Mat 5:16 Let your light so shine

KJV Verse: 

Mat 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

In this manner, it must shine, the light of yours, in front of people so that they might see the valuable works of yours and they might recognize the Father of yours, the one in the skies.

Hidden Meaning: 

The first Greek word in this verse is translated as "so," but it means "in this manner." It begins the verse because it refers to the previous verse, Mat 5:15. this verse talks about why we shouldn't hide "the light."

The next word is the verb translated as "shine." It is in the third person, so "it shines," but it is a command. In English, commands, "shine!" are always addressed in the second person, that is, addressed to the listener. However, using "it must shine" comes close to the sense in English. Most Greek translation, however, adds a second person "Let" to the beginning to create the sense of a command, "Let your light shine!"

Of course, the key word here is the Greek word that means "light". However, Christ using light as a metaphor for knowledge and the ability to see and understand.

The word translated as "before," is an unusual word for Christ to use. It is in adverb. The Greek words that are commonly translated as "before," are more common conjunctions. The difference is that this word as an adverb modifies the verb "shine." It has the sense of shining the light in front of people in a way that leads them forward.

The word translated as "men" is the common word for men, but it is in the possessive form, "of men." This works in English too, if we translated the previous word as "in front." This word wasn't used to refer just to men, but to "people" generally.

The verb "see" is the most common form of the word. It is in the form that indicates something "might" happen.

The words translated as "good work" don't quite carry the sense of charity that "good works" carries in English. The word translated as "good" means "beautiful", "excellent," and "praiseworthy." It doesn't mean charitable or kind. The word for "work" means "business", "productivity," or "accomplishments." It doesn't mean any action but an act that requires effort or work. It is in these great accomplishments (not simple acts of kindness) that we give to God.

The word translated as "glorify" here doesn't exactly mean "glorify" or "praise." It primarily means to think, imagine, or suppose. The word "recognize" carries both the idea of seeing someone in the mind and honoring them that the Greek word does. More about this word in this article

The "which" here is an article usually translated as "the," but without an associated noun, it takes on the sense of "the one."

The word translated as "heaven" means sky, the climate, and the universe. It is plural here, which is often the case when Christ uses it. It also meant the home of the gods in a physical sense: the sun, moon, and planets were named for the gods. More about the word in this article.


 This is the first time Christ uses the word translated as "glorify," doxazoto serve two purposes 1) recognizing or seeing God in others and 2) giving praise to God. 

The Spoken Version: 

“Instead,” he continued, lifting his arms, raising the imaginary lamp up high, reaching up as far has he could. He rose slowly on his tip-toes, teetering precariously as he reached out.
As he teetered on his toes, the crowd began tittering.
“On a lamp stand!” He announced triumphantly, placing his lamp. “And it lights up everyone in the house! In this way,” he continued, pointing up to his pretend lamp, “let that light of yours shine out in front of other people.”
As he said this, or perhaps right before, the sun came out from behind a cloud and blazed down so brightly that the speaker had to shield his eyes from the glare.
“So that they might see,” he said, squinting but smiling, “your worthy deeds! And, recognize your Father, the one—in the skies!”


οὕτως (adv) "So" is from houtos, which means "this", "that", "the nearer." As an adverb, it means "in this way", "therefore", "so much", "to such and extent," and "that is why."

λαμψάτω (3rd sg aor imperat act) "Let...shine" is from lampo, which means "to shine forth", "to ring loud and clear," and "to illuminate."

τὸ φῶς (noun sg masc nom) "Light" is from phos, which means "light", "daylight [primarily], "illumination [of things and of the mind]", "light [of the eyes], "window", "opening", " public visibility," and "publicity." Christ uses it as a metaphor for "knowledge," but in Greek is is also a metaphor for "deliverance", "happiness", "victory," and "glory." ὑμῶν

ὑμῶν (pron 2nd pl gen) "Your" is from humon, which are the plural forms of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."

ἔμπροσθεν [uncommon](adv) "Before" is from emprosthen, which as an adverb means [of place]"in front of", "before", "forwards," [of time] "before", "of old," and as a preposition, "facing", "opposite", "in front," [of time] beforehand," and [of degree] "preferred before." It also denotes a ranking.

τῶν ἀνθρώπων, (noun pl masc gen) "Men" is from anthropos, which is "man," and, in plural, "mankind." It also means "humanity" and that which is human and opposed to that which is animal or inanimate.

ὅπως (conj) "That" is from hopos, which is a conjunction that means "in such a manner as", "in order that", "in the manner in which", "how," [with negative] "there is no way that," and [in questions] "in what way."

ἴδωσιν (3rd pl aor subj act) "They may see" is from eidon which means "to see", "to examine", "to perceive", "to behold", "to know how to do", "to see with the mind's eye," and "to know."

ὑμῶν (pron 2nd pl gen)"Your" is from humon, which are the plural forms of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."

τὰ καλὰ (adj pl neut nom/acc) "Good" is from kalos, which means "beautiful", "good", "of fine quality", "noble," and "honorable." It is most often translated as "good" juxtaposed with "evil" in the New Testament, but the two ideas are closer to "wonderful" and "worthless", "noble" and "base."

ἔργα ( noun pl neut nom/ acc)"Works" is from ergon, which means "works", "tasks", "deeds", "actions", "thing," and "matter."

καὶ (conj) "And" is from kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even", "also," and "just."

δοξάσωσιν (3rd pl aor subj act) "Glorify" is from doxazo, which primarily means "to think", "to expect", "to imagine," or "to suppose." Secondarily, it means "to magnify" or "to extol," which is where we get the "glorify" used most often in NT the translation. The English term "to recognize" carries the same sense of both seeing a person in the mind and honoring them.

τὸν πατέρα (noun sg masc acc) "The Father" is from pater, which means "father", "grandfather", "author", "parent," and "forefathers."

ὑμῶν (pron 2nd pl gen) "Your" is from humon, which are the plural forms of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."

τὸν (article sg masc acc) "Which" is from hos, which is the demonstrative pronoun in its various forms (hê, ho, gen. hou, hês, hou, etc. ; dat. pl. hois, hais, hois, etc. gen. hoou). It means "this", "that", "he", "she", "which", "what", "who", "whosoever", "where", "for which reason," and many similar meanings.

ἐν (prep) "In" is from en, which means "in", "on", "at", "by", "among", "within", "surrounded by", "in one's hands", "in one's power," and "with".

τοῖς οὐρανοῖς. (noun pl masc dat) "Heaven" is from ouranos, which means "heaven as in the vault of the sky", "heaven as the seat of the gods", "the sky", "the universe," and "the climate."

Related Verses: 

Jan 5 2017