The light shineth in darkness - Darkness, in the Bible, commonly denotes ignorance, guilt, or misery. See Isaiah 9:1-2; Matthew 4:16; Acts 26:18; Ephesians 5:8, Ephesians 5:11; Romans 13:12. It refers here to a wicked and ignorant people. When it is said that "the light shineth in darkness," it is meant that the Lord Jesus came to teach an ignorant, benighted, and wicked world. This has always been the case. It was so when he sent his prophets; so during his own ministry; and so in every age since. His efforts to enlighten and save men have been like light struggling to penetrate a thick, dense cloud; and though a few rays may pierce the gloom, yet the great mass is still an impenetrable shade.
Comprehended it not - This word means "admitted" it not, or "received" it not. The word "comprehend," with us, means to "understand." This is not the meaning of the original. The darkness did not "receive" or "admit" the rays of light; the shades were so thick that the light could not penetrate them; or, to drop the figure, men were so ignorant, so guilty, so debased, that they did not appreciate the value of his instructions; they despised and rejected him. And so it is still. The great mass of men, sunk in sin, will not receive his teachings, and be enlightened and saved by him. Sin always blinds the mind to the beauty and excellency of the character of the Lord Jesus. It indisposes the mind to receive his instructions, just as "darkness" has no affinity for "light;" and if the one exists, the other must be displaced.
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing John 1:5:
2 Corinthians 4:6
1 John 1:5
1 John 2:8
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