Let Christ Shine On You

Hello everyone. Welcome to Deeper Waters again. We’re in the middle of what’s been called our Trinity commentary. What we’re doing is going through the Bible and studying many texts relevant to the Trinity. Naturally, this isn’t exhaustive. I would recommend going to your local library or bookstore or Amazon for more books on the topic if you’re interested. We’re in the Pauline epistles now and in Ephesians 5. We’re looking at verse 14 tonight, but we’re going to start at verse 8.

8For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10and find out what pleases the Lord. 11Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:
“Wake up, O sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

Paul is talking again about righteous living. Much of the last half of Ephesians is applicational while the last half is doctrinal. On a side note, I believe our sermons should be the same way in church services. I believe we should start with the doctrine and basis for our beliefs and then move on to the application.

The contrast is between light and darkness, which was a common motif. It’s one we find in the gospels often, particularly you may recall from the prologue of John. It was a point the evangelist made in John 3. The light is equated with what is good and righteous, which is fitting since God is described as light in the Old Testament.

But what of this last part? Paul is quoting something here for he says that there is a saying that is said. It does not correspond to anything in the Old Testament explicitly so most likely, we are dealing with an early Christian hymn here and one made to Christ! Is there any evidence that this took place?


Here is how Pliny the Younger described it in a letter to the emperor:

They asserted, however, that the sum and substance of their fault or error had been that they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not to some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when called upon to do so.

Hymnology was an important part of Christian worship and they did sing hymns to Christ. Of course, Pliny describes this in the language of his pagan worldview, but the point is still the same. Note also the parts of the hymn. We will wake. We will rise. The light of Christ will shine. The waking refers to turning from sin. The resurrection refers not to physical resurrection in this case but spiritual, coming from the deadness of sin, which indicates that this could have been a baptismal hymn, and the light shining refers to the righteousness of Christ.

So what do we have? We have a hymn to Christ where he is seen as the reason Christians turn from sin. Their resurrection is based on a ritual that depicts his death and resurrection in identifying with him, and his light is said to shine on them.

Do we have language of deity for Christ? It’d be difficult to call it anything else.

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