John 8:12
Then spoke Jesus again to them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
[(2) JESUS IS TRUTH, LIGHT, AND LOVE (cont).

(b)Jesus is Light (John 8:12 to John 9:41).

(α)He declares Himself to be the Light, and appeals to the witness of the Father and of Himself (John 8:12-20).]

(12) Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world.—Omitting the inserted section, this verse immediately follows John 7:52, but the words mark an interval, after which the discourse is resumed. Jesus had ceased to speak, but now speaks “again”; and St. John remembers that the words were suggested by some incident which occurred. It was “then,” or therefore, that He found occasion to utter this truth, because the outer form in which He may clothe it was present to their minds. Once again we shall find this mould, in which the truth shapes itself, in the ritual of the Feast of Tabernacles. On the eve of the Lesser Festival (see Note on John 7:14), and on each of the five nights which followed, there was an illumination in the court of the Temple to celebrate the “Rejoicing of the Water-Drawing.” Four large golden candelabra shed their light through the whole city. Then there was dancing and singing, and the music of instruments, which was continued through the night, until at daybreak the procession to the Pool of Siloam was formed. Once again, too, the ritual of the Feast of Tabernacles is a memorial of the wilderness life. As the water-drawing was bound up with thoughts of the water given in abundance to those dying of thirst, so this illumination was bound up with thoughts of the pillar of fire which was the guide of those who walked in darkness. And in this case, as in that, it is probably the absence of the incident on the last day of the feast which gives special force to our Lord’s words. Since the teaching of the last chapter, there had been an interval of, it may be, several hours. We may naturally think that the shades of evening were now drawing on. He is standing in the Treasury near to the court of the women (Note on John 8:20), where for the six nights last past there had been a great light, reminding those who could read its meaning of the greater light which illumined the footsteps of their fathers. On this night the light is not to shine; but the true Light, which was ever in the world, is now in His own Temple, speaking the words of light and life to His own people. There is a Light there whose rays are to illumine, not only the Temple, or Jerusalem, or Judæa, or the Dispersion, but the world.

He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness.—Strong and full of hope as these words are in the English rendering, the Greek is more emphatic still. The negative is in its strongest form, expressing “shall by no means,” “shall in no wise,” “walk in darkness.” The possibility is excluded from the thought. “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” If a man makes a false step in life, it is because he seeks other guides in his own thoughts or in subjection to the thoughts of other men. He that seeks to follow the true Light—to follow, not precede it; to follow always, not only when it coincides with his own will; to follow patiently and trustfully, step by step, wherever it may lead—cannot walk in darkness, for he is never without the presence of the Light. Here, as so often, stress is laid on the certainty and universality of the divine love on the one side, and the action of the human will on the other. There can be no doubt, “shall by no means walk in darkness”; there can be no limit, “he that followeth”; there can be no halting, “he that followeth.” The light ever points the way; it is he who day by day follows it who cannot miss the way. Perception of truth attends its practice. The true journey of this life is here presented as a constant activity; in John 7:37, the source of this action is found in a constant receptivity.

But shall have the light of life.—For the thought of “light” and “life” in contrast to “darkness” and “death,” comp. Note on John 1:5. The sense of the present passage is that he who follows Christ, not only has a light which guides his feet, but that through participation in the Messianic life he actually possesses that light in himself. He is no more dead, but has eternal life. (Comp. John 3:15.) He no more abides in darkness (John 12:46), but the Light which lighteneth every man abideth in him.

This verse is one of the many instances in which our familiar knowledge of the words of Jesus, in some degree, takes from the impression they would leave on us if we heard them for the first time. There is in them the calm assertion of conscious divinity, which in its very simplicity carries its own proof. It needed no formal proof, for He Himself knows it to be true; it needed no formal proof, for those who heard Him felt His words to be divine—“Never man spake like this Man.” “He taught them as One having authority, and not as the scribes.” (Comp. John 8:28.) The witness to the existence of natural light is the eye formed to receive its rays; the witness to the existence of the Light of the world is the eye of the spirit conscious of a night of darkness, which has passed into the brightness of the presence of the Sun of Righteousness.

John

THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

John 8:12
.

Jesus Christ was His own great theme. Whatever be the explanation of the fact, there stands the fact that, if we know anything at all about His habitual tone of teaching, we know that it was full of Himself. We know, too, that what He said about Himself was very unlike the language becoming a wise and humble religious teacher. Both the prominence given to His own personality, and the tremendous claims He advances for Himself, are hard to reconcile with any conception of His nature and work except one,-that there we see God manifest in the flesh. Are such words as these fit to be spoken by any man conscious of his own limitations and imperfections of life and knowledge? Would they not be fatal to any one’s pretensions to be a teacher of religion or morality? They assert that the Speaker is the Source of illumination for the world; the only Source; the Source for all. They assert that ‘following’ Him, whether in belief or in deed, is the sure deliverance from all darkness, either of error or of sin; and implants in every follower a light which is life. And the world, instead of turning away from such monstrous assumptions, and drowning them in scornful laughter, or rebelling against them, has listened, and largely believed, and has not felt them to mar the beauty of meekness, which, by a strange anomaly, this Man says that He has.

Words parallel to these are frequent on our Lord’s lips. In each instance they have some special appropriateness of application, as is probably the case here. The suggestion has been reasonably made, that there is an allusion in them to part of the ceremonial connected with the Feast of Tabernacles, at which we find our Lord present in the previous chapter. Commentators tell us that on the first evening of the Feast, two huge golden lamps, which stood one on each side of the altar of burnt offering in the Temple court, were lighted as the night began to fall, and poured out a brilliant flood over Temple and city and deep gorge; while far into the midnight, troops of rejoicing worshippers clustered about them with dance and song. The possibility of this reference is strengthened by the note of place which our Evangelist gives. ‘These things spake Jesus in the treasury, as He taught in the Temple,’ for the ‘treasury’ stood in the same court, and doubtless the golden lamps were full in sight of the listening groups. It is also strengthened by the unmistakable allusion in the previous chapter to another portion of the ceremonial of the Feast, where our Lord puts forth another of His great self-revelations and demands, in singular parallelism with that of our text, in the words, ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.’ That refers to the custom during the Feast of drawing water from the fountain of Siloam, which was poured out on the altar, while the gathered multitude chanted the old strain of Isaiah’s prophecy: ‘With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.’ It is to be remembered, too, in estimating the probability of our text belonging to these Temple-sayings at the Feast, that the section which separates it from them, and contains the story about the woman taken in adultery, is judged by the best critics to be out of place here, and is not found in the most valuable manuscripts. If, then, we suppose this allusion to be fairly probable, I think it gives a special direction and meaning to these grand words, which it may be worth while to think of briefly.

The first thing to notice is-the intention of the ceremonial to which our Lord here points as a symbol of Himself. What was the meaning of these great lights that went flashing through the warm autumn nights of the festival? All the parts of that Feast were intended to recall some feature of the forty years’ wanderings in the wilderness; the lights by the altar were memorials of the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night. When, then, Jesus says, ‘I am the Light of the world,’ He would declare Himself as being in reality, and to every soul of man to the end of time, what that cloud with its heart of fire was in outward seeming to one generation of desert wanderers.

Now, the main thing which it was to these, was the visible vehicle of the divine presence. ‘The Lord went before them in a pillar of a cloud.’ ‘The Lord looked through the pillar.’ ‘The Lord came down in the cloud and spake with him.’ The ‘cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glory of the Lord appeared.’ Such is the way in which it is ever spoken of, as being the manifestation to Israel in sensible form of the presence among them of God their King. ‘The glory of the Lord’ has a very specific meaning in the Old Testament. It usually signifies that brightness, the flaming heart of the cloudy pillar, which for the most part, as it would appear, veiled by the cloud, gathered radiance as the world grew darker at set of sun, and sometimes, at great crises in the history, as at the Red Sea, or on Sinai, or in loving communion with the law-giver, or in swift judgment against the rebels, rent the veil and flamed on men’s eyes. I need not remind you how this same pillar of cloud and fire, which at once manifested and hid God, was thereby no unworthy symbol of Him who remains, after all revelation, unrevealed. Whatsoever sets forth, must also shroud, the infinite glory. Concerning all by which He makes Himself known to eye, or mind, or heart, it must be said, ‘And there was the hiding of His power.’ The fire is ever folded in the cloud. Nay, at bottom, the light which is full of glory is therefore inaccessible, and the thick darkness in which He dwells is but the ‘glorious privacy’ of perfect light.

That guiding pillar, which moved before the moving people-a cloud to shelter from the scorching heat, a fire to cheer in the blackness of night-spread itself above the sanctuary of the wilderness; and ‘the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle.’ When the moving Tabernacle gave place to the fixed Temple, again ‘the cloud filled the house of the Lord’; and there-dwelling between the cherubim, the types of the whole order of creatural life, and above the mercy-seat, that spoke of pardon, and the ark that held the law, and behind the veil, in the thick darkness of the holy of holies, where no feet trod, save once a year one white-robed priest, in the garb of a penitent, and bearing the blood that made atonement-shone the light of the glory of God, the visible majesty of the present Deity.

But long centuries had passed since that light had departed. ‘The glory’ had ceased from the house that now stood on Zion, and the light from between the cherubim. Shall we not, then, see a deep meaning and reference to that awful blank, when Jesus standing there in the courts of that Temple, whose inmost shrine was, in a most sad sense, empty, pointed to the quenched lamps that commemorated a departed Shechinah, and said, ‘I am the Light of the world’?

He is the Light of the world, because in Him is the glory of God. His words are madness, and something very like blasphemy, unless they are vindicated by the visible indwelling in Him of the present God. The cloud of the humanity, ‘the veil, that is to say, His flesh,’ enfolds and tempers; and through its transparent folds reveals, even while it swathes, the Godhead. Like some fleecy vapour flitting across the sun, and irradiated by its light, it enables our weak eyes to see light, and not darkness, in the else intolerable blaze. Yes! Thou art the Light of the world, because in Thee dwelleth ‘the fulness of the Godhead bodily.’ Thy servant hath taught us the meaning of Thy words, when he said: ‘The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.’

Then, subordinate to this principal thought, is the other on which I may touch for a moment-that Christ, like that pillar of cloud and fire, guides us in our pilgrimage. You may remember how emphatically the Book of Numbers {Numbers 9:1 - Numbers 9:23} dwells upon the absolute control of all the marches and halts by the movements of the cloud. When it was taken up, they journeyed; when it settled down, they encamped. As long as it lay spread above the Tabernacle, there they stayed. Impatient eyes might look, and impatient spirits chafe-no matter. The camp might be pitched in a desolate place, away from wells and palm-trees, away from shade, among fiery serpents, and open to fierce foes-no matter. As long as the pillar was motionless, no man stirred. Weary slow days might pass in this compulsory inactivity; but ‘whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the Tabernacle, the children of Israel journeyed not.’ And whenever It lifted itself up,-no matter how short had been the halt, how weary and footsore the people, how pleasant the resting-place-up with the tent-pegs immediately, and away. If the signal were given at midnight, when all but the watchers slept, or at midday, it was all the same. There was the true Commander of their march. It was not Moses, nor Jethro, with his quick Arab eye and knowledge of the ground, that guided them; but that stately, solemn pillar, that floated before them. How they must have watched for the gathering up of its folds as they lay softly stretched along the Tabernacle roof; and for its sinking down, and spreading itself out, like a misty hand of blessing, as it sailed in the van!

‘I am the Light of the world.’ We have in Him a better guide through worse perplexities than theirs. By His Spirit within us, by that all-sufficient and perfect example of His life, by the word of His Gospel, and by the manifold indications of His providence, Jesus Christ is our Guide. If ever we go astray, it is not His fault, but ours. How gentle and loving that guidance is, none who have not yielded to it can tell. How wise and sure, none but those who have followed it know. He does not say ‘Go,’ but ‘Come.’ When He puts forth His sheep, He goes before them. In all rough places His quick hand is put out to save us. In danger He lashes us to Himself, as Alpine guides do when there is perilous ice to get across. As one of the psalms puts it, with wonderful beauty: ‘I will guide thee with Mine eye’-a glance, not a blow-a look of directing love, that at once heartens to duty and tells duty. We must be very near Him to catch that look, and very much in sympathy with Him to understand it; and when we do, we must be swift to obey. Our eyes must be ever toward the Lord, or we shall often be marching on, unwitting that the pillar has spread itself for rest, or idly dawdling in our tents long after the cloud has gathered itself up for the march. Do not let impatience lead you to hasty interpretation of His plans before they are fairly evolved. Many men by self-will, by rashness, by precipitate hurry in drawing conclusions about what they ought to do, have ruined their lives. Take care, in the old-fashioned phrase, of ‘running before you are sent.’ There should always be a good clear space between the guiding ark and you, ‘about two thousand cubits by measure,’ that there may be no mistakes about the road. It is neither reverent nor wise to be treading on the heels of our Guide in our eager confidence that we know where He wants us to go.

Do not let the warmth by the camp-fire, or the pleasantness of the shady place where your tent is pitched, keep you there when the cloud lifts. Be ready for change, be ready for continuance, because you are in fellowship with your Leader and Commander; and let Him say, Go, and you go; Do this, and you gladly do it, until the hour when He will whisper, Come; and, as you come, the river will part, and the journey will be over, and ‘the fiery, cloudy pillar,’ that ‘guided you all your journey through,’ will spread itself out an abiding glory, in that higher home where ‘the Lamb is the light thereof.’

All true following of Christ begins with faith, or we might almost say that following is faith, for we find our Lord substituting the former expression for the latter in another passage of this Gospel parallel with the present. ‘I am come a Light into the world, that whosoever believeth on Me should not walk in darkness.’ The two ideas are not equivalent, but faith is the condition of following; and following is the outcome and test, because it is the operation, of faith. None but they who trust Him will follow Him. He who does not follow, does not trust. To follow Christ, means to long and strive after His companionship; as the Psalmist says, ‘My soul followeth hard after Thee.’ It means the submission of the will, the effort of the whole nature, the daily conflict to reproduce His example, the resolute adoption of His command as my law, His providence as my will, His fellowship as my joy. And the root and beginning of all such following is in coming to Him, conscious of mine own darkness, and trustful in His great light. We must rely on a Guide before we accept His directions; and it is absurd to pretend that we trust Him, if we do not go as He bids us. So ‘Follow thou Me’ is, in a very real sense, the sum of all Christian duty.

That thought opens out very wide fields, into which we must not even glance now; but I cannot help pausing here to repeat the remark already made, as to the gigantic and incomprehensible self-confidence that speaks here. ‘Followeth Me’; then Jesus Christ calmly proposes Himself as the aim and goal for every soul of man; sets up His own doings as an all-sufficient rule for us all, with all our varieties of temper, character, culture, and work, and quietly assumes to have a right of precedence before, and of absolute command over, the whole world. They are all to keep behind Him, He thinks, be they saints or sages, kings or beggars; and the liker they are to Himself, He thinks, the nearer they will be to perfectness and life. He puts Himself at the head of the mystic march of the generations, and, like the mysterious Angel that Joshua saw in the plain by Jericho, makes the lofty claim: ‘Nay, but as Captain of the Lord’s host am I come up.’ Do we admit His claim because we know His Name? Do we yield Him full trust because we have learned that He is the Light of men since He is the Word of God? Do we follow Him with loyal obedience, longing love, and lowly imitation, since He has been and is to us the Saviour of our souls?

In the measure in which we do, the great promises of this wonderful saying will be verified and understood by us-’He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness.’ That saying has, as one may say, a lower and a higher fulfilment. In the lower, it refers to practical life and its perplexities. Nobody who has not tried it would believe how many difficulties are cleared out of a man’s road by the simple act of trying to follow Christ. No doubt there will still remain obscurities enough as to what we ought to do, to call for the best exercise of patient wisdom; but an enormous proportion of them vanish like mist when the sun breaks through, when once we honestly set ourselves to find out whither the pillared Light is guiding. It is a reluctant will, and intrusive likings and dislikings, that obscure the way for us, much oftener than real obscurity in the way itself. It is seldom impossible to discern the divine will, when we only wish to know it that we may do it. And if ever it is impossible for us, surely that impossibility is like the cloud resting on the Tabernacle-a sign that for the present His will is that we should be still, and wait, and watch.

But there is a higher meaning in the words than even this promise of practical direction. In the profound symbolism of Scripture, especially of this Gospel, ‘darkness’ is the name for the whole condition of the soul averted from God. So our Lord here is declaring that to follow Him is the true deliverance from that midnight of the soul. There are a darkness of ignorance, a darkness of impurity, a darkness of sorrow; and in that threefold gloom, thickening to a darkness of death, are they enwrapt who follow not the Light. That is the grim, tragical side of this saying, too sad, too awful for our lips to speak much of, and best left in the solemn impressiveness of that one word. But the hopeful, blessed side of it is, that the feeblest beginnings of trust in Jesus Christ, and the first tottering steps that try to tread in His, bring us into the light. It does not need that we have reached our goal, it is enough that our faces are turned to it, and our hearts desire to attain it, then we may be sure that the dominion of the darkness over us is broken. To follow, though it be afar off, and with unequal steps, fills our path with increasing brightness, and even though evil and ignorance and sorrow may thrust their blackness in upon our day, they are melting in the growing glory, and already we may give thanks ‘unto the Father who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.’

But we have not merely the promise that we shall be led by the light and brought into the light. A yet deeper and grander gift is offered here: ‘He shall have the light of life.’ I suppose that means, not, as it is often carelessly taken to mean, a light which illuminates the life, but, like the similar phrases of this Gospel, ‘bread of life,’ ‘water of life,’-light which is life. ‘In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.’ These two are one in their source, which is Jesus, the Word of God. Of Him we have to say, ‘With Thee is the fountain of life, in Thy light shall we see light.’ They are one in their deepest nature; the life is the light, and the light the life. And this one gift is bestowed upon every soul that follows Christ. Not only will our outward lives be illumined or guided from without, but our inward being will be filled with the brightness. ‘Ye were sometimes darkness, now are ye light in the Lord.’

That pillar of fire remained apart and without. But this true and better Guide of our souls enters in and dwells in us, in all the fulness of His triple gift of life, and light, and love. Within us He will chiefly prove Himself the Guide of our spirits, and will not merely cast His beams on the path of our feet, but will fill and flood us with His own brightness. All light of knowledge, of goodness, of gladness will be ours, if Christ be ours; and ours He surely will be if we follow Him. Let us take heed, lest turning away from Him we follow the will-o’-the-wisps of our own fancies, or the dancing lights, born of putrescence, that flicker above the swamps, for they will lead us into doleful lands where evil things haunt, and into outer darkness. Let us take heed how we use that light of God; for Christ, like His symbol of old, has a double aspect according to the eye which looks. ‘It came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel, and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these.’ He is either a Stone of stumbling or a sure Foundation, a savour of life or of death, and which He is depends on ourselves. Trusted, loved, followed, He is light. Neglected, turned from, He is darkness. Though He be the Light of the world, it is only the man who follows Him to whom He can give the light of life. Therefore, man’s awful prerogative of perverting the best into the worst forced Him, who came to be the light of men, to that sad and solemn utterance: ‘For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see, and that they which see might be made blind.’John 8:12. Then spake Jesus again — Addressing himself to his disciples and the multitude; I am the light of the world — It was with singular propriety that our Lord spake thus, after the wonderful display which he had just made, by the above-mentioned remarkable decision, of his wisdom and knowledge, as well as of his power and goodness. He probably alluded to Malachi 4:2, where the Messiah is foretold under the name of the Sun of righteousness; or to the bright shining of the sun that morning. As if he had said, I am the spiritual Sun, that dispels the darkness of ignorance and superstition, with which the minds of men are overcast; for by my doctrine and example I show clearly everywhere the will of God and the way of salvation: and I never leave those in darkness who walk by my light, as the sun leaves travellers when he sets, and occasions the darkness of the night. For he that followeth me — That adheres to, and continues to learn of me; that imitates my example, and governs himself by the dictates of my word and Spirit; shall not walk in darkness — In ignorance or error, sin or misery; but shall have the light of life — He that closely, humbly, steadily follows me, shall have the divine light continually shining upon him, diffusing over his soul knowledge, holiness, and joy, till he is guided by it to life everlasting.8:12-16 Christ is the Light of the world. God is light, and Christ is the image of the invisible God. One sun enlightens the whole world; so does one Christ, and there needs no more. What a dark dungeon would the world be without the sun! So would it be without Jesus, by whom light came into the world. Those who follow Christ shall not walk in darkness. They shall not be left without the truths which are necessary to keep them from destroying error, and the directions in the way of duty, necessary to keep them from condemning sin.I am the light of the world - See the notes at John 1:4, John 1:9. Joh 8:12-59. Further Discourses of Jesus—Attempt to Stone Him.

12. I am the light of the world—As the former references to water (Joh 4:13, 14; 7:37-39) and to bread (Joh 6:35) were occasioned by outward occurrences, so this one to light. In "the treasury" where it was spoken (see on [1804]Joh 8:20) stood two colossal golden lamp-stands, on which hung a multitude of lamps, lighted after the evening sacrifice (probably every evening during the feast of tabernacles), diffusing their brilliancy, it is said, over all the city. Around these the people danced with great rejoicing. Now, as amidst the festivities of the water from Siloam Jesus cried, saying, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink," so now amidst the blaze and the joyousness of this illumination, He proclaims, "I AM THE Light of the world"—plainly in the most absolute sense. For though He gives His disciples the same title, they are only "light in the Lord" (Eph 5:8); and though He calls the Baptist "the burning and shining light" (or "lamp" of his day, Joh 5:35), yet "he was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light: that was THE TRUE Light which, coming into the world, lighteth every man" (Joh 1:8, 9). Under this magnificent title Messiah was promised of old (Isa 42:6; Mal 4:2, &c.).

he that followeth me—as one does a light going before him, and as the Israelites did the pillar of bright cloud in the wilderness.

but shall have the light of life—the light, as of a new world, a newly awakened spiritual and eternal life.

I am the light of the world; this is what John the Baptist had said of Christ before, John 1:4,5, and what Christ saith of himself afterward, John 9:5. It was prophesied of him, that he should be a light to the Gentiles, and God’s salvation to the ends of the earth, Isaiah 46:6. And old Simeon saith of him, Luke 2:32, that he was to be a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of his people Israel. Light is a thing glorious in itself, and communicative of itself unto others to guide them. So as Christ is most aptly compared to light, and spoken of under that notion; as for his own innate glory, so for the communicativeness of himself to creatures; which latter appeareth to be chiefly here intended: for he saith, that he who followed him, believing his doctrine, and obeying his precepts, living according to his direction and his example, should not be at a loss how to guide himself, nor remain in the darkness of sin, ignorance, and spiritual death; but should have that light which bringeth life along with it, and is sufficient to guide a man in all the works of a spiritual life, and at last bring him to life eternal. Then spake Jesus again unto them,.... Syriac fragment of Bishop Usher's, published by De Dieu, prefaces this verse thus, "when they were gathered together", Jesus said, &c. that is, the Scribes and Pharisees, who went out and returned again; or some others of them, who came after this, to whom Christ addressed himself thus:

I am the light of the world; which he might say, on occasion of the rising sun, which was now up, and might shine brightly in their faces; see John 8:2; which is , "the light of the world", as Aben Ezra in Psalm 19:8 rightly calls it: thus on occasion of the water in Jacob's well, he discoursed of living water; and upon the Jews at Capernaum mentioning the manna, he treated at large concerning himself as the bread of life: and he might also make use of this character, and apply it to himself, with a view to some passages in the Old Testament, which speak of him under the metaphor of the sun, as Psalm 84:11, and represent him as the light; and the Jews (t) themselves say, that light is one of the names of the Messiah; and God himself is called by them, the light of the world (u): and likewise he may have regard to those pompous titles and characters, which the Jewish doctors assumed arrogantly to themselves, and oppose himself to them; for they not only called Moses their master, , "the light of the world" (w), and also the law of Moses (x), but their Rabbins and doctors; See Gill on Matthew 5:14. By the world here is meant, not the whole world, and all the individuals of it; for though Christ, as the Creator of all things, is the light of men, and does lighten every individual man with the light of nature and reason, yet not in a spiritual and saving manner, as is here intended; nor the whole body of the elect of God, though they are sometimes called the world, being the better part of it, and are made light in the Lord, in a special sense; nor the Jews only, and the chosen of God, among them, though Christ was a great light to many of them, that sat in darkness, and in the shadow of death; but the Gentiles are here designed, who were usually called by the Jews, the world; See Gill on John 3:16. And these were in gross darkness before the coming of Christ, about the Divine Being, concerning the object, nature, and manner of worship; the Scriptures, the law, and Gospel; the Messiah, and his office and work; the Spirit of God, and his operations of grace; the resurrection of the dead, and a future state; now Christ came to be a light of the Gentiles, as well as the glory of his people Israel: our Lord seems to have respect to the prophecy of him, in Isaiah 42:6, as well as alludes to the sun in the firmament; whose light is diffused to all the nations of the earth, and not confined to one spot of land only: but since Christ was the minister of the circumcision, and was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, it may be asked, how could he be the light of the Gentiles? to which it may be replied, that he was so by his apostles, who were sent by him with the light of the Gospel, into all the world; and by his Spirit, who enlightens the minds of men, who were darkness itself, with the light of Christ: for he is not only the author and giver of the light of nature to all men, but also of the light of grace to all his chosen ones, Gentiles as well as Jews; who, in his light, see light; see themselves lost and undone, and him to be the only willing, able, suitable, and complete Saviour; and behold wondrous things in the doctrines of the Gospel, and have some glimpse of glory; and he is likewise the author of all the light of glory the saints enjoy in the other world; the Lamb is the light of that state; he is their everlasting light, and their glory; and happy are they who are his followers now:

he that followeth me; not corporeally, but spiritually, by faith; for as believing is expressed by coming to Christ, so by following after him: compare with this, John 12:46; and with love and affection to him, the desires of the soul being unto him, and to the remembrance of him; and in the exercise of every grace and discharge of every duty, in imitation of him; and through a variety of sufferings and tribulations, pressing after him as the guide, captain, and forerunner: and such

shall not walk in darkness; in the darkness of unregeneracy, not knowing what they are, and where they are, and whither they are going; for such know they are in the light; and though they were blind, now they see; they know in whom they have believed, and that they are in Christ, in the covenant of grace, and in the love of God, and are going to heaven and eternal happiness; such shall not walk in the darkness of unbelief; but walk by faith on Christ; nor in the darkness of error, but in the truth of the Gospel, and as becomes it; and though they may sometimes walk without the light of God's countenance, yet light shall arise to them; and such "shall not go into darkness", as the Ethiopic version renders the words, into outer darkness, or the darkness of eternal death:

but shall have the light of life; the grace of God abiding in them now; which as it is a well of living water, springing up to eternal life, so it is a shining light, which increases to the perfect day: as darkness and death, so light and life go together; grace, which is enlightening, is also quickening and comforting, and issues in eternal light and life; a light that will never be extinguished, and a life that will continue for ever, with never fading joys and pleasures; see Job 33:30.

(t) Bereshit Rabba, fol. 1. 3. Echa Rabbati, fol. 50. 2. & Jarchi in Psal xliii. 3.((u) Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 15. fol. 217. 2.((w) Tzeror Hammor, fol. 114. 3.((x) T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 4. 1.

{4} Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

(4) The world, which is blind in itself, cannot come to have any light but in Christ alone.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 8:12. The interpolated section, John 7:53 to John 8:11, being deleted, we must look for some connection with John 7:52. This may be found simply as follows. As the Sanhedrim had not been able to carry out their design of apprehending Jesus, and had, moreover, become divided among themselves (as is recorded in John 7:45-52), He was able, in consequence of this miscarriage in their plans against Him (οὖν), to come forth afresh and address the assembled people in the temple (αὐτοῖς, comp. John 8:20). This renewed coming forward to address them is not, however, to be placed on the last day of the feast, but is so definitely marked off by John 8:20 as a special act, and so clearly distinguished from the preceding, that it must be assigned to one of the following days; just as in John 8:21 the similar transition and the recurring πάλιν introduce again a new discourse spoken on another day. Others take a different view, putting the discourses in John 8:12-20, and even that also in John 8:21 ff., on the day named in chap. John 7:37; but against this is not only the πάλιν of John 8:12 and John 8:21, but the οὖν, which in both places bears an evident reference to some preceding historical observation. Though Lücke’s difficulty, that a single day would be too short for so many discourses and replies, can have no weight, there is yet no sufficient ground for De Wette’s supposition, that John did not know how to hold securely the thread of the history.

I am the light of the world, i.e. (comp. on John 1:4) the possessor and bearer of the divine truth of salvation (τ. φ. τῆς ζωῆς), from whom this saving truth goes forth to all mankind (κόσμος), who without Christ are dark and dead. The light is not identical with the salvation (Hengstenberg), but salvation is the necessary emanation therefrom; without the light there is no salvation. So also Isaiah 49:6; comp. Isaiah 42:6. To regard the figure which Christ here employs, in witnessing to Himself, as suggested by some outward object—for example, by the two colossal golden candlesticks which were lighted at the feast of Tabernacles (but certainly only on the first day; see Succah v. 2) in the forecourt of the women, where also was the γαζοφυλάκιον, John 8:20, on either side of the altar of burnt-offering (Wetstein, Paulus, Olshausen),—is a precarious supposition, as the feast was now over; at the most, we can only associate the words with the sight of the candelabra, as Hug and Lange do—the latter intermingling further references to spiritual darkness from the history of the adulteress. But the figure, corresponding as it essentially does with the thing signified, had been given long before, and was quite a familiar one in the prophetic view of the idea of the Messiah (Isaiah 9:1; Isaiah 42:6; Malachi 4:2). Comp. also Matthew 4:15-16; Luke 2:32; and the Rabbinical references in Lightfoot, p. 1041. There is really no need to suppose any special suggesting cause, not even the reading of Isaiah 42; for though the Scriptures were read in the synagogues, we have no proof that they were read in the temple. To find also a reference to the pillar of fire in the wilderness (Godet), according to which the ὁ ἀκολουθῶν, κ.τ.λ., has reference to Israel’s wanderings, is quite arbitrary; no better, indeed, than the reference of John 7:37 to the rock in the wilderness.

οὐ μὴ περιπατήσει] The strongly attested, though not decisively confirmed, subjunctive περιπατήσῃ (so Lachmann, Tischendorf) would be the most usual word in the N. T. after οὐ μή, and might therefore all the more easily have displaced the future, which could hardly have been introduced through the following ἕξει, seeing that the latter word has no connection with οὐ μή. Upon οὐ μή, with the more definitely assuring future, see on Matthew 26:35; Mark 14:31.

ἕξει τὸ φῶς τ. ζωῆς] As the antithesis of the divine ἀλήθεια, the σκοτία, is the causative element of death, so is the light the cause of life, i.e. of the true eternal Messianic life, not only in its consummation after the Parousia, but already also in its temporal development (comp. John 3:15). ἕξει, it will not be wanting to him, he will be in possession of it, for it necessarily communicates itself to him direct from its personal source, which he follows in virtue of his fellowship with Christ (“lux enim praeferri solet,” Grotius). The ἀκολουθεῖν takes place through faith; but in the believer, who as such walks no more in darkness (John 12:46; Ephesians 5:8; Colossians 1:13), Christ Himself lives (the Johannean “I in you,” and the Pauline Galatians 2:20; see on John 6:51), and therefore he has that light of life which proceeds from Christ as a real and inward possession (Nonnus, ὁμόφοιτον ἐν θὐτῷ); he is υἱὸς φωτός (John 12:36), and himself “light in the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8). This explanation, not merely the having Christ with him (Weiss), is required by the context; because ἕξει, κ.τ.λ., is the result of the ἀκολουθεῖν, and therefore of faith (comp. John 3:15; John 3:36, John 5:24, John 6:47), and accordingly τῆς ζωῆς is added.John 8:12-20. Jesus proclaims Himself the Light of the World.12. Then spake Jesus again unto them] The paragraph John 7:53 to John 8:11 being omitted, these words must be connected with John 7:52. The officers have made their report to the Sanhedrin, leaving Jesus unmolested. After an interval He continues His discourse: again, therefore, Jesus spake unto them, i.e. because the attempt to interfere with Him had failed. How long the interval was we do not know, but probably the evening of the same day.

I am the light of the world] Once more we have a possible reference to the ceremonies of the Feast of Tabernacles, somewhat less probable than the other (see on John 7:37), but not improbable. Large candelabra were lighted in the Court of the Women on the evening of the first day of the Feast, and these flung their light over the whole city. Authorities differ as to whether this illumination was repeated, but all are agreed that it did not take place on the last evening. Here, therefore, there was once more a gap, which Christ Himself may have designed to fill; and while the multitude were missing the festal light of the great lamps, He declares, ‘I am the Light of the world.’ In the case of the water we know that it was poured on each of the seven days, and that Christ spoke the probable reference to it on the last day of the Feast. But in this case the illumination took place possibly on the first night only, and Christ certainly did not utter this possible reference to it until the last day of the Feast, or perhaps not until the Feast was all over. But the fact that the words were spoken in the Court of the Women (see on John 8:20) makes the reference not improbable.

he that followeth me] This expression also is in favour of the reference. The illumination in the Court of the Women commemorated the pillar of fire which led the Israelites through the wilderness, as the pouring of the water of Siloam commemorated the water flowing from the Rock. ‘The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light’ (Exodus 13:21). So Christ here declares that those who follow Him shall in no wise walk in darkness. The negative is very strong. This use of ‘darkness’ for moral evil is peculiar to S. John: see on John 1:5, where (as here) we have light and life (John 8:4) closely connected, while darkness is opposed to both.

shall have the light of life] Not merely with him but in him, so that he also becomes a source of light. See on John 7:38, and comp. ‘Ye are the light of the world,’ Matthew 5:14.

John 8:12 to John 9:41. Christ the Source of Truth and Light

In John 8:12-46 the word ‘true’ occurs six times, the word ‘truth’ seven times.John 8:12. Πάλιν, again) as at ch. 7. Jesus is wont to take the beginnings of His discourses from the doctrine of salvation: then, when men contradict. He adds a proof.—τὸ φῶς, the Light) An expression suitable to the time of His speaking, the morning, and opposed to the works of darkness, such as is adultery.—τοῦ κίσμου, of the world) the whole world.—ὁ ἀκολουθῶν, he who follows) By this very expression He shows, that adultery is by no means sanctioned by Him, although He did not pronounce condemnation on the adulteress.Verse 12-ch. 9:41-43. - Christ the Light of the world, with consequent discussions. Verse 12. -

(1) The solemn and formal assertion. If the passage we have just reviewed were an integral portion of the Gospel, and in its right place, the reference to the breaking of the morning, the first eye of the sun over the purple hills suddenly transforming their dark outline into the aspect of semitransparent jewellery, and their misty hollows into luminous folds of light, would be the obvious meaning or reason of the new imagery which he adopted: "I am the Light of the world." If, however, the entire pericope is not in its correct place, we must link vers. 12-20 with the discourses of the previous chapter. On the great day of the feast, in obvious allusion to the mystic drawing of water in Siloam, and transference of it to the temple court, Jesus had said, "If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink." Many critics imagine that now he refers to the habit, on the first evening of the Feast of Tabernacles, and probably, though not surely, on the other evenings, of kindling the golden candelabra in the court of the women, giving the signal for a brilliant illumination which was visible over the city and surrounding hills. As the water was a symbolic memorial of the smiting of the rock, so the sudden blaze in the temple court was a similar reminder of the fiery pillar in the wilderness, and commentators have found in such ceremonial and memories an occasion for our Lord's words. Surely they go much deeper, and have a wider signification. The creation of light by the Word of the Lord, and St. John's own statement in the prologue that in the Logos was life, and the Life was the light, and the Light shone into the darkness before the Incarnation, is a more adequate interpretation. "The Word was made flesh," and this was the grand occasion for the revelation of the glory of God. "We beheld his glory," says the apostle, "that of an only begotten Son of the Father." The gospel narrative supplies the material which induced the evangelist to preface it with imposing words. The life of men produced by him who is Life lightens the world with its glory. He is the Light of the world, because he is the Source of its life. This inversion of the sequences belonging to modern science and even to Mosaic cosmogony, partly shows what is meant by "Light," and the Light of life. Life in the Johannine thought is Divine blessedness, the very essence of Divine activity and essential being. The Father hath it in himself, and he has given to the Son to be similarly self-complete. He can confer this life on others, communicating his own perfection to some of the creatures of his hand, even bestowing upon them some of the essential elements of his own being. There are varied emanations and forth-puttings of this life - vegetable, animal, psychical, spiritual - and in each case the life becomes a luminous source of direction, a self-revelatory force, a light. The highest Life of all is the brightest Light - the true Lamp of all our seeing (see ch. John 1:9 and John 11:9, 10). Jesus said, "I am the Light of the world," illuminating its darkness far more impressively than temple fireworks, or even pillars of radiant cloud, nay, more than the sunbeams themselves; and that because he was the Holder and Giver of life. Again therefore Jesus spake to them, saying, I am the Light of the world. The "again" may point back to the discourses of the previous chapter, or to the disturbance of the audience and the teaching of that early morning. If it were the morning of the departure of thousands from the holy city, peculiar appropriateness is felt in the continuation: He that followeth me shall not (by any means) walk in the darkness - shall not start off along the defiles of his pilgrimage in the murk of the night and the heavy hiding mists, but he shall, in my companionship, have the light of life. My follower will see his way. Those who have entered into living fellowship with the living One awake from all death slumber and darkness, "walk in the light, as he is in the light;" "become light in the Lord;" "being made manifest are light;" being with the Lord become φωστήρες, torch bearers to the rest; and, more than all (Matthew 5:14), are themselves "the light of the world." The Messiah had been anticipated as "Light," as the Light of Gentiles as well as Jews (Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:6; Malachi 4:2; cf. Luke 2:32, where Simeon had caught the spirit of the ancient prophets). Edersheim (quoting 'Bemidb. R.,' 3 and 15, and 'Yalkut on Isaiah 60): "The rabbis speak of the original light in which God had wrapped himself as in a garment, which was so brilliant that it could not shine by day because it would have dimmed the light of the sun. From this light that of sun, moon, and stars had been kindled. It was now reserved under the throne of God for the Messiah, in whose days it would shine once more." (The Logos was, in the language of Philo, the Archetype and the Outflow of the light.) But the entire meaning of the manifestation of the Divine life in the Messiah is the diffusion of it in others. All Christ's teaching about himself has this practical and ethical bearing. The ἕξει - "will have," "will be in possession of," light - harmonizes with all the wonderful teaching which blends the Christ and his followers in one entity, "I in them, they in me," of ch. 15, 17; and Paul's "Christ formed in you," "Christ liveth in me" (Colossians 1:27; Galatians 1:20). "Light," says Augustine, "reveals other things and its own very self, opens healthy eyes, and is its own witness." The light of the world (τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου)

Not λύχνος, a lamp, as John the Baptist (John 8:35). Light is another of John's characteristic terms and ideas, playing a most important part in his writings, as related to the manifestation of Jesus and His work upon men. He comes from God, who is light (1 John 1:5). "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men" (John 1:4). The Word was among men as light before the incarnation (John 1:9; John 9:5), and light came with the incarnation (John 3:19-21; John 8:12; John 12:46). Christ is light through the illuminating energy of the Spirit (John 14:21, John 14:26; John 16:13; 1 John 2:20, 1 John 2:27), which is received through love (John 14:22, John 14:23). The object of Christ's work is to make men sons of light (John 12:36, John 12:46), and to endow them with the light of life (John 8:12).

In John 8:20, we are told that Jesus spake these words in the Treasury. This was in the Court of the Women, the most public part of the temple. Four golden candelabra stood there, each with four golden bowls, each one filled from a pitcher of oil by a youth of priestly descent. These were lighted on the first night of the Feast of Tabernacles. It is not unlikely that they may have suggested our Lord's figure, but the figure itself was familiar both from prophecy and from tradition. According to tradition, Light was one of the names of the Messiah. See Isaiah 9:1; Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:6; Isaiah 60:1-3; Malachi 4:2; Luke 2:32.

Walk in darkness (περιπετήσει ἐν τῇ σκοτία)

This phrase is peculiar to the Gospel and First Epistle.

Shall have (ἕξει)

Not only shall see it, but shall possess it. Hence Christ's disciples are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). Compare lights, or, properly, luminaries (φωστῆρες) a name, applied to believers in Philippians 2:15.

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