[Act 26:23 ASV] (23) how that the Christ must suffer, and how that he first by the resurrection of the dead should proclaim light both to the people and to the Gentiles.
[Act 26:23 MGNT] (23) εἰ παθητὸς ὁ Χριστός εἰ πρῶτος ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν φῶς μέλλει καταγγέλλειν τῷ τε λαῷ καὶ τοῖς ἔθνεσιν
I think we have to understand this by going back to John 1, which gives us the best exegesis for what "light" is. John 1 states that Yeshua himself is the light. This light is also said to be serving the purpose of illuminating Creation by obliterating "the darkness". I submit that we can't properly understand this language without going back to Ezekiel. In Ezekiel chapters 8-10, a scene occurs which ends with the glory of YHWH leaving the temple. The scene is one where the Israelites exchange the light of YHWH's glory for the light of the sun, and YHWH hands them over to their sins. This is the origin of the darkness-and-light symbolism in John, but also the NT as a whole.
There are some verses such as Hebrews which are more plain about it, but Yeshua is the glory of YHWH, who once left out the east gate and who (in John's prologue) is now returning. So the light that's being proclaimed is the glory of YHWH, Yeshua himself.
The claim, however, isn't just that Yeshua is the light, but that he is (paraphrase): "The true light that gives light to all men." And the question is, the true light as opposed to what exactly? I submit that the answer isn't given in John because he's referencing back to Ezekiel: Yeshua, who is the glory of YHWH, is the true light that illuminates reality and makes the Truth accessible, as opposed to the sun.
The Light Bringer
Lets look at the part of Greek in question φῶς μέλλει καταγγέλλειν.
- φῶς (phōs) - light - This is the accusative noun, it receives the action of the verb.
- μέλλει (mellei) - he is to be - Here is our verb, present infinitive active 3ps.
- καταγγέλλειν (katangellein kata and aggelló) - calling down, preaching down, proclaiming in the down direction, aggelos usually translates as angel - also the verb
he is to be sending down light
The Metaphorical Usage
Light in the bible represents realization, the verse says in other words: Because he resurrected both the people and the Gentiles would realize.
God sent the light for the realization within John 3:16.
According to Jewish midrash light was a symbol for the Torah:
The wicked walk in darkness, but those who have the light of God, the Torah, as their guide are restricted from committing sin even when they have a passing desire to do so.--Mid. Psalms 119.
Accordingly, light would bring both revelation and life [ibid.]:
...Light is often used as the symbol of life and joy (Job xviii. 5-6, xxxiii. 28; Ps. xlix. 20 [A. V. 19], xcvii. 11; Esth. viii. 16). It is likened to the word of instruction (Ps. cxix. 105; Prov. vi. 23)...
I would qualify that further to say that "light" is predominantly about "spiritual life" and that the entrance of the "light" also brings "spiritual life" aka "eternal life". Acts 26:23 seems to have that focus on "light" as "eternal life":
[Act 26:23 ASV] (23) how that the Christ must suffer, and how that he first by the resurrection of the dead should proclaim light [IE: "eternal life"] both to the people and to the Gentiles.
These are all the verses in the ASV that feature both "light" and "life" along with my comments:
- "light" is used in apposition to "life":
[Job 3:20 ASV] (20) Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, And life unto the bitter in soul;
- "behold the light" is used in apposition to being redeemed from the pit:
[Job 33:28 ASV] (28) He hath redeemed my soul from going into the pit, And my life shall behold the light.
- "light and salvation" is used in apposition to "strength/stronghold of my life":
[Psa 27:1 ASV] (1) A Psalm of David. Jehovah is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? Jehovah is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?
- "fountain of life" is used in apposition to "in thy light":
[Psa 36:9 ASV] (9) For with thee is the fountain of life: In thy light shall we see light.
- "Torah is light" and "reproofs of instruction" are identified as "the path to life":
[Pro 6:23 ASV] (23) For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; And reproofs of instruction are the way of life:
- being liked by the king keeps you alive:
[Pro 16:15 ASV] (15) In the light of the king's countenance is life; And his favor is as a cloud of the latter rain.
- "life" and "life" are equated:
[Jhn 1:4 ASV] (4) In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
- "light of life"
[Jhn 8:12 ASV] (12) Again therefore Jesus spake unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.
In the light of all these passages I think we can say that Jesus' empty tomb and empty cross/post is silent proclamation that life and immortality are available and imparted through the "eternal-life-giving light" of the announcement of the gospel.
[2Ti 1:10 ASV] (10) but hath now been manifested by the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,
I also note that "darkness" is associated with ignorance and death:
[Job 3:5 ASV] (5) Let darkness and the shadow of death claim it for their own; Let a cloud dwell upon it; Let all that maketh black the day terrify it.
[Job 10:21 ASV] (21) Before I go whence I shall not return, Even to the land of darkness and of the shadow of death;
[Job 12:22 ASV] (22) He uncovereth deep things out of darkness, And bringeth out to light the shadow of death.
[Psa 107:10, 14 ASV] (10) Such as sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, Being bound in affliction and iron, ... (14) He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, And brake their bonds in sunder.
[Isa 9:2 ASV] (2) The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
[Jer 13:16 ASV] (16) Give glory to Jehovah your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness.
[Mat 4:16 ASV] (16) The people that sat in darkness Saw a great light, And to them that sat in the region and shadow of death, To them did light spring up.
[Luk 1:79 ASV] (79) To shine upon them that sit in darkness and the shadow of death; To guide our feet into the way of peace.
I particularly like this verse because like the verse we are discussing, it links Christ, the True Light, with resurrection life:
[Eph 5:14 ASV] (14) Wherefore he saith, Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee.