John 1:9

9 1The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

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John 1:9 Meaning and Commentary

John 1:9

That was the true light
Christ is that light, that famous and excellent light, the fountain of all light to all creatures; that gave light to the dark earth at first, and spoke light out of darkness; that light of all men in the earth, and of all the angels in heaven, and of all the saints below, and of all the glorified ones above: he is the true light, in distinction from typical lights; the "Urim" of the former dispensation; the candlestick, with the lamps of it; the pillar of fire which directed the Israelites by night in the wilderness; and from all the typical light there was in the institutions and sacrifices of the law; and in opposition to the law itself, which the Jews F26 magnify, and cry up as the light, saying, there is no light but the law; and in opposition to all false lights, as priests, diviners, and soothsayers among the Gentiles, Scribes, and Pharisees, and the learned Rabbins among the Jews, so much boasted of as the lights of the world; and to all false Christs and prophets that have risen, or shall rise, in the world.

Which lighteth every man that cometh into the world:
the sense is, either that every man that is enlightened in a spiritual manner, is enlightened by him, which is true of Christ, as the Son of God, existing from the beginning; but not in the Socinian sense, as if they were enlightened by his human ministry and example; for the Old Testament saints were not enlightened by his preaching; and many were enlightened by the ministry of John the Baptist; and multitudes afterwards, through the ministry of the apostles; and very few, comparatively, were enlightened under the ministry of Christ; and none we read of, in this sense, enlightened by him, when, and as soon as they came into, the world: or, the meaning is, that he is that light which lighteth all sorts of men; which is true in, a spiritual sense: some connect the phrase, "that cometh into the world", not with "every man", but with the "true light"; and the Arabic version so reads, and joins it to the following verse; but this reading is not so natural and the order of the words requires the common reading; nor is the difficulty removed hereby; for still it is every man that is enlightened: it is best therefore to understand these words of the light of nature, and reason, which Christ, as the word, and Creator and light of men, gives to every man that is born into the world; and which serves to detect the Quakers' notion of the light within, which every man has, and is no other than the light of a natural conscience; and shows how much men, even natural men, are obliged to Christ, and how great a person he is, and how deserving of praise, honour, and glory. The phrase, "every man that cometh into the world", is Jewish, and often to be met with in Rabbinical writings, and signifies all men that are born into the world; the instances are almost innumerable; take one or two: on those words in ( Job 25:3 ) on whom doth not his light arise? it is asked {a}, who is he that cometh,

``(Mlwe yab lkm) , "of all that come into the world"; and says, the sun hath not lightened me by day, nor hath the moon lightened me by night! thou enlightenest those above, and those below, and "all that come into the world".''

Again, God is introduced thus speaking F2:

``I am the God, (Mlwe yab lkl) , "of all that come into the world"; and I have not united my name, but to the people of Israel.''

Once more F3,

``Moses, our master, from the mouth of power, (i.e. God; see ( Matthew 26:64 ) .) commanded to oblige, (Mlweh yab lk ta) , "all that come into the world", to receive the commandments which were commanded the sons of Noah.''


F26 T. Bava Bathra, fol. 4. 1.
F1 Vajikra Rabba, sect. 31. fol. 171. 4.
F2 Midrash Ruth, c. l. v. 1. fol. 27. 3.
F3 Maimon. Hilch. Melakim. c. 8. sect. 10. Vid. Misn. Roshhashana, c. l. sect. 2. T. Hieros. Sanhedrin, fol. 25. 4. & 26. 3. Sepher Bahir apud Zohar in Gen. fol. 30. 3. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 21. 2. & 22. 3. & 24. 3. & 27. 2. Caphter, fol. 56. 1. Jarchi in Exod. 15. 2.

John 1:9 In-Context

7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.
8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.
11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.

Cross References 1

  • 1. Isaiah 49:6; 1 John 2:8
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.