8:12 Then Jesus spoke out again, 1 “I am the light of the world. 2 The one who follows me will never 3 walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
1 tn Grk “Then again Jesus spoke to them saying.”
2 sn The theory proposed by F. J. A. Hort (The New Testament in the Original Greek, vol. 2, Introduction; Appendix, 87-88), that the backdrop of 8:12 is the lighting of the candelabra in the court of women, may offer a plausible setting to the proclamation by Jesus that he is the light of the world. The last time that Jesus spoke in the narrative (assuming 7:53-8:11 is not part of the original text, as the textual evidence suggests) is in 7:38, where he was speaking to a crowd of pilgrims in the temple area. This is where he is found in the present verse, and he may be addressing the crowd again. Jesus’ remark has to be seen in view of both the prologue (John 1:4, 5) and the end of the discourse with Nicodemus (John 3:19-21). The coming of Jesus into the world provokes judgment: A choosing up of sides becomes necessary. The one who comes to the light, that is, who follows Jesus, will not walk in the darkness. The one who refuses to come, will walk in the darkness. In this contrast, there are only two alternatives. So it is with a person’s decision about Jesus. Furthermore, this serves as in implicit indictment of Jesus’ opponents, who still walk in the darkness, because they refuse to come to him. This sets up the contrast in chap. 9 between the man born blind, who receives both physical and spiritual sight, and the Pharisees (John 9:13, 15, 16) who have physical sight but remain in spiritual darkness.
3 tn The double negative οὐ μή (ou mh) is emphatic in 1st century Hellenistic Greek.
4 sn Jesus’ statement I am the light of the world connects the present account with 8:12. Here (seen more clearly than at 8:12) it is obvious what the author sees as the significance of Jesus’ statement. “Light” is not a metaphysical definition of the person of Jesus but a description of his effect on the world, forcing everyone in the world to ‘choose up sides’ for or against him (cf. 3:19-21).