The following is a short study of all the uses of the word "light" in the Gospel of John.
Since the Gospel of John and the Epistles of John are interconnected, understanding "light" in the Gospel will shed important light upon the meaning of "light" in the epistles; upon such critical verses as "God is light" (1 John 1:5), "walk in the light" (1 John 1:7), and "whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling." (1 John 2:9-10) Meditate upon these verses, and may God grant us all wisdom to understand His rich words.
“In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.”
>the light is connected with life
>the light enlightens
“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
>the light is hated
>the light is something you come to
>the light exposes
>the light is connected with truth
“He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.”
>John the Baptist was a voice of truth in the wilderness
“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.’”
>the light is connected with life
>following Jesus is possessing the life-light
“‘While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.’”
>What was Jesus doing when He was ministering in the world? He was teaching us about God.
“Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.’”
>a general principle: having light = not stumbling. Stumbling = not having light.
“So Jesus said to them, ‘For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.’”
>walking in the light means knowing where you are going (i.e. not stumbling)
>the light is something to believe
>we are sons of light by believing in the light
“And Jesus cried out and said, ‘He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me. I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.’”
>the light is connected with the true knowledge of God
>if you believe in the light you are not in darkness
Stumbling around in darkness without light is a scenario we can all relate to. We know what that is like physically, and we must realize that is what things are like spiritually. The Christ-less world is in darkness, not knowing the truth about God. Men stumble around, not knowing what they are doing and will eventually end up destroying themselves.
Jesus Christ came into the world as the light, to give to this world the true knowledge of God. The true knowledge of God is the life (health, well-being, joy) of this world. With this knowledge we are saved and possess true joy. It is the knowledge of God as He is: the God of true righteousness (other than man’s idea of righteousness) and true love (other than man’s ideas of love). Believing in Jesus and what He taught us makes us the sons of light who know God and who possess eternal life.
But men hate the light because the light exposes them to be sinners. Men prefer self-righteousness and their false gods rather than true righteousness and the true God. Men reject the light and seek to extinguish it forcibly (i.e. killing the light-bearers) because they cannot overcome the truth.
The light, then, is the truth—the truth about God (His righteousness and love) which brings life.
These four things are inseparably connected, linked one after another as a chain: Light—Truth—Righteousness—Life. If you have one of them you have them all.
Mysteriously, God Himself is all of these things by nature. He doesn't merely possess them, but they are qualities of His eternal Being. “God is light” means God is truth, God is righteousness, God is life. In Him is no lies, no unrighteousness, no death. “God is light” captures all these things.