Rhéma means spoken words, sayings, commands, and promises (Ref. 3).
The "word of Christ" that results in our spiritual hearing and faith is the rhéma of Christ -- the spoken words, sayings, commands, and promises of Christ. For example, Jesus spoke these words, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Jesus also commanded his disciples, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15).
Spiritual Hearing and Faith Result in Salvation and Eternal Life
When we spiritually hear the words of Christ -- the sayings, commands, and promises of Christ -- and believe them, God "continuously births faith" in us so we "can know what He prefers" (Ref. 2). Faith includes belief in Christ (having confidence in and trusting in Christ), and adds action. Jesus said, "Everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts on them, will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock" (Matthew 7:24, italics added).
Faith is a gift of God, and results in our salvation. In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."
When we spiritually hear the words of Jesus and believe in him, God gives us eternal life. Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life" (John 5:24).
Apply. Tune your ears to the words of Jesus. Spiritually hear, believe, and act upon the words of Jesus. Share the words of Jesus with others for their benefit -- faith in Christ, salvation, and eternal life.
"What Does 'To Be Saved' Mean in the New Testament?" (Acts 16:31)
"What Does 'To Be Saved' Mean in the Old Testament?" (Psalm 18:3)
"What is Eternal Life?" (John 17:3)
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