Bible Dictionaries

Morrish Bible Dictionary

29 Light Lamp Candle

The words φῶς, φέγγος, φωστήρ, λύχνος, and λαμπάς are all translated 'light.' Originally φῶς was the light of the sun, and φέγγος the light of the moon and planets (reflection): so in the N.T. φῶς is used for the light of the sun, Revelation 22:5 , and φέγγος for the light of the moon. Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24 . This latter word occurs but once more, in Luke 11:33 , for the light of a candle or lamp, where however recent editors read φῶς.

φῶς stands in the first rank and is used for "God is light," 1 John 1:5; for "the light" and the "true light" when Christ appeared on earth, John 1:4-9; "the light of the world," John 8:12 . This word is employed from Matthew to Revelation. It is the true opposite to darkness.

φωστήρ occurs but twice in the N.T., Philippians 2:15; Revelation 21:11; and in the LXX is found only in Genesis 1:14,16 , besides two or three times in the Apocrypha — the use being confined to the heavenly luminaries, sun, moon, and stars. This gives a beautiful force to the N.T. passages. In Philippians 2:14-16 is seen the reproduction of the characteristic traits of Christ in His people here, who are set as children of God, to shine as heavenly luminaries in the world, holding forth the word of life. In Revelation 21 , which from Revelation 21:9 to Revelation 22:5 carries us on to the display of the church as the bride, the Lamb's wife, in the glory of the kingdom, we find what is true now by the grace of her calling, there brought out in all the perfection of the communicated glory of Christ: "her light (φωστήρ) was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone," which in Revelation 4:3 is one of the symbols of divine glory. It is not a question of the light which the heavenly city diffuses, but herself the luminary or diffuser through which the light of the glory is shed down upon the earthly Jerusalem.

λύχνος, besides 'light,' which it never really means, is rendered 'candle:' it is properly 'lamp' — a hand-lamp fed with oil. The connection of the truth in some passages is better seen by a uniform translation: as, for instance, Luke 8:16 , where the 'lamp' is used as an illustration of the testimony of the word by Christ. In Luke 11:33 it is applied to those who have come in and seen the light as it shone perfectly in Him, and who are now left in His place, with the single eye (the eye being the 'lamp' of the body) as the means by which the whole body is "lightsome, having no part dark," and to be so as when the bright shining of a 'lamp' gives light. Then in Luke 12:35 the exhortation is that the 'lamp' should be burning. The fitness of this word being used of John the Baptist in John 5:35 , as a 'lamp,' kindled by another for temporary shining, is lost in the A.V., and the difference between him and Christ obliterated, who is in Himself the light (φῶς), of which John was but witness. John 1:8,9 . Revelation 21:23 is no exception, for, if the glory of God did lighten (φωτίζω) the heavenly city, the Lamb is the 'lamp' through whom the glory shines, as even now all the rays of it shine concentrated upon His face for faith ( 2 Corinthians 3:18 ): only thus mediately could the divine glory be ever seen.

λαμπάς in the plural is only once translated 'lights,' Acts 20:8; several times 'lamps,' and once 'torches.' John 18:3 . Perhaps torches would suit in all places. The word occurs five times in the Parable of the Ten Virgins, Matthew 25:1-8 , and it is known that in India and other parts of the East torches are kept burning by oil, so that the same rendering would suit here.

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Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for '29 Light Lamp Candle '. Morrish Bible Dictionary. 1897.

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