Matthew 5:14 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Matthew 5:14, NIV: You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

Matthew 5:14, ESV: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

Matthew 5:14, KJV: Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

Matthew 5:14, NASB: 'You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;

Matthew 5:14, NLT: 'You are the light of the world--like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.

Matthew 5:14, CSB: "You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden.

What does Matthew 5:14 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

In the previous verse, Jesus compared His disciples to salt (Matthew 5:13). Now He compares them to light. He calls them the "light of the world," in fact. Light was a crucial symbol in the Jewish worldview. Just as Greek culture prized knowledge, or Roman culture valued glory, or modern American culture touts freedom, Hebrew culture's ideal standard was light. This concept factors heavily in biblical explanations of godliness and truth (Proverbs 4:18–19; Matthew 4:16; John 8:12; 2 Corinthians 4:6).

Spiritually speaking, there is no light in the world apart from Jesus Christ. His light, though, shines through every person who belongs to Him. In this way, the light of Christ is distributed into the darkness in every corner of humanity. That this light is meant to be visible to the world is also important. Jesus adds to this metaphor by referring to a city positioned on top of a hill. It is not meant to be hidden; a city on a hill is meant to be seen and found even in the darkness of night. During the time of Christ, the walls around a city on a hill were often made from white limestone, which would be relatively easy to see, even on a dim night.

In the same way, the light of Christ is not meant to be hidden on the earth. It is meant to shine out brightly from all who belong to Christ. It is meant to be discovered, in this way, by those still in the darkness. Jesus will add to this point in the following verse that Christ's light should not be covered up in the lives of His followers. It is meant to be seen.