What does Matthew 5:14 mean?
ESV: "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.
NIV: "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
NASB: You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;
CSB: "You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden.
NLT: You are the light of the world — like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.
KJV: Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.
NKJV: “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Verse Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
Matthew 5:13–20 describes the essential role Jesus' disciples and followers serve on the earth. They are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. These metaphors represent the impact Christians are meant to have in the world. That's why it matters so much that they do the good works God gives them to do. Otherwise, they will stop being useful as salt and light. Instead, they should do those works, allowing their light to shine in the dark world in order that all who see will give glory to God.
Chapter Summary:
The Sermon on the Mount contains some of Jesus' most challenging teaching. It begins with the unlikely blessings of the Beatitudes. Jesus' disciples must do good works in order to be a powerful influence: as the salt of the earth and light of the world. The superficial righteousness of the Pharisees is not good enough to earn heaven. Sins of the heart, such as angry insults and intentional lust, are worthy of hell just as much as adultery and murder. Easy divorce and deceptive oaths are forbidden. Believers should not seek revenge. Instead, God intends us to love our enemies and pray for our persecutors. In short, we should strive to be perfect, as God is perfect.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 5 follows Matthew's description of the enormous crowds that were following Jesus (Matthew 4:25). One day, Jesus sits down on a hill to teach them, in an address we now call the Sermon on the Mount. He describes as blessed those who are poor in spirit, who mourn, and who are persecuted. Christ also explains how God's standards of righteousness go far beyond behaviors and speech; they also include our thoughts and attitudes. Meeting God's standards means perfection. Chapter 6 continues this sermon, with more examples of Jesus clarifying God's intent for godly living.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
Accessed 6/16/2024 1:26:56 AM
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