John 8:12 ‘I am the light of the world.’

October 30, 2016 by David Farmer 0 comments

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     It could hardly be imagined that the parallels seen in the beginning of the written Word of God in Genesis with the beginning of this fourth gospel account ‘according to John,’ are mere coincidence. The Holy Spirit has placed them in these positions with beautiful alignment. There is a very real sense of design in these two ‘beginnings.’ Genesis starts out in beautiful and memorable terms with these most familiar words of introduction to the revelation of God:

     In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. —Genesis 1:1-4

John begins his New Testament revelation with strikingly similar expressions:
     In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not. —John 1:1-5

     The astounding contrast between darkness and light is pronounced in these related passages of Scripture. The light is demonstrably distinguished from the darkness; the earth was waste and void; there was the conspicuous absence of light and the manifest need of the same. The very first act of God as the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters was that He said, ‘Let there be light: and there was light.’ Correspondingly, John, speaking of the Word of God Himself, declared that ‘In him was life; and the life was the light of men.’ And in a corollary, he states that, even as the darkness went along with the earth being waste and void, even so John has told us that while the light shined in the darkness, the darkness could not apprehend it. Here then the light is also demonstrably distinguished from the darkness so that the darkness could not even apprehend it.

     Our favorite translations have followed suit in rendering the Greek word katalambano with either ‘did not comprehend’ KJV, NKJV, NASB, or ‘apprehended it not’ ASV, and this is a viable translation. Still, it seems rather enigmatic, and therefore difficult to understand just how it is that darkness should apprehend, or comprehend, anything whatever. The expressions most likely are to be understood in a metaphorical sense. A good number of the other translations—many of which I am not particularly fond of—seem to have perhaps captured better the intention of the writer, ultimately God the Holy Spirit. These have emphasized another possible use of the Greek word here employed. It should be granted that even the two words, apprehend and comprehend, may have varied meaning. To gain an understanding of, seems to be the clear meaning of apprehend used by Paul in Ephesians, when he has prayed that the people of God may be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, he has used the same Greek word. And it is very telling when in Philippians, Paul uses katalambano twice in the very same sentence with evidently differing nuances, that I may lay hold on that for which also I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus. [3:12].

     A.T. Robertson has asserted that when John is relating that the darkness apprehended it not, that here the intentional use of the old verb is to ‘lay hold of, to seize.’ This implies that it was not the case that the darkness didn’t understand, or comprehend, the light, rather that the darkness did not ‘overtake,’ or ‘overcome,’ the light; it did not ‘lay hold’ of that Light. Was this not true of the Pharisees, and the many Jews that refused to come to the Light? It was not so much that they did not understand what He was saying, but it was in most instances because they understood exactly what He was saying, and they wanted none of it. They refused to lay hold of it: isn’t that the sad condition of many in our present society? Jesus spoke further words contrasting light and darkness in John 12:35, Walk while ye have the light, that darkness overtake you not [lay not hold of you]. This contrast between light and darkness cannot be more vividly stated than it is as declared in John’s third chapter.

     He that believeth on him is not judged: he that believeth not hath been judged already, because he hath not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, lest his works should be reproved. But he that doeth the truth cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, that they have been wrought in God. —John 3:18-21

     It is unequivocal. Not believing is not loving. Not loving the light is loving the darkness. Loving the darkness is hating the light. The darkness is sin; the evil works spoken of. The Light of the world is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Those that love their sin, hate Jesus Christ; those that love Jesus Christ, hate their sin. There is nothing agnostic, or atheistic, about this reality. It cannot fairly be claimed that they don’t have sufficient information to know there is God; they know there is sin, and they love it. They will not come to the Light because of this; they know their sin, and they know that the Light will reprove it.

     We that understand the total depravity of man in Adam, know that we are helpless by nature to come to the light; we are blind and cannot truly see the Light. But all praise to our sovereign God, the Light has come to us. Paul pointed us to this blessed truth; Seeing it is God, that said, Light shall shine out of darkness, who shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. In the face of Jesus Christ; the Light of the world is Jesus. Satan imagined that he had extinguished the Light at Golgotha, but it only flamed all the more brightly.

David Farmer, elder
Fellowship Bible Church

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