In addition to this natural use, the term night is used widely in Scripture for that which is spiritually dark and contrary to the light of God’s love and righteousness.

1. It is used as a symbol of the darkness of men’s minds, the ignorance and confusion of men’s hearts when God is shut out (Mic 3:6; John 11:10). Judas, turning from Jesus’ love to betray Him, went out “and it was night” (John 13:30).

2. Christians are reminded that they have come out of this darkness and are now sons of the light and the day and no longer belong to the night (1 Thess 5:4-8).

3. This present evil age in which sin and Satan reign is the nighttime of the world which will be shattered by the return of Christ (1 Thess 5:2; 2 Pet 3:10). This is the Christian’s hope and comfort (Rom 13:12) and the most eloquent description of the glorious age to come is that “there shall be no night there” (Rev 21:25; 22:5).

4. The visitation of God’s judgment also is described as night, when the light of His presence is turned from the earth and the wrath of God is turned upon sin (Isa 15:1; 21:11, 12).

5. Night is also the time of pain and sorrow and suffering for the individual (Job 7:4; Ps 30:5), but “joy comes in the morning” (30:5). Even in such times we are not hidden from God’s care (139:11, 12) and in His grace He gives “songs in the night” (Job 35:10; Ps 42:8).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)


See Day and Night for the natural usage and the various terms.

1. In the Old Testament:

2. In the New Testament:

On the lips of Jesus (Joh 9:4) it signifies the end of opportunity to labor; repeated in that touching little allegory spoken to His disciples when He was called to the grave of Lazarus (Joh 11:9,10). Paul also uses the figure in reference to the Parousia (Ro 13:12), where "night" seems to refer to the present aeon and "day" to the aeon to come. He also uses it in 1Th 5:5,7 where the status of the redeemed is depicted by "day," that of the unregenerate by "night," again, as the context shows, in reference to the Parousia. In Re 21:25 and 22:5, the passing of the "night" indicates the realization of that to which the Parousia looked forward, the establishment of the kingdom of God forever. See also Delitzsch, Iris, 35.

Henry E. Dosker

See also

  • Time