CSB News & Information

Greek Speak: Phōs

Today, we are going to look at John 8, and its usage of the word phōs, or light.

“Jesus spoke to them again: ‘I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.’”

The following is an excerpt from the CSB Study Bible:


Greek pronunciation: FOHSS

CSB translation: light

Uses in John’s Gospel: 23

Uses in the NT: 73

Focus passage: John 8:12

The word phōs is seldom used in the literal sense in the New Testament. Most often it is a metaphor referring to holiness, purity, or godliness. Jesus used the term in the Sermon on the Mount to describe his disciples and the holy standard of conduct that he expected them to model to the world (Mt 5:14-16; 6:23). In John’s Gospel, however, Jesus himself is “the light,” as stated in the prologue (1:4-5) and in Jesus’s own words (8:12; 9:5). In this case, the light is revelatory and reflects God’s character or holiness. In other words, the light refers to God’s revelation or disclosure of himself to the world in the incarnation (1:4-9). Incredibly, those in darkness prefer the darkness, at least until they accept the truth of God’s revelation in his Son and believe in the light (3:19-21; 8:12; 12:46).

It’s interesting that Jesus uses the same word to describe both himself and his followers. Granted, he is the source, the light-giver, and we are simply mirrors that reflect that light. But Jesus doesn’t make that distinction. To him, we are all light. Why is that?

I think that like most things, it has to do with grace. When we come to the light of Jesus, the phōs of his love and mercy, we have no choice but to be consumed and transformed. Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” If Christ the light is inside us, how are we to walk in darkness? A lantern doesn’t block the light inside of it; no, it amplifies the light within, the lantern itself becoming the light. So it is with us. When Jesus becomes the light of our life, we have no choice but to shine, even when darkness surrounds us.

Looking for more great study tools?