Light Born in Darkness | Understanding Genesis Chapter 1 verse 4

One may wonder, why light?

Why is this the first thing that God creates, even before the objects that give light—the sun and moon and stars?

What is the meaning of this division between light and darkness in Genesis 1:4.



Light in DarknessOne of the wonderful things about bible stories, is that each story has several different meanings, layers of history, metaphor, and truth. None is the “right” meaning. And all should be understood.

Layer 1: Simple

On the one hand, God’s creation of the light, and the separation of light from darkness, simply describes the beginning of the day cycle.

This 24 hour light-dark-light cycle is the most basic unite of time that we humans use to measure and organize our existence. So here we have the ancient writer telling us that, at the beginning of time, the first thing God creates is… time.

Makes sense, right?

Layer 2: Metaphor

On another level, however, this story illustrates a spiritual separate which must take place inside us all.

God did not create the darkness. It is the opposite of God’s creation, its antithesis.

I don’t mean natural darkness, what exists in the real world when the sun goes down.

On the layer of metaphor, this is the darkness that existed before creation, and that still finds ways to creep into our lives even today. It is the remnant of the Abyss, the Nothingness which God first overcame when God breathed life into Match, Light in Darknessa lifeless void. It is a spiritual darkness, the power of non-existence, and the great antagonist of God’s story.

It is this same darkness that does not understand the Light, Jesus, who comes into the world (John 1:5), which inspired the first rebellion against God, and which even today struggles to prevent the saving of the world. The worst parts of us are formed in its image, just as our best parts come from the image of God.
As God divides light from darkness here in Genesis, God may also divide these two forces in our hearts, set a barrier inside our souls between all that is good in us and our evil desires.
Notice that God does not defeat the darkness in this first the act of creation. Not totally. That battle and that defeat are still to come. Instead, God set the world on a path toward himself, toward the Light.

Layer 3: Science

Finally, there is yet one more level to explore in this story of God creating light. This is the scientific story, a theory called The Big Bang, which posits that the universe began with a great explosion. In that explosion, suddenly, all energy and matter came into being.

A great burst of light in the heart of darkness.

Of course, 3,000 or so years ago, people knew nothing about any of that. So they didn’t write about a “Big Bang” because- well – how would they? And still, the ancient writer tells us that the universe began in this one moment, when God spoke an explosion of light into the darkness.

And what better word did the ancients have to describe “energy” than “light.”

The Big Bang

Why do you think Genesis tells us that God created light before anything else? Are their other meanings that the writers might have been trying to get across? In what ways do you think Genesis and science fit together? Share as you feel comfortable sharing below.

Missed the last few verses? Catch up with Understanding Genesis 1:3 <==


==>Understanding Genesis 1:5

16 thoughts on “Light Born in Darkness | Understanding Genesis Chapter 1 verse 4”

  1. I agree with you that the darkness is a remnant of the Abyss,  which God has overcome from the creation of the world. It is a spiritual darkness, which we all need to do as Christians, to separate our selves from the world, that was why the scripture urged us as christains not to conform to this world because we are in the world but not of the world.
    The bible says: the word of God is power and it struck like a thunder, that is why the scientist prove the creation of light as a great explosion. That caused a sudden formation of all energy and matter to came into being. And further described the phenomenon as:  A great burst of light in the heart of darkness.

    thanks for sharing this inspiring review.

    • Exactly! The symbolism in Genesis 1 is profound and speaks to every generation. As our knowledge grows over time, our understanding of what actually happened “in the beginning” gets more accurate (scientifically speaking). But what the story teaches us about ourselves, human nature, and God, is as powerful now as it ever was.

  2. Hello there,  wonderful post there,  After a careful studying of Genesis 1:3 I came to observe that when God said let there be light he wasn’t talking about physical light because he created physical light in the latter part of same chapter,  I believe that Light in Genesis 1:3 is insight,  ability to see, to see beyond the confusion of the earth which is darkness. It was important that God separate the confusion in other to bring out that which is beautiful.

    • Hi Jomata, I love your insight here! It’s not an interpretation of the words that I ever thought of. It adds a whole new element to what I’m trying to say here, and that’s exactly how knowledge moves forward. Bringing beauty out of confusion is certainly something that God does time and time again in the bible. It’s what happens also in the crucifixion and resurrection, the chaos and despair of death being twisted and turned into eternal hope. Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. Hey nice article you have there, your thoughts are indeed invaluable. I also feel blessed going through biblical article like this. Genesis is a chapter in the Bible that is full of mysteries of God that men cannot understand it totality. God is light and darkness symbolises the absence of God, that is why the very first thing God has to do in the beginning of creation is to bring forth light

    • Great insight Edah! The contrast between light and darkness is one of the oldest symbols that humans have used, which makes sense given how heavily we humans rely on the sight. And I totally agree that Genesis is full of mysteries. I have read these chapters dozens of times, literally, and I still learn new things each time. That’s the power of storytelling, and – I think – why God has so often chosen to speak to us in story and symbolism.

  4. Thanks for this valuable info on understanding Genesis 1:4.  I don’t have a lot of experience studying the bible but it is very interesting.  My friend is always talking about the bible and how it has helped her family connect.  My daughters study the bible a lot in school. It’s so helpful in life.  

    • There is indeed a lot of value and help to be found in the bible. It’s ancient wisdom that has stood the test of time. Humans have found these stories and lessons meaningful for, in some cases, more than three thousand years, and if you think about it, that means a lot. Rarely to things with no value last so long. 

  5. Hello dear, thanks for sharing such amazing concise information with us all, I was actually doing some research online when I saw your post, I must say I really fancy these page a lot, I love it so much I already saved these page so as to come back for future reference, thanks a lot for the info, I’ll surely do some recommendations

    • Thank you! I’m so glad to hear you found these pages useful. Just so you know, there should be one new Genesis post every week, so please stop back, and let me know if you have anything thoughts of questions!

  6. Hello there, This is an amazing article that you have got here. Your writing inspires me to go do some research. I enjoyed going through this article and the book of Genesis contains a lot of information aside creation that proves the workings of God. Indeed his light shines and the darkness understand it not.

    Thanks for sharing this with me.

    • Thanks Awinikistevie! I enjoyed your reference to John’s Gospel (John 1:5). And so glad the post inspired you to look into these things some more. As a hopeless academic who sees God most clearly through history and story, that’s what I’m all about.

  7. quite an amazing and understanding you gave concerning the Bible book of Genesis chapter 1 verse 4 in a nutshell, light is what gives everything life, it is necessary that for Life to exist there must be light, light goes a long way to add enjoy, happiness and prosperity to whatever it reflects on, without light there wouldn’t be life..
    quite an intriguing  post, I look forward to sharing

    • “light is what gives everything life, ” so true, evans! What I find interesting when looking at these first verses in the bible is that “light” doesn’t just mean “light.” Energy is invisible, and therefore, ancient people had no way to talk about energy. Instead, when describing things they didn’t yet fully understand, they used words like “light.” Today, science talks about a great explosion of energy at the beginning of time, elements forged inside stars and released in super novas to create planets and people. And now, of course, our sun keeps life on earth alive. It’s all saying what Genesis 1 meant to say – just a little more accurately.

  8. Heloo over there, I would like to say a big thanks to you for sharing this insightful and informative and blessed Post on light born in darkness, understanding genesis chapter one overseas four. I would like to say that this article is filled with so much knowledge about genesis 1 verse 4. I have really been impacted by this article in a different perspective entirely about genesis 1 verse 4. Thanks

    • Thanks Sheddy Ovb! I myself was raised to look at Genesis 1 in a very different way (the creationist way, more or less) and came to a very different understanding of the story during seminary several years ago. This new way of looking at the bible deeply impacted my life and faith, and that’s what I want to share now.


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