In the Genesis account, the sun and stars are created on the fourth day:

Gen 1:14 And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years,

Gen 1:15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth." And it was so.

Gen 1:16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars.]

Gen 1:17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth,

Gen 1:18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.

However, light is created on the first day:

Gen 1:3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.

Gen 1:4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.

So, from the perspective of a literal reading of this account, how is this reconciled? Is light created twice? How could there be light without the sun and stars?

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    Interestingly, the big bang theory begins with light as well. Also see the Theory of Acoustic Genesis.
    – Ryan Frame
    Apr 10, 2013 at 13:29
  • If Narnian's edits are acceptable to Tony Jays, then I believe the question is now a duplicate. How can the sun be created after day and night?
    – Jas 3.1
    Apr 10, 2013 at 19:42
  • @Jas3.1 Yes, I know. I was just alerting you to it. Interesting perspective on "VTC". I would be interested in your response to the meta post I linked. This I guess is a duplicate, but I would prefer this one stay open and that one be marked as duplicate. This one is just worded better.
    – user3961
    Apr 10, 2013 at 19:48
  • @fredsbend Thanks. I think in general it is better to close the new duplicate, rather than the original question which already has an established set of answers, votes, etc. We could also talk about rewording the original if needed. If you disagree, it might be a good topic for meta. Fwiw, RE: jargon, omg tbh idk... tl;dr... lol.
    – Jas 3.1
    Apr 10, 2013 at 19:54
  • @Jas3.1: I have cast the fifth reopen vote because the issues leading to the first close were resolved. If you feel that it is now a duplicate question, you are free to cast a new vote to close (I think). Apr 11, 2013 at 2:35

8 Answers 8


Revelation 21:23 answers this rather directly. In imagining the new heaven and the new earth, it says:

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.

John 1:5 concurs, saying:

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

Thus being capable of its own luminesence, there is thus nothing to contradict the possibility that God himself was the source of the light. There is also no need to take such an idea - that God is the light, and God speaking the Light into existence is creating himself, and contradict the notion that Jesus himself was not created. Indeed, since Jesus was not created, he was eternal. As John 1:1 indicates, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Being thus present, God's glory would have been assumed to be there. And, just like a lit candle, if its there, there will be light.

Rather, prior to his speaking, there is nothing to suggest that there was even a space into which his Light could shine. As such, in "creating the light," he simply created the space in which his own light - the emanation of His glory - could be beheld.

The "Shekinah Glory" of the Lord is often compared to a bright light, so this is not altogether an unreasonable assumption.

Additionally, Isaiah 6:2 speaks of the seraphim as follows:

Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.

If they are covering their faces, it would also be consistent with a brightness emanating from the Glory of God.

And, finally, as we are reminded every Christmas that when the angels appeared to the shepherds,

"An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were terrified.

In seemingly every instance, the glory of the Lord shines, thus producing its own light.

  • Now for the fun question - I'm realizing that I've always seen bright angels in the pictures - but is the text saying that God himself was there? Apr 10, 2013 at 13:09
  • But that would make Jesus a created being, I do not want that. The glory of God has been there forever as long as God lived. I also thought about this answer but it brings more contradictions than answers so I am therefore asking my brethren for help.
    – Tony Jays
    Apr 10, 2013 at 13:09
  • Yes God was there but the light being talked about here was certainly not the glory of God or Jesus...
    – Tony Jays
    Apr 10, 2013 at 13:11
  • Jesus is eternal and not created - that is why we say "incarnated" and why the Nicene Creed is clear that he is "begotten not made" That the Glory of God emanates light does not necessitate that he "made" himself - rather it could simply mean that God opened a space in which his Glory could be beheld. Apr 10, 2013 at 13:11
  • Why was that light "certainly not" the glory of God or Jesus? Apr 10, 2013 at 13:12

I think this is being overthought, personally.

He created LIGHT. The concept, the physics, the science... he created actual Light. He may not have bothered with fusion reactors in the heavens to propel light all around the universe yet, but Light itself had been created.

Isn't it that simple?


The sun and stars are sources of light, indeed. That does not mean, however, that they are the only sources of light. Indeed, candles, fireflies and flashlights are all sources that produce light.

So, in Genesis 1:3-4, it seems that God may have produced light as a physical reality and perhaps he created another source of light of which we are not aware.

In Genesis 1:14-18, He creates particular objects that produce light in various regions of the universe.

As Affable Geek noted in his answer, light comes from other sources, as when the shepherds saw the glory of God when the birth of Jesus was announced and when the New Jerusalem does not need light because the glory of God is its light. Additionally, God appeared as a pillar of fire at night for the Israelites to follow during the Exodus.

So, the sun and stars are not the only sources of light.


Light can exist independently of any particular source of light. Surely at some point in your life you have used light that does not come from the Sun or from stars, such as electric lights or fire light.

I get my water out of a faucet in the kitchen, but I don't consider it some bizarre paradox that water existed before kitchen faucets were invented.

I think the most naturally reading of "let there be light" is that at that time God created light itself, that is, photons. Later as he completed creation he made specific objects that would emit light, just as he might well have created water before creating any particular waterfall or spring.

The Bible does not specify whether the initial light that God created was coming from some temporary light source, was photons whizzing around the universe randomly, or what. One could speculate, but I don't think there's enough information to go on, either from Scripture or physics, to do more than list possibilities.

Follow-up thought: I'm a software developer. I routinely work on computer systems where system A produces data that it sends to system B. It is not at all uncommon to create test data before system A is working so that we can test System B. Yes, in the completed system, the data will be produced by A. But that doesn't stop us from temporarily creating it in an alternative way. Indeed, we almost always create the database before we create any system that will use the database.

In general, engineers routinely use test rigs of one sort or another to produce the input for one part of a system when the thing that will produce the input in the final system is not yet ready, or when they want to control or vary the input in ways that the ultimate source will not provide, etc, etc.

I do not find it at all difficult to suppose that God created water before he created spring and waterfalls, that he created electrons before he created sources of electricity, and that he created photons before he created light sources. If he had created the Sun before he created photons, what would it have emitted? Creating a light source before he created light would be more paradoxical than the reverse.


Short answer: The light from nuclear fusion, just as it is today.

This answer is based on the Old Earth Creationist views of Hugh Ross, which is an exegesis that views itself as taking a literal, if alternative view of the Genesis account.

In Gen 1:1, the cosmos was created (BARA), meaning galaxies, stars, planets, our sun. Our sun is part of cosmos and therefore there on Day 1.

But the earth was shapeless-- indeed it was a coalescing ball of dust. During this timeframe, it was very difficult to see the sun. First it was only possible to see light.

In Gen 1:17, the sun was placed (NATHAN) or made to appear in the sky, as the dust had settled after a while.

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    I just want to point out that weather or not the day-age theory is valid, the fact that Hugh Ross calls it a literal definition is at the very least intellectually dishonest. It's also not exegesis, it's eisegesis . While it can certainly be a subject of debate for learned people, anyone who has to insist that it's a literal view is really deceived. Then when you start to exam the other things he claims are facts in depth, you find ALLOT of misinformation.
    – 2tim424
    May 7, 2013 at 1:55

Interestingly, this is explained in amazing detail by science:

After the Big Bang, the universe was a hot, dense plasma of photons, electrons, and protons. This plasma was effectively opaque to electromagnetic radiation, as the distance each photon could travel before encountering a charged particle was very short. As the universe expanded, it also cooled. Eventually, the universe cooled to the point that the formation of neutral hydrogen was energetically favored, and the fraction of free electrons and protons as compared to neutral hydrogen decreased to about 1 part in 10,000. Shortly after, photons decoupled from matter in the universe, which leads to recombination sometimes being called photon decoupling, although recombination and photon decoupling are distinct events. Once photons decoupled from matter, they traveled freely through the universe without interacting with matter, and constitute what we observe today as cosmic microwave background radiation.


In other words, first there was no light, then there was light. And we can still detect that first light of creation!


The question I am responding to "How can there be life without the sun and stars" When the "light" in Genesis 1:3-5 is mentioned why do we assume it was on earth? Clearly the "light" 1:15 says "to give light on earth". There is no mention earlier of the light created in Genesis 1:3 was to set time in motion as in Genesis 1:14-19 so it should not be assumed to be. Perhaps rotation was just beginning when Genesis 1:14 says "for signs and seasons , and for days and years" (Genesis 1:17 suggests this also). My conclusion is simply the first light may be distance galaxies whose light was "light years" away from earth and it's galaxy. Louie Giglio (Passion founder) video Indescribable shows just how far the known universe expands and that we (earth) are not in the center of it. This could possibly explain the light mentioned in Gen 1:3-5 and contrast that to the light in Gen 1:14-19.

  • Hi, welcome to the Stacks Exchange! Although your answer to the question is plausible, it can greatly be improved by finding references or denominational viewpoints that support your answer.
    – Double U
    Jan 19, 2014 at 21:51
  • Welcome to the site! This next has nothing to do with the quality of your answer, it's just standard to help new visitors avoid misunderstanding the site (as I did at first.) As a new visitor, I'd recommend checking out the following two posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": the help page and How we are different than other sites? Jan 19, 2014 at 22:00

All that comes to mind is that God set forth his shekinah glory on earth as the primary focus of creation that follows it. That would perhaps explain why this light was not "created" but the single hebrew word "let light be" was used. I would accept this as laying the earths foundation (i.e. a principle and primary motive upon which the others are further fashioned). Another scripture that comes to mind is the entrance of Thy Word gives light, one can postulate that the beginning entrance of the word set forth light (in concept, as in the beginning of the language and word light from which the rest is understood as being created for the glory of God). I see this as an underlying thread.

What it does not explain is why God then separates the darkness from the light, if also this light was the shekina glory of God itself on earth. It does however explain one of his motives in doing so, as in giving an underlying principle for his creation.

The light he then created must however be able to sustain the creation of plants etc. on the 3rd day, and have a"counterpart" night (darkness). My thought is that the light that was created is inclusive of the motive of creation (the Glory of God), yet simultaneous is more narrative in making this visible therefore resulting in separating the light from the darkness and calling it day and night. If however it is the glory of God itself, what would sustain the night, the same word that called it night?

In summary, the light that God spoke into being was the underlying motive for creation,light being the Glory of God. This then manifested the narrative concept and reality of light itself as in the energies and essence of this light being formed visible.

  • This answer appears to be based mostly on speculation, which isn't really welcome here. I'm not downvoting, however, since the question itself is asking for speculation. Instead, I have voted to close the question, as it doesn't fit within current site guidelines.
    – Flimzy
    Dec 15, 2014 at 0:47

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