At the outset of the Book of Genesis, we read:

Genesis 1:3-4: "Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light. 4God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness."

We know that God is light from 1 John 1:5. However, this does not appear to be the source of light mentioned on the first day of Creation. Soon thereafter we read:

Genesis 1:14-19: "Then God said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; 15and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth'; and it was so. 16God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. 17God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. 19There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day."

All of the sources of natural light appear to have been created on the fourth day. (Note that I am not asking whether this "light" was literal or figurative since I take it literally.) How might we interpret this "light" and what would be its source?

  • 1
    Consider this possibility. God created natural light on the first day and divided it from the darkness. Then, on the fourth day, God took this same light, which is nothing but matter, and coalessed it into the stars and other heavenly bodies and stretched them across the heavens.
    – oldhermit
    Sep 21, 2021 at 0:30
  • There is no answer to this question because we are not told. I agree that 1 John 1:5 is likely (at least partially) spiritual application; however, on the basis of Eze 1 and other theophanies, God certainly appears surrounded by dazzling light. Therefore, my standard answer to this question is, when God showed up (whatever that means), there was light.
    – Dottard
    Sep 21, 2021 at 0:34
  • It matters if you buy into modern cosmology as to how you make sense of this light. And modern cosmology is INCOMPATIBLE with the Bible. Sep 21, 2021 at 0:37

3 Answers 3


You asked …. “How might we interpret this "light" and what would be its source?” - we interpret via John (below), and the ‘source’ of the ‘light’ is the ‘word’

JOHN 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

  • Your response makes sense, but why would God say, "Let there be light" when He Himself is light? This could be the answer, but I'm not sure. Thanks! +1.
    – Xeno
    Sep 21, 2021 at 1:03
  • @Xeno (My view) - The source of light is the Word. It’s all about the Word. And … the Word has to be spoken - else nothing happens.
    – Dave
    Sep 21, 2021 at 1:33

What was the source of the light in Genesis 1:3-4 (cf. Gen. 1:14-19)?

The source of the light was GOD.

This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5, KJV)

  • Yeah, John had a ‘view’ (revelation) of God that we really don’t see ‘reflected’ (excuse the pun) via the other disciples/gospels.
    – Dave
    Sep 21, 2021 at 1:36

There are two approaches to Genesis. First as a spiritual prophecy and then as literal history.

When viewing it as a literal history, trying to parse these cryptic passages is a difficult exercise, and you will get many different types of answers, all more or less speculating as they try to re-interpret genesis in the language of what is currently known about natural sciences.

One such possibility is that the first creation of "light", 'Or, refers to the separation of photons from the plasma of the early universe. Then, the sun and moon, which are referred to as me'orot, or light sources (e.g. like lamps) could refer to the sun and moon becoming visible from earth, thus they could begin to be suitable as signs for times and seasons. This could then be interpreted as the earth obtaining a sufficiently transluscent atmosphere to clearly make out the sun, moon, and stars with sufficient clarity to allow determination of times and seasons from astronomical observations and the various motions of the sun throughout the year as well as the phases of the moon. That would be our current atmosphere with lots of free oxygen, which necessarily required green plant life as a pre-requisite. E.g. prior to the earth's current tertiary atmosphere was a primary (result of volcanic activity) and then secondary (mostly methane gases) atmosphere. It is hypothesized that the primary atmosphere was blown away by solar winds, leaving the secondary, and in order to go from the secondary to the tertiary requires green algae and other bacteria to convert the atmosphere. Thus in Genesis the green plants were created before the light sources were given to us as signs and seasons. It was the green algae that allowed us to see the stars clearly and make out the path of sun through the heavens.

But all of the above is speculation, and tomorrow some new scientific discovery could disprove this speculation. That's the trouble with trying to harmonize science and scripture, especially when the latter is written in such an extremely terse style.

Alternately, one can interpret Genesis as a spiritual prophecy. In this case, light would be the divine light of revelation, which God created ex-nihilo, and then he created specific light sources, or sources of revelation for created life on earth to benefit from, by learning signs and seasons from these specific sources.

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