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What is the marvelous light in 1 Peter 2:9?

marvelous light

The phrase marvelous light appears in 1 Peter 2:9, a verse that proclaims the Christian’s identity: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (ESV). A similar verse, Exodus 19:6, refers to the Israelites as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”

These verses illustrate that, just as Israelites were considered God’s chosen people, all who trust in Christ are valued. The 1 Peter passage also indicates that we have been brought out from darkness into God’s marvelous light, signifying a transition. What is the marvelous light?

In Scripture, the word light carries a positive connotation and is often used to describe God and His children. Light symbolizes truth, righteousness, holiness, and good works. First John 1:5 states that “God is light,” which undoubtedly refers to His holy nature. Paul compares believers to “stars in the sky” (Philippians 2:15). Jesus directly calls His followers “the light of the world,” associating doing good deeds with being the light (Matthew 5:14–16).

The contrasting metaphor to light is darkness. If light represents God’s nature and good works, then darkness is evil and sin. Examples of verses that relate darkness to evil include Isaiah 9:2, John 1:5, and Matthew 4:16.

God calls every child of His out of darkness—out of a life dominated by sin and evil—into His marvelous light. A life without Christ is governed by actions contrary to God’s ways. This darkness can be subtle or overt, but it is there. It is easier to recognize evil in a murderer than in an unbelieving churchgoer, but, ultimately, we all have sinned (Romans 3:23).

Every human being possesses a nature that is inclined to oppose God’s moral law and embrace darkness instead of light. We even rebel against man-made laws that reflect justice and goodness. The sinfulness of humanity is evident, and the more we yield to our sin nature, the more enslaved we become to it (Romans 6:16–23). Sin is an addiction that requires divine intervention.

John 3:19–21 presents Jesus as bringing God’s marvelous light into the world and indicts the sinful world for rejecting His light: “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” Through His life, death and resurrection, Christ broke the hold that sin has over everyone who places his or her trust in Him. We are set free from the dominion of sin and enter the marvelous light of God. As His truth, holiness, justice, and love become evident, we realize that to live for God is to walk in the light. The change the Lord makes in our lives is radical: “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8).

God’s marvelous light encompasses His truth, His ways, and even His kingdom. Colossians 1:13–14 says, “For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins” (NLT).

In response, we are called to “proclaim the excellencies of God,” as instructed in 1 Peter 2:8. The New Living Translation renders this command as “show others the goodness of God,” demonstrated through both words and actions.

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What is the marvelous light in 1 Peter 2:9?
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This page last updated: January 17, 2024