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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol IX:
Epistle to Gregory and Origen's Commentary on the Gospel of John.: Chapter XVIII

Early Church Fathers  Index     

18.  How God Also is Light, But in a Different Way; And How Life Came Before Light.

The Saviour is here called simply light.  But in the Catholic Epistle of this same John 4722 we read that God is light.  This, it has been maintained, furnishes a proof that the Son is not in substance different from the Father.  Another student, however, looking into the matter more closely and with a sounder judgment, will say that the light which shines in darkness and is not overtaken by it, is not the same as the light in which there is no darkness at all.  The light which shines in darkness comes upon this darkness, as it were, and is pursued by it, and, in spite of attempts made upon it, is not overtaken.  But the light in which there is no darkness at all neither shines on darkness, nor is at first pursued by it, so as to prove victor and to have it recorded that it was not overtaken by its pursuer.  The third designation was “the true light.”  But in proportion as God, since He is the Father of truth, is more and greater than truth, and since He is the Father of wisdom is greater and more excellent than wisdom, in the same proportion He is more than the true light.  We may learn, perhaps, in a more suggestive manner, how the Father and the Son are two lights, from David, who says in the thirty-fifth Psalm, 4723 “In Thy light we shall see light.”  This same light of men which shines in darkness, the true light, is called, further on in the Gospel, the light of the world; Jesus says, 4724 “I am the light of the world.”  Nor must we omit to notice that whereas the passage might very well have p. 337 run, “That which was made was in Him the light of men, and the light of men was life,” he chose the opposite order.  He puts life before the light of men, even if life and the light of men are the same thing; in thinking of those who have part in life, though that life is also the light of men, we are to come first to the fact that they are living the divine life spoken of before; then we come to their enlightenment.  For life must come first if the living person is to be enlightened; it would not be a good arrangement to speak of the illumination of one not yet conceived as living, and to make life come after the illumination.  For though “life” and “the light” of men are the same thing, the notions are taken separately.  This light of men is also called, by Isaiah, “the light of the Gentiles,” where he says, 4725 “Behold I have set Thee for a covenant of the generation, for a light of the Gentiles;” and David, placing his confidence in this light, says in the twenty-sixth Psalm, 4726 “The Lord is my illumination and my Saviour; whom shall I fear?”



John 1.5.


Ps. xxxvi. 10.


John 8.12.


Isa. xlii. 6.


Ps. xxvii. 1.

Next: Chapter XIX