1 Thessalonians 5:5
You are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
1. In reducing chaos to the order of a well-constituted world the first work of God was the creation of light. "And God saw the light that it was good," etc.
(1) Light is indeed an admirable production of the Creator. It imparts beauty to all that delights the eye of man; since, in the absence of light, beauty could have no existence. It brings to the eye all the knowledge and pleasure we derive from a survey of the Divine workmanship, the works of art and the face of man. Its properties are astonishing. It requires only a few minutes to come from the sun, whence, falling in parallel rays, it illumines the face of the earth in the twinkling of an eye. And how admirable its influence in conveying warmth and activity to all things.
(2) It is no wonder that it should be used as an emblem of all that is excellent in the spiritual world.
(a) As revealing the figure, position, and qualities of things light is an emblem of truth, which assigns to everything its real attributes.
(b) Of knowledge, which apprehends and forms a just estimate of things.
(c) Of moral purity, as preserving its own essence without being contaminated with the objects it approaches.
(d) Of true piety, as conveying life and health.
(e) Of the happiness attendant on true goodness, as imparting gladness.
(f) Of God Him self, who is "the Father of lights," in whom is "no darkness at all."
2. Darkness is the absence of light, and in an ordinary sense its opposite. Here it had precedence of light, and still retains a periodical influence, contributing to the well-being of the universe. But though useful in the physical world, morally darkness is emblematical of all that is evil.
(1) As concealing objects around us, and precluding the right apprehension of them, it is the emblem of ignorance and error.
(2) As favouring the machinations of the wicked and shrouding them from detection it is a metaphor for sin which hates the light.
(3) As associated with danger and terror it intimates the peril and punishment of guilt.
(4) The grand enemy of all goodness, as the deceiver, defiler and destroyer of men is the prince of darkness and his kingdom the kingdom of darkness. The children of light are distinguished —
I. BY THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH.
1. As in the material world darkness preceded light and was only banished by Divine command, so ignorance precedes the light of saving knowledge. This was exemplified in the case of the Thessalonians and other Gentiles "Having their understanding darkened" as to God, duty, destiny. The Jews were better off; but their's was only "a light shining in a dark place." But when the Sun of Righteousness arose it scattered the gross darkness of heathenism and the shadowy emblems of Judaism.
2. But in order to enjoy the light we must have an eye to see, since if that organ be covered with a scale or be injured light will fail of its purpose. Pride and prejudice are a film to quench the intellectual eye in reference to Divine things. For the things of this world man retains the light of intelligence, but "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God."
3. The eyes of the children of light have been opened. That which was formerly rejected as fantastical or unimportant has become the "one thing needful." Instructed by the Word and Spirit of God light shines within and around; they see the glory of God in the person and work of Christ. The path of life lies open, and perceiving both its difficulties and encouragements they walk on in safety. The love of the truth characterizes them as children of the light. "He that doeth the truth cometh to the light," etc.
II. BY HOLINESS, in opposition to what is offensive to God.
1. Sins of the life are called works of darkness, and sins of the affection are similarly characterized (1 John 2:9-11). The darkness of ignorance is naturally associated with vice, and the blindness of the understanding with that of the heart. "If the eye be single," etc. If the guide be blind the other faculties placed under his direction will stumble continually; and the guide himself partaker in pravity is led astray by the perverseness of those whom it is his duty to govern. If the mind through prejudice, passion, the allurements of the world, embraces error for truth, good for evil, what can be expected but that, betrayed by its counsellors, it should advance on the road to ruin. And men manifestly walk in darkness. How else can they barter immortality for the shadows of time.
2. The children of the light, however, have the eyes of their understanding enlightened. God's Word is a "light to their feet," etc. The planets, irradiated by the sun, maybe called "children of light"; so should the believer, irradiated by Christ, let his light shine.
III. BY USEFULNESS in opposition to the influence of the workers of iniquity.
1. Error serves only to deceive — sin only to beguile and destroy; and every one who promotes the one or the other injures his fellows. Their influence is as the lengthened night of the Polar regions spreading sterility over the earth, and destroying life.
2. But the children of light diffuse a salutary influence. Not only are they "blameless and harmless," they "shine as lights in the world, holding forth the Word of life." Such come to be esteemed sure guides. They are as a pilot skilled in the perilous passes of his own rocky course, whose vessel breaks the way, leaving a luminous track, by which the fleet may steer its course in safety.
IV. BY A BLESSEDNESS peculiar to themselves. We all appreciate the advantages of light, and pity those who are deprived of them. But if to one born blind it were an inexpressible happiness to obtain sight should not a purer joy pervade him who is made to behold the imperishable beauties of the spiritual world.
(H. Grey, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.