“And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:5). Here is a verse where the English language seems to lack a word to fully express what is meant. Darkness, and English synonyms such as obscurity, shadows, blackness, all indicate the absence of light. The word used in French in this place is ténèbres. I believe that Bibles in Italian, Spanish and Portuguese also use forms of the same word.
Ténèbres indicates a darkness that has an independent existence, not just the absence of light, but something that is opposed to light. It is a moral or spiritual darkness, the opposite of the light of God. In Ephesians 2:2 where the apostle refers to“the rulers of the darkness of this world,” the wording in French is “the princes of this world of ténèbres.”
The apostle John tells us in another place that “the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19). That is, the whole world is ruled by the powers of darkness. Jesus came into this world as the embodiment of the light of God. And the darkness pushed back.
The time came that Satan and the rulers of darkness thought they had succeeded in forever snuffing out the light of God from this world. Then the light burst forth again with a brilliance that told them that they had forever lost. The forces of darkness will never again be seen in heaven; the place reserved for them is called “outer darkness.”
Nevertheless, their fury against God, and their hatred of the light, drives them to take as many others with them as they can. The forces of darkness are very real and they are constantly at work to ensnare people into their darkness.
The apostle Paul tells us that “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). He sends his messengers to us, speaking as the voice of sweet reason and offering us a counterfeit of the light. However, the more we listen to the “light” they are offering us, the darker the pathway before us becomes.
The only way that we can push this darkness back is to allow God’s light to illuminate our hearts and minds and to inform our attitudes and actions. We are called individually to walk in the light. One little light all alone is good, but it is better if those lights are gathered together in homes and congregations so that the light shines farther in this dark world. As we walk together in God’s light, we are the light of the world and we are doing our little part to drive back the darkness that has so engulfed this world.