1 Timothy 6:16—Does God dwell in darkness or in light?

Problem: According to Paul, God “dwells in unapproachable light.” However, the Bible repeatedly says things like “the Lord said He would dwell in the dark cloud” (1 Kings 8:12) because “He made darkness His secret place (Ps. 18:11; cf. 97:2). Which is it—darkness or light?

Solution: In considering this discrepancy, we must remember, first of all, that “light” and “darkness” may be figures of speech and need not be taken literally. Both describe God’s unsearchableness (cf. Rom. 11:33).

Furthermore, even if taken literally, they are not necessarily contradictory, for what is light to God can be darkness to us. For example, the dawn brings light to the robin, but darkness to the bat. Indeed, the blinding light of His transcendent deity can create darkness for our finite attempt to comprehend God. So there is no necessary conflict, even if light and darkness are understood literally.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.