Genesis 1:3

3 And God said, 1"Let there be light," and there was light.

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Genesis 1:3 Meaning and Commentary

Genesis 1:3

And God said
This phrase is used, nine times in this account of the creation; it is admired by Longinus the Heathen in his treatise "of the Sublime", as a noble instance of it; and it is most beautifully paraphrased and explained in ( Psalms 33:6 ) as expressive of the will, power, authority, and efficacy of the divine Being; whose word is clothed with power, and who can do, and does whatever he will, and as soon as he pleases; his orders are always obeyed. Perhaps the divine Person speaking here is the Logos or Word of God, which was in the beginning with God, and was God, and who himself is the light that lightens every creature. The words spoke were,

let there be light, and there was light:
it at once appeared; "God commanded light to shine out of darkness"; as the apostle says, ( 2 Corinthians 4:6 ) this was the first thing made out of the dark chaos; as in the new creation, or work of grace in the heart, light is the first thing produced there: what this light was is not easy to say. Some of the Jewish Rabbins, and also some Christian writers, think the angels are designed by it, which is not at all probable, as the ends and use of this light show: others of them are of opinion, that it is the same with the sun, of which a repetition is made on the fourth day, because of its use and efficacy to the earth, and its plants; but others more rightly take it to be different from the sun, and a more glimmering light, which afterwards was gathered into and perfected in the body of the sun F6. It is the opinion of Zanchius F7, and which is approved of by our countryman, Mr. Fuller {h}, that it was a lucid body, or a small lucid cloud, which by its circular motion from east to west made day and night F9; perhaps somewhat like the cloudy pillar of fire that guided the Israelites in the wilderness, and had no doubt heat as well as light; and which two indeed, more or less, go together; and of such fiery particles this body may well be thought to consist. The word "Ur" signifies both fire and light.


F6 Vid. Menasseh ben Israel conciliator in Gen. qu. 2.
F7 De Operibus Dei, par. 3. l. 1. c. 2. col. 239. and l. 2. c. 1.
F8 Miscell. Sacr. l. 1. c. 12.
F9 Milton seems to be of the same mind:----- -----and forthwith light. Ethereal, first of things, quintessence pure, Sprung from the deep, and from her native east To journey thro' the airy gloom began, Sphered in a radiant cloud, for yet the sun Was not; she in a cloudy tabernacle Sojourned the while.----- Paradise Lost, B. 7. l. 243

Genesis 1:3 In-Context

1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.
4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.
5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

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Cross References 1

  • 1. 2 Corinthians 4:6
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.