Gen 1 - Light before creation of the sun?

(Alex Bui) #1

Hi all

I have a question from a non-Christian friend: from Genesis 1 and the creation account, how do you explain there being light (Gen 1:4) before God creates the sun (Gen 1:14)?


(SeanO) #3

@abui Alex, that is a very good question. The answer actually depends upon the view of Genesis 1 that you hold. Concordist views hold that the creation actually occurs in the same order listed in Genesis 1. Non-concordist views do not require that the actual creation of the world occurred in the same order. Here is a table giving a brief summary of some of the major concordist and non-concordist interpretations.

Alright, now, let’s consider at least one way of understanding this apparent discrepancy within each view.


For the concordist, one view is that the word for ‘light’ used initially refers to light itself while the word for light used later in Genesis for the stars means ‘light-giver’. In other words, God first somehow produced light, though the text does not tell us how. Then, later, God created ‘light-givers’ - stars and sun. In other words, there was light before the stars and sun but we are uncertain of its source.

There are other concordist views of course, but this seems to be a predominant one.


For the non-concordist, the order is not an issue because Genesis 1 is not about the order of creation. For the non-concordist, Genesis 1 is extolling God’s majesty and power in creation and helping us to remember how God, as King of the Universe, has ordered all things by His mighty hand.

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(Jimmy Sellers) #6

Looks like you have some home work. I hesitate to throw in my thoughts but this is still an area were I don’t have phycological certainty :grinning: . I currently like this explanation from Umberto Cassuto the late Professor of Bible at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a Rabbi and scholar. You will see the same or similar explanation given by other commentators and creation account writers. I like it because I am incline to the Genesis account of creation. I also like John Walton’s explanation. Neither of these accounts fill in all the blanks (the science) but for me I feel that the story was written with the intention that its audience would understand it. Here goes.

The first function: to separate the day from the night. This expression enables us to comprehend the existence of the first three days, when there was as yet no sun in the world . To separate one thing from another means to mark the distinction between two things already in existence. It is manifest that the night exists even without the presence of moon and stars . Similarly, according to the view reflected here, the sun is not the cause of daytime, for the latter is to be found without the former . This is an empirical concept based on the observation that light pervades the atmosphere even before sunrise and also after sundown . Although we know that this light emanates from the sun only, nevertheless it is a fact that there is daylight even when the sun is not visible in the sky . This then is the meaning of the verse: that just as at the beginning and at the end of every day there is light without sun, so throughout those first three days God caused light to shine upon the earth from some other source without recourse to the sun; but when He created the luminaries He handed over to them the task of separation, that is, He commanded that the one should serve by day and the others should serve at night, and thus they would all become signs for distinguishing the two periods of time. In addition, the sun’s light would naturally augment the already-existing daylight, but this would form its third function, as we shall see later.

Cassuto, U. (1998). A Commentary on the Book of Genesis: Part I, From Adam to Noah (Genesis I–VI 8). (I. Abrahams, Trans.) (pp. 43–44). Jerusalem: The Magnes Press, The Hebrew University.

(Jim) #8

Hi Alex

Something to add here:

John 1:1-4
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.

Revelation 21:22-25
22 But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. 24 And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. 25 Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there).

So God Himself is light and the source of all light, including any pre-stellar light.