on John 1 :9
Which lighteth every man - As Christ is the Spring and Fountain of all wisdom, so all the wisdom that is in man comes from him; the human intellect is a ray from his brightness; and reason itself springs from this Logos, the eternal reason. Some of the most eminent rabbins understand Isaiah 60:1, Rise and shine, for thy Light is come, of the Messiah who was to illuminate Israel, and who, they believe, was referred to in that word, Genesis 1:3, And God said, Let there be Light; and there was light. Let a Messiah be provided; and a Messiah was accordingly provided. See Schoettgen.
That cometh into the world - Or, coming into the world - ερχομενον εις τον κοσμον: a common phrase among the rabbins, to express every human being. As the human creature sees the light of the world as soon as it is born, from which it had been excluded while in the womb of its parent; in like manner, this heavenly light shines into the soul of every man, to convince of sin, righteousness, and judgment; and it is through this light, which no man brings into the world with him, but which Christ mercifully gives to him on his coming into it, that what is termed conscience among men is produced. No man could discern good from evil, were it not for this light thus supernaturally and graciously restored. There was much light in the law, but this shone only upon the Jews; but the superior light of the Gospel is to be diffused over the face of the whole earth.
The following not only proves what is asserted in this verse, but is also an excellent illustration of it.
The Gayatri, or holiest verse of the Vedas, i.e. the ancient Hindoo Scriptures.
"Let us adore the supremacy of that divine Sun, the Godhead who illuminates all, who re-creates all; from whom all proceed; to whom all must return; whom we invoke to direct our understandings aright, in our progress towards his holy seat."
The ancient comment.
"What the sun and light are to this visible world, that are the supreme good and truth to the intellectual and invisible universe; and, as our corporeal eyes have a distinct perception of objects enlightened by the sun, thus our souls acquire certain knowledge by meditating on the light of truth, which emanates from the Being of beings; that is the light by which alone our minds can be directed in the path to blessedness." Sir Wm. Jones's works, vol. vi. p. 417.
Sir William observes that the original word Bhargas, which he translates Godhead, consists of three consonants, and is derived from bha, to shine; ram, to delight; and gam, to move: - the Being who is the light, the source of happiness, and the all-pervading energy.
on John 1 :9
That was the true Light - Not John, but the Messiah. He was not a false, uncertain, dangerous guide, but was one that was true, real, steady, and worthy of confidence. A false light is one that leads to danger or error, as a false beacon on the shores of the ocean may lead ships to quicksands or rocks; or an "ignis fatuus" to fens, and precipices, and death. A true light is one that does not deceive us, as the true beacon may guide us into port or warn us of danger. Christ does not lead astray. All false teachers do.
That lighteth - That enlightens. He removes darkness, error, ignorance, from the mind.
Every man - This is an expression denoting, in general, the whole human race - Jews and Gentiles. John preached to the Jews. Jesus came "to be a light to lighten the Gentiles," as well as to be the "glory of the people of Israel," Luke 2:32.
That cometh into the world - The phrase in the original is ambiguous. The word translated "that cometh" may either refer to the "light," or to the word "man;" so that it may mean either "this 'true light that cometh' into the world enlightens all," or "it enlightens every 'man that cometh' into the world." Many critics, and, among the fathers, Cyril and Augustine, have preferred the former, and translated it, "The true light was he who, coming into the world, enlightened every man." The principal reasons for this are:
1. That the Messiah is often spoken of as he that cometh into the world. See John 6:14; John 18:37.
2. He is often distinguished as "the light that cometh into the world." John 3:19; "this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world." John 12:46; "I am come a light into the world."
Christ may be said to do what is accomplished by his command or appointment. This passage means, therefore, that by his own personal ministry, and by his Spirit and apostles, light or teaching is afforded to all. It does not mean that every individual of the human family is enlightened with the knowledge "of the gospel," for this never yet has been; but it means:
1. That this light is not confined to the "Jews," but is extended to all - Jews and Gentiles.
2. That it is provided for all and offered to all.
3. It is not affirmed that at the time that John wrote all "were actually enlightened," but the word "lighteth" has the form of the "future." "This is that light so long expected and predicted, which as the result of its coming into the world, will ultimately enlighten all nations."
on John 1 :9
1:9 Who lighteth every man - By what is vulgarly termed natural conscience, pointing out at least the general lines of good and evil. And this light, if man did not hinder, would shine more and more to the perfect day.