What does Matthew 5:16 mean?
ESV: In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
NIV: In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
NASB: Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
CSB: In the same way, let your light shinebefore others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
NLT: In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
KJV: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
NKJV: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Verse Commentary:
Jesus has described His disciples as first the salt of the earth and then as the light of the world (Matthew 5:13–15). Salt is meant it be salty and becomes worthless if it loses that quality. Light is meant to be seen by those in the darkness. It has no value if covered up and hidden.

This verse provides the practical application of Jesus' teaching about being "the light of the world." Disciples display the light of Jesus by doing the good works which God intends for them. Even if acting in a Christlike way earns persecution from the world (Matthew 5:11–12), believers are meant to shine that light into a dark world. In other lessons, Jesus expands on the meaning of doing good works. An important point He makes later in the Sermon on the Mount involves proper motivation (Matthew 6:1). Good works done for God's sake, in ways that bring glory to God, ought to be done so that they can be seen. The light of Christian goodness is meant to shine out "so that" God will be glorified. However, in situations where the world is likely to merely praise the Christian, it's better for the act to be done "in secret" to avoid arrogance and pride (Matthew 6:2–4).

Christ is the only spiritual light in the world, and that truth is distributed through His people: His disciples, meaning born-again Christians. Believers do good for others to point towards truth (John 14:6), and to bring glory to God.
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.
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