Genesis 1:3 - What was the light that God created?


I just started to read Genesis this afternoon and I realized that the light was not the sun. So what was the light?


According to Judaism (Chabad), it’s God.

[This world] is the lowest in degree; there is none lower than it in terms of concealment of His light and no world compares with it for doubled and redoubled darkness; nowhere is G d’s light hidden as in this world.


Some believe in means the angels and heaven.


The “light” of day one is the same as the “luminaries” of day four.

It appears that what is now the first chapter of Genesis was composed after the return of the Jews from captivity in Babylon. Many scholars, Jewish and Catholic, note that the Jews attributed their captivity to their failure to adhere to the Mosaic Law, symbolized by remembering to keep the Sabbath.

Therefore the creation story of God was orally taught and later written down as a seven-day mnemonic device that culminates in a lesson about observing the Sabbath. Obeying Torah and keeping the Sabbath was as important as attributing creation to God!

If you note in chapter 2 of Genesis the creation story is different and follows an order that is not the same as in chapter 1. But the two stories are placed side by side. This is an ancient way used by writers of the past to demonstrate that the details of the story are not as important as the religious truths being taught.

The truth about creation is not found in the order of what happens first and last, but in the lesson about people being made in God’s image and thus being subject to God’s laws.

Another lesson is that as God does things in an orderly fashion, so God’s people are to be obedient to the order set by God. This can be seen in the six days, and how the first three days set the stage for the second set of three days as follows:

  1. light/darkness
  2. sun/moon
  3. waters
  4. fish and birds from waters
  5. a) dry land & b) vegetation
  6. a) animals & b) human beings

The Jews saw themselves as needing to be a part of this order or subject to it by needing to rest as God did on the seventh day.

The “light” of the first day is not merely the “sun” and “moon” of day 4, but (as others have pointed out) can have deeper meanings, such as God’s illuminating Word, and even the Word Incarnate.

But your original thought is correct, even though the first chapter of Genesis is clearly not a literally historic and scientific description of creation.


Basically, we don’t know. The hebrew word ‘Or’ is translated as ‘Light’, but seems to also mean the material for life or the matter of the universe. It is where we get the understanding that God created everything from nothing (ex nihilo).


This would suggest that Jesus was created and is not Catholic teaching.


The Catholic Church teaches that the first chapter of Genesis, specifically the first verses speaking about “light,” are symbolic of Jesus coming into the world as our Savior.

One of the first and foremost examples of this is the prologue to John’s gospel at John 1:1-5, where it is clear that John was playing off the language of Genesis 1 in calling Jesus “the light” that “was in the beginning with God.”

As to this being a reference to Jesus being created cannot be supported by either Genesis or the rest of testimony of Scripture. The verse in Genesis does not say “Let light be created” but “Let there be light.” In fact it states that “God said,” making a connection between God’s Word (of which Christ is the personification of in John 1) and light coming upon the earth. The verse in Genesis is not saying that light was created specifically for the earth but implies that light, which already existed before, did not shine upon earth until God’s Word made it so.

The apostle Paul even applies the verse in Genesis to Jesus Christ at 2 Corinthians 4:6, stating:

For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ.

Therefore, unless you have something to add which I am not aware of (and would definitely welcome as I don’t want to be teaching contrary to Church doctrine), I was not teaching that this verse suggested that Jesus was created. My comments were in connection with the above information.

I am pleased that you are on your toes to defend the Church’s teaching, however. I always like to hear from someone who does that! :thumbsup:


According to the Big-Bang Theory the universe originated as a burst of very high energy electromagnetic radiation [light], some of which cooled into atoms as it expanded to its present complexity. Some of that light is still observable as a very long wavelength [low energy] infra-red spectrum characteristic of a 5 degree Kelvin black-body.


This is what the Church teaches.

CCC 298 Since God could create everything out of nothing, he can also, through the Holy Spirit, give spiritual life to sinners by creating a pure heart in them,148 and bodily life to the dead through the Resurrection. God "gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist."149 and since God was able to make light shine in darkness by his Word, he can also give the light of faith to those who do not yet know him.150

150 Cf. ⇒ Gen 1:3; ⇒ 2 Cor 4:6.

From the DR,

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus.

You are not interpreting this verse the way the Church does.


John 1:

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made.
4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5 And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

:confused: Can you explain a little better, because I don’t see that here.


I agree with JM3, the light was not Jesus.

God, which includes the Word, said; Let there be (exist) light. And, there was light. Jesus already was and has been and always will be. So, He was already there He did not need to be called into being nor to be present because He already was present. Even if he was calling Himself to be present other than how He already was - it still wouldn’t make sense to state it in such a form as - to “be”. In that case, I suppose He could have called Himself forth in a way to show that that is what He was doing.

I think we are suppose to understand that the second person of the Trinity, the Word, is the one that communicates… not totally sure why He is called the Word. Certainly it would not be an exclusive aspect of His person as the other members of the Trinity also communicate, like the Holy Spirit - although not in words but in a most beautiful and sublime way. Then, there is the Father, He has communicated with us for sure, like when He said: “This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased…”

John 1:

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made.
4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5 And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Jesus is the light of the world but the light that was ‘let be’ (created) in Genesis was a different light.

John 8:12
Jesus the Light of the World

12Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” 13So the Pharisees said to Him, “You are testifying about Yourself; Your testimony is not true.”…
Matthew 5:14
"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

John 1:4
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

John 3:19
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

John 9:5
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

John 12:35
Then Jesus told them, "You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going.

John 12:36
Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light." When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.

John 12:46
I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

1 John 1:6
If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.

I am not getting a clear cut understand of what the Church actually teaches


Love lights up our world. He sent His Incarnate Word into the world to give light. His light comes from His love.

I can see much clearer when my faith hold His love.

I can be much more courageous when my courage is animated by His love.

I can see much clearer how to be lovingly just when His love lights up my justice.

I can see much clearer when my anger is enlightened by His love.

Et cetera


It might be that you are thinking that I am saying that the “light” in Genesis is literally Christ, and I did not write that. I wrote that the Church often states that Christ is the spiritual sense or fulfillment of the light mentioned in Genesis 1:3. In it’s literal sense it does not mean that. Recall that the CCC teaches that there is more than a literal sense to Scripture at 115-119. It is in the “allegorical, moral and anagogical sense” that I was speaking.

Catholic Scripture Study International, which is known for being faithful to the Magisterium, published the following in one of their study materials regarding Genesis chapter 1:

On Sundays, in the Creed, we pray to, “God the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. We find God the Father in Gen 1:1 where we read, “God created the heavens and the earth.” The Son, who is described in the Creed as “Light from Light, eternally begotten of the Father,” can be discerned in Gen 1:3, “and God said let there be light.”

Of course, CSS is not the only Catholic source for this information, but it is one of the most trusted. This should show that Church approved sources do to teach this information, that the “light” of Genesis 1:3 is a symbolic type for Christ. I am sure you can ask your DRE or priest whether this is so.

As to John 1, the Ignatius Study Bible states in the footnotes about this prologue that it is “a direct allusion” to the first chapter of Genesis, adding about this part of John:

As in Genesis 1, the evangelist draws attention to light, darkness, life, and the spoken Word that brought all things into existence.

Again we are talking about the allegorical sense here and not the literal sense of Genesis.

Ask one of the expert apologists to look over what I’ve written to see whether or not I am speaking in line with what the Church teaches here. Take it to a priest, your parish DRE, or bishop. It is from such persons that I got this information. It does not originate with me.


=Abba;11816874]I just started to read Genesis this afternoon and I realized that the light was not the sun. So what was the light?

THANKS, I had to look up the answer in Haydock’s Catholic Commentary
“Ver. 3. Light. The sun was made on the fourth day, and placed in the firmament to distinguish the seasons, &c.; but the particles of fire were created on the first day, and by their, or the earth’s motion, served to discriminate day from the preceding night, or darkness, which was upon the face of the deep. (Haydock) — Perhaps this body of light might resemble the bright cloud which accompanied the Israelites, Exodus xiv. 19, or the three first days might have a kind of imperfect sun, or be like one of our cloudy days. Nothing can be defined with certainty respecting the nature of this primeval light. (Calmet)”


I am personally going to go with this:

Thanks PJM. :slight_smile:


The light is Jesus…

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten
Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,

Jesus was eternally begotten. Jesus was not made or created. To beget means to become a father of. To create means to make.

*Now that is the first thing to get clear. What God begets is God; just as what man begets is man. What God creates is not God; just as what man makes is not man.

  • CS Lewis*

Jesus was 'begotten, not made" before all eternity, when darkness covered the face of the deep, before all time and creation existed, in the third line of the Bible. Begotten… Light from Light… We say it in the creed at every Mass.

It is Jesus.



Hi Tim,

Exactly, C.S. Lewis and I agree. That’s why I am going with what I said above.

“Nothing can be defined with certainty respecting the nature of this primeval light. (Calmet)”

I do not think that God the Father begot the Word when he said ‘let it be light’. The Word already was as was the Holy Spirit.


It appears that some have become confused with the reference to “creation” in the Genesis texts and are not familiar with how the Church has spiritually or allegorically applied such texts to Jesus.

First, it is not the “creation” aspect that is being applied to Christ from Genesis chapter 1. It is the reference to God speaking the Word to bring light to the world, diving light from the darkness in the verses of Genesis 1:1-5. The apostle John uses the same expressions in his prologue of John 1:1-5 when he speaks of Christ as the Word and the light that cannot be overcome by the darkness. Both Genesis and John begin this description with “in the beginning” and both chapters are in reference to bringing life to the world—Genesis via literal creation, John via Christ, the Light of the World.

This does not mean that Christ was created because light was created. Some have had a hard time reading my previous comments and seem to be stuck on that.

They are obviously unaware of the other texts the Church applies to Christ, namely Proverbs 8 and Sirach 24 where Wisdom personified is seen as a prophetic foreshadow fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

In Proverbs 8:22, Wisdom is described as “the beginning of his works, the first of his acts of old.” In Sirach 24:9 Wisdom states,“in the beginning, he created me.”

Just because these verse state that Wisdom was created by God and even though these chapters about Wisdom are referred to as typifying Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity who has no beginning, does not mean that that Church is claiming the Christ was created. He was not.

These verses also have Wisdom spoken of as a woman, and the Church’s application of the Wisdom texts to Christ clearly are no claim to a belief that Jesus was female.

When interpreting a text from a spiritual or allegorical angle, one does not necessarily apply all aspects of the context in so doing. The reference to “creation” in Genesis is not part of the typical application to “light” being an allegory for Christ anymore than Wisdom personified being a woman must be so-applied to Jesus.


St. Augustine says in his Confessions that the description in the Bible…

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; (Genesis 1:2)

…means before creation, outside of time, eternal. This is when the Son was begotten by the Father and how we can say in the creed that the son was “eternally begotten of the Father before all ages.”



Maybe the light was the big bang?

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit