This is my first time here. My name is Guglielmo Bianchini, I'm italian. God bless

My question:

What is the meaning of this passage in Daniel 12:3 ?

And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. [Daniel 12:3, KJV]

Is it possible to compare it with Philippians 2:15 ? :

That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world. [Philippians 2:15, KJV]


  • Welcome to BH. Please see the Tour and the Help as to the purpose and the functioning of the site. I have edited to demonstrate to you how you can highlight quotations and I have added the texts to which you refer so that your readership will see them. I suggest an edit from yourself to explain why you, yourself, see a connection between these two texts.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 23 '20 at 10:06
  • Sorry! I will try do better. Thanks Jul 23 '20 at 10:28
  • 1
    Welcome Guglielmo ! Hope you enjoy the site.
    – steveowen
    Jul 23 '20 at 10:30
  • @GuglielmoBianchini No need to be sorry, Guglielmo. I am just helping. : ) Up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 23 '20 at 10:34
  • @GuglielmoBianchini - welcome along - glad to have you part of the team!
    – Dottard
    Jul 23 '20 at 11:42

Great question! But not an easy one to provide a straightforward answer. You can compare the two (Daniel to Paul) as it seems they are both using the same metaphor.

According to John J. Collins(1), in the ancient world there was the idea of "astral immortality" among the Greco-Roman and eastern philosophers and religions. "Astral Immortality" concerned how they saw the cosmos and what happened to a soul after death. A simplified answer: a soul would ascend to the "fixed stars" (they saw the night sky as a fixed sphere) and become a star in the heavens. From the article by Collins:

later Stoicism found a place for "the idea of 'astral immortality' of the return of the souls of good men to the aethereal regions of the Upper Cosmos whence they came, where they spend a happy immortality contemplating the workings of Divine Reason.

There is a saying that God speaks within the culture so that humanity can understand the message. In the case of both Daniel (a more eastern book - Babylon and Persia) and Paul (Philippi was a Roman colony) - the audience would understand the metaphor of "souls" and "stars" even though the Bible is not affirming these as what literally happens to a soul after death. They serve as metaphors to an audience that would understand the imagery.

You can find the same metaphor in other ancient Jewish writings:

A writing known as 2 Baruch 51:10 says:

"For in the heights of that world shall they dwell,and they shall be made like unto angels, and be made equal to the stars"

The book of 1 Enoch 104:1-3 says:

1 I swear unto you, that in heaven the angels remember you for good before the glory of the Great One: and your names are written before the glory of the Great One. Be hopeful; for aforetime ye were put to shame through ill and affliction; but now ye shall shine as the lights of heaven, ye shall shine and ye shall be seen, and the portals of heaven shall be opened to you.

This quote from Enoch (written in the 2nd century BC) sounds very much like the quote from Paul. Enoch was a very popular writing. The book of Jude - v. 14 - quotes the writing: Jude 1:14 Paul certainly would have been familiar with the writings called Enoch.

Another article that covers some of the same ideas is called Origen: On Making Sense of the Resurrection as a Third Century Christian by Paul B. Decock (2). In the article Decock clearly explains how Origen was wrestling with resurrection and the prevailing conceptions of the cosmos (please note that Origen can be controversial so not everyone agrees with him). Origen also writes about the idea of there being a "fixed" sphere in the heavens toward which souls would ascend.

Decock quotes another scholar - Collins (not the same as above) - concerning Daniel 12:

"She points to the tradition of astral immortality in Dan. 12 and to the "Greek and Roman traditions of the translation and apotheosis of human beings"

It seems here that Paul is drawing on Daniel 12:3 and speaking it into the context of his Greco-Roman world to convey the importance of maintaining your holiness in the world. His words would have a place to land for a Jew or a God-fearer (Gentile who follows God) as their minds would go to Daniel. But also for a gentile, who would draw on their philosophis and religions. Each would have a conceptual understanding of what it meant to become "a star."

Hope this helps you along your journey!

  1. Collins, John J. Cosmos and Salvation: Jewish Wisdom and Apocalyptic in the Hellenistic Age. History of Religions 17, no. 2 (1977): 121-42. Accessed July 23, 2020. .
  2. ORIGEN: ON MAKING SENSE OF THE RESURRECTION AS A THIRD CENTURY CHRISTIAN Author(s): Paul B Decock Source: *Neotestamentica* , 2011, Vol. 45, No. 1 (2011), pp. 76-91
  • I have edited to show one possibility for footnotes. You can re-edit if you wish to modify to suit your own preferences.
    – enegue
    Jul 24 '20 at 7:48
  • Thanks for helping me, useful answer. Jul 24 '20 at 12:47

What does it mean this passage in Daniel 12:3?

Daniel 12:3-4 (KJV)

3 "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. 4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased."

The KJV has "wise" whereas the NASB has "insight", in this context, it means to have deep and accurate knowledge of the scriptures, I believe it is a better translation than the KJV.

Daniel 12:3 NASB

3 "Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Is it possible to compare it with Philippians 2:15?:

Yes, you are right, you may compare it with Philippians 2:15 as well as the following verses, John 8:12 and Mt.13:43. The prophecies tell us that at the "time of the end" (Daniel Vs 4 last days) the righteous, those ones that have insight of the scriptures will shine like the sun ( spiritual illuminators) in this crooked and twisted generation (spiritually darkened world) and that those illuminators will turn many to righteousness.

Philippians 2:15 ESV

That you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

Matthew 13:43 NET Bible

Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. The one who has ears had better listen!

John 8:12 NIV

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Guglielmo Bianchini, If you have any queries please note them in the comments.


Dan 12:3 in the BSB says:

Then the wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever and ever.

Let us note several of the conspicuous features of this verse. We begin by observing the important cardinal words:


The word translated "wise" is from the Hebrew שָׂכַל (sakal) which occurs 63 times in the OT. It occurs in the book of Daniel several times, namely Dan 1:4, 17, 9:22, 25, 11:33, 35, 12:3, 10. from this we can deduce several things about this desirable characteristic of people:

  • The source of being "wise" is from God because the angel came to give it (9:22, 25)
  • Only God's people, like Daniel and his three friends are described as "wise"
  • The "wise" or "upright" are persecuted (11:33, 35) and some are killed for the their faith. This is also referenced in Dan 12:1 about a time of trouble but the righteous will be delivered.
  • In the NT we find Paul using a similar expression in 2 Tim 3:15, that "the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus."

It is immediately apparent that "the wise" are God's people at some point in time and place in history according to this prophecy.

Righteous Shining

The above conclusion is further strengthened by Jesus' comment in Matt 13:34, "Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father." Jesus makes this remark in the context of the final judgement. As correctly pointed out in the OP's question, Paul says something very similar about the righteous "shining as lights in the world" in Phil 2:15.


The time of this prophecy is important. There are several features about this that enable us to deduce the time period being discussed:

  • Dan 12:1 - It is a time of great trouble, or time of tribulation from which God's people are miraculously saved
  • Dan 12:2 - it is also a time of the general resurrection when those who sleep in the dust of earth will arise - See 1 Thess 4:16, 17, 1 Cor 15:50-55. This occurs when the "last trumpet is sounded" and all (righteous) "will be changed".
  • Jesus also mentions that the righteous will shine during the time of the last judgement as per Matt 13:34 quoted above.

Thus, Dan 12:3 appears to be discussing the final events surrounding the second coming of Jesus. See also V4 which explicitly discusses the "time of the end" as well.


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