With so much darkness plaguing the world today, we can quickly become distracted from the light that is shining through all the obscurity. The world may be in disarray right now, but the Lord is always at work; He never leaves us or forsakes us (Deuteronomy 31:6, 8), and His light shines in the darkness (John 1:5). The Word of God and the Ante Nicene Fathers (the Early Church- pre 325 AD) clearly outline where we currently are in God’s timeline; at the end of the Church age, crossing into the Millennial Kingdom (the Day of the Lord) (1, 2). So, as believers it is imperative that we are focused on the light, in order that we not be overtaken by the darkness (John 12:35). In alignment with the Word, the Early Church taught that to be in darkness is to be ignorant of the truth (without understanding), whereas to be in the light is to rightly understand God’s Word, His will, and walk in His ways. If we do not understand the Word, we could entirely miss the Lord’s second coming. Are our eyes open to see the light?
Jesus exhorted His disciples, “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 is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” (John 12:35-36). The word darkness in Greek is ‘skotia’ and refers to the darkness due to want [need] of light; metaphorically used of ignorance of divine things, and its associated wickedness (3). It is very closely related to the word ‘skotos’, which refers to darkened eyesight or blindness (4). When asked by His disciples, why do you speak [to the multitudes] in parables? Jesus answered: “I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” (Matthew 13:13). How can one see, but not see? Hear, but not hear? At face value this does not make sense; there is a hidden meaning in what Jesus was saying. A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning; a metaphor, or similitude (5). So, we see that to be in darkness is a metaphor used for those who are spiritually blind (in darkness) to divine things. The Early Church taught that divine things are the secrets of Scripture, and Jesus articulated that these secrets are found in His teachings (parables). Regarding the secrets of Scripture, second-century Church Father Clement wrote,
For many reasons, then, the Scriptures hide the sense. First, that we may become inquisitive, and be ever on the watch for the discovery of the words of salvation. Then it was not suitable for all to understand, so that they might not receive harm in consequence of taking in another sense the things declared for salvation by the Holy Spirit. Wherefore the holy mysteries of the prophecies are veiled in the parables – preserved for chosen men, selected to knowledge in consequence of their faith; for the style of the Scriptures is parabolic. (6)
Clement explains that the secrets of Scripture are purposefully hidden in parables, only revealed to those who seek to understand, and veiled to those who could be harmed by twisting the scriptures (cf. 2 Peter 3:16). He outlines that within the hidden Word is found salvation, and only the chosen (those who are faithful) find it (cf. Matthew 13:45-46; Proverbs 25:2). Jesus said, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14). The chosen are those who are picked out from within the Church, the elect, who seek to find the true light (7). This begs the question, is knowledge conducive to salvation? Absolutely- God stated, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” (Hosea 4:6). We must take note, He does not say ‘the world’ perishes for lack of knowledge, rather His people (those within the Church; Christians). In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul states, “even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). Here we see a mystery: the blindness Paul refers to is not a physical inability to see, rather blindness of the mind (unable to understand the Word), which he correlates with disbelief.
Jesus stated, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12). In Greek the word light is ‘phos’ and refers to truth and its knowledge, together with the spiritual purity associated with it; the power of understanding, especially moral and spiritual truth (8). The Word Study dictionary refers to light as true knowledge of God and spiritual things (9). It is important to acknowledge, that if there is a true knowledge (light) of God, this infers there must also be a false knowledge of God (cf. Luke 11:35). Jesus states it is those who follow Him who have the light (ibid.). To follow Jesus goes beyond what we may have interpreted it to mean. Concerning this, third century Church Father Cyprian writes,
“I am the light of the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12) But he follows Christ who stands in His precepts, who walks in the way of His teaching, who follows His footsteps and His ways, who imitates that which Christ both did and taught; in accordance with what Peter also exhorts and warns, saying, “Christ suffered for us, leaving you an example that ye should follow His steps.” (1Pe 2:21) (10)
Cyprian clearly outlines that those who follow Christ walk in His teaching, and imitate not only what He taught, but also how He lived (His conduct and character). Jesus lived a life of surrender, sacrifice, and complete selflessness. Those who follow Christ aren’t people who simply call themselves Christians, rather those who are striving to walk the same lifestyle He did- a life of obedience to the Word and surrender of all self. It is those who walk in the light, and who can truly say, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20).
In another place Cyprian writes,
Wherefore, if we wish to walk in the light of Christ, let us not depart from His precepts and monitions [warnings], giving thanks that, while He instructs for the future what we ought to do, He pardons for the past wherein we in our simplicity have erred. And because already His second coming draws near to us, His benign and liberal condescension [superiority] is more and more illuminating our hearts with the light of truth. (11)
Again, Cyprian states that to walk in Christ’s light, we must abide by His Word, having the truth illuminating our hearts (cf. Hebrews 10:16). If Christ’s second coming was imminent at the time Cyprian wrote this epistle (in the third century), how much more so now is the coming of our Lord? Cyprian highlights that Christ’s teachings are warnings for those in the future (us).. If we don’t understand His parables how can we be prepared for His future coming? This aligns with what Clement stated, that “the holy mysteries of the prophecies are veiled in the parables.” (6) Prophecy is a discourse emanating from divine inspiration and declaring the purposes of God, whether by reproving and admonishing the wicked, or comforting the afflicted, or revealing things hidden; especially by foretelling future events. (12) So, by understanding Jesus’s teachings prophetically, heeding the light that shines in the dark place, until the morning star rises in our hearts (2 Peter 1:19), we will be prepared for His second coming; just as the bride (the Church) makes Herself ready (Revelations 19:7; cf. Matthew 25:10).
In the same vein as Cyprian, second-third century Church Father Origen writes,
Christ, illuminating his Church, gives signs by his precepts, that one might know how, when the sign has been received, to escape “the wrath to come,” lest “that day overtake him like a thief,” but that rather he can reach “the acceptable year of the Lord.” Christ, therefore, is “the true light which enlightens every man coming into this world.” From his light the Church itself also having been enlightened is made “the light of the world” enlightening those “who are in darkness,” as also Christ himself testifies to his disciples saying: “You are the light of the world.” From this it is shown that Christ indeed is the light of the apostles, but the apostles are “the light of the world.” For they, “not having spot or wrinkle or anything of this kind,” are the true Church, as also the Apostle says: “That he might present it to himself a glorious Church not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing.” …. Just as the sun and the moon are said to be the great lights in the firmament of heaven, so also are Christ and the Church in us…. Moreover, just as the sun and the moon enlighten our bodies so also our minds are enlightened by Christ and the Church. We are enlightened in this way, however, if we are not blind in our minds. For although the sun and moon shine on those who are blind in their bodily eyes they, nevertheless, cannot receive the light. In the same way also Christ offers his light to our minds, but it will so enlighten us only if blindness of mind impede in no way. (13)
Origen beautifully articulates that Christ’s teachings were a sign for us, in order that we be ready for His coming (not overtaken by darkness). This is quite contrary to many doctrines taught in Churches today- that misinterpret the Scriptures such as “no man knows the day or the hour…” (Matthew 24:36). It is vital that we understand these parabolic teachings, in order that we not be overtaken like a thief (1 Thessalonians 5:4; cf. Revelations 3:3). We exhort you to study these scriptures for yourself (you may be surprised upon discovering the definition of ‘thief’ in Greek). Origen states that the true Church is those without spot or wrinkle, and according to the Book of Jude, spots and wrinkles are false teachers (Jude 1:12) within the Church (Jude 1:4; cf. 2 Peter 3:14). The light of Christ (the revelation of His teachings) is what enlightens our minds, however it is up to us to perceive correctly, in order that blindness (being veiled) to the Word not impede us. The true Church is meant to be the light of the world (ibid.)… So why is there so much darkness plaguing the world today? We must remember where we have fallen from (true doctrine) and turn to the light (Revelations 2:5).
We may be seeing a lot of darkness in the World today, however if we truly call ourselves believers, our focus should be on seeking the light, the divine Word, in order that we understand how the Lord is at work. When we understand the Scriptures prophetically, and faithfully walk in the light, we will know where we are going; not lost in the darkness. Second-third century Church Father Hippolytus writes, “But having the mystery of God in our heart, we ought in fear to keep faithfully what has been told us by the blessed prophets, in order that when those things come to pass, we may be prepared for them, and not deceived.” (14). The Apostle Paul gives us a key, that it is first the natural, then the spiritual (1 Corinthians 15:46), so the things happening in the natural (in the world) are a sign for us. But, do we have eyes to see in order that we walk in the light?
We leave with an exhortation from Paul, concerning the Day of the Lord:
2 For you yourselves know perfectly well that the day of the [return of the] Lord will come [as unexpectedly and suddenly] as a thief in the night. 3 When people are saying, All is well and secure, and, There is peace and safety, then in a moment unforeseen destruction (ruin and death) will come upon them as suddenly as labor pains come upon a woman with child; and they shall by no means escape, for there will be no escape. 4 But you are not in [given up to the power of] darkness, brethren, for that day to overtake you by surprise like a thief. 5 For you are all sons of light and sons of the day; we do not belong either to the night or to darkness. 6 Accordingly then, let us not sleep, as the rest do, but let us keep wide awake (alert, watchful, cautious, and on our guard) and let us be sober (calm, collected, and circumspect). (1 Thessalonians 5:2-6, AMP)
For those with eyes to see, though the world is in peril, we do not want, for the light of the World has made His way into our souls. Let your light shine before men (Matthew 5:16).
- Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Bk. V, Ch. XXVIII.
- Barnabas, The Epistle of Barnabas, Ch. XV
- Thayer’s Greek definitions: ‘Darkness’ (G4653)
- Thayer’s Greek definitions: ‘Darkness’ (G4655)
- Thayer’s Greek definitions: ‘Parable’ (G3859)
- Clement, The Stromata, Or Miscellanies, Bk. VI, Chap. XV, (emphasis added)
- Thayer’s Greek definitions: ‘Light’ (G5457)
- Thayer’s Greek definitions: ‘Chosen’ (G1588)
- The Complete Word Study dictionary: ‘Light’
- Cyprian, The treaties of Cyprian, Treaties X, Chap. 11, (emphasis added)
- Cyprian, The Epistles of Cyprian, LXII, (emphasis added)
- Thayer’s Greek definitions: ‘Prophecy’ (G4394)
- Origen, Genesis Homily 1, (emphasis added)
- Hippolytus, Treaties on Christ and Antichrist, Part II, (emphasis added)
All scripture references from The Holy Bible: New King James Version: NKJV. Thomas Nelson, 2010. (Bold emphasis added throughout).