Walking in the Light | God is Light | Study Series | Part 2 of 8

Scripture: 1 John 1:5

There are two important aspects of this verse: (a) the message, and (b) God is light. Let us begin with the words per se. The Greek root for the word message in Strong’s concordance is epaggelia[1]; which is further rooted in another Greek word epaggellomai[2]. To simply put, the meaning of the message in this verse can be reduced to: (1) an announcement of a promise, (2) that elicits an act, (3) that the promise finesses the skill to act upon. Now let us put this into the perspective of the scripture.

In the preceding verses (1 John 1:1-4) we find, the Apostle John revisiting the gospel. The message here is the same that the Apostle Paul (Gal 1:8), and others vehemently pressed believers to believe, obey, and guard it as true doctrine.[3] And John here, keeping true to his words re-asserts that Christ is indeed – YHWH. And just as in his account of the Gospel, he re-emphasis that Christ is the LOGOS – the sole principle of life (John 1:1). Christ is He, God himself, incarnated as man to absolve our sins and unite us to the Father. And the promise is this: He is true. And in Him is life.

[Note: We will discuss the act and the skill aspect of the message in the succeeding verses.]

Proceeding to the second aspect of this verse – God is light, the word light, i.e. phōs[4] is used here in both literal and metaphorical sense. Here, phōs is ascribed to God as a noun – He is the light. He is not a light, or of light, but simply, God is light. God is spoken here in the most literal sense, as to say, the apple is red. Metaphorically, phōs here means, the truth; again – not a truth, or of truth – but, the truth. Meaning, God is light means God is truth. This is in perfect alignment with all the earlier revelation of YHWH’s identity in the Bible. And this is also, the exact introduction of Christ that John himself gave in his account of the Gospel.

God is truth means, there is no duality in Him. God is not like yin and yang. Meaning, YHWH is pure. There is no blemish, or error, or any kind of falsehood in Him. It also means, He is not the origin of sin and suffering. It further means, He is Holy. Therefore, what YHWH has revealed about Himself, Christ, and the Holy Spirit in the scripture is true. What YWHW says about sin and salvation is true. The fact that John emphasizes God is light is to remind us that the message is true, and it should be taken without any further speculation. Because YHWH does not lie, because He is the truth.

As mentioned in the introduction, the audience of this epistle had swayed into the realm of speculation, and false doctrine. They had departed from believing the gospel as a spiritual fact. Religion was dominated by speculations influenced by culture, education, society, social quo, struggle for dominance-leadership, et cetera. This error in religion is not unique to John’s audience, it is one quite common to believers. We are often led into a speculative understanding of God, and His decrees. Because this is the same pattern Satan has been deceiving us with from the very beginning. To Eve, he asked, did God really tell you you’ll die if you eat the fruit, subtly raising speculation in God’s commandments. (Gen 3:1) To Jesus himself, he asked, won’t God send His angels to save you if you were to throw yourself off the height. (Mt 4:6) In short, it is known throughout the scripture that Satan has a way of leading people to speculate on God by playing on their will.

John hereby reminds his readers that God is light, and in Him is no darkness. He focuses on light as to both literally and metaphorically, to remind us that God is Holy and there is no duality in Him. He is who He says He is. There is no darkness in Him, no sin and evil. He does not speak in the language of secret or hidden meanings. Therefore, there is no room for speculation in Him or about Him or in His Word. God leaves nothing to the realm of human intelligence. He has revealed everything. The revelation of His identity is the True Doctrine. Therefore, those who are in Him know Him for who He is – they take the message of His Gospel as it is – the exact way it is revealed in the scripture. And so, those who are in Him believe Him for who He is; and they do not stumble in the darkness of speculation or confusion. They grow in purity and truth, because the God who leads them is able, because the God who leads them is YHWH who Himself is Holy and true; He is the God that John here repeatedly calls to remind us – God is light.  


Series Index: (1) Introduction


Further Reading: Below is a brief comparison of light vs darkness as seen in the scripture.

LIGHT VS. DARKNESS[5]

In many places in Scripture, the realm of God and the realm of evil are contrasted by the differences between light and darkness:

DarknessLightReference
Despairing conditionHopeful conditionIsaiah 9:2  
Inability to recognize the lightAbility to enlighten the worldJohn 1:4-5, 9
The Power of SatanThe Power of GodActs 26:18
Evil DeedsGood DeedsRomans 13:12-14
Natural Heart ConditionCondition of a Born – Again Heart2 Cor 4:6
Fruitless worksSource of all that is goodEph 5:8-11
Spiritual forces of evilArmour of GodEph 6:12-13
Powerful Captivity, enslaved to sin, sinful livingFree from the power of sin, redeemed, forgivenCol 1:12-14
Inability to exist in God’s presenceFellowship with God1 John 1:5, 7
Transient naturePermanent nature1 John 2:8-11

References:

[1] https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g1860

[2] https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g1861

[3] https://www.biblestudytools.com/nirv/passage/?q=1-timothy+6;+2-timothy+1;+2-timothy+2;+2-timothy+3;+2-timothy+4;+titus+1;+titus+2;+titus+3;+philemon+1;+hebrews+1;+hebrews+2;+hebrews+3;+hebrews+4

[4] https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g5457

[5] Bruce B. Barton, Philip W. Comfort, Linda Chafee Taylor, David R. Veerman, Len Woods, “1 John 1:1-2:11” in Life Application Bible Commentary: 1, 2 & 3 John (USA, Tyndale Publications, 1998), page 20


Feature Image: The Transfiguration of Christ (Saint Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai) Copyright: Public Domain

Peace, Love, & Joy | What He Willed to do | Christmas Special | Devotional Series | Part 6 of 27 | December 5, 2019

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” – 2 Corinthians 8:9 (ESV)

YHWH moved the government to situate Joseph and Mary, so that Christ could be born in Bethlehem. We always celebrate such divine power, and Sovereign rule of God in that narration of Christmas. But ironically, we also learn that Joseph and Mary failed to find an inn. The skeptic in us is quick to question: if God is so sovereign how come He failed to arrange an inn? Or perhaps, why choose a poor couple? Why wasn’t Christ born in a more influential family? These questions are quite similar to the ones we raise for own sake as well. God if you are so powerful why do you let bad things happen to me? John Piper answers: “the question is not (about) ‘what God could do, but what he willed to do’”. (pg. 9) Of course, there is nothing that God cannot do. But if indeed, He did everything – no purpose, no prophesy of His, would have been fulfilled. We won’t have received salvation, and God wouldn’t been glorified. But it is for our sake, that the KING and LORD of all Creation willed to be born among the lowest of low, and suffered everything a human being could suffer. And in all of these, He showed His divinity in demonstrating blameless obedience to the Father. Why? So that His righteous life could be a substitute for our sinful life – so that salvation could be secured for us.

Similarly, the sufferings we endure in our lives, aren’t just something God allowed, but is something that He has ordained it. “Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard, who has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip. For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.” (Ps 66:8-10, ESV) God allows our suffering for our sanctification – so that we could be conformed to His image. “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Php 3:8-11, ESV)

But this suffering is a peculiar kind of suffering. It is not the suffering of breaking up with your lover, or that your children are disobedient, or that your business has failed, or that you’re not popular, et cetera… and so on and so forth. This suffering is not the one born of personal folly over personal worries. This suffering that the scriptures are talking about is a suffering that comes from godly sorrow. This is a suffering of the saints – it is the pain of pursuing Christlikeness amidst a Christless world. (2 Cor 7:10)

Summing up. It is true that there is a fair share of suffering allotted to us in our godly sojourn. But the good news is – Christ, who is called Emmanuel – is with us. (Mat 1:23) He not only overseas our sufferings, He also pleads for us for the times we fail (Heb 7:25). And not only that, He also strengthens us so that (2 Cor 12:9) we could endure till the end. So, the next time when the skeptic in us questions God’s sovereignty in our sufferings: let us remind ourselves – it is not about what God can do, but what God wills to do. It is in His will that He chooses to sanctifies us, and conform us, to His image – so that we could be saved.  


Note: All of Piper’s quotations are from “Good News of Great Joy


Read previous entries in this Series:

(i) Introduction: What Christ wants this Christmas (ii) December 1: Prepare the Way (iii) December 2: Mary’s Magnificent God (iv) December 3: The Confidence of Redeeming Hope (v) December 4: A Big God for Little People