The following is a condensed version of Barclay’s Daily Study Bible
1:9 He was the real light, who, in his coming into the world, gives light to every man.
(i) He dispelled the shadows of doubt. One of the Greeks said, “It is difficult to find out about God, and when you have found out about him it is impossible to tell anyone else about him.” In the coming of Jesus, people saw God in full display – the “radiance of his glory, the exact representation of his being. ” Heb 1:3
(ii) He dispelled the shadows of despair. Seneca said that people are aware of their helplessness. “They hate their sins but cannot leave them.” Unable to improve ourselves or better our world, we live in the pessimism of despair. Jesus came with more than knowledge- he embodies the power to transform. The darkness of pessimism and despair was gone for ever.
(iii) His coming diespelled the darkness of death. “The ancient world feared death. At the best, death was annihilation and the soul of man shuddered at the thought. At the worst, it was torture by whatever gods there be and the soul of man was afraid. But Jesus by his coming, by his life, his death, his Resurrection showed that death was only the way to a larger life.”
Barclay writes, ” The ancient world was exclusive. The Jew hated the Gentile and held that Gentiles were created for no other purpose than to be fuel for the fires of hell.” [My comment: now to be sure Gentiles, especially Christian Gentiles have reciprocated by enacting their hostility against Jews for millennia afterward.] Isaiah saw that Israel’s destiny was to be a light to the Gentiles (Isaiah 42:6; Isaiah 49:6) but that was a destiny which Israel had always definitely refused. The Greek world never dreamed that knowledge was for every man. The Roman world looked down on the barbarians, the lesser breeds without the law. But Jesus came to be a light to every man. Only the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has a heart big enough to hold all the world.”