Q&A: Who is the Light of the World?

Who is the Light of the World?

Question

Matthew 5:14 says the disciples (and by extension the true church) are the light of the world, but John 9:5 says Jesus is. Who is right about the light?

Answer

Both are actually true. Jesus is the light of the world. John states earlier of Christ: "In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it" (John 1:4-5). Again in John 8:12 he says, "When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.' So, Jesus is the light of the world.

However, Jesus is also the head of his body (the church - Eph. 5:23). He and his kingdom (his church) are united. So his church is the light of the world as well. As the light of the sun is to the moon (Gen. 1:16), so Jesus is the source of the light, and his church reflects his light (Eph. 5:8). We are given the high honor of being light in contrast to the world of darkness (John 12:46; Eph. 5:11; 1 Thess. 5:5). Luke writes in Acts 4:33, "With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God's grace was so powerfully at work in them all." So, it is that our light that is set on the hill of this world is to go forth with great power by the Spirit of God to give light to all (Matt. 5:15) and to all that are enabled to see (John 3:19; Acts 26:18; Eph. 5:14).

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).