13 “But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:13–14 (ESV)
The metaphors of light and darkness are predominant within the Scriptures. They have certainly been predominant within Ephesians 5:7-12. The image of light and darkness is a symbolic theme of ethical dualism. This dualism is present from the beginning of the Old Testament and developed throughout the Scriptures.
The Apostle Paul brings to a semi-conclusion his extended thoughts on walking in the Lord (Ephesians 5:1-12). He challenges believers in Christ to take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11). Instead, believers are to expose them.
Paul continues in today’s text to explain that the light of God’s righteousness and holiness exposes the darkness. To expose (ἐλέγχω; elencho) means to reprove, convict and rebuke. When sin is exposed, it becomes visible. To be visible (φανερόω; phaneroo) means to reveal and to make clear. The light of God’s Word confronts and give clear perspective to sin (Psalm 119:105).
The phrase for anything that becomes visible is light perhaps should read light makes anything visible. The proclamation of God’s clear truth exposes all kinds of evil (Proverbs 6:23; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
It is at this point in the text that Paul refers to this quotation: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” It is presumed this is a quotation from an Old Testament text. However, what particular OT reference cannot be identified with certainty. Many scholars believe Paul was making reference to Isaiah 60:1 which says, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”
Dr. R. Sproul writes, “The imagery of light and awakening or rising can be found in Isaiah 60:1, describing the restoration of Israel in the end times. There the LORD shines light on Israel, and here Christ is identified with the God of Isaiah 60:1 in shining light on people. However, Paul may be citing a portion of an early Christian hymn well known to the churches, as he seems to do elsewhere (Phil. 2:5-11; Col. 1:15-20; I Tim. 3:16). If this is the case, it would be a hymn that has been influenced by Isaiah 60:1.”
Dr. John Walvoord explains the purpose of thoughts: “Verses 7–14 (Ephesians 5:7-14) deal with church discipline. Believers are to walk in the light, and in so doing to expose other believers of any works that are unfruitful so that they too may walk in the light and please their Lord.”
Soli deo Gloria!