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After reading this question, another question came to my mind. If God created the light only after the creation of the universe, then does it mean there was no light in Heaven?

If we read the context in Genesis 1:1-5 carefully, the light created in Genesis 1:3 seems to be the light that we have here on earth, which consists of seven colors. God has already existed long before the universe was created. If there was no other form of light in Heaven before the creation of this universe, that would mean there was no light in Heaven and God was dwelling in darkness. But 1 John 1:5 says, "God is light". This could mean that the light in Heaven and the light we have on earth are not the same.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5, NIV)

If God is light, then what was the need to create light again? Does it mean the light that God naturally has is different from the light that God created in Genesis 1:3?

Was God living in darkness before He created the light?

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Why would you assume: "there was no other form of light in Heaven before the creation of this universe"? Unless you assume Heaven is confined within this Universe? –  Rick Sep 20 '13 at 12:19
    
@Rick You missed out the "If" part. It's not assumption, it's an argument. –  Mawia Sep 20 '13 at 12:25
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"This could mean that the light in Heaven and the light we have on earth are not the same." Makes sense to me. –  Rick Sep 20 '13 at 12:33
    
You make the assumption that there was a 'before' before the creation. This is incorrect: In the beginning . . . There was no time before that moment. –  gideon marx Jan 16 at 8:55

4 Answers 4

I believe the consensus interpretation of the Fathers to be:

  • The "light" that is continually attributed to God's nature is its own concept, which we commonly speak of using "optical" language. God has never been without it. Its absence is spiritual darkness.
  • The "light" of Genesis 1:3 refers principally to the creation of certain spiritual things - heaven, the angels, etc.
  • Secondarily, this "light" is some sort of primordial energy, which may include the kind of light that we experience in everyday life, but isn't limited to that. (This is not necessarily cleanly distinguishable from the spiritual light of the previous bullet point, though; we with our scientific knowledge want to say that light is just a simple matter of physics, but the Bible was not written in the time of Maxwell.)

In the Bible, light is associated above all with God, as in your quotation from 1 John. This light illuminates us, so that being "in darkness" means being dissociated from God (in a state of sin, deprivation, etc.) and being "in light" is the opposite. Some more examples from the New Testament (NRSV) are John 1 (or actually pretty much anywhere in John):

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

Ephesians 5:

For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light— for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light.

and 1 Thessalonians 5:

But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness.

Moreover, heaven, the angels, and the saints are all described in terms of light, for example in the Revelation. It would appear that 1 John 1:5, "God is light", should be talking about this kind of light, as opposed to the electromagnetic phenomenon that resembles it. This interpretation is supported by the writings of the Fathers. For example, Augustine reads the creation of light in Genesis 1 as mainly referring to the creation of the heavenly realm and its angels (City of God 11.7, 9):

Under the name of light the holy city was signified, composed of holy angels and blessed spirits. [...] When God said, Let there be light, and there was light, if we are justified in understanding in this light the creation of the angels, then certainly they were created partakers of the eternal light which is the unchangeable Wisdom of God, by which all things were made, and whom we call the only-begotten Son of God; so that they, being illumined by the Light that created them, might themselves become light and be called Day, in participation of that unchangeable Light and Day which is the Word of God, by whom both themselves and all else were made.

Similar remarks can be found in Basil's Homilies on the Hexaemeron, Chrysostom's Homilies on Genesis, and so on. Ambrose, in Exposition of the Christian Faith 1.13(79), has a particularly relevant comment: "Think not, then, that there was ever a moment of time when God was without wisdom, any more than that there was ever a time when light was without radiance." God could certainly not have been living in spiritual darkness. The heavenly city, created under the name of "light", should be understood as reflecting the glory of God's eternal "light". (The optical metaphor of reflection is very common in these writings.)

It is true that Augustine (et al.) also see in Genesis 1:3 the creation of "ordinary" light, though they are at a loss to explain exactly what it means for light to exist without some light-giving body (only created in verses 14-19). Augustine says: "What kind of light that was, and by what periodic movement it made evening and morning, is beyond the reach of our senses; neither can we understand how it was, and yet must unhesitatingly believe it." (11.7). Basil suggests that the light here created was, at least, a special sort of light of indescribable beauty (2.7). In contemporary speculation, and certainly up to the scholastic period, the light meant some kind of abstract energy, not limited to what we perceive as visible light. It is primordial light, analogous to the primordial, unformed, chaotic matter of Genesis 1:2; writers of this period were strongly influenced by Plato's Timaeus and its account of the progressive formation of all things from "raw" substance, the ylem.

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Concerning "at a loss to explain exactly what it means for light to exist without some light-giving body", if we confine attention to material light (electromagnetic radiation, photons), then the standard "big bang" cosmology has light existing long before the formation of the first stars and galaxies. I don't claim that this has any relevance to the spiritual light that is God or to any other special light that He may have created; I'm only pointing out that material light without a material source is not so unthinkable. –  Andreas Blass Sep 20 '13 at 15:12
    
@AndreasBlass Right, this is a limitation in the physics available to the commentators of the era. –  James T Sep 20 '13 at 15:14
    
@and I won't comment on the theological part, but from a strictly physical standpoint the Genesis account doesn't make any sense. Suggesting otherwise is misleading. –  Sklivvz Sep 23 '13 at 13:58

There are 3 types of Heavens

  • Heaven 1- is the Sky
  • Heaven 2- is the Universe called Heavens
  • Heaven 3- is where God dwells

the light God created was not physical light but actual light to see.

in a dark room, if you light a match, you will see the light of the match. If God did not create light, even though you light a match, it will still be dark. That is why God had to separate light from darkness, as you already know.

yes the Light that God has is different to our light, because we cannot approach God's light, it is too much to bare or handle.

and God was not dwelling in Darkness. If God is made of light, how can he dwell in darkness?

god bless

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God doesn't reside in the physical universe.

Whether or not light existed in the universe is moot. God is spirit and does not live in the physical universe. When God created light, he created it in the physical universe. If it never existed before, then it was never needed before. If it existed in some other realm, it would still be "creating it" to speak it into existence in our world. The concept of light could have existed prior to its creation and God's action in Ge 1:3 would count as creating it, because it did not exist in this realm.

God does not "dwell" in darkness, because he has never "dwelt" in this universe.

Does God need light?

God knows everything. He doesn't need light. "Darkness is as light to you." (Ps 139:12) Darkness doesn't make it any harder for God to know everything, and light doesn't make it any easier for him to know everything.

Light and darkness are metaphors.

When the Biblical authors use light and darkness in this way, they are speaking of good and evil. "In him, there is no evil at all."

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I agree with Mojo. And

"And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God did light it, and the Lamb is the light thereof."—Revelation 21:23.

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You should click 'edit' on Mojo's answer to add this in rather than making a separate answer. :) –  curiousdannii Jan 15 at 7:58

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