Light of the World

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This article is about the saying of Jesus. For other uses, see Light of the World (disambiguation).
Detail on stained glass depicting Jesus: I am the light of the world, Bantry, Ireland.

Light of the World (Greek: φώς τοῦ κόσμου Phṓs tou kósmou) is a phrase Jesus used to describe himself and his disciples in the New Testament.[1] The phrase is recorded in the Gospel of John and again in the Gospel of Matthew. It is closely related to the parables of Salt and Light and Lamp under a bushel.

Gospel accounts[edit]

Referring to himself[edit]

In John 8:12 Jesus applies the title to himself while debating with the Jews and states:[1]

Jesus again claims to be Light of the World in John 9:5, during the miracle of healing the blind at birth, saying: [2]

When I am in the world, I am the Light of the World.

This episode leads into John 9:39 where Jesus metaphorically explains that he came to this world, so that the blind may see.[2]

In the Christological context, the use of the title Light of the World is similar to the Bread of Life title in John 6:35 where Jesus states: “I am the bread of life: he who comes to me shall not hunger.”[3] These assertions build on the Christological theme of John 5:26 where Jesus claims to possess life just as the Father does and provide it to those who follow him.[3][4] The term “Life of the World” is applied in the same sense by Jesus to himself in John 6:51.[2]

Referring to his disciples[edit]

Jesus also used that term to refer to his disciples in Matthew 5:14:[1]

This application of "light compared with darkness" also appears in 1 John 1:5 which applies it to God and states: "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all".[6]

Extra-biblical sources[edit]

In the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas, a used similar phrase appears, "There is light within a man of light, and he lights up the whole world. If he does not shine, he is darkness".[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Names and Titles of the Lord Jesus Christ by Charles Spear 2003 ISBN 0-7661-7467-0 page 226
  2. ^ a b c New Testament christology by Frank J. Matera 1999 ISBN 0-664-25694-5 page 235
  3. ^ a b Christology in Context by Marinus de Jonge 1988 ISBN 978-0-664-25010-2 page 147
  4. ^ The person of Christ by Gerrit Cornelis Berkouwer 1954 ISBN 0-8028-4816-8 page 163
  5. ^ Matthew 5:1416, New International Version
  6. ^ John by H. A. Ironside 2006 ISBN 0-8254-2915-3 pages 199-202
  7. ^ Gospel of Thomas, 24